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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patience and promises

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I have a little friend that saved my schedule everyday. This friend reminds me what I need to do, things I need to mail, work training events, doctor appointments (there are always those).  This little friend is my planner.  It’s a paper planner.  I learned of my need for one of these in high school.

I used to forget things all the time. I’ve shown up late and a week early to events more than once in my life. Only in the last four years have I gone back to the planner. Although I’ve always had a home calendar with all things written, I needed something I could take with me.  Enter my recent planner obsession.

My best-laid plans still fail.

A few day ago Josie had physical therapy.  We signed in, waited a few minutes, and out came the therapist to inform us that we were an hour and a half late.

Perfect.

Thankfully, he had another patient not show up at all.  We had our session.  Driving an hour to see the PT didn’t turn out bad.

The very next day I wasn’t so lucky.  I drove another hour to take Isabel for oral surgery.  This time the mistake wasn’t my fault.  They informed me that we were a week early when I know that I didn’t schedule it on that day since I am scheduled to work then.

My favorite.

Isabel wasn’t too sad about it.  She hasn’t been looking forward to the surgery.  I for one was not excited. I could think of nothing but the fact that I on;y came to town for this.  I wasted two hours of my life driving for nothing.  Nothing.  I was so upset by this mistake.  I have so little “extra” time in my life right now.  Shall I mention how disrupted school was because of this?

Driving home I was reminded that I’m impatient.  God is always reminding me of this in His gentle way.

He reminds me that I need to release control. I need to relax.  He whispers to me to let things be.  To rest.  His soft prodding compels me to sabbath.  I’m so task-oriented.  What I took from the hour drive on the way home was the promise of his presence.

He’s there when I’m checking things off my list.  He’s there when I’m sharing moments with the kids.  Still, He makes himself known during a scary call at work.  He’s there when I royally mess up.   He gives me victories through his grace.

His promises never fail.

He promises to never leave me or forsake me.

He knows that plans He has for me to strengthen me and prosper me. To give me a hope and a future.

He is with me, even to the ends of the Earth.

I know these truths.  These are the thoughts and verses that come to mind when life seems overwhelming.  Life is so hard, and busy, and tiring.  God is so easy, and still and restoring.

Our lives aren’t meant to be flawless.  The Holy Spirit guides and directs us the The Father through all situations, if we are keen to listen. Do you need to hear this now?  I know I do.   I constantly need the reassurance that I’m not stepping out-of-place in my walk.

I thrive on knowing that patience is being worked in me through all the hurdles that come my way on this race of life.

I rest and refresh in the promises of God.

Just when I am at the peak of frustration and inconvenience, God paints a rainbow across the farm.  Our happy place of the world that he has provided so well for us.  The peace of coming home after a day’s travel to see the reminder of all that hope that is in Him, works just a tad more patience in this wild heart of mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?