Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Home Education: Out of Door Life for the Children. And Muffins!

The second part of "Home Education" is all about being outside with children, and what we can observe, study, and gain from our time there. I found so much to love in my ponderings with Miss Mason in this chapter, and I've already been able to see the out of door time I spend with my children bearing fruit. They really do PREFER to be outside rather than in!

The first principle to mention here is to never be indoors when one can rightly be without, and my how lovely this is at this time of year. I have a very hard time with heat myself (I burn very easily, and even get nauseous if I'm in the sun too long), so in the hotter months, we tend to play outside in the mornings and stay in the rest of the day. But in the fall, winter, and spring, I shoo the littles outside right after breakfast, and only call them in for food or if we need to go somewhere. Of course, Miss Mason suggests taking the children on outings to lakes, rivers, the mountains, etc., and spending time helping the children to observe and enjoy their surroundings, and I'm simply referring to time in our backyard:) We do purposeful nature study time, and try to get to a more remote area as often as possible, but even in our yard, we've done a "Signs of Fall" observation time, and I was quite pleased with how observant Cate in particular has been! She mentioned how the clouds in the sky are different now because of the wind, more streaky and skinny. She remembered that the mornings have been cooler and she needs a sweater to go out to play. She noticed the leaves on our plum tree are turning red, but only up at the top. And we've seen our veggie garden change as the tomatoes and beans finished up.

I find one sure fire way to get the kids outside is to give them food to take:) They love to get an outdoor blanket, books, and a snack, and to spend a good chunk of the afternoon eating, making up games, and seeing what the birds are up to. I love fall foods, and especially things with pumpkin, and these muffins are one of my favorite quick treats to whip up with my girl for backyard picnic time! They are pretty low in sugar, and have some good, healthy ingredients. I hope you get a chance to make them too:)

Mama's Fall Muffins: Makes 1.5 dozen

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (this is my favorite baking fat, but you can sub the same amount of canola oil or butter...but try the coconut! It adds such a depth of flavor, and it's super healthy.)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
A big handful or two of chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a big bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Combine the dry in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry to the wet, and fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Spoon into greased muffin tins, and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. They stay fresh in a Ziploc bag for several days, and freeze/defrost very nicely as well!

Happy Fall!

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