I try to take my youngest two boys to the woods and beach at least once a week. In recent weeks, the woods trips have included a “gentle introduction to basic ecology for four & two year olds” (I was an ecologist BC!) – just very basic chatting / observing as we walk round.
In the car, on route, we were talking about food chains and hedgerows and blackberry bushes –
Me: Sun & mineral-rich water feed…?
Gabriel: Blackberry bushes.
Me: And what eats blackberry bushes? (followed by various clues describing a mouse)….
Gabriel: A mouse!
Me: And what might eat the mouse?
Gabriel: A gruffalo!!
Then, when walking round, we were talking about plants and trees. Gabriel picked a leaf –
Me: “What kind of leaf is it? It’s a leaf from an…?”
I fear that modern-day popular culture may be having a greater impact on my children than I’d previously thought!!
I then spotted a heron so showed both boys and then talked a bit about how it eats fish and how it stands in water, on its long legs, and watches for fish which it then catches in it’s sharp beak, etc.
Just before the end of the walk I ask Gabriel what we’d seen on our walk and he remembers the heron. I ask him what the heron eats, he answers ‘fish’. I ask him if he remembered how the heron catches the fish. At this point Gabriel fixes me with a look and grins, before reeling out a range of methods for catching fish, from the sensible like using a rod/net to the obscure such as using a pair of glasses to scoop them out of the water and even catching them on a squirrel’s bushy tail.
Out-smarted-arsed by a four year old. Again. I give up!
(I did get the last laugh though when I later overheard him telling Isly about the heron he’d seen and about how “it stands on its long legs to catch fish in its long beak by bending its long neck”. Job done. xx)