Every Thursday Martin goes to the Goose-eye Wilderness School, while Sylvia and her friend Sophia create a Nature Home-school. From wild craft cooking to outdoor games to building projects to tree identification, Nature School will be a year of unfolding learning and fun.
ABOUT THE STORIES
This is a collection of 12 autumn stories, plus the 4 stories that introduce the series.
What to Do on Thursdays
Momma, brother and sister decide they want to dedicate one day a week for outside 'nature' school and they set intentions about it. By the next day, Martin is enrolled in the Goose-eye Wilderness school and Momma has formed a homeschool nature day with Sylvia's friend Sophia. "Wow!", they think, "Making intentions really works!"
The Deer Mice
On the first day of Nature school, brother and sister wake to a very rainy day. When Martin arrives at Goose-eye Wilderness School, he is surprised to see a bus has come from the city, bringing children who have never before visited the forest. Sylvia, meanwhile, is disappointed that her friend Sophia doesn't like playing in the rain.
Out in the Elements
The children in Martin's group are undeterred by the rain and have a great time playing together. That is, until Alexander — a boy who arrives late — brings an uncomfortable layer of competition to the games. Sylvia, meanwhile, manages to entice Sophia outside by falling into an empty garden bed filled with mud.
The Great Gift
Troy, one of the apprentices, helps the deer mice group work together by telling them a story about the 'great gift' — or paper birch bark. They make a fire and simmer some pine needle tea together to celebrate the year ahead. Sylvia and Sophia also have a great afternoon playing and working outside in the mud and rain. Both brother and sister end the day exhausted and very satisfied — it looks like Thursday Nature School Day is going to be a huge success!
What is Underneath
Martin is getting to know his fellow Deermice but worries that Alexander doesn’t like him. He is delighted however, to be paired with Alexander for a nature drawing project where he learns that what you see doesn’t always show what is underneath.
I Feel Orange
While Sylvia is feeling very energetic on one Nature School morning, her friend Sofia is feeling very tired. “I feel blue” she says. This inspires a long conversation, and then a project around what it is to “feel” different colors.
Martin loves making fires. He loves to watch fires burn and finds the crackling sounds soothing. Eva, one of the apprentices, has a very different picture of the true nature of fire — one that is poetic and understood as a part of the fairy world. This helps Martin see not only fire in a different light, but all things that change.
Brother and sister’s favorite game — no matter the time of day or time of year — is a game where you blend into your surroundings and try not to be seen. Martin is usually the master of this game, but when Sylvia learns a trick at Nature School, she becomes “The Invisible Girl.”
The Sword Inside
Martin wants to be a real knight for Halloween — and real knights, he says, have horses, metal helmets, and iron swords. Daddy wonders about this. Is a knight still a knight without horses, helmets, and swords? Martin doesn’t know — but he gets a surprising answer in Wilderness School that morning. He learns that knights, as well as everyone else, have swords…on the inside.
They Were Here
After attending a concert in the town hall, brother and sister learn that some famous people had visited their town in the past and had a big impact on the town’s identity. Later in the week, during Wilderness School, Martin learns that a forest is impacted every day by visiting animals, though their impact may be very subtle. This leads him to a remarkable discovery — one that makes him wonder if some of those famous people had actually made an impact on the forest as well.
Painting the In Between
One late Autumn morning, everyone is sleepy and slow moving except Daddy. He is excited because it is his favorite time of the year — a time that is in between Autumn and Winter, filled with colors that are in between other colors. This doesn’t make any sense to Sylvia and her friend Sofia — until they actually paint them. And they find that in-between colors are beautiful in a magical way.
The Color is Always There
While Sylvia and Sofia make their own colorful leaves out of paper and paint, Daneesha teaches Martin's Wilderness class how to find color even in a late autumn gray-brown New England forest. Martin also gets to know Sam better and learns that she is missing Arizona, the colorful state where she used to live.
Out in the Sticks
Sylvia learns that Sofia won't be coming to Nature school this week and resists Momma's plan to go on a hike. But when Momma explains that they are going 'out in the sticks' she is intrigued as to what that could mean. Martin, meanwhile, is frustrated with Griffin's interruptions during Troy's story. But during a 'seeking' exercise, it turns out Griffin has exactly what Martin needs.
Birds and Squirrels
Sylvia spends most of this week's Nature School day annoyed with Sofia because her friend won't do the same amount of work. Momma reminds Sylvia that everyone has their own way of helping out, but Sylvia doesn't fully appreciate this until a pair of squirrels demonstrates this lesson in their backyard.
Touch of Nature
This week's Goose-Eye school is focused on all the senses other than sight — and Martin feels a little nervous about this. What will it be like to walk around the forest without seeing? But Eva, this week's apprentice gently helps him appreciate the sounds, the smells and the touch that the natural world offers.
Brother and sister wake to an ice storm and wonder if Goose-eye Wilderness School will be cancelled. Sylvia hopes so because she loves the idea of having her brother experience her school. But when Martin does end of going to Wilderness school, he has mixed feelings about it. Luckily Helmut, the substitute apprentice for this week, offers a picture of feelings that is exactly how Martin feels - and he realizes he is missing his sister.