Balancing the Curriculum

Yesterday, I sat looking at the girls’ toy shelves and was noting a lack of balance in our materials. I was looking for science materials in particular, an area I tend to overlook. That’s the thought that started the spiral of self-doubt. How can I provide them with a more balanced experience? A provocation perhaps? Should we cook more? Summer’s here – sink or float activities? Or maybe open-ended materials. Sensory bottles? Is that science? Finally, I spent a few minutes flipping through a favorite materials catalog for inspiration.


By the end of the afternoon, well . . . I was feeling a little like this:


Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child, and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature – why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”  – Rachel Carson


Then came today.



A hike with friends.




Some of nature’s most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake.   – Rachel Carson




Taking the time to make small discoveries, to wonder alongside my daughter, to hold her hand as she stopped to pick up stones and a stick. To stand by her side as she fell on the trail and got up again when she walked too eagerly down a slope. Geology. Physics. Biology. She was learning them all without the necessity of adding labels to them. As for Moon, she slept and nursed through the majority of the hike.


Learning materials and toys have their place but so does experience and discovery. Thanks for the reminder Greysen.





3 thoughts on “Balancing the Curriculum

  1. I love nature-based science so, so much! As an adult I’m learning all the time on our nature walks too. Slowly I’m learning the names of local birds, trees, plants, aquatic life. I bring my field guide along and we spend warm afternoons in the shade reading about Giant Horsetails. That’s science for us!

    1. A field guide is a great idea! I need a reference like that. When I’m out in nature, I see only see flower or bird, but can spot poison oak. I am very lucky to have had a knowledgable friend walk along with us yesterday. She found the egg and pointed out turkey vultures to us. We take walks but not out in nature enough. Something I’d like to do more often.

  2. this is beautiful marisa! i think sometimes we get too wrapped up in trying to ‘teach’ when it is really all about being able to take a step back and watching as our children discover! in the discovery they are learning! and we are learning with them. how beautiful is that? i love the quotes and the pictures you posted!! rachel carson and i go way back! haha. i did a report on her when i was little and have very fond memories of it 🙂

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