Instead of driving my daughter to school, I find it much nicer to take the shuttle bus that loops around the UCSC campus, get off at the lower campus stop and walk past the women’s center. This leads me to a beautiful cypress grove adjacent to her school. It’s so much calmer to start the day this way!
There is nothing more easy and beautiful than a leaf rubbing. I did this activity with toddlers a couple of weeks ago while at work and again with Phoebe just yesterday. Phoebe is old enough to understand that veins transport water through the leaf and this activity is a good way to bring the veins to the fore. I dried them flat for a day before sandwiching them between two pieces pf paper and rubbing a crayon over the top.
Although we don’t actually have jaguars here like Phoebe was imagining, we do have mountain lions and sightings have been quite common lately even in urban areas. Attacks are still extremely rare across all of California. Still, I keep my baby close and we hike where we know there will be a lot of people on the trail.
Phoebe spotted a mossy branch the other day and pointed it out.
“Yeah,” I said, “You can take that home and examine it with your magnifying glass.”
“What does ‘examine’ mean?” she asked.
“To look closely and make observations. You know what observations are,” I replied. “You’re learning a lot of scientific terms.”
“That’s because I am a scientist,” she asserted. “I’m a ballerina scientist. Do you know what ballerina scientists do?”
“No, what do they do?”
“They dance all around through the forest and when they spot something interesting, they stop and take it home and observe it. They do that again and again and again. That’s what they do.”
She brought these home to examine with her magnifying glass.
Phoebe is really excited about keeping a journal of her observations while adventuring. Here she draws a depiction of the sycamore leaf, a tree native to California. Yesterday she asked to bring materials to draw the koi in the pond, too. It’s great. Art is about refining your ability to see deeply into things. When a child (or an adult for that matter) is asked to draw what they see in their own way, they notice small, beautiful details previously missed. This is how I feel when I practice macro photography of wildflowers; the camera enables me to exalt the tiniest of features.