EWWWWW!! Probably not the kind of image you're expecting to see from a vegetarian-tree-hugging-conservative-home-schooling blog I'm sure! Well there's probably more weird stuff you'll see here too.......But anyway, to the point of this post: These are beef bones, probably from some poor cow's leg (now how's he gonna win that limbo contest?). I picked them up the other day at the dog food store for our two fur-people (one elderly but evil Cairn terrier, and one Newfoundland, who isn't evil but she's awfully goofy). And the minute I put the bones on the counter the science class began: What's this?, what are the different parts?, where's the skin?, where's the tissue?, are they hollow?, why not? what's in the middle of them?, what happens if a dog eats a bone from a diseased cow?, how long will it take the dogs to eat them?.....and so on.
Here's the picture I took this evening of one bone fresh from the freezer (in the foreground) and one of the bones that's been outside for a couple of days. They started off the same size, so you can see that whoever had this bone was pretty busy! (probably Shalom, our Newfoundland, the other bone got buried almost immediately by the Cairn terrier and I haven't seen it today)
side by side comparison after a couple of days
This view shows how I got to teach my daughter about what the word "cross section" means. We had talked about that word a couple of weeks ago when we were looking at a cross section drawing of Shakespeare's Globe Theater, but here we got to talk about how important cross section images are in science.
And then we got to talk about what's in the middle of these bones and why the lady at the store recommended that we get shorter, rather than super long bones (because the marrow inside would be easier for them to access). So then we got to talk about what marrow is, why it's important for animals and humans to have healthy marrow and what happens to us when our marrow isn't healthy. And that led to a discussion about how to keep our bones and our bodies as healthy as possible. And that led us to talk about why we're always stressing "green light" foods in this house and why we eat so many leafy greens, grains (including lots of quinoa), legumes and fresh fruits. (the term "green light" foods comes from the book "Eat Healthy, Feel Great" by Dr. Sears, a book given to our daughter when she was two by Aunt Glynis and our daughter immediately memorized every food in EVERY category and began her tenure as the Food Police in our family---oy!!....but it's a GREAT book for kids of all ages, and it removes Mom or Dad from being The Food Nagger, which is a win-win!)
marrow be gone!
So this whole experience got me thinking.......beef bones are DISGUSTING!! Why would ANYONE eat the insides of another living thing and how did I EVER eat a hamburger?? EWWWW!!! But that's probably for another blog under another title......
No, what I was really thinking was how grateful I am that we have time together in order to do this kind of stuff at the kitchen counter. Now, could this have happened had my daughter been in public school (or private)? Probably. My dad was constantly teaching me stuff, every spare second he had with me (and had I paid attention I might have actually learned DOS or Fortran and gone on to become uber smart and disgustingly wealthy, but I digress). But in our case, the chances that my daughter would have the capacity to be engaged with us during her "off time" from public school would be very slim due to the fact that most middle school kids now have upwards of four hours a night of homework and they just don't have the time or the inclination to stand around and talk about dead animals.
So I just wanted to encourage all of us (me included) that we have so many opportunities in our every day life to really engage in serious "academics". We have this amazing gift called TIME....even if it's just a minute or two here and there (depending on your child's developmental stage and attention span), our kids ARE paying attention and this is the kind of stuff they're going to remember-not countless handouts and workbook worksheets.
P.S. And here's a real-life, real-time example: I'm sitting here finishing this post, my daughter just came into the living room and told my husband how in one of the Renaissance art books that we've been reading she saw a painting from a famous Renaissance painter that included a Cairn terrier in it. She couldn't name the painter, but she knows he's from the Renaissance and she knows it included a dog....what could be more important? (!! :)