Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Making Connections :: Geography Close to Home

We spent a beautiful long morning at the coast last week.  We got in some lovely nature study, which I'll share about in a different post, but another highlight (besides the sunshine, clam chowder, and sea breezes!) was the connections we were able to make to our Year 2 reading.  Amazing how that Science of Relations works, right?  These connections were completely unplanned yet completely enriching.

As we went through a hotel lobby alongside the wharf, we came across this model ship along the wall.  On reading the placard, we found it was a model of a ship from the 1850s that sailed from the Atlantic coast around the horn of South America and on to the gold country, docking in San Francisco.  My kids immediately recognized: Seabird!  

Sure enough, this carefully-constructed model on loan from the local maritime museum is clipper very similar to the one described in Holling's Seabird.  It was such fun to make the connection to this replica (something I honestly would have walked right by any other day)!

And on a related note, guess what we found outside...

Funnily enough, we had just read the chapter on anchors in Seabird the very day before!

We have passed these anchors every time we have come, but I've never taken any notice of them.

Another fun connection to this year's reading: the wharf and harbor at this seaside town are occupied by a fascinating group of sea lions, whose antics and barking are such fun!  The children always spend quite a long time watching them in awe--they're really pretty amazing, as large and loud as they are.  And then off to the side, along the boatline, we spotted another animal "friend," not as common as the sea lions here but still local to the area...

Can you see him there, tiny in the center?  It's Little Joe Otter, as Old Mother Nature and my two oldest call him! Though the children have seen otters at the bay aquarium, they don't often get to see the in their natural habitat.  Just as they read about in the Burgess Animal Book (which they both absolutely adore--definitely a favorite this year), he was floating along on his back, lunching with his belly for his table, while two gulls pursued him and his leftovers.  So fun.

She thought it was absolutely fascinating as well ;)
We have also had some happy connections with a book I added to our curriculum this year: the Kirbys' The World at Home.  It's a geography text mentioned by Miss Mason herself, and when I came across her mention of it in my reading about geography last year, I decided to add it to this year's schedule.  It's composed of over a hundred short chapters about everything from the Northern Lights to monkeys building bridges across the Amazon, all in a charmingly conversational tone, and we all love reading from it.  We read two chapters a week, moving through the book in order, so I don't know what topics are going to be covered when and I never know what's coming up next.  

The funny thing is how very often the chapters we read in The World at Home coincide perfectly with what we're reading about in our Year 2 studies!  

We talked of reindeer and the Eskimos during the chapters about Viking explorers in This Country of Ours.  

We read about buffalo and American Indians through Term 1 of this year, alongside Holling's Tree in the Trail.  

We read about the region of Patagonia the very week Ezra's crew crossed the equator and rounded the horn of South America in Seabird.  

And there have been more besides.  These rich connections are partly due to the breadth of our studies this year, partly due to our heightened awareness, partly due to our broad approach to geography, and partly just one of the joys of this style of liberal arts education.  Thank you, Miss Mason, for living books, the Science of Relations, and "learners awake"!


  1. "We have passed these anchors every time we have come, but I've never taken any notice of them." Oh, how many times have I said things very much like that. It is the rich literature and the practice of attention of a CM education that brings these things out, isn't it? It was lovely to see that connection being made through this post.

    1. Yes, you're absolutely right about the habit of attention playing a part, Phyllis. Such a rich way of learning.

  2. What a wonderful post, Celeste. So exciting. It is nice to "know" people who get excited about these things the same way that I do. And - you inspired me to start World at Home. It has been a couple of weeks now and it is a big hit. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad you're enjoying it as much as we are, Dawn! And yes, it's nice to know "kindred spirits." :)

  3. It's very encouraging to have the connections happen. I can be very unobservant at times but thankfully my kids notice things. I just had a quick look at World at Home & it looks like something that could be used in other parts of the world??

    1. It definitely could. It is written from a British perspective, but we're Americans, and the children just sort of smile at the small comments sprinkled here and there, like when she writes, "In our country, we may never see palm trees"--ha! We have several in our yard. ;) Notes such as those are few and not at all central to understanding the text. I rather think they add to the charm. :) And as I have mentioned before, there are some outdated comments regarding race and science, but those have been easily corrected thus far.

  4. I love when God plans these little moments for us!