It is a capital plan for the children to keep a
calendar––the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the
first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The
next year they will know when and where to look out for their
favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new
observations. Think of the zest and interest, the object, which
such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions. Mason, Vol. 1 p. 54
And so, as we seek to implement more and more of an authentic, winsome, and relational education in our homeschool, we have now added a calendar of firsts! We will use this in addition to our nature journals. Previously, many of these items were recorded in our nature journals, but now that I understand the value of a book set up in this fashion, we will be adding this form of vitality to our school.
My Calendar of Firsts was designed by the teachers at Red Mountain Community School. They collaborated with a local business, Night Owl Paper Goods, and developed this eco-chic, wooden journal. It comes in a muslin bag for carrying, but even the bag could be used for a sampler or even a holder of found nature treasures.
Our vision was small. . .we just wanted a beautiful calendar to put in our
student’s hands. The calendar of firsts is such a lovely addition to a nature
notebook. In fact, I think that it might be an easier starting point for new
Mason students. It begins with observation and a simple entry. But for those
of us already using a nature notebook, it is a simple addition to a daily or
weekly habit. – Mandy Deter, teacher at Red Mountain Community School
|Night Owl Paper Goods
It is a simple, perpetual calendar and in the past I may have just tried to cobble something together myself from a template. But I couldn’t put something as nice as this together on my own. There is something to be said for a keepsake book that the children take special care of and make entries with enthusiasm. As my husband said, “A beautiful journal begets thoughtful entries.” (He really did say that. Just now.)
Each page in My Calendar of Firsts has two columns. Each column represents a day of the month which the child will enter before he begins. Then, when a first is observed it is recorded on that day with a mention of the year that it occurred and perhaps the location. So eventually, the child may notice that the crocus first breaks through the snow during the same week, year after year. He will then eagerly anticipate the event because he knows.
This is the beginning of teaching our children science in a very different way. The observation and recording of the first snowfall, the first robin, the first morning glory or the first red leaf will pave the way for all future scientific studies by making it real, alive and something that each child, even the youngest child, will “own” and apply to their future encounters with all scientific inquiries.
To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its way of flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its times of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon the redstart and the pied fly-catcher, means a good deal of interested observation, and of, at any rate, the material for science.
-Mason, Vol. 3 p. 236
You can visit RMCS to order their Calendar of Firsts here.