We have been slowly working our way through Before Five in a Row, doing the suggested activities as I see fit. However, when I attended a homeschooling conference a few weeks ago, I found volume one of Five in a Row and four or five of the suggested picture books at the used book sale, so I decided to re-double my efforts at making a more deliberate attempt at “rowing” the books we have yet to do from Before Five in a Row in anticipation of making Five in a Row part of our day during Lulu’s kindergarten. (For more explanation about the concept of Five in a Row and what it means to “row” the books, check out the Five in a Row website and message boards.)
Play with Me, one of the Before Five in a Row selections, is the charming story of a little girl who goes out into a meadow to find a playmate. However, each one of her attempts at coaxing the animals she finds there to play with her is met with rejection when the animals scurry away from her. The little girl finally just sits quietly by the pond, and lo and behold, the animals return! One of the last illustrations in the book is a sweet one of a fawn licking the little girls’ cheek. First published in 1955, Play with Me is a Caldecott Honor book. It is a quiet, contemplative, deliberate book that gets better and better with each reading.
After we read this book a few times, I knew it was time to take this experience outside the pages of the book! My parents have a little less than 100 acres of property, including pasture land and a pond! I was excited about the prospect of recreating some of what happened in the book for my own little girls.
Someone really needs to remind me not to anticipate all these little educational experiences too much–they rarely ever go as planned. 🙂 Lulu absolutely refused to go up into the pasture because the cows (who were then in an entirely different part of the pasture) might decide to go up to the pond. She elected to stay at the house with my mom and watch the new kittens through the window instead (actually, I think she finally did come outside and hold them).
Louise, however, was game, so she, my dad, and I traveled up to the pond in his pickup truck. We had high hopes of seeing the snapping turtle that resides in the pond, but he was too shy to show himself. We did see quite a few insects of different varieties (mainly dragonflies), but we had no sort of experience at all like the little girl in the book. We didn’t even see a frog, but we did hear lots of them. Maybe we just weren’t quiet enough.
After walking around the pond and observing the wet-weather spring that feeds the pond, circumventing fire ant hills (Louise is extremely leery of them because she has had an unfortunate run-in with fire ants earlier this spring), observing a thorn tree (which I had never seen before), and wondering whether my grandparents had planted the rosebush that grows beside the pond (the property was theirs, and granny’s family’s before that), we climbed back in the truck to ride a little further and survey the pasture. On the backside of the pasture, daddy asked me if I wanted to go down to the creek. The creek figures heavily into my memories of summers with my grandparents, so I readily agreed.
It turns out that the path to the creek was just too overgrown to traverse with a three year old, so we only walked as far as the fence would allow. However, Louise had a fabulous time collecting treasures like hickory nuts, acorns, and rocks, and I had fun trying out the macro setting on my camera:
Although it wasn’t exactly the experience I had in mind, there is something inherently worthwhile about just being in nature . Sometimes you’ve just got to let it be. The pure joy Louise exhibited was worth it, to be sure!