I have written dozens of articles that reference why Jack and Owen take an art history class from me and collect fossils. Both learning experiences have to do with Jack wanting to know about a couple of paintings about which I was teaching on an online art history class. That began teaching Jack and Owen taking my art history class. This is their textbook.
This picture was taken a couple of years ago when the boys were freshmen. There are upper class now.
They both know several dozen paintings and who painted them. Jack and I were throwing rocks into the lake behind my home when he saw some fossils in a rock that he was about to throw into the lake. That began the Jack and Owen's fossil collection, which contains dinosaur coprolite, fish, trilobites, ammonites, clams, and dinosaur bear, house, and cave bear teeth, to mention a few.
Because of the interest that Jack and Owen have for learning about famous paintings and fossils, each of them has received several paintings with letters from various painters including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, and El Greco. Additionally, they have loads of fossils with letters from Charles Darwin explaining the fossils.
Owen's birthday was last month, and he received a letter from van Gogh about his The Red Vineyard near Arles, which was van Gogh's birthday gift. Along with the painting and letter from van Gogh, he also received two fossils with a letter from Darwin. One fossil was a trilobite and the other was a very shinny ammonites or what we call a chambered nautilus. Owen loves shiny fossils like his clam and dinosaur coprolite. Owen calls his dinosaur coprolite "dinosaur poop", which is precisely what it is.
We celebrated Jack and Owen's birthdays together when I was there last month since both occur in the first week of July. Owen decorated his birthday cake.
We sang Happy Birthday...
Owen ate his cake....
Then Owen opened his gifts from Darwin.
After celebrating Jack and Owen's birthdays together, I took their fossils upstairs to put them in their window box that I made for them. Owen came along and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him that I wanted to put away the fossils that Darwin gave them so that they wouldn't get lost.
Owen wanted to help me. So I gave him the four new fossils. Then I opened the window box, and he handed each of them to me separately, except for his shiny ammonite. I watched him feeling the smooth shell, which fascinated him. Then without saying anything, he reached into the box of fossils and pulled out the small bamboo box containing one of Jack's ammonites.
He opened the box and told me, "See Papa, they are the same thing." Owen just turned four and was able to see the relationship between ammonites even when they don't look exactly the same.
I was impressed. However, he returned to the box and found another ammonite in their collection. Again, he informed me that it is the same thing as his shiny one, even though they weren't shiny.
Just in case I missed his point, Owen went through the collection again and got a large beige ammonite, which was about 3-inches in diameter. Then he let me hold that one in one hand and gave me his shiny new one to hold in my other hand while explaining that they are the same thing.
Here was a four-year-old child who wanted to make sure that I understood how various ammonites might look differently from each other but are still the same kind of fossil. He was driven to make sure that I understood his effort to teach me about fossils.
This was not the first time that Owen taught me. During one of my weekly visits to Indy, Owen was listening to me discuss Turner's Hannibal Crossing the Alps, which is in their textbook. This is a photo of them finally finding a small speck in the painting of Hannibal on an elephant.
The point of that day's lecture was talking about how difficult it was to find Hannibal on an elephant crossing the Alps, which was the title of that painting. After much effort, they found an extremely minute object in the painting, which was Hannibal aside his elephant. In passing, I just said how difficult it would have been for Hannibal to get 40-elephants over the ice and snow of the Alps. Owen went over to Jack's Hot Wheels and returned with a Hot Wheel. Essentially, a three-year-old thought that Hannibal should have crossed the Alps not on an elephant but in a car.
Visit the "The Hand May Be a Little Child's" page to read more about this topic.