Sunday, April 30, 2006

Toadstools and Nature Journals

We found toadstools in our autumn garden yesterday. Just as Gerry ( dh) was going to toss these into the garden rubbish, I remembered a tip from Karen Andreola, in one of the old Parent Review magazines.

Mushroom spores!

My mind went back to Gnowangerup, a little country town. Our oldest was 17 and youngest 2. We had many toadstools in our damp garden and when the Parents Review magazine popped in our mail box, with its articles on mushrooms and toadstools, I knew that nature study was set for the week.

Mushroom spores!

So, as history does repeat, again and again in homeschooling a large family, yesterday, Saturday, we re-visited toadstools and mushrooms.

I gingerly removed the stalks from the toadstools and lay them, underside down, on white computer paper. The toadstools were damp with dew.

By the close of the day, we saw patterns and swirls - artwork left by the damp toadstools and their spores.

This is one sample above. I have put our scanner to good use - imagine how these look now they are in our nature journals!

We cut and pasted our paper into our nature books - a treasure trove of family memories, not just nature journals. More discovery journals, to quote Karen Rackliffe from the book :"Wild Days."

"To notice the painting on a flower, the shape of a cloud, the song of a thrush and the cool smoothness of the bark on a birch tree, these are the memories captured in a nature journal. Nature studies are an integral part of the living atmosphere of a classroom. Without them, trees become merely pictures, flowers lose their fragrance, birds are without song and movement, and life exists only outside the window. To know nature is a source of refreshment and pleasure for every person--teachers and students alike.

Within my own classroom, nature studies have been a biweekly habit of picking up our notebooks and colored pencils and heading outside to be still, quiet and thoughtful. Afterwards, we use a field guide to identify our new discoveries. Oftentimes, these moments are the most productive of the entire day, and they serve to provide the much needed mind-food for other academic disciplines."


Theresa said...

Oh, this brings back wonderful memories of my grandmother. I vividly remember when I was a child she showed me one day how she had left some toadstools (or mushrooms)on her wooden cutting board overnight. The spore prints they had made were lovely-and permanently stained her cuttingboard!
We will definitely have to try thi out for our nature journals! thanks!

Leonie said...

They look pretty, don't they - and I loved hearing about your grandmother.

Cindy said...

I love the picture.. the scanner turned it into art.

This is a wonderful idea... a reminder to see nature. I had a similar experiecne with the butteflies around our home. I like the idea of going out consistantly. We used to do that when the boys were younger. Maybe time to put on the calendar again? Thanks for sharing. Leonie.

BTW, how were the Stones? lol

Alice said...

Great post, Leonie! Toadstools can be some of the most fascinating things in nature, and I love the idea of using them to make these prints.

Becky said...

Leonie, These are so cool! Thanks for sharing them. I am going to try some in our home. We have mushrooms growing plentily in our shady areas.

Leonie said...

It is amazing how beautiful the spore prints are, isn't it?

I must add that of course we talked about the dangers of poisonous toadstools!

Sabine said...

Thanks for sharing, what a simple yet wonderful science activity!

Bec said...

You've inspired me again Leonie! I might head out and look for some mushrooms today. :o) We are starting to walk for fitness each week so I am aiming to include nature study in that. Its a subject that is sadly neglected in my house Im sad to say. :o(

My husband will be so jealous you went to the Stones concert. He dragged me to Meatloaf when I was 1 week overdue in my pregnancy with Grace! It was a lot of fun though. :o) Its nice seeing a photo of you with all your boys.

Susan <> said...

Aside from all the nature stuff you are are looking fantastic!!!
You are an inspiration to me...Um, when are you going to publish that book of yours??? I'll reserve the first copy ~wink~

I don't think I've ever told you but I really appreciate you and the way you are so willing to share. Thank you.

Susan <><

Leonie said...

Hey, Bec and Susan - thanks so much for your coments - make my day!

Nature study is fun in autumn isn't it - I must admit that autumn and spring are when we get our most nature stuff in.

Have fun on your walks bec - I'll check your blog!

And Susan - you are very generous - you shyare a LOT!