The seven hours that we spent at the Nook today simply flew by. It was another one of those deeply satisfying days where, everywhere I looked, kids were engaged in happy pursuits and I myself bounced happily from one group to the next. I must have learned something new every hour.
We started at 10:00 with a birding by ear workshop lead by my friend Julie. The kids listened attentively as she played a CD of bird calls and taught them to identify each one. Her presentation was filled with interesting information. Did you know that the “eagle sound” in movies is often actually the call of a red-tailed hawk? Julie then took the group outdoors to put their newfound knowledge to the test with some fieldwork. When Zahra correctly identified a cardinal by sound alone, I couldn’t help but think—yes! This connection to nature and these concrete skills are things I really want for my children.
At 11:00, the drama group got their dress rehearsal underway. I took the others outside for Nature Hour. Jeanne and Noah led the group along the path that we use for birdwatching, and we did a trash pick-up. It was a bright, warm and beautiful day. Great friends and great conversation meant that we breezed through the forest path in no time, leaving behind us a more beautiful landscape than the one we had found. That felt quite satisfying and an excellent pre-Earth Day lesson for the kids.
Back inside, we arranged tables, chairs and picnic blankets and had lunch. After lunch was Anatomy, which always draws a crowd. Today, they were studying the eye. Cindy showed them how to make an overlay model of the parts of the eye, as well as a sheet with the braille alphabet made of tiny drops of glue on paper. After the more theoretical part, she set up four experimental stations where the kids could try activities related to sight and optical illusions. Noah missed most of it, as he had been playing outside, but when Cindy gave us a quick recap of what they had done, Noah was interested and repeated the exercises. In fact, “the eye” made for some very interesting after-dinner conversation as the kids slurped up some ice cream and told their dad about their day.
The reason I missed those experiments was that Mr. Quinn came up to get me. Luba, Julie and I followed him out to the barn so we could get the wool from the sheep he had sheared on Monday. He gave us some nice wool and leant us a poster with the different breeds of sheep on it. As the kids trickled out, we set up bins and hooked up a hose. Luba led the kids in multiple rounds of rinsing and washing the wool before laying it out to dry on a sheet on the veranda. This is the second step in our ongoing workshop of taking wool from the sheep to the knitting table, and I’m loving every minute of it.
I hurried back in to meet Aita Slim, the new art teacher at the Nook. She’ll be teaching a series of workshops to our older kids. Today, she taught them about proportion, especially in relationship to drawing the human body. Zahra found the exercise difficult, but she’s determined to work some more on it this week. Having this local artist at the Nook is such a blessing. It fits into this notion of developing all parts of our being. I thought it was pretty great to go from science to washing wool to art—and then out on the field for baseball!
And baseball was a big hit. Isabelle had the kids batting, catching and running the bases. On this hot, already-summer day, it was a great way wrap up our time at the Nook.
But our day wasn’t over yet! We drove straight to our friends’ house for dinner—our first barbecue of the season. Then we attended the kids’ school art show and got to see Kieran’s sock monkey and Ainsley’s snowmen painting. We squeezed out the last drops of this glorious day with them at a park on the water before heading home for bed.
But not before discussing the human eye while spooning up ice cream.