The theme at Homeschool Blogger (HSB) this week is "Teaching Science." While I've always loved learning about most things, I've never been what you'd describe as "strong" in science -- I guess cuz I'm more of a word girl. But over the years of homeschooling, I have come to love some of the "natural" and even "creative" ways we can learn about the world in which we live -- which is really what science is all about. According to sciencemadesimple.com, "The word science comes from the Latin 'scientia,' meaning knowledge. . . . According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is 'knowledge attained through study or practice,' or 'knowledge covering general truths . . . concerned with the physical world.'" That's pretty easy to apply in everyday life! The physical world is God's creation, and any of our interactions with it furthers our knowledge and understanding of it.
One of our favourite ways to acquire knowledge of our world is by caring for pets. While our menagerie is dwindling a bit, our grandest total of non-human inhabitants included a dog, a ferret, two hermit crabs, and eight rabbits, six of which were babies that we witnessed being born. We now have a dog, a cat, one hermit crab, and two rabbits, one of whom is our "special needs baby" because she was born with malformed legs and bad eyes. Let me introduce you to some of the critters we've loved and learned from here at Learners 4Life Academy . . .
Nikita is our latest addition to the family -- a 6 year old cat that we adopted from someone who couldn't any longer give her the attention she craves:
Our sweet ferret, Merlin, who died last Monday, on Thanksgiving weekend:
Caspian (Prince of Narnia), our 6 year-old golden doodle:
Some of our baby bunnies from the spring:
One of the babies, Honey-Bunny (aka Legolas) all grown up:
Now if we could only make these two friends:
The fact that all of these pictures were taken by children demonstrates that these animals are not just pets that share our home -- they're specimens for investigation. These critters are under constant scrutiny, and are therefore a source of information and knowledge -- outside of all that is to be learned by caring for them (which of course involves research about what food they thrive upon, how to care for their ailments as naturally as possible, and how to keep them as healthy and happy as possible). Have you thought about all the scientific things you can learn from your pets?
While it's wonderful to have these domestic animals to teach us, we also enjoy studying the fauna and flora of the natural world around us outside. We are blessed to live near a couple of conservation areas that enable us to study land and water animals at our leisure, so we often take our nature journals with us and document our observations. Sometimes, we even have the thrill of feeding birds right out of our hands! (Sorry, I didn't actually get a good picture of that.)
Besides benefiting physically from the fresh air and exercise we get from these outings (another scientific concept we can explore), we learn first-hand about plants and animals in their natural environment. Any questions we generate as we're observing and noting can then be answered by researching when we get back home. When I consider that during my elementary education, such excursions were considered rare and special "field trips," I feel blessed to be able to offer my children these learning opportunities on a regular basis. They can be "real scientists" virtually in our own backyard! Are there any special natural settings that you go to study the world around you? (The local zoo is another favourite of ours -- though it's not entirely "natural".)What kinds of things do you learn there?
Our kitchen provides lots of other opportunities for learning about science -- apart from all the experiments we conduct there for more formal science lessons. While we work together on all kinds of culinary creations, we learn about the impact of heat on raw foods, enjoying mini-explosions of things like cranberries cooking in a big pot: