Welcome to the October edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors, the Carnival of Environmental Education. The founder and usual Carnival host, Terrell at Alone on a Limb, has thrown caution to the wind to let me host his creation as Pines Above Snow’s first ever blog carnival. I hope that I’ll be able to do justice to the contributors and celebrate learning outdoors in autumn without making too many html errors. Here goes. . . .
County fairs mark the end of summer for many of us, and GrannyJ brings an exhibit to us over at Walking Prescott. She and her husband won a blue ribbon at the Yavapai County Fair for these amazing photos of an Arizona horned toad and her dozen offspring. Congrats, GrannyJ!
Super-sized pumpkins attract crowds at state fairs and farm stands every fall. We know how to decorate with them, puree them into pie filling, and carve them into jack o’ lanterns. But Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect has found a picture book that turns pumpkins into math lessons. Of How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, she says, “All-in-all, I love the story, love the art with it's autumn hues, and am thrilled with the possibilities for instruction.”
Nets, rather than books, are the tool of choice this month for Dana at Principled Discovery. By equipping her homeschooled kids outdoors with professional quality butterfly and aquatic nets, she heightens their engagement outdoors. In her post, Tools not Toys, she says “And when the children use them, there is a seriousness and purposefulness about their explorations of the backyard that really was not there before.”
Over at The Wild WoodsWoman, the favored EE tool & tactic appears to be chutzpah. WWW has convinced a nephew of her omniscient nature knowledge primarily through multi-sensory curiosity and unbridled enthusiasm. She urges others to follow her example in Convince a Kid You are an Outdoor Expert, urging us to “Use anything—see it, smell it, touch it, or use it to remind you of a good story.” The ultimate goal, besides winning the “coolest aunt ever” award, is getting kids excited about being outside.
Where will kids go to college when they’ve been immersed in nature though pumpkin math, insect collecting, and family hikes throughout childhood? Jimmy Atkinson at OEDb: Online Education Database identifies 13 campus-wide environmental education programs in the continental U.S. Opportunties from Maine to California appear in a very useful survey, How to Get a Green Education | OEDb. Check out the whole site for online college & grad level courses in biology, ecology, astronomy, and other relevant subjects.
Of course, education isn’t over when you’re out of college, so Todd at We The Change recommends volunteering as a way to learn more about the natural world. He pitched in to help remove invasive plants from a 500-acre preserve in Manhattan, along the way gaining perspective on the role of emotion in nature appreciation. Says Todd, “I think a big part of the beauty that people feel from nature is the ultimate peace and acceptance that emanates from it.”
For me, much of fall’s beauty emanates from the splendor of migration. One champion migrant, the cliff swallow, is honored in poetry this month by Terrell as part of his ever-inspiring Monday Poetry Stretch. Look closer at Alone on a Limb for photos of cliff & barn swallows on the nest. Dana at Backyard Birding offers advice on Enjoying the raptor migration. Click on her post for an interactive map if you want to participate in an official raptor count near you, or just watch for migrants dropping by for a snack at your backyard feeder. Either approach hones your id skills, enhances your appreciation of the season, and gets you & the kids away from the tv.
These migration posts bring me to my selection for this carnival’s award for Virtual Outdoors Children’s Website of the Month. I’m happy to bestow this honor on my homeschooled son’s favorite migration website, Journey North for Kids. We’ve turned there often as we raise and release monarchs this fall, hoping they’ll join the masses headed south to Mexico. The kids' page of Journey North will give your children and students video and photo clues to the many intriguing projects pursued at Journey North. Kids can enter data on their own observations, check maps reflecting citings by students around the country, or order red tulips to plant now and take part in 2008’s studies of the returning spring.
Thanks very much for visiting Pines Above Snow for this month’s Learning in the Great Outdoors Carnival. November’s edition will be back home at Alone on a Limb. Send submissions to Terrell at thelimb[at]mac[dot]com.