organic learning: nature walks

A decade has passed since I first heard of nature studies. Nature studies are very popular in the Charlotte Mason school philosophy.  I admit that I never really did nature walks.  When my tiny humans were even more tiny, I had no energy to make it out-of-doors much.  I dreamed of the day I would actually enjoy the idea instead of feeling the burden of packing a picnic lunch.

For the most part I do believe we have arrived in my formally imaginative ideal.  If you are in the mind-set of my formal self, please do not feel judged that your children do not know all the species of trees.  Mine either.

I was surprised that after all the avoiding of the outdoors, my kids shocked the pants off of me today with their knowledge.  They identified racoon tracks, deer tracks, coyote scat, bat remains, bat guano, dragon flies, cranes, black birds, gopher skulls, and owl pellets. This is just around the corner from where we live.  We are very fortunate to have a free nature conservatory so close to home.  We really scored on our observations.

While I wasn’t brave enough to adventure with the kids when they were small, I did expose them to lots of wonderful books and some long documentaries. Thank goodness they love to read and learn.  I recommend this method if you want to expose your children to nature and the love of it, but nap times for babies and mental health for mama aren’t making these outings common.  They’ve gotten older and more self-sufficient.  Nature outings aren’t as taxing on me these days.

When they were smaller, I tried to point out beautiful things whenever it came up in a regular day.  All I really taught them was to be aware of what is out there.  Their natural interests and book reading takes the credit for all else. I’m just in awe of today, and how much they all knew and saw.

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Today was amazing because we got to spend this day in nature with our dear granny nanny. She has taken some time off from being with us, and it was so nice to see her again.  We are so blessed that God has brought her through some tough years, and brought her to the place where she speaks so much truth and love to us.  She is amazing.

Today was a good day.

 

 

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Book picks for homeschool

I have scoured the internet for books to purchase this school year.  I’m a huge lover of books, but not a fan of clutter. I have gone through all the books in my house over the last year, and gotten rid of about 70%.  That being said, I was choosy about what to purchase and what to borrow from our beloved library.

Also, a lover of our amazing local library.

We have finally picked our supplemental books for our 2018-2019 school year.  These books are one I know my kids will read over and over.  Since we are going through lots of American History and Marine Biology there is a theme.  This summer we are gearing up for natures walks/studies as well.

I am stunned by the quality and beauty of these amazing books.

Science: 

This year all kids are learning about Marine Biology from Apologia Science. I decided our water-color time and free art time should be filled with not only some wonderful nature books, but also some sea life inspiration.  Perhaps you didn’t know this about me…I love the ocean.  I also live in Arizona.  Until that ocean front property becomes available here, books get me through my time away from the big blue.

20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish

1000 Things Under the Sea

Nature Anatomy

The Curious Nature Guide

Wildflowers of Arizona

History/Geography

This year we are going through the Good and the Beautiful History 1.  There is an emphasis on US History.  These books are wonderful supplement the kids can enjoy anytime.  They love quizzing each other.  I’m a huge fan of placing books in the living room and not saying a word.  They just migrate towards them and learn.  Shhh.  They didn’t know I did that on purpose.

The Presidents

The 50 States

I hope you check out these titles for your kids too.  Supplementing curriculum with rich and beautiful books is one of my favorite purchasing endeavors for homeschool.  What books have you loved in your house lately?  Please suggest some in the comments.

 

 

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history curriculum review: the good and the beautiful history 1

Today marks several weeks of homeschool under our belts.  I’m pleased to share with you that The Good and the Beautiful History 1 is a big hit with me and the littles.  We have completed Unit 1 which comprises of Ancient History.  In this unit we covered Ancient Biblical History and Ancient Egypt through Modern Egypt.

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Pros:

Open and Go:

The teacher can simply open up this curriculum and get going.  Very little prep work is required.  I needed to make sure we had our Read-aloud picked out and ready.  I also had to buy some gold tape for our armband craft.  The craft was super easy and took us less than 10 minutes to complete.

Comes with all you need for maps/timelines:

This curriculum includes sheets you can photocopy for children.  The Big Book of History Stories has maps in the back.  If you do not have a map of the World at home, you can utilize the ones in the book or online.

All ages enjoyed the information and were challenged:

When you purchase this curriculum, you get a board game, course book, and book with history stories.  The course also comes with a PDF download with all levels of the Student Explorers.  The Student Explorers are separated into age groups.  I simply printed out the proper explorer for each child and placed it into a 3-ring binder.  Some colored pages while others researched topics outlined in their explorers and wrote reports.

My high school believed she learned valuable information in her independent studies as well as enjoying the “younger” group activities.

Chronological format:

I appreciate any curriculum that lays out history chronologically.  I personally find it confusing to bounce back and forth through timelines while learning.  This course is laid out in a fashion that combines biblical and secular history in order.

Ancient times through Modern Times:

Each history course offered by The Good and the Beautiful covers ancient through modern history in one year.  History 1 zooms in on Egypt, Moses, Ancient Britain, King Alfred, The Magna Carta, Joan of Arc, The scientific revolution, The French Huggunots, The American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, The Victorian Era, the history of flight, the Space Race and the end of The Cold War.

I absolutely LOVE that we are not getting burnt out on one time period. I think it keeps everyone’s attention, while making intentional pauses to dig deeper into area of interest people, and importance in history.

Audio recordings:

The course book comes with a link and password to unlock the audio recordings that coincide with certain lessons.  The radio recordings are a series of stories following a brother and sister whose aunt and uncle are teaching them in a fun way about history and time periods.  All of the kids find this to be captivating.  They usually color of get snuggly in the living room and listen, while I clean up the kitchen from breakfast and set up school for the day.

I love this portion of the curriculum because it gives me a break from reading, and the dramatization of the recording are done very well.  The stories depicted in the recordings solidify what we have learned in a creative way.

Cons:

Length:

This curriculum can take 30 minutes or an hour and a half.  I sometimes feel that it is taking too long, but we only do five lessons in a two-week period.  The curriculum suggests 2-3 lessons per week.

The time it takes varies, so if you run a tight ship or have appointments to get to, it may derail some of your daily goals.  We tend to just get everything required done first thing in the morning.  You could push the read-aloud, recordings, and student explorers to the afternoon if you need to free up your morning time or it feels too long all at once.

Not immersive

If you’re looking for something that will teach your kids everything about one topic, this isn’t it.  You may spend a month on Egypt and only a couple of days on The Cold War ending.  I’m okay with this format, but it may not be your style.

No emphasis of memorizing timelines or dates

Again, I don’t mind this,  I can always stress the dates and chronology if I want.  If you are searching for a curriculum that prompts you to teach these things, you will be disappointed.  That being said, the Keys of History game cards do have those things.  Children will learn in a more passive way.  History 2 does have a separate timelines book.

Overall, I am very much enjoying the open-and-go approach to this curriculum.  This is very nice for me, a working mom, to pick up where we left off and have no real planning involved.

I have had to look ahead to make sure I didn’t need to purchase anything for art ect.  There are very little projects that you won’t be able to do with standard household items and basic craft materials.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  Go check out jennyphillips.com to see if this history would be a good fit for your family.

What history curriculum or method do you love right now?