deer skull


I really like it when my home school resources doubles as my home décor.  It helps to enjoy natural  objects and biology aesthetically as well as intellectually.  Then resources and décor can be found inexpensively and just sort of, you know, lying around. 

Around here we love our skulls.  Sometimes we are given a beautifully prepared clean skull, such as the deer in these pictures, and sometimes are given a freshly decapitated head and must do the preparation itself.  (The later situation is why ants are bros.)  Some types of learning is messier than others.

In our home, our formal instruction time is quite minimal (each child has one subject that they absolutely must learn and absolutely hate to do, so a half hour of each day is dedicated to progress, no matter how small, in that subject) and the rest of the time the childs get to pursue what they are interested in.  So it's good to have some stuff about the house for the childs to get interested in.

In a perfect universe my home would be a large industrial space that could be temporarily partitioned into smaller human size work spaces, with insane amounts of tool/materials storage, ample heat and a fully stocked kitchen.  With bean bag chairs, cozy reading corners and ample electrical plug ins.  Basically it looks like an interactive science center, but with fewer toddlers.

In reality, I have a home about the size of the bathroom off of a large industrial space and if I put in a cozy little reading corner here, we'd have to move out the dining room table.  The storage is nearly non-existent.  If we have it, it's out in the open.  Everything must serve double duty.

Thus, having the interesting things about that the childs can get interested in is a tricky bit of curating and use of outside home resources.  But we are in luck there because between the woods and the library, we can get an amazing array of materials to work with.  And when we are done with it, it can go back to continue its natural lifecycle elsewhere.

Some items are keepers, though.  This deer skull came from friends, one had the head, one cleaned it, and it's beautiful.  I try not to over interpret our natural objects until the childs have developed a good amount of familiarity with it.  Labelling something with a value like interesting or ugly or morbid is limiting, whether that be for good or not, and I want them to explore it first before the label get slopped around on things.  My kids tend to be interested in anatomy and view dead animals as fascinating but I know that some visitors to our home have different views.  Like the friend of boy child's who plays a game called 'count the creepy heads' in our living room.

Anybody interested in cleaning and studying animals bones with their children may find Jakes's Bones website interesting and informative.  I know that if you wish to have more skulls in your life, you only need to let people know and they will shower you with boney gifts.  Skulls are one of those things that people find intriguing and beautiful yet somewhat disturbing.  They are hesitate to trash something lovely but do not necessarily want to keep it themselves.  Gifting it to a novice collector and science enthusiast uncomplicates the situation. So, go ahead, just ask about.  You will most likely become rich in bone.

Girl child in particular is a bit of a bone nerd, expanding her love of skulls to beyond the ones in our home out to studies of ossuaries (mostly European ones we've read about in books and on the Internet) and to human evolution and the changes in skull shape.  In fact, last week we were in a shop when she ran across a wooden carving of a homo erectus skull and she did a little fan girl squee.  You never know where the childs are going to take their passions.  So I'm just here, quietly curating our home, bringing as much of the world in as I can fit in these close quarters without bursting.

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