Yesterday the sun finally peeked out from behind the gray clouds that seem to have taken a permanent place in our small corner of Northwest Arkansas this winter. It was nice, even a bit warm, so I stepped outside just to soak up it’s rays and take it all in. As I stood there warming my face I peeked over the rail of our front porch and noticed that there was a single, purple, spring crocus tucked in among all of the dried leaves from fall; bringing color to our otherwise very brown landscape.
Charlotte Bronte, in Jane Eyre described a similar scene to this:
Spring drew on… and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
For me, this is the beauty of the changing seasons (whether they be literal or the seasons of my life): that with them comes the arrival of new hope. As my senses are awakened to the smell of new grass, the sound of the chirping wren outside our window, the sight of fresh flowers breaking through the earth, the feel of the warmth of the sun on our skin, and the taste of fresh fruits from the garden my body is refreshed and reminded that their is so much more to come.
This months morning time bundle is centered around our senses and how they are re-awakened with the arrival of spring. This new season brings a fresh enthusiasm to work with our hands and clean out the damp and dusty corners of our home, the smell of green grass beckons us to come outside and enjoy the view. We are ready to brush aside the hearty breads and soups of winter and taste something lighter. I have tried to capture these feelings in this months morning time bundle, I hope it makes as much sense to you as it did to me!
Download the March 2019 bundle by clicking here.
This month we will be listening to Morgenstemming (Morning Mood) by Edvard Grieg. I believe the beginning of this piece will be familiar to most of us. Unusually, the climax of this work comes early signifying the breaking of the sun. You should notice it around the 1 minute mark. This is a short piece in comparison to some of the others we have done, but I think you will enjoy it just the same.
Again, the purpose of music in the bundle it to teach our children to appreciate different types of music and to give them a feast of variety. To do this, the simplest way to saturate ourselves with this composition is simply to listen. I turn it on while we do our daily chores or play it while they do math, whenever there is a quiet moment. Occasionally, maybe once a week, I will have them listen intently while I play the music and read a little excerpt about the composer.
This month we will be memorizing “Smells” by Kathryn Worth. Recently, on my trip to the Wild + Free conference in Frisco, TX I drove past a beautiful bright green field of grass which was a welcome sight from the dull brown we have been experiencing here. In that brief moment the smell of grass came wafting through the vents of my car and instantly I recalled the smell of spring. I think this poem puts those feelings and emotions into words so well and is definitely something we can all relate to.
Through all the frozen winter
My Nose has grown most lonely
For lovely, lovely colored smells
That come in springtime only.
The purple smell of lilacs,
The yellow smell that blows
Across the air of meadows
Where bright forsythia grows.
The tall pink smell of peach trees,
The low white smell of clover,
And everywhere the great green smell
Of grass the whole world over.
Choosing the art piece this month proved to be a challenge. There were so many beautiful pieces to choose from and so many I wanted to include. Ultimately though, I thought this incredible piece titled “The Busy Bee” from Winslow Homer really captured all of the things we would be studying this month.
Winslow Homer is one of my favorite artists. I love the way he saw things and the way that they were transferred to his art. If we view his art as a timeline we see the different seasons of his life so clearly. In the early part of his art career he was sent to the front lines of the American Civil War. Here he sketched battle scenes and camp life, the quiet moments as well as the chaotic ones. After the war he turned his attention primarily to scenes of childhood and young women, reflecting on simpler times, both his own and the nation as a whole. This continued throughout the 1870s while he continued painting mostly rural scenes of farm life, children playing, and young adults courting. But in the early 1880’s critics began to see a different type of style emerging from Homer, these are considered his works of “High Art”.
As you study this art piece with your children, I encourage you to look at other pieces by Homer. I have found that The Athenaeum is a great resource for picture study. Here is a link to Homer’s pieces sorted by the year completed.
For additional study of Homer you can also include these books in your study:
- A Weekend with Winslow Homer by Ann Beneduce
- Winslow Homer | Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists
Isn’t spring such a wonderful testament of God’s faithfulness? Just as the sun rises, He also gives us seasons. It is His way of providing for our needs. This scripture passage reminded me of His faithfulness and also of His care. In our dirtiness and filth He washes us clean, giving us new opportunities for growth and beauty in our lives.
So let us come near to God with a sincere heart. Let us come near boldly because of our faith. Our hearts have been sprinkled. Out minds have been cleansed from a sense of guilt. Our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The God who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:22 – 23
Again, this month, we will be using Anna Comstock’s The Handbook of Nature Study to aid us in our examination of clover. You can find the clover section on pages 591 – 598.
Much of our study will be outside, especially while observing the honey bee as it fertilizes the clover and uses the clover of the honey to sustain itself.When studying the anatomy of clover each child should dig up a plant stalk being careful to collect the roots also. This study can be done indoors if needed. Be sure to use the handbook to guide you.
Lemons have such a huge role in the spring season: we clean our homes with them, freshen our sheets with their smell, and cool off our bodies with sweet lemonade. This month I thought it would be fun to spend a little time in the kitchen together, baking something tart and sweet and working together to make a spring scented simmer pot for the stove. Both of these activities are really simple, even for small hands, just make sure to include them as you see fit based on their abilities and interest level.
Lemon Shortbread Cookies
- 1 Cup Softened Butter (unsalted)
- 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Lemon Extract
- 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup Cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp Salt
Lemon Cookie Frosting
- 1 1/3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
Cream softened butter, powdered sugar, and lemon extract together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well combined by mixing in a stand mixer on low for 1 minute. (They should be mixed well but still crumbly)
Adjust the speed on the mixer to medium and mix for an additional 2-3 minutes. Until the dough comes together (mine came together around the 2 minute mark).
Roll the dough out into a 9"x12" rectangle on parchment paper (I like to use the parchment with grids). After it is 9"x12" transfer the parchment and dough to a baking sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment, and place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.
While the dough is cooling preheat your oven to 325º.
After refrigeration, lift the dough and parchment from the baking sheet and cut into 1 1/2" squares. (This should yield 48 cookies). Spread the cookies apart and place the parchment and cookies back onto the cookie sheet. These cookies maintain their shape very well so very little space is needed between the cookies. Just to be safe I still separated them onto 2 baking sheets.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until their edges begin to turn a pale brown. Cool for one minute on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Lemon Cookie Frosting
After cookies are completely cooled combine powdered sugar, the juice from 1 lemon (about 3-4 Tbsp), and a tbsp of lemon zest together in a small bowl. This frosting will be drizzled onto the cookies. If necessary you can add more water (1 small drop at a time) to thin.
Using a spoon, drizzle the frosting over the cookies in a large sweeping motion.
This month you can also make a spring scented simmer pot. We prepared ours in pint sized Mason Jars that I had on hand. They are very simple to make and even more fun to give away. Once prepared these jars can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks until you are ready to use them. When you do, simply dump all of the ingredients into a medium sized pot onto the stove combined with another pint sized jar of water and summer on your stove’s lowest heat setting. Be careful to watch these throughout the day, making sure to check the water level. As the water evaporates add more and as always do not leave these unattended.
Gather your ingredients (each pint sized jar takes the following):
1 Wide Rimmed Pint Sized Mason Jar
1 1/2 Lemon
1 TSP Vanilla Extract
1 Sprig of the herb of your choice (basil, mint, and rosemary are good options). We used mint.
1 5.5″sq. piece of fabric (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)
- Slice 1 lemon into small sections. Carefully, place each slice into the mason jar. Take 1/2 of another lemon and cut it into 2 wedges. Please the 2 wedges on top of the lemon slices.
- Add 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Place 1 sprig of your herb into the mason jar. We made sure to place it close to the outside of the jar so that it would be seen.
- Fill container with water.
- Place the lid on the Mason Jar, cover with your piece of fabric, and then screw the ring on the jar.
After you have spent some time in the kitchen. If you would like you can have your children give some of their new homemade cookies and simmer pots away. We wrapped our cookies in parchment paper and tied them up with ribbon we made in last months morning time bundle.
- Hymn Study: We follow the Happy Hymnody hymn of the month. March’s hymn is And Can It Be, That I should Gain? by Charles Wesley. Please be sure to include this in your morning time, you would be so, so glad you did. There is nothing sweeter than hearing the voices of our little ones lifting up their praise to God.
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