Put simply, we have spent three days on the beach this week but brake that down and we've covered a massive range of subjects: PE, coordination skills, maths, english, free play, conservation, meteorology, marine biology, mycology and geography. That's probably most subjects from the National Curriculum and more.
In the form of walking, swimming, jumping, sprinting, racing, running and football.
Coordination Skills & Maths
In the form of counting how many times Jenson could throw and catch a ball. He caught it 25 times in a row and when throwing it to each other we managed 19 consecutive catches.
In the form of story telling and writing. This is always such a favourite activity of mine and dare I say it Jenson's too. The freedom to write as big as he likes with no page size restrictions is always so liberating for him. His story can be as big as the beach, which on Woolacombe is just immense.
The story he wrote below quite simply reads:
"Once Upon A Time"
To illustrate the words Jenson then drew a monkey, a tree, a panda, a lion and a lizard. Make up your own ending as you wish...
It seems daft to separate everything we did above from play because it's all play based learning. The shot below however sums up Jenson's naturally happy and easy going nature that when not ravaged by the demands of school is free for him to indulge in as much as he likes.
This is such a massive subject that it seems almost impossible where to start. Taking responsibility for ones own litter seems a good place. Whenever we are on the beach I point out to the children the amount of rubbish that other people have left behind. It's quite embarrassing that the human race can show such little regard towards their environment. It sets such a bad example to children, who we all know copy their parent's behaviour. We talked about the large plastic islands that are forming in the oceans around the world and why it is so important to always take our rubbish home with us. Jenson and Wren get it, which is great to see. Wren often comments on 'naughty people' when she sees plastic bottles lying on the beach and Jenson collected a handful of rubbish walking just a metre or two. I'm sad to report that our bucket of rubbish was as full as our bucket of beautiful beach finds. As Jenson so eloquently put it: "it's going to be a rubbish world."
The first day we arrived in Devon the cloud formation was just beautiful. We saw this stunning mackerel sky. Reading up on what it means, we discovered it indicates change is likely. This is associated in the following weather lore:
"Mackerel sky, mackerel sky - never long wet, never long dry."
Reading on, we learned that if you want to work out whether it is a change for better or worse then you need to know the difference between the two types of cloud that can create a mackerel sky: altocumulus and cirrocumulus.
An altocumulus mackerel sky will often have long thick lines running perpendicular to the direction the upper wind is blowing. The clouds themselves will be substantial and opaque. This indicates that an improvement is more likely.
A cirrocumulus mackerel sky is made up of wispier, patchier higher clouds. There are no thick lines and the clouds appear translucent. These clouds can run before a front and the accompanying bad weather.
The picture I took below suggests altocumulus mackerel sky.
The beach has such a wealth of natural, learning resources that one is never lost for something new to discover. These last three days have just further cemented Jenson's understanding of marine life and his ability to correctly identity different species.
Below we have a star fish and the egg sack of a dog fish. Next week we will log on to the shark trust's website and input the data of where we found the egg sack as part of our citizen scientist project.
Jenson simply loved running his hands over this thick carpet of muscles we found covering a rock at low tide.
On one beach we found three different species of crab and Jenson was able to correctly identify each, (from left to right or top to bottom): velvet swimmer crab, edible crab and shore crab.
Out of the three different sea anemones Jenson knows, his favourite by far is the one called snake locks. It remind me of the serpent like head of Medusa. We also found a three legged star fish which we know will be okay as it can regrow its legs.
Otherwise known as the branch of biology concerned with the systematic study of fungi. Walking back up from the beach across Morte Point we stumbled across what appears to be five different species of fungi. I have since been to the Red Cross book shop on the Bath Road and found a super fungi book but there are thousands of pictures to get through. We are still trying to identify each one - it's proving a big challenge!
On the journey down to Devon we talked a lot about the different counties we were driving through. Since being in Devon, we've looked at local landmarks to help pin point our location. Headlands such as Hartland Point, Baggy Point and Morte Point, which can all be seen from our house, are excellent ways for Jenson to understand more about our coastline.
Quite simply, there is no better classroom than the one found on the beach. All senses become stimulated and as such a child's whole being, body, mind and spirit, becomes engaged in the process of learning. By the end of our three days Jenson proclaimed that it's loads more fun outdoors. I couldn't have said it better myself.