Tomorrow we will take a "field trip" to our garden and students will each select something special to observe in old fashioned naturalist tradition. They will be carefully drawing what they observe, framing their observations and questions, learning how to think like a scientist. They will model on the great naturalists from the past. I hope to get some of our kids and teachers to read - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. It's the perfect book to set young students on the path to be naturalists. Calpernia is a young girl at the turn of the last century whose curiosity leads her to be a naturalist in a time when girls rarely did these things. Her relationship deepens with her grandfather who opens this wonderful world to her as she struggles against the traces of being a girl in a boys world. While those themes may dominate in some readers minds, the beauty of this book for me is that it gives children today, not only a glimpse of life in a different time, but also gives them a glimpse of how they might look at the real world at this moment!
Another book that helps students see the world and how interacting with it can change us is One Beetle too many! If for no other reason than its author, Kathryn Lasky, it is worth reading. Lasky never misses an opportunity to help kids gain insight into what motivates people. She carries us along as we see how Charles disappoints his Dad, but remains true to what is stimulating his curiosity. Why are there sea shells on mountain tops? What makes plants and animals of the same species so different in different parts of the world? The book is a mixed-media treasure trove for kids to explore.
Kathryn Lasky undertook a biography of John Muir, arguably America's greatest environmentalist. Like all naturalists he begins with a love of the land. The book traces his ever growing commitment to the land in all its variety. As the founder of the Sierra Club in 1892 he was
influential at a time when other naturalists were beginning to frame the idea of preserving land for its own sake. This book is full of stories from his childhood that lead him into the path that changed our understanding of the wilderness. I will be starting a Young Naturalist's book club afterschool soon, and I invite you to follow our exploits, journaling, as we inspire our students to love this precious planet.
Of course for me, though I will not purvey this to my students, this involves my deep experience and understanding of our Lord who calls us to be stewards in His garden. "Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." Genesis 2:15 (JPS Tanakh 1917)
Here is a link to Jean Ritchie singing the old Appalachian song Now is the Cool of the Day Now is the Cool of the Day-