Nature Study in Your Homeschool

Many years ago, when my oldest was a tiny little thing, we began the art of nature study. We started with colored pencils, crayons, and a simple mixed notebook. In the following years, as we have added more littles to the family, I have neglected our nature study and moved to more outside play and exploration.

Now that my oldest is 10, and my next-youngest is 4, I think it is time to get back into the fun of nature study and journaling! So for Christmas, one of our grandparents got our family the No Sweat Nature Study subscription for a year. (this post is NOT a review of the subscription. we are just really enjoying it!)

This is the perfect time to add it into our schooling because A) Baby, it’s cold outside! and B) Christmas gifts ideas!

So for part of their Christmas we are adding a few supplies to our homeschool nature study

To go along with our nature study lessons, we also got the Chalk Pastel, You Are An Artist subscription. If you have been in the homeschool community for very long, you probably know all about Nana, and her chalk pastels.  If not, you’re definitely missing out! These are so fun, laid back, and a blessing to our homeschool. All of my kids feel accomplished after a lesson with Nana!

When we think of nature study, we often think of spring and fall, butterflies frogs, and birds. But there is so much to study and learn in winter, too!

If you’re not interested in a subscription to nature study lessons, you can do simple lessons yourself. Start with some good books on the topic of your choice, look up some fun pictures of the animal, plant, etc to sketch from. Then go out into nature and see if you can find it!

We love the video lessons because they go in depth about the colors, and details of the topic. The teacher also gives opportunities to take notes, so my children are learning tp write notes on their sketches (yes, even the 4 year old!). As our family starts the learning process of backpacking together, I think nature study will fit in nicely with our outings. I hope to do one study a week on Fridays or Saturdays.

 

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365 Devotional Journals with Ellie Claire

Ellie Claire Christian Books and More

I am so thankful for the beautiful products Ellie Claire has sent me to review- Y’all, if you love to journal, know someone that does, or want to find a starting place- this is it! (Check out my video below for an in depth flip through of each journal.)

3 Ellie Claire 365 devotionals image

These devotionals are absolutely delicious! Each one has a cover to feast your eyes upon, and are filled with scripture and quotes that will motivate and invigorate all, from young to old!

Each book would make a perfect gift for a young lady to begin devotional journaling, and would be great grandma gifts (think of grandma journaling to her grandkids in these). In each you will find a color coordinated ribbon bookmark, thick, crisp white lined pages for writing, and sturdy binding. Each devotional features artworks coordinating with its theme/cover artwork.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is a dated (beginning January 1st), daily devotional filled with scripture and prayer to help you stay focused on Him through the full day to day life we all lead. These are perfect to begin each morning with a devotion and Jesus, to help get our hearts ready for serving those we love. There is plenty of room for recording your thoughts and prayers on the lined pages. Each devotional in this book begins with a line of Christian hymn and ends with scripture. The devotion in paragraph form brings both the hymn and the scripture into more focus/meaning for the reader and reminds us of all Jesus’s glory using scripture as an example.

Inside Page of Turn Your Eyes

Peace Begins with Me is also a dated devotional, beginning each day with scripture, and a life-applicable devotion. The day’s page ends with a verse of scripture. Ellie Claire describes this devotional with this:

Our peace affects others. And the Giver of peace awaits to give us the gift that can change our world. It begins with a prayer. It begins with me.

How true is this?! This summer I felt everything spiraling out of control-our home, the farm, grieving a huge loss, our hectic schedule of commitments. And you know what happened? I broke down, and asked God to give me peace; I asked Him to show me how to bring peace back to our family, to my mind, to our day to day life. And he delivered! It wasn’t what I expected, but things turned around greatly when I seeked Him for my personal peace and understanding. When life feels out of control, He is the only one that can take the reigns and deliver peace.

This devotional is full of every day, practical life application and prayer to get us through those times of chaos. If anything will help give you quiet in the chaos, this devotional will!

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It: 365-Day Devotional Journal points to all of God’s glory in the natural world around us. Your favorite science, nature, and animal lover will adore this journal. Filled with stories and facts that point to God’s hand in creation and the natural world, this devotional begins each day with scripture, and ends it with prayer. The lined pages have ample room for journaling thoughts, prayers, and even doodles and sketches. Adding borders and quotes that go with the peacock and floral theme would be fun!

These devotions show the intention in God’s Word as applied to every day life; our life surrounded by His beauty, how people and animals, all of nature, relate to one another in His image.

 

    

A Real Christmas Lesson: If He Had Not Come {a review}

Christmas Book If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

With the holidays coming up, it is important to our family to focus on the reason for Christmas- Jesus Christ’s birth.  We were able to read and review a precious book, If He Had Not Come.  Originally written by Nan F. Weeks, it has been reintroduced by David Nicholson, a retired school teacher and missionary.

This is a wonderful story for any Christian family that wants to truly show their children what Christmas celebration is all about.  Though the book is recommended for ages six and up, my (just turned) four year old really enjoyed and understood it.  The casebound hardback version can be purchased for $18.95, or choose the e-book version at $3.99.

About If He Had Not Come

This book was such a pleasant surprise to receive in the mail!  In the front cover was a special, handwritten note from David himself, which Lexie thought was just wonderful.  The book is a beautiful hardback, illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz- there is a lot of detail in the illustrations that support the story so well.  We have read this book many times already, and Lexie has noticed something new in the pictures each time.

The story begins with a young boy, Bobby, getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve, anticipating opening the gifts from his family the next morning.  (I will say, one of my favorite things about this book is there is no mention of Santa Claus).  But when he goes to sleep, he dreams of a world where there is no Christmas; there is no church, no Christian run/owned businesses like homeless shelters, hospitals, etc.  When he goes looking for each of these things, in its place he finds a sign reading, “If I had not come.”

After realizing what a desolate world he would live in were it not for Christ, Bobby wakes up and thanks Jesus for coming, for being the very best Christmas gift.

What We Thought and How We Used It

This is honestly one of the best Christmas books we own.  Really.  It isn’t too much for a young child to understand, and it clearly and honestly opens their eyes to Christmas and the Christ in Christmas.  The story shows them not only would we not have Christmas to celebrate His birth, but our world would be so different without Jesus. There are so many things we take for granted that we would no longer enjoy if Christ had not come to save us.  This is a great book for all families, and Sunday school classes alike!

We have been reading this book for my four year old’s bedtime routine.  I wasn’t sure at first what she would think, or if she would enjoy it.  Well, she has requested it for nap and bed time since the day we introduced it!  My husband and I have been able to take If He Had Not Come and go deeper into the meaning of Christ’s birth-even farther than the meaning of Christmas.  (in the picture she was in her gymnastics leotard and I am not sure what was up with the crazy headband ..)

Wonderful Christmas Book: If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

In the back of the book you will find several helpful pages.  There is a page of interactive topics for families and Sunday school teachers- the questions are thought provoking and open ended to allow plenty of discussion.  They will really help you have a deep, wonderful, honest, discussion with your child/ren.

There is also a section titled, “Going Deeper;” these are questions to help you and your child explore what the Bible says about the birth of Christ.  I really like this section, as it has possible answers for you to share/follow up with, and references specific Bible verses!  That is really helpful for any parent trying to lead their little one to God.  There is also a small section on the last page with an idea to help you celebrate Christmas using a fun activity.

If you are looking for a book to add to your Christmas collection, or want to do a unit on Christmas with your children, this is the book I would suggest you look at first.

Connect with David Nicholson

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Why, fall? Why?! Snow in November {wordless Wednesday}

The picture isn’t that great- but snow, y’all. ALL. MORNING. LONG. That little kid in me is so excited, because it is actually pretty, thick, BIG flakes falling non stop since 7am.

The fall-loving adult in me is cussing November right now.

So I embraced it … we took a snow day this morning, put up the Christmas tree, and are making potato soup for dinner.

Take that, mother nature!

Why, fall? Why?!

 

and the tree probably won’t get ornaments this year because TODDLER. Maybe some ribbons and decorating the house will do.

Christmas Tree, too early

 

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Gingerbread Play Dough

I have been looking at a lot of different crafts for the kids and I to do together.  I came across a recipe for salt dough, which is a homemade play dough.  I had planned on trying it, then today my mom sent me a similar recipe, but there were two differences: 1) her recipe was for GINGERBREAD play dough and 2) it used fewer ingredients than the recipe I had.

Gingerbread Salt Dough
You will need:
  • 1c flour
  • 1/2c salt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, etc to desired smell/color
  • 2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1c water
  • 1tsp veg oil
  • essential oils of your choosing

Just as in baking, mix all your dry ingredients together- the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and spices.  The spices are just for a great gingerbread smell and color.
In a separate bowl, mix the water and oil
Add water-oil mixture with your dry ingredients in a small/med pan.
Cook mixture over low/med heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  WARNING-it becomes thick quickly.
You will know it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.
When it’s done, knead on the counter until it is nice and smooth.
*don’t forget the cookie cutters and rolling pin!*

This is the best and easiest play dough recipe I have found.  When the holidays are over, exclude the seasonings and add regular food coloring for year-round fun!

——————
(Original post Dec 2011)
Here is Lady (15 months old) playing with play dough for the first time:

 She was really only interested in the cookie cutters at first .. and yes she arranged them in size order?
” Hrm .. maybe I will touch it a little”
She did not like the texture of the dough at the beginning.

 

More with the cookie cutters ..

 

Then I made her name out of the play dough and she liked it!  Her favorite letter from her name is “i,” so she enjoyed playing with the “ball” on the “i.”  When I spell her name out loud, it goes something like this:
Me- “l, e, x
her- “I!!  I!!! I!!! I!”
Me-E
her- “LEXIE!”

It’s a lot of fun!  So, our first go at play dough was a success.  There were a few snacking attempts, but overall she did really well!  This has made me less fearful of doing more crafts and activities with her, for sure!

Try it out with your little one!

What are some of your children’s favorite activities, crafts, etc to pass the time and learn?

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

2016-holiday-gift-guide

Well, here we are with Christmas just a few weeks away! That is amazing, how did the holidays get here so quickly?

I am very excited to write about our favorite picks for holiday gift giving.

    1. By far my number one favorite is Kwikstix! We are giving these as gifts for several families we know this year. They are the perfect “non toy” but NOT messy gift or junk-y gift. They are tempra paint in a stick- no water, no clean up, no spills, NO MESS! Super easy, even my 2 year old loves them. (see my review here) They are also high quality and and make beautiful pictures. You can get them at Target or Amazon.

      kwikstix2

      Making journal entries with their Kwikstix

  • Magna Tiles– these are the first things my children played with when we would go downstairs. For the cooler weather I have moved them upstairs to my son’s bedroom so he can play and build with my 2 year old while big sister is doing school. I linked to the larger set, but there are smaller ones. I have found, that just like with blocks or legos, you need a larger set to make really cool structures.
  • Perplexus– I cannot be 100% certain that this will be a big hit, but I predict it will be. My son is a HUGE puzzle lover, and of course loves playing with balls- this is a puzzle in a ball! They have different levels of difficulty, but we will begin with the original and if he likes it, move up.
  • Stencils– we had these growing up and I loved them! My daughter is getting a set for Christmas. Stencils are fun, easy, and can be use din so many ways for learning and art!
  • Waldorf Dolls-Let’s just say … we have acquired a few Waldorf dolls over the years. They are similar to ragdolls, but tend to be a little more simple. I have linked to Amazon here, but I have *loved* the purchases I’ve made off Etsy.com for my daughters. My oldest is 6 and right now she is obsessed with her Waldorf and rag dolls. (She also plays with American girl dolls, but in a different way)
  • Classic wooden top– It seems simple, but this is one of those toys that kids can play with for long lengths of time. There is SO much learning fun that can be had with a simple wooden top!
  • Play Silks– A good quality play silk will not be cheap, but when I tell you they give hours and hours of fun, they really do! I have made my children 3 different sets, and given them as gifts to family as well. I purchase my silks from Dharma Trading company, as well as my dies. It takes a little time to make them yourself, but it is certainly more cost effective that way. Ours are played with every. single. day. That’s not an exaggeration!
  • Tonka Trucks– It goes without saying that Tonka Trucks are truly a favorite! You have to be careful which ones you purchase, because some are mostly plastic these days, and won’t survive the average boy’s play. But the ones we have my son *loves* and also plays with daily.
  • Tree Swing– This should be higher on the list! Another item that gets used daily at our home is this awesome outdoor swing. Our children love it, especially when daddy swings them way up in the air. It really is an awesome swing, and so far has held up great! (we have had it about 3 months)
  • Gardening Tools– Again, used all the time and provides hours of fun and learning outdoors!
  • For Baby- a wooden toy set. We don’t have many plastic toys anyway, but I try to make sure when I do spend money on toys they are high quality and safe. For baby I prefer wooden toys, since they put everything in their mouth. This set makes a wonderful gift!
  • Fat Brain Toys Squigz– These are so cool! My mother in law brought them on a trip and all the kids, ages 18 months to 8 years enjoyed playing with them.
  • Bath Colors– these are a favorite stocking stuffer that we give our children every year! The bottle lasts us all year, and that is using them in the bath a few times a week.

Don’t forget your favorite homeschool mama or crafty friend! Something like this awesome spinning organizer! It comes from Hobby Lobby, is sometimes on sale, or you can use a coupon!

I *love* ours; it is so roomy and there is still space for more supplies. We keep our colored pencils, Kwikstix, markers, glue, and scissors in it.

If your child is a little older and into gaming, you may consider purchasing an account on league of legends accounts for sale. It’s an incredibly popular game with some great characters and stunning graphics. They will probably have to spend time learning how to play and making their way gradually through the levels. Some parents find that they could play the game with their children to help them level up and will look for somewhere to buy lol smurf accounts. Do not worry too much if this takes too long though, as there are a number of boosting services out there such as Boosting Boss that can be used to unlock skins and reach the higher divisions. There is also the option for them to play with others once they have achieved a certain rank, which will help them to develop their social skills. You never know, they might excel in the game and become a real expert, in which case they’ll probably want to invest in Unranked LOL accounts so that they can be part of a multiplayer online battle arena.

What are you buying for everyone this year?

homeschool-organization

kwikstix

My 2 year old showing off her “painting” with done with Kwikstix.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Familyman’s Christmas Treasury {a review}

the-familymans-christmas-treasury

Can you believe we have 10, TEN, Saturdays until Christmas?!

We have been so blessed to gear up for the holiday season by reviewing some wonderful Christmas stories!  We have been listening to eight Digital Downloads from The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection by The Familyman.  We also received a physical CD from the collection, The Stranger, for review.

The Familyman has partnered with Jim Hodges to create and share with us many beautiful Christmas stories!  If you are familiar with family audio books, you know Jim Hodges is a beloved voice and great storyteller!  In  the Christmas Treasury Audio Collection, you can enjoy:

There are 2 additional stories, The Secret of the Snow Village and It’s Called Christmas, that can also be purchased separately.

We began listening to these stories during the kids’ independent play time.  They have asked to listen to several of them over and over again.  I really enjoyed these because, while they are fun, entertaining stories, they are Biblically accurate.  They teach life lessons about love, Christ, and the meaning of Christmas, which is a big deal around here!

I also love that each of these are 100% appropriate for children of many ages.  My oldest is 6, my youngest (listening) was 2.  Obviously the 2 year old didn’t get most of it, but my 6 and 4 year olds really enjoyed them!

In The Stranger, a young boy learns all about the Christmas spirit and the real meaning of Christmas when a town stranger lands in his family’s living room.  Everyone in the town fears this stranger, that they know nothing about.  But when Jessie, the stranger, end up in Sam’s home for Christmas, he and his family learn about showing Jesus’ love for everyone.  My kids were very excited to hear that Jessie whittled near the fire; they both received small pocket knives for their birthdays for whittling.  They also think that Jessie must have “been an angel that came to teach about being kind to everyone.”

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest is about a special Christmas vest worn by Issac’s dad that has an enchanting story about the original owner, Mr. Harold Grubbs.  After being saved (giving his heart to Jesus), Mr. Grubbs wore the same plaid vest the Sunday after Thanksgiving every year until he died.  Issac’s dad tells the lovely story of this vest, the loving man that wore it, and the meaning behind it (that people can change and Jesus died for everyone, even miserable old men).  It is truly a lovely story, and probably my very favorite!

Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster is a fun story about that teaches children (and adults) that the Christmas story is perfect just the way it is written in the Bible and doesn’t need anything to make it more exciting.  Jason learns that without the manger, without Jesus laying in that manger, there is no Christmas.  There is no way to heaven.  He learns to be thankful for his Bible and his savior, Jesus.

Gladys Remembers Christmas will make everyone smile and maybe cry a little; Gladys Higgins didn’t like Christmas and missed her mother terribly.  But one day Gladys has a dream and talks with her mama, who reminds her that Jesus loves her more than anyone, even her.  She is reminded of Christmas, what she loved about it, and what Christmas meant.  This story will pull on your heart strings for sure!

These stories would make a wonderful addition to a family Christmas tradition, and are perfect for those cold winter days while mama is decorating for Christmas and the kids need something to do when they aren’t busy helping.  😉

We have truly loved these stories!

Connect with The Familyman

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Family Advent Devotional: Good News of Great Joy!

Simple Advent Devotional: Good News of Great Joy!v

My family and I were so blessed to review a wonderful new Advent devotional for Christian families!  Good News of Great Joy, ($3.99!) by Rachel Tiemeyer from Thriving Home, is a wonderful way to begin your family’s Christmas season.

This e-book devotional is written for children ages 2-11, but is definitely appropriate for all ages.  Each devotional is set up for a weekly reading and activity, but you can schedule this out daily if you’d like.  This is what I *love* about this particular program- it isn’t a crazy busy craft or activity every. single. day, requiring tons of supplies.  It is gentle and simple, just how we like to focus on Christmas in our home!

What’s Inside

There are four (4) devotions; each devotional has a “read,” “pray,” and “discuss and do,” section.

  • Read: you read the devotional from a Bible of your choice (she has even referenced the particular stories in some of the most popular children’s Bibles- The Jesus Storybook Bible, and The Rhyme Bible Storybook), or several different Bibles.
  • Pray: Pray about what you have read
  • Discuss and Do: Here is where you complete an activity.  These are fun and simple, but meaningful.  You can do one activity, or all of those suggested with your children.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year- while the world is spinning into utter chaos over material things and sales, we relax, focus on the birth of our savior, and spend time together.  We use this time to remember why God sent Jesus to Earth, and thanking Him for that precious gift.  This devotional helps us do just that!

So if you are looking for an Advent Devotional (your first, or maybe a new one), head on over to Thriving Home, and get a copy now!

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Week

So, I have been MIA this past week.

I really have no excuse …  I just didn’t schedule any posts for my 2 weeks of travel.  


We spent time with family in Memphis, before driving to Arkansas.  Max was pretty cranky on our trip.  His disposition is more like mine when I was little- he doesn’t like strangers and he doesn’t warm up to others well.  At all.  And he likes home.



Lexie has had a great time; she is our social butterfly.  But man, was she happy to be home!  It was hard being out of our routine- no independent play, naps were a mess.  While in Memphis Mister took 2-2.5 hour naps every day.

In Arkansas, naps were only an hour, and he woke up screaming from every nap and every morning.  Sometimes he cried at night (most nights).  But, he was also in the most horrible of horrible, wonder week 64.  So I do attribute some of it to that.  Now that the wonder week is over, I am curious what developmental leaps he will start showing in the coming weeks!  Maybe more words?  I don’t know.

I just kept telling myself, this too shall pass.  And it did.

We did have a lot of fun though- in Memphis we visited family, and Lexie got to spend some time cooking with Granny.  Then in Arkansas, Lexie went to see the dinosaurs at the museum with her Sue Sue, we played in the deer woods, saw the gingerbread house downtown, went to the hot springs downtown, and saw the lights at Garvan Gardens.  It was a lot of fun.

Playing in the woods with Daddy
While in the woods, we decided our vehicles are just too quiet and smooth- neither of our children ever sleep in the car…  Max fell asleep riding around in a huge, loud, bumpy Razr, in the cold!
 
 

This was while playing in the back yard at my husband’s parent’s house.  Lexie was pretending to be Tigger, climbing trees in the One Hundred Acre Wood.

 

I am so thankful to be home!  Oh my goodness- 11 days is just too long.  A week isn’t quite long enough, but I am thinking 9 days next time.  We will see.

Flying home!

——–
I feel like it is already the middle of December!  =(  I haven’t even started decorating for Christmas or planning our Advent activities.  I am so behind.  No Christmas tree yet … think we will do that tomorrow or this week.  I am in desperate need of Christmas and a whole month of non stop Jesus!

Lexie loved, loved our Advent stuff last year, and I really want to plan some fun stuff this year.  So guess what I will be doing all night?  (After I get some blog work done, anyway).


Here is to a wonderful December! 

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December 2012 Pictures


So, after having our iphones for so long, i just stopped using my camera.  But Max would rather watch the light on it than laugh and talk while I take pictures and video.  (and without the flash, the pictures aren’t good at all)  So, I got our the good ole’ camera the other day.  I forgot how much better the pictures are on a real camera.  haha  Not to mention Max does better with it, because there isn’t an insanely bright light shining in his eyes.


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