Monday, November 11, 2013

My Little Environmentalists

We decided to go on a nature walk today to collect some samples for our science lesson on composting.  We are learning about plants and the way that they naturally decompose and become dirt.  We set out to dig up an area under a tree to get leaves, dirt and anything else that came with it.  Our plan was to get some different samples then bring them back home and check them out with a magnifying glass.  That was the plan, anyway.

They were all about the objective at first.  They carried around their plastic Target and Publix bags and grabbed rocks, dirt, leaves and anything else that they found interesting.  We made our way through the trails of the nature perserve listening for creatures and trying to find them.  About thirty feet down the trail, my oldest announced he had to pee "really really bad".  Since I am 5 months pregnant, I never turn down an opportunity to go to the bathroom.  We found a sign pointing us in the right direction and headed that way.

We collected pinecones as we meandered through picnic tables and grills and finally came to the little cabin that held the bathrooms.  The boys ran up the ramp and held the bathroom door for me.  We each grabbed a stall (my little one likes to pretend like he's actually potty trained) and did our business.  That's when the lesson really began.

"Mommy!!!  My potty is super duper deep!  I'm kinda afraid I will fall in the hole!" my oldest yelled under the stall door.  "Is your potty super duper deep?" he asked.  I'm not one to really analyze toilets but, nonetheless, I thought I would check it out.  That's when I saw a sign above that explained that this was an "environmentally friendly composting toilet".  The sign detailed the process of turning waste into usable dirt without chemicals or water.  Amazingly, it didn't even stink in there.  I asked my boys to come in and explained that it was just like the leaves.  Our waste would eventually become dirt, too.  They were fascinated.

"Poopy!  Be Dirt?" my youngest asked.  "HOW in the world does it do that?!" my oldest asked. I did my best to explain what I knew but told them we could look it all up when we got home.  We spent twenty minutes in that bathroom as they boys ran from toilet to toilet comparing the depth of each hole.  I should have known they would be more interested in the topic if it could be taught with poop.

If I am learning anything from this homeschooling journey, it's that I have to stay flexible.  They learned the lesson in a way I never could have anticipated and they really really enjoyed it.  Did I want to stay in the bathroom that long?  No way.  But I planted my feet and put a smile on my face when I realized that this particular moment was not about me.  It was about their little minds being opened to a whole new concept in whatever way sparked their interest.  Even if I did have to talk about poop.

How can you teach your children in a way that uses their interests as your gateway?

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