Sunday, November 25, 2012

Autumn: beauty and botany

Autumn has been dragging its crimson and golden feet this year.  The colors have been gorgeous for an entire month, and I have been awestruck, mostly without camera in hand.

Moonshine and I started her botany study this month.  There is no more perfect a time to begin botany than in the autumn when the mushrooms just can't help but burst from the ground at every turn.  This is especially true in England.  For some of us, the mushrooms want to also grow inside the house... but I digress.

Botany is perfect for ten and eleven-year-olds.  At a time when they're turning inward again, feeling a bit off-balance, plant study turns their attention outward to the growth of nature around them.  It's almost as if you can hear them saying, "Hey, I'm not the only thing that's growing around here."

My resource books for this block include Charles Kovacs' Botany, Gerbert Grohmann's The Living World of Plants, Comstock's The Handbook of Nature Study, and Klocek's Drawing from the Book of Nature.  What I love about both Kovacs and Grohmann's books is that they both approach plant growth in parallel with a child's growth.  In my opinion, Kovacs is the better story-teller, but they are both giving the message that growth and knowledge go hand in hand.  Embrace them.  Be proud of how far you've come!

It's exactly what children at this age need to hear.

Moonshine went for a little walk in the garden to look for mushrooms.  Even I was surprised at how many different kinds she found!

We harvested five kinds and tried to do some spore prints on the back steps.  The wind had other ideas, and both mushrooms and paper were scattered in all directions within an hour.  The wind came up so fierce that afternoon that it cracked our eucalyptus tree in half.

We'll try it again in a couple of weeks when we have a nice sheltered place from the weather.  For now though, it's fun just to look.  Isn't the purple mushroom stunning?


Her heart is really into this lesson, and already her main lesson book is turning out beautifully.


  1. My son will start Year Five next year and this post has provided SO much inspiration! I appreciate your blogging so much. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for such a sweet comment, Kestrel. This block is one of my absolute favorites. I hope you and your son will enjoy it as much as we do!

  2. Anonymous1:54 AM

    Hello Sara,

    My name is Sofia, from Portugal and I've been following your blog for some time now. I am very Grateful for it. Wish the best for You and your Familly!

    I leave you a link of a video from Little Grandmother Keisha Crowther. She is american and very connected with the Native American. I dont know if you know her but shes great and I believe you will like to listen to her. There are many videos of her on Youtube that you can explore but this is very good and complete.

    This is the best way I feel I can give back wat you have given to me :)

    Love and Light


    PS: Always cut the mushrooms insted of pulling them of with the root because this,the root or better say the mycelium, is the being that gives its "fruits", the mushrooms. Its like taking a branch or a tree to pick an apple.

    1. Thank you, Sophia. Yes, we did try to harvest one of each kind of mushroom complete with the mycelia (on purpose) so we could explore the entire growing body for our plant study. I think it's important for the children to see with their own eyes how it grows. For edible mushrooms (even the foxes and hedgehogs are not eating these) it would definitely be better to leave the mycelia in the ground.

  3. I think my kids have only learned about mushrooms in terms of edibility. I'm starting to regret that I didn't start a whole new branch of homeschooling centered on Foodie methods. ;)

    So glad that Moonshine is enjoying this lesson immensely; she does beautiful work!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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