Attracting Nature to Your Yard

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Attracting Nature to Your Yard - These tips will have your yard looking like a nature preserve in no time!

Aren’t those baby ducks precious? Our previous home was down the street from a park with a pond. The momma duck would bring her babies to our front porch each morning to be fed. One of our favorite memories!

An easy way to study nature is to attract wildlife to your yard. These tips will have your yard looking like a nature preserve in no time!

Birds

Toads & Frogs

Worms

Butterflies

Insects

Critters

Other Ideas

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A Sale just for Are We There Yet? readers!

Now through July 31st, get 20% off your entire NaturExplorer order with this code: 31Days

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

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31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

What Do You Put in a Nature Notebook?

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Everyone has different ideas about notebooking. Some only use traditional notebooking pages. My definition? If it fits in a notebook, it is a notebooking page!

What Do You Put in a Nature Notebook? Ideas and links to free nature notebooking pages

I do not have a formal plan for nature study. I play it by ear according to the season, the weather, and what kind of week we’ve had. We pick a topic, choose some printables to go with it, grab our nature bag, and head out the door.

I’ve learned to make it easy on myself by having a variety of notebooking pages ready to use. If I have to take time to hunt down what I want on the computer and print it out, we are probably just not going to get it done.

Organizing Notebooking Pages

At the beginning of each school year, I print out a stack of interesting nature pages and sort them into a big binder like this. My binder is divided into 5 sections:

  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Activities
  • Poems/Quotes/Bible Verses
  • Journal Pages
  • Guides

organize nature notebooking pages

I have a huge collection of links for printables that can be used for nature notebooks. I’ve been working hard to update my Nature Notebook Master List. Categories: notebook/journal pages, coloring pages, activity pages, scavenger hunts, lapbooks, learning pages,  identification sites, eBooks, and nature websites. Over 200 FREE resources so far!

nature-notebook-master-list.png

My kids each have a 1 inch binder for their notebooking pages. Pages that contain specimens or are extra-special get slipped into a page protector. We use paper with a reinforced, hole punched binding for drawings.

What to Put in a Nature Notebook

  • notebooking pages
  • a lapbook done on separate pages instead of a file folder
  • pictures
  • drawings
  • pressed flowers
  • leaf rubbings
  • coloring pages
  • fact sheets
  • weather tracking
  • nature poems or quotes
  • Bible verses
  • observation charts
  • a calendar with notes of firsts (first bud in spring, first baby duckling sighting)
  • diagrams
  • reports
  • scavenger hunt finds
  • photos of nature crafts
  • copywork

Our Nature Study Routine

We have a weekly routine that we like to call Nature Fun Friday. What we study is decided by several factors:

  • Nice weather – grab a scavenger hunt and go to the park
  • Yucky weather – watch a nature video, do some activity pages, or work on a nature craft
  • Interests – someone found something cool in the yard (or the pool!)
  • Series – we spent a few weeks working through a Texas insects activity book

Nature study doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Explore and have fun!

NaturExplorers Deal

A Sale just for Are We There Yet? readers!

Now through July 31st, get 20% off your entire NaturExplorer order with this code: 31Days

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

Hang Out with Us

31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

Creating a Nature Journal

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I will admit that I am writing this post for me. :) We have always done nature notebooks instead of nature journals. Nature journaling seemed too intimidating for this overwhelmed momma, but now that the kids are older I want to give it a go!

Creating a Nature Journal - book suggestions, sketching & watercolor lessons,  and journal inspiration

I’ve done some searching for helpful info on types of nature journals, sketching lessons, and watercolor techniques. There are also links to books on nature journaling, and some nice examples. I’m always inspired by seeing someone else’s idea.

Choose Your Book

A nature journal typically starts with a blank book or sketch book. You can find these at book stores, craft & hobby stores, office supply stores, and some big box stores.

I found these highly-rated ones on Amazon. Be sure to read the description if you will be using watercolors because some are not as well-suited for paint.

sketch book

These books are beautiful:

tree of life journal

(There are too many pretty ones to list, so here is the handmade leather journal search.)

Sketching Lessons

Read drawing ebooks for free through he Open Library.

Watercolor Lessons

Read watercolor ebooks for free through the Open Library.

Books on Nature Journaling

Keeping a Nature Journal

Nature Journal Inspiration

This nature journal Pinterest board has great ideas.

Take a look at these gorgeous examples on Pinterest.

A Sale just for Are We There Yet? readers!

Now through July 31st, get 20% off your entire NaturExplorer order with this code: 31Days

NaturExplorers Sale

They are regularly only $8.95 each (and bundles are even cheaper), so stock up now for the school year!

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

Hang Out with Us

31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

Nature Exploration Supplies

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Very little is actually needed for nature study. A pencil & paper to record your findings, perhaps some field guides from the library or thrift store. All the little gadgets and doodads sure make it fun, though!

Nature Exploration Supplies - tips on assembling a nature walk bag

I usually choose a couple of new items at the beginning of each school year to add to our collection. We keep the items that we use on our nature walks in a backpack, and store the rest of it in a drawer.

Our Nature Exploration Supplies

We add to our nature stuff a little bit at a time. This is a list of what we’ve accumulated over the years.

On My Supply Wish List

Fandex Family Guides

These little field guide fans are compact enough to toss in your nature bag, and easier to use out on the trail than a book.

birds fandex

Nature Field Kit Ideas

NaturExplorers

NaturExplorer studies by Shining Dawn Books are a great addition to your nature exploration toolkit. These info-packed nature unit studies include experiments, project ideas, writing prompts, and notebooking pages. Perfect to throw on a clipboard and go!

 

Creative-Nature-Walks

A Sale just for Are We There Yet? readers!

Now through July 31st, get 20% off your entire NaturExplorer order with this code: 31Days

They are only $8.95 each (and bundles are even cheaper), so stock up now for the school year!

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

Hang Out with Us

31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

Spring Subscribe

Nature Walks & Scavenger Hunts

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A nature walk is the easiest way to get my kiddos interested in God’s creation. All ages enjoy it, and I don’t have to try and focus five minds on one particular topic.

Nature Walks with Kids - nature walk ideas, printable scavenger hunts, and nature unit studies

Sometimes we just walk and observe, and other times we have a specific mission. The latter usually involves some type of printable scavenger hunt. Make sure to take along a bag to collect interesting finds!

Start in Your Own Yard

Your own backyard is a great place to start hunting for nature. I like to use the One Small Square: Backyard book as a tool for observing the critters hanging out there. It helps you investigate your yard one section at a time.

one-small-square-backyard1.jpg

NaturExplorers

NaturExplorer studies by Shining Dawn Books are a great, and inexpensive, way to dig a little deeper into your nature study. These info-packed nature unit studies include experiments, project ideas, writing prompts, and notebooking pages.

I have a special treat just for Are We There Yet? readers!
Now through July 31st, get 20% off your entire NaturExplorer order with this code: 31Days

They are only $8.95 each (and bundles are even cheaper), so stock up now for the school year!

late-summer-bundle

Nature Walk Ideas

Printable Scavenger Hunts

You can find more nature printables on my Nature Notebook Master List.

Books for Exploring Nature

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

Hang Out with Us

31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

Spring Subscribe

 

Charlotte Mason and Nature Study

Nature study has become synonymous with Charlotte Mason. Her thoughts on getting children out-of-doors have inspired many a homeschooler to start exploring nature – myself included.

Charlotte Mason and Nature Study - tips on how to get started

We have so many fond memories of exploring parks and ponds and our own backyard. In the beginning, I made nature study hard on all of us. We eventually learned to simply enjoy God’s creation, quietly look & listen, and maybe add a page to our nature notebooks.

Nature teaches us Gratitude.––But it is not only as she helps us in our own spiritual life that Nature instructs us in our duty to God. Some people have the grace to be tenderly and reverently thankful to the author of a great book, the painter of a great picture––thankful, if less reverently so, to the discoverer of a great invention. What daily and hourly thanks and praise, then, do we owe to the Maker and designer of the beauty, glory, and fitness above our heads and about our feet and surrounding us on every side! From the flower in the crannied wall to the glorious firmament on high, all the things of Nature proclaim without ceasing, ‘Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty.'”

Charlotte Mason (Vol. 4, Book 2, pp 99-100)

You certainly don’t have to be a Charlotte Mason groupie to study nature, but she does have some words of wisdom on the subject.

These posts will give you a place to start:

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Books of interest:

Have you grabbed your Holiday Nature Walks yet?

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

Hang Out with Us

31 Days Exploring Nature 150     31 Days of Homeschooling Tips for Moms

Follow Amy T @ Are We There Yet?’s board Homeschool – Nature on Pinterest.

Spring Subscribe

Free Holiday Nature Walks – 31 Days of Exploring Nature Series

I am excited to announce that tomorrow is Day 1 of my 31 Days of Exploring Nature series. Think of it as your comprehensive guide to nature study.

31 Days of Exploring Nature

I hope it will bless your family with an abundance of resources for learning more about God’s amazing creation. Go take a peek at the list of topics covered.

A new post will go live each day in July. Subscribe to receive a reminder each day in your email, and to gain access to subscriber freebies.

I created a FUN set of Holiday Nature Walks to go with this series. They are for subscribers only, and you can find the link and current password at the bottom of each email update.

This set includes nature walks for:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Valentine’s Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Free Printable Holiday Nature Walks

See you tomorrow!!

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FREE July 2015 Writing Prompt Calendar

FREE July 2015 Writing Prompt Calendar

The July Writing Prompt Calendar is ready to go. If you already get my post updates in your email, just look for the button at the bottom of your next email to get your freebie. For best results, adjust your printer settings to borderless or whole page.

If you are not a subscriber, simply click here and enter your email address. You will receive an update email each time a new post is added, and will automatically get every subscriber freebie I create from here on out.

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Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards

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Everything You Need to Know in a Box

My youngest child adores fact cards. We have a basket full of colorful flash cards from the Target Dollar Spot. Several books filled with animal fact cards sit on a homeschool shelf. She loves looking and touching and learning.

*Disclosure: I received a free set for review purposes and am being compensated for my time. I am not required to give a positive review.  As always,  I am sharing my honest opinion with you.

Sweetpea actually did a little dance when I opened up our box of Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards from Silver Dolphin Books.  They were developed in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute. There are two levels of these beautiful cards available: Grades K-1 and Grades 2-3. Be sure to enter the giveaway below!!

Everything You Need to Know 1

Using Fact Cards for Summer Exploration

I’ve learned to pay attention and take note when my daughter starts asking questions about certain cards. That is my clue to use those particular cards as a jumping off point for further exploration. I can then hunt up some videos, craft projects, and recipes to go along with the cards.

Summer break is the perfect time to pull out a box of Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards. Choose a place to start and then hop on over to Pinterest to find some fun crafts and activities. Maybe even do a theme a week.

Everything You Need to Know 3

For example, let’s say you choose the dinosaur cards from the Grades 2-3 set. Everyone is talking about dinosaurs because of a certain blockbuster movie. 😉 For Dinosaur Week, you could make dinosaur ice eggs, excavate some salt dough dinosaur bones, and eat some fossil cookies. If you are a “mean” mom, you can even assign a dinosaur writing project. 😀 (Note: the dinosaur cards do not contain dates, so you are free to tailor them to your beliefs.)

Coming up with themes is often the hardest part of planning a fun summer. The Everything You Need to Know cards solve that problem.

Everything You Need to Know 4

Fact Cards as Kindergarten Curriculum

My favorite use for the Everything You Need to Know Fact Cards would be as an inexpensive Kindergarten or First Grade curriculum. Simply add in a math and a language arts program. If you choose those from my list of free homeschool curriculum links, you can create a a complete Kindergarten or First Grade curriculum for under $20!

There are a couple of ways to divide up your cards for the year. You can do topical studies by working your way through one subject at a time, or you can study cards from several different sections at a time. You could also assign subjects to different days – Monday is geography, Tuesday is science, etc.

Fact Cards 2

The durable cards are tabbed and labeled at the top. You can just stick the cards you’ve used in the back of the box each day without the headache of having to sort them back out at the end of the year, as long as you keep the topics together.

Once you have decided on the cards that you will use for the school year, you can turn once again to our good friend Pinterest to add in worksheets and activities. I chose a few categories from the K-1 Box and hunted up some fantastic Pinterest boards for each one to get you started.

Space/Solar System   1, 2, 3, 4 

Five Senses   1, 2, 3, 4

Plants   1, 2, 3, 4

Money   1, 2, 3, 4

Colors   1, 2, 3, 4

Animal Habitats   1, 2, 3, 4

States   1, 2, 3, 4

Continents   1, 2, 3, 4

Weather   1, 2, 3, 4

Parts of the Body   1, 2, 3, 4

Those are only about a third of the categories between the two boxes, so you could realistically get several years out of them.

Homeschool Kindergarten for Under $20

Be sure to check out the Silver Dolphin blog for more activities! Follow them below for fun product updates and freebies.

Giveaway

Silver Dolphin is giving away 10 of the Everything You Need to Know sets. You can choose either the K-1 or 2-3 set. Open to U.S. addresses only.

A Few of My Favorite Homeschool Things

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A Few of My Favorite Homeschool Things

We are heading into our 14th year of homeschooling in a few weeks. I could fill a room with all of the resources that have cycled through this house during that time.

A few have captured a permanent place on the shelf, however. They are ones that either make our homeschool day easier or more enjoyable.

Do you own any of these?

educating the wholehearted childIf I could only own one book on homeschooling, it would be Educating the Wholehearted Child. It speaks right to my heart and helps me lay out a vision for our family.

simple plan

I’ve always used free homeschool planners, but last year this planner caught my eye so I ordered it. A Simple Plan makes it so easy to keep track of lessons for 5 kids!

pattern blocks

Pattern blocks and free pattern block templates can keep a preschooler busy for a very long time. I slide the sheets into page protectors and put them in a binder.

netflix

Netflix Streaming is a fairly steady part of our homeschool. The kids are usually allowed to watch a “school show” during lunch break.

A few of our favorite series:

  • Scholastic Storybook Treasures
  • Fetch with Ruff Ruffman
  • Dear America
  • Leap Frog
  • Magic School Bus
  • Stan Lee’s Superhuman
  • Brain Games

teaching textbooks

My oldest has shed many a tear over math in her youth. She is a very bright girl who had no trouble working the problems, but she always wanted to know WHY. I never cared about the why when I was in school – I just wanted a good grade so I did what I was told.

Teaching Textbooks looked so appealing, but I didn’t want to spend the money. I finally broke down and ordered Pre-Algebra, and the light went on for her! I nearly fell over the day she told me she didn’t hate math anymore. We now use it for the whole family starting in fourth grade.

ikea cart

I gave up my library loft and massive entertainment center when we downsized to move across the country a couple of years ago. My lovely turquoise Ikea utility cart takes up very little floor space but holds quite a bit.

The top shelf holds mail and coupons. We stand up all the picture library books on the middle shelf. The bottom shelf is for my planner, clipboard, and binders containing weekly work. Once I figure out a solution for the mail, I might use the top bin to house cute jars of school & craft supplies.

hand bells

I don’t know about you, but I always have a homeschool wish list of things I would love to have but aren’t necessary for our home. At the beginning of each school year, I choose one thing off of the list to purchase as a back-to-school surprise for my kids. These Schylling Hand Bells were from that list and were a HUGE hit!

frixion

The Pilot FriXion pens get a double heart from me. The ink disappears from the friction of the little rubber tip. I coordinate the colors with my monthly creative planner (free!). It’s the little things that make me happy!

They are also a good way to transition kids from writing in pencil to a pen without them stressing out over mistakes.

yellow pad

A yellow legal pad is one of the rare items that I have used since year one. I brainstorm ideas, list curriculum choices, and generally have a running brain-dump to-do list. My favorite is the hole punched pad.

The boring everyday pages get torn out and thrown away, but I keep all the planning ones. It is fun to look back over the years and see how our life & homeschool has change.

Since the title of this post is a FEW of my favorite things, I will stop there. Be sure to check out the rest of the iHomeschool Network’s favorites.

I would love to know a few of YOUR favorite homeschool things. Please leave a comment!

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