When you add a 5 gallon bucket, a cast net, 5 inquisitive children, and an impromptu, early morning trip to the beach, learning is bound to happen.
We did not purposefully set out to do school this past Tuesday morning, being that we are in the dog days of summer in Florida. My husband was the one who proposed getting up really early, so I suspect the main goal was to beat the heat.
It just goes to show, however, that when you have the mindset that the world is your classroom, and parent-educators facilitating, then every experience has the potential to become a springboard for learning. This type of learning is not just academic, it is life-enriching.
If You Catch It, They Will Learn
Some of the most useful tools for learning aren’t found in classrooms. A bucket, is an essential item for education- REAL education which involves handling, collecting, observing, and discussing. Another essential tool is a cast net. Chances are your husband has one of these gems, from when he used to catch his own shrimp for bait. Often overlooked as a tool for learning, cast nets open young minds to a world of exploration, and without one, you will be hard-pressed to catch anything of any real interest to put in your aforementioned bucket. You can add a few other essential items, such as a digital camera to record your catches and have some visuals to write about later, and maybe even record some video.
In the period of an hour my husband and his willing assistants caught two pompano, some finger mullet, a really cool tiny crab, and some neat snails. At one point a nice gentleman named Hawk stopped by our beach set-up and gave us a short lesson on types of cockles and how they get those perfect holes in one end (Hint: it has to do with one of the shark-eye snails we caught).
Being a weekday, the beach was mostly empty, and we timed it just right for the low tide, so we had lots of wide beach to explore. We collected many specimens of shells, and observed both humans and birds fishing for their morning meals.
It was a morning full of discoveries, the kind of day where lessons just spontaneously happened. It didn’t require any fancy equipment or elaborate lesson plans, but it did fuel the fire we have for learning about the world around us.
Here’s one of the many videos available on YouTube that will show you how to throw a cast net.
Keep in mind, larger nets are better for catching more creatures, but smaller nets are easier for children to handle.