Today we finished Hannah's unit study on leaves. We started our study at our house and ended it at MeeMaw and Kimpaw's house because of the hurricane evacuation. This actually ended up working to our advantage because we were able to do two nature walks: one at our house with our local trees and bushes and another at MeeMaw and Kimpaw's house with theirs.
If you know me well at all, you know that this particular unit really stretched me! (If you've never heard the story, when I first got "the bug" six years ago and made a comment to Greg about wanting a baby, he said something to the effect of, "You've killed every plant and every fish we've ever had, and you want me to give you a baby?!") So imagine my reaction when I looked at my teacher's manual and saw that I had to have a plant—a real one—for the first day's lesson! I groaned, rolled my eyes, and did what anyone with a black thumb of death would do: headed to Market Basket and bought the prettiest ivy they had!
When we got it home on Thursday, we talked about how pretty it looked with its full spread of healthy green leaves. We talked about how the leaves look so healthy because they get the right amount of sunlight, water, and food. Then we chose one particular leaf that didn't feel like staying with the plant. Instead, he felt like living all by himself and doing things his way. We watered the plant throughout the week and saw how the leaves that were still connected to the plant were thriving, but the one leaf who chose to go his own way was withering and dying. I told Hannah that these leaves are like different types of people, and the plant is like God. When we choose to stay with God, He gives us what we need; but when we choose to reject Him and try to live without Him, our spirit dries up and dies. That's a pretty mature concept for a 5-year-old to grasp, and I wasn't sure whether or not she actually got it. However, Hannah heard MeeMaw and I talking about someone we love very much who isn't making wise choices right now, and she said, "Mom, is ******* like the leaf who tried to live on its own apart from the plant?" I am constantly amazed at how effortlessly this curriculum integrates Biblical truths into its science lessons in such a way that even a 5-year-old is able to comprehend it!
We took Friday off because some very dear friends came to stay with us for a couple days, so on Saturday we went on a nature walk in our neigborhood. We collected leaves from 14 different trees and bushes. The kids love doing hands-on things like this! They notice so many details: different shapes, colors, sizes, textures, even scents! After our nature walk, we came home and pressed the leaves under a ridiculously tall stack of books.
Church and AWANA were both cancelled on Sunday because of the hurricane, so we used part of the day to find some more leaves and make leaf rubbings. I'm embarrased to admit that I have been a stay-at-home mom for five years now, and this is the first time Hannah has made leaf rubbings! She LOVED it! She did one page with summer leaves (green) and another page with fall leaves (red, yellow, orange, brown), and I added some information to the bottom of each page about what makes the leaves change color.
Hannah also got her badge on Sunday. Her special words for this unit were "I will live and grow in Jesus." Here is a picture of her wearing her badge and standing next to our new ivy. You can see that it is still beautiful and green. I'll post its obituary in a week or two, I'm sure. :o)
When we got to MeeMaw and Kimpaw's on Monday, we went on another nature walk and gathered more leaves. This time we were focusing on different shapes of leaves. As we gathered them, Hannah would tell me whether they were toothed, smooth, lobed, or needles. She even took along some paper and drew pictures of them as we found them.
When we got back to MeeMaw and Kimpaw's kitchen, we separated the leaves into groups based on their shape and painted leaf outlines. On Tuesday, we gathered our paintings and went back outside with Kimpaw so he could help us determine what type of trees our leaves were from.
Tuesday afternoon, we read A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry. Then Hannah wrote and illustrated her own version of the book!
Finally, on Wednesday, we made it back home and took a final look at our rebellious leaf that chose to live on its own. It was obviously dead, while the others were obviously thriving. (Don't be so shocked. Remember, I was evacuated. I wasn't there to harm it.) We talked about what it means to stay with God and to live apart from God, read some Bible passages together, and sang, "Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day." It was a wonderful time!
Here is what Hannah told me about leaves on Day 1 of our unit:
"I know that leaves fall on the ground, and they grow on trees. And when leaves are brown, they're dead; and when they're green, they're alive. Oh, and caterpillars like to eat leaves, and they can eat any kind of leaves, any color. Leaves are very diamond-shaped. Some leaves can fall in water, and leaves fall on the ground. I don't know what else."
Here is what she said on Day 6:
"Leaves have roots under them. Leaves grow on trees. Whenever it's fall, they fall down. Then buds come and that's the beginning of new leaves, and they get greener and greener. Leaves turn colors because cholorphyll keeps them green, but then it drains out. Leaves turn green with chlorophyll. You can build things out of wood from trees. Noah built an ark out of wood. Leaves make food for plants. It takes sunlight and carbon dioxide and water, and then it makes sugar so the plant can grow. Leaves fall when it's winter. Leaves are different shapes: one is toothed, one is lobed, and one is smooth. I can't think of anymore things about leaves."
I admit, I had to help her with "chlorophyll," and I had to correct her when she said that leaves use sunlight, oxygen, and water to make food. (Keep in mind, this is the child who asks for potassium in her balloons so they'll float!) Still, I don't think that's half bad for a kid whose only concept of caring for plants is vacuuming the plastic leaves. She may look like her MeeMaw, but I pray she has her Kimpaw's very skilled green thumbs!