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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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?

 

 

 

 

back where we thrive

We’re back.

Back at our farm. Back to homeschooling. Back to what we love and thrive at.

It is completely where we belong.

I shared already about our decision to go back to homeschooling here. We are three weeks in, and I am pleasantly surprised and relieved that things are going very well.

Yes, I still work FULL time and I work outside the home.  I haven’t had a mental break-down or screamed at any precious humans.  In fact, I would say the opposite is happening.

I sat on my porch this morning and listened while sipping that magnificent first cup of coffee. I listened to the distant hum of a center pivot slowly watering a crop of cotton.  Birds of all sorts were chirping and flitting back and forth.  I even enjoyed the birds that were louder and slightly annoying.  You know the sort, right?  The ones that squawk. Yeah, even they seemed nice today.

Coyotes howled and screeched as the early sunlit horizon warmed my face.  Hornets buzzed and floated on the (less warmer then usual) air.   I’m certainly not going to call it “crisp”, “Fall”, or “cool”.  It’s still Southern AZ I live in.

This may sound terrifying to those of you who didn’t grow up in the Southwest.  Coyotes, hornets, squawking birds in September. Fear not! I was in no harm.  I was in my blissful place.

The point is this.  I haven’t sat in such silence for a year. I haven’t heard the sounds of nature and farming country for too long.  Something that refreshes my soul has been gone.  Nature.  I really can’t do too much city.  I feel closest and most appreciative of God and who He is when I see it everyday in this form.

Gratitude and peace overwhelm me here.  I heard, feel and witness that glory of creation daily at the farm.  Maybe that’s what I personally need.  I see so much devastation and destruction in my line of work.  I see the worst people in society, I see the moments in humanity that impacts the future of a family.

A lost life, a mangled arm, a new life.

The most amazing and tragic days are my job. Also, some pretty disgusting humans are out there to grace me with their issues.

I need a refresh. I need a long drive to unwind, and to prepare.

I think that’s why I breathe in the refreshing scenes and sounds out here.  I breathe deeply and often.  Intentionally.

I know I’m not alone.  The kiddos took roughly 30 seconds of living out here to soak it in and get right back to catching toads, frogs, and bugs.  Day one there was a teen eating dinner in the tree.

They PLAY!

I can’t tell you how much having a rock backyard the size of a postage stamp muffled the energy out of these five children.  Their energy was turned on each other- not in a great way.

Now they all have room to spread out and explore, create, have fun.  Together.  They are choosing each other!  It’s like a miracle has occurred here.

Listen when I say this.  They still bicker.  Space doesn’t cure everything.  It just has given them more options.  :)

I love how they can open the door and go outside.  I’m not worried about them getting kidnapped from our yard.  I’m not worried about them getting hit by a car while riding their bikes.  I’m not worried that someone is going to come into our yard at night.  I’m not worried that they are playing too loud.  I’m not worried about my dog barking.   I’m not worried in general.  Some may think that living out in the middle of nowhere is scary.

Isolating.

Unsafe.

I would argue that the more people you are around the more unsafe you are.

We have all isolated ourselves in the “safety” of our city house for a year.  Going outside has been planned instead of organically happening.  You can’t go to the park without an adult.  We have driven around the streets of a neighborhood that is “family friendly” for a year.  You don’t see families in their yards.  The streets are vacant. No one sits on their front porch.  I wouldn’t recognize more than 3 neighbors.  I never saw even a glimpse of them.  They drive into their garages, shut the door, and are never seen.  Seriously!  Who have we been living next to?

If you are a city person, that’s great!  I’m not.  I don’t know how to feel the same things and live the same way with all the crowds.  I’m so thankful that we aren’t being called to that right now.  We have seen what the city has to offer and we have declined.  We have come full circle to the place we have all loved for so many years.  We have grown here, just as lush as a beautiful garden.  We have lost here.  We have become different here.  We have loved it.  Every bit has changed us into the family that we are now.

I feel a stirring again inside.  I movement that causes reflection.  I can hear a whisper of my voice coming back to me.  I haven’t felt like this for so long!

Maybe it was the stress of college, life, busyness of the city, goals.   Whatever it was, it’s going away.  My love for writing has never left me, but my ability to express it faded for too long.  Maybe I just had nothing to say.   This place sparks instant inspiration.

We are simply free here.  We are free to play, learn, refresh our souls.

We are free to thrive in an environment that tells us daily, ” You belong here”.