Our nearly 6 week long winter break is over and we feel refreshed and restored.


I’ve never been one for resolutions, I am a gardener at heart and therefore spend most of the year weeding and tweaking things here and there. In January, I tend to recalibrate our schedules to make the most of the pleasant weather, make space for more individual projects (like Faces of History and the Science Fair) and start making early preparations for whatever new phases are on the horizon.


I strive to be diligent in observing my boys as they grow. How are they learning best these days? Are they increasing in responsibility and ownership over their learning? How reliable are they? Is there a good balance between rest and learning? As all mothers know, these sorts of evaluations tend to stem into many different areas such as physical activity, diet, supplements, emotional health, etc.  Then you start multiplying the evaluations for each person in the home and the number of things to track increases more and more.


For example, here is one small area we spent time recalibrating last fall: my children are involved in a sport that meets M-F in the late afternoon/early evening. This may surprise you to read, but it is wonderfully convenient for us! The boys adore the practice and exercise and I love that I get the chance to unplug and read for an hour while they are active and growing in discipline. They love ending their afternoon with friends. I love ending mine with a book.



However, for this good thing to take place in a way that blesses our family, I must plan in advance. Before we leave the boys must 1) complete their individual work 2) finish blessing hour 3) set the table for dinner and 4) get themselves dressed and packed for practice. I usually have dinner in the slow cooker or take the boys’ preparation time as a pre-dinner prep time (if its a simpler throw together kinda meal). When we leave the house is relatively clean, dinner is in place or well on its way and I have a bit more peace knowing that when we return we can begin the rest of our evening on the same page. Upon return the boys all shower while I finish getting dinner together and then we sit down with Jeff for fellowship and dinner. We enjoy reading from whatever missionary’s biography we are reading at the time (wrapping up Livingstone right now!), then we clean the dishes, clear the table, the boys have music lessons with their dad and we relax before bed. **This is on a good day. Sickness, Small Group meeting, meltdowns from children (or parents), HUMAN NATURE can change the way this all pans out. On our good days, it works well and serves us well*** 


To figure this one block of time in our schedule, I had to go through a few years of motherhood to figure out what style of planning worked best for me. I went through seasons of freezer meals and special planners and all sorts of tricks and tips from other mothers before realizing that few tips ever really worked for me long term. Knowing myself and how I work best and reaching for better habits, helped me better than anything else. Essentially, taking ownership and growing in discipline instead of looking for shortcuts and quick fixes. Here is where I landed:


I have to think about my entire day before I go to sleep the night before. I take ten minutes to look over my schedule, write out what needs to be done, make sure things are in place for meals, enter reminders into my phone (ie. pack snacks or work for any therapists office if we have an appointment) and group them into bite sized chunks throughout the day.  I usually make 4-5 groupings depending on the day, making sure that the priority items are listed first.  Whenever the kids break from lessons, I begin to knock out everything I can from a grouping. Anything I don’t finish gets moved to the last grouping of the day. Most days, I can knock out about 80-90% of the list. Whatever is left over, gets moved to the next day and placed on a higher priority level. For example, I know that on Monday morning I need to wake up early, read my bible, wash and dress, pop our favorite quick quiche in the oven, set dinner into the crockpot, feed the animals, water the garden, brew the tea and lay out the supplements before 7AM. I’ll look on the schedule and remind whoever needs to set the table to get it done and just before the quiche comes out, I’ll make sure the lunch items are grouped together in the fridge so the 7 year old can find them easily (its his turn to make lunch!). We begin morning time fully immersed in learning and being together. I don’t have another grouping until later that morning, once we’ve returned from speech therapy and just before lunch.

I’m on the latest Wild + Free podcast talking about being “Wild and Free in the Waiting Room.”

Guess what? Turns out this way of thinking works really well for *most* of my kids, too! One of the best homeschool tips I ever got was from Sarah Mackenzie (who got it from her friend, so pass it on!). It was quite simple. Invest in cheap spiral notebooks for the kids and write their school work (I also add appointments, errands, chores, etc) in it the night before and go over their next day’s work with them so they know what to expect and what is expected of them and if our big 12 passenger van will be transporting them anywhere. Over time my boys realized that they could group things to knock off the list  (copywork, spelling, chart work, geography, etc) and save longer tasks (Plutarch, math, narration essay writing) for longer pockets of time. They brought books along on errands and carved out spaces of time to complete their tasks. They started thinking ahead and planning for themselves. “Hmm, we’ll be at speech tomorrow. I’d better bring along a snack and water bottle to enjoy with my book while I wait!”

This level of thinking did not happen right away, of course. They are male and under 12 years of age!  Like their Mama, they had to slowly come to value ownership of their time and take hold of discipline and skill over shortcuts. We’ve been using this system for over a year now and I’m happy to report that it was just the thing to transition the older boys into taking more responsibility in their learning and managing of their time. This was crucial for one boy in particular who struggles mightily with executive function. (This book was also a tremendous help!)


Our first week back was lovely. Even though the kitchen flooded and we had to rip out flooring in the dining room and kitchen and I find myself without a dishwasher (the latest in the battle of adoption discouragement frontlines). We really enjoyed our time together. The older boys feel so grown these days. I don’t have to remind them to complete their work as often as I used to. They’re interests are expanding and growing. They’re outgrowing shoes at an alarming pace.


A few quick highlights from our first week back…

We are enjoying Ernest Seton’s book “Wild Animals I have known” and are having deep discussions over Gerald Thompson’s book, “The Presidency“** in light of the upcoming impeachment trials. (** This is out of print and was written during JFK’s time as President) We’re continuing our catechism study and memorizing hymns. We started reading “A Tale of Two Cities” and the boys have flown their kites nearly every day. We’re digging further up and further in with latin and math. I am so pleased with the foundation we’ve laid using Right Start Math.

The boys are also learning to compose music with their Dad, a pianist and drummer, who is now trying to learn the guitar so he can teach it to his children. What an encouragement this is to me as I ponder the things I’m trying to teach myself right now so I can teach them to the boys in a few years.



I found myself washing dishes for long hours while enjoying audiobooks. I managed to knock out 5 in two weeks! I nearly broke a glass listening to Shusaku Endo’s Silence and wept through Hannah Coulter again. The garden is growing and the radishes will be ready soon. On Friday we celebrated my eldest son’s 12th birthday with his friends at our favorite beach and they caught a moray eel of all things with a small net. It coiled and snapped at us, while we marveled at him. We still can’t believe it.



Dishes, radishes, good books, dangerous sea creatures. How lovely it is to be back in the swing of things. The road ahead is uncertain this year. New therapies added to the mix, a young man starting Challenge A, our adoption still in limbo. I can only keep praying, surrendering, recalibrating and loving. Oh, I must keep loving! The truth is I can keep observing the boys and making my notes, but really, the best thing I can do to serve them well is to spend time with them and love them.


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Mad Scientists & Engineers Gift Guide

Happy Thursday friends! I’m wrapping up these guides (only two left to go!) and my own Christmas shopping.  Here are a few ideas for the budding scientists and engineers out there.


I’m not a huge fan of toys that talk or make noise, but a few of my friends have purchased this microscope for their eager little scientists (ages 3-6) and raved about it, so I thought I’d link it here.  We never purchased one since we received a Brock Magiscope as a gift and that was a good scope to grow up with and even keep for the grandkids, but I did snap one of these up for my 3 y.o. nephew along with these binoculars.



The Squishy Human Body from Smart Lab was brought in by a family in our Classical Conversations Co-op and it was such a hit! My youngest was absolutely fascinated and loved that the pieces were flexible instead of hard plastic. (At time of posting it’s nearly 50% off!)


This organ apron is crazy cool and perfect for a little one interested in health and the  human body.


This frog dissection kit has received a lot of love in our home and has held up extremely well!



A subscription to MEL Science for kids 10+. We’ve been getting these Chemistry sets for over a year now and love them!


Every year the boys ask for beautiful science books. This was one of our favorites.

A nice supply of owl pellets
-membership to the science museum


For the Engineers:

We have loved using Snap Circuits for many years. They are currently on sale at time of posting but they usually have a good deal on these a few times leading up to Christmas. Snap Circuits is a wonderful stepping stone to more advanced kinds of kit.

Magformers have been our go to for many years. (I’ve linked one kit, but be sure to check out the others!) The larger kits are pricey but every holiday season they go on sale, often up to 40% off. Its a good one to keep an eye on.  We have a large basket of these in the classroom just for play during study hours. They’ve been a great tool for us and very helpful during geometry lessons too.

My boys love LEGO. My favorite LEGO lines is the Lego Technic series. With kits starting at $15, these sets are all about engineering gears and mechanical pieces. The boys are always thrilled to build their little working machines. The Power Functions Motor Kit is a wonderful option for kids that want to tinker and create their own machines.


The Keva brand is another excellent option for creative building. This set is designed for building all sorts of contraptions and lends itself easily to free play.


-Their own toolsunnamed-2

-A trip to Home Depot for PVC Pipes or wood or whatever it is they need to create things.  Let them make a big mess in your backyard. If you’re blessed with a Grandpa, ask him to come over and build a trebuchet or a trellis with your child. Let them get their hands dirty and full of blisters and cuts. Those with tinkering minds need time and room to fiddle and practice.





Storytellers & Bookworms Christmas Guide


Near and dear to my heart!! Here is a list for the storytellers and bookworms out there…

For the blossoming storyteller…


Blank Hardback Books


A colorful collection of journals

A simple voice recorder for kids with dysgraphia, dyslexia, other writing difficulties or kids that simply want a place to quickly record ideas.


Blank Comic Books are always a hit here in our home! Oh, the possibilities!

Story Cubes


This fantastic storytelling game


A corkboard to use as a story board for laying out the direction of a story.


And now for the Bookworms…

This rechargeableLED booklight (with eye care light setting) gives us 60 hours of reading per charge.


My boys inhaled the fabulous Wilderking series by Jonathan Rogers. I’m planning on posting more about them soon. For now, I’ll simply say that they read through these books in just a couple of weeks. Then they listened to the audible recordings (perfomed by the author) and were absolutely enthralled. These stories sparked hours of outdoor play, adventure, drawings, reenactments, weapon making and reasearch on animal tracks, bogs and swamps.


Here are a few other books and series I’m heartily recommending….


Now you might be tempted to think of these shorter books by SD Smith as just something to tide kids over till the next installment of the Green Ember series releases, but make no mistake, the adventures of Jo Shanks are highly anticipated stories here in our home and receive just as much fanfare as the central stories produce. A few weeks ago at co-op, I overheard my boys and their friends in heated discussion about The First Fowler and Ember’s End (releasing in 2020) and the anticipation is high for both stories! First Fowler releases on the 16th of December and we are counting down the days!


For kids that love stories like Homer Price or Andrew Henry’s Meadow, check out the delightful Mad Scientists Club series by Bertrand Brinley (brought back into print by Purple House Press). Oh, how much laughter these stories have brought into our home. Its ushered in some pretty rascally ideas too!


The Alvin Fernald series is in a similar vein and quite delightful. (Check out Alvin and the Secret Code if you have a child partial to mystery stories!)


One of our favorite graphic novel series is the exceptional Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. The 9th book in the series was released on December 3rd and all four of my boys are hoping to unwrap it on December 25th. (We also love Tintin, Calvin and Hobbes and Asterix the Gaul).



Lastly, one of our favorite stories from earlier this spring, Sir Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton. My boys connected with the wildly imaginative Henry and were thrilled by all the shout outs to other greta books in the story.

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Chefs, Gardeners & Artists Christmas Guide

Time for our next Christmas Guide— Chefs, Gardeners & Artists



***Please remember that I do not buy all of these things for my children. Nope. Not even close.***



Opinel Kids Set: we’ve had these tools for several years and they have held up beautifully. Most of the boys have graduated to bigger knives now when they cook, but the younger ones still use and love these (ages 7 & 9). If you want an extra layer of safety, these cut resistant gloves work well!



Raddish kids: We have greatly enjoyed this cooking subscription kit for the last three years. They’re running a Black Friday Subscription deal right now that looks wonderful!


-Books about cooking and/or foraging. One of my boys will find this one under the tree this year since he’s been asking for more foraging recipe books. We’re hoping to get him plugged in with a local forager that can help provide guidance, further instruction, and help us forage safely. One of our favorite cookbooks for kids is Honest Pretzels by Mollie Katzen

-A gift card to your local grocery store for ingredients!

614gxcc7FWL._SL1500_.jpgApple Peeler– This little tool is useful, fun to use and fascinating to watch!


  • Gummy Bear molds– If you make your own elderberry syrup at home you can use a recipe to make elderberry gummies! These also make adorable chocolate toppings to put on ice cream.




Real gardening tools go a long way in fostering a love of gardening. The plastic sets never last long, are cumbersome to use, and often make the work even more difficult. Check into finding a set of real tools that are child size and easy to wield.



Gardening gloves that fit well! We love leather ones like this pair. Make sure to pay attention to sizing.


Sturdy hand tools. At the time of posting, these were 56% off.


A beautiful Garden Journal from my friend, Alice Cantrell over at Twig and Moth.


A lovely book for families who garden together.



An art easel. Find an option that really works for your space and your child’s age. Always consider storage!



A super pack of canvases! or if water colors are there medium of choice, consider getting a pack of water color paper instead of a spiral bound notebook since you get a bit more bang for the buck when its loose leaf!


There are so many kits out there with quick drying clay! We love using this medium for projects.



A desk that fits and can grow with them. (this one has all sort of adjustments that can be made to get the most optimal position for your child to work.



Nice water colors in travel kit form for nature days.


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Nature Nerds & Wild Explorers Christmas Guide

Its about that time of year again!!! We’re kicking off our annual Christmas Guides with one for the Nature Nerds & Wild Explorers out there.

***Please remember that I do not buy all of these things for my children. Nope. Not even close.***


1.  KANKEN: We are big fans of these Kanken backpacks. Each of the boys has one and they have survived numerous road trips, plane trips and nature hikes. They’ve been fully submerged in ocean water, caught in torrential downpours and hoisted up trees and probably even a few rooftops. These little packs are scrappy and easy to clean. We haven’t had to buy new backpacks since investing in these.

If you go for the nature pack, here are some useful items to place inside…


– Rite in the Rain: These little waterproof notebooks are the best. Yes, they really are waterproof. I’ve accidentally sent them through the laundry a time or two and they came out looking perfect! The boys have used them for a few years now and they come in handy on nature hikes. They also use them for all their rascally boy plans and carry them on all out outings.




– A compact knot tying kit. 
-A Swiss Army Knife
Specimen cases (this size has met the majority of our needs)
Survival bracelet or even a kit (Survival Kit)
-A small microfiber travel towel (always hands on water exploration days!)


-a little inspirational reading material
-a bush craft guide
slingshot and a bag of dried beans for practice.
-the best and loudest whistle out there (it saved our bacon once or twice!)
-a life straw
Bug Loupe
a hammock

This may sound terribly obvious, but just in case….

You can also gift them climate appropriate adventure gear for your area. We bought wet suits this year and the boys loved getting to snorkel in the colder channels near the mangroves in early spring. Rain boots or jackets, thicker coats, wet suits, breathable shirts, wherever you life, consider getting one solid set of adventure gear for the kids.



Other Nature Nerd Gifts…


2. Catch and Release Aquarium has been a faithful companion on all our greatest beach adventures.



3. Window Bird Feeders. Oh the joy!


4. Tell the kids you’ll be studying nature all year long! Thats a gift on so many levels.

5. Nature Books

6. Already in a nature group? Consider making a Shutterfly book or other scrapbook for your children, filled with photos of all your adventures. Decorate with stickers or have the group sign each other’s books. Children love these kinds of mementos.

7. Nature themed Board Games
-Bug Bingo  (or Bird Bingo)

-Match a Pair of Birds


Butterfly Wings Matching Game


8. A little adventure in your own backyard…



9. Family Memberships to a zoo, botanical garden, science museum etc.

10. Plan a special road trip to a nearby national park! (Did you know that 4th graders have a special offer from National Parks? Check it out!)

Last but not least….

Subscribe to Wild Explorers! My boys loved going through the Wild Explorers adventure club program, earning badges and completing assignments. The monthly magazine is still a highlight each month!



** Affiliate Links are used in this guide**

A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Quarter 3

Yes, we use affiliate links!

We are weeks away from the midpoint of our Cycle 2 study. The boys have worked hard and we are all hungry for rest. The last few months our homeschool life has been turned upside down with the introduction of multiple therapies, intakes, etc. Some weeks we find ourselves sitting in waiting rooms dreaming of this….

and grappling with the reality of this…


But the flexibility of homeschooling has been a gift to us and we certainly made the most of it this year. The boys learned what kind of work to pack while their little brother has his appointments. They trained themselves to get the base work done so that when we return home we can get cozy and read or have conversations or do the other things that just can’t be done in a waiting room.  I recently wrote an article for Wild + Free called “Wild + Free in the Waiting Room.” You can find it in their newly released HAVEN bundle.


I’m getting a little misty-eyed realizing that this boy has a mere two quarters left in Foundations and Essentials. He’ll be off to Challenge A next year. I’ll be sharing a post soon about how we are preparing ourselves (and prepping our toolbox of Dyslexia tools) for next year. But first, we need to tackle quarter 3 of Cycle 2! I usually don’t plan for this quarter until the first week of January, but I could use a little book list cheer right about now, so here we go!

ART (WEEKS 13-18)
Rembrandt by Mike Venezia
Rembrandt’s Life of Christ
What Makes a Rembrandt a Rembrandt? by Richard Muhlberger
Thomas Gainsborough cards
Bijou, Bonbon and Beau: The Kittens Who Danced for Degas by Joan Sweeney
Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
Edgar Degas by Mike Venezia
Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg (Board book!)
What Makes a Degas a Degas? by Richard Muhlberger
I dreamed I was a ballerina by Anna Pavlova
Edgar Degas: Dance Like a Butterfly by Angela Wenzel
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork
Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg
A Picnic with Monet  by Julie Merberg (Board book!)
Claude Monet by Mike Venezia
The Magical Garden of Clause Monet by Laurence Anholt
Van Gogh by Mike Venezia
Van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt
Vincent’s Colors



Week 13

Moonshot by Brian Flocca
Team Moon: How 400,00 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh
If you decide to go to the Moon by Faith McNulty
Daring Dozen by Suzanne Slade
A Computer Called Katherine by Suzanne Slade
Hidden Figures by Margaret Shetterly
Mercury 6 Mission by Helen Zelon

Pastry School in Paris by Cindy Nueschwander
Room for Ripley by Stuart Murphy
For Good Measure by Ken Robbins
Millions to Measure by David Schwartz
Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney
Capacity by Henry Pluckrose

Crossing on Time by David Macaulay
Steam, Smoke and Steel by Patrick O’Brien
All About Famous Inventors and Their Inventions by Fletcher Pratt
Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
Kids at Work by Russell Freedman
Prince Henry the Navigator by Leonard Everrett Fischer
Around the World in 100 Years by Jean Fritz
A Book of Discovery by MB Synge
The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz
Henry the Navigator by Charnan Simon
The Kidnapped Prince: The Story of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano
African Beginnings by James Haskins
Fine Print by Joann Burch
Johann Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press by Bruce
Ink on His Fingers by Louise A Vernon
The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
The Royal Diaries: Isabel: Jewel of Castilla by Carolyn Meyer
Blood Secret by Kathryn Lansky


Week 14
What is the World Made Of by Kathleen Zoehfield
A Drop of Water by Walter Wick


Measuring Penny by Loreen Leady
How Long or How Wide by Brian Cleary
Inch by Inch by Leo Leoni
How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? by David Adler

Where Poppies Grow: A World War 1 Companion by Linda Granfield
In Flanders Field by Linda Granfield
Rags, Hero Dog of World War 1 by Margot Raven
Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepherd
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: A World War 1 Tale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale

Columbus by D’Aulaire
Courage and Conviction by Mindy and Brandon Withrow
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
-Chp 19-26 The Reformation
Peter the Great by Diane Stanley
The World of William Penn by Genevieve Foster (Absolute Monarchs)
The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell
Johann Sebastian Bach by Mike Venezia
Sebastian Bach by Opal Wheeler
Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard



Week 15

Energy Makes Things Happen by Kimberly Bradley
Forces Make Things Move by Kimberly Bradley

Think Metric! by Franklyn Branley

Where Poppies Grow: A World War 1 Companion by Linda Granfield
In Flanders Field by Linda Granfield
Rags, Hero Dog of World War 1 by Margot Raven
Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepherd
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: A World War 1 Tale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale

The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster
Jamestown, New World Adventure by James E Knight
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Sara Morton’s Day by Kate Waters
Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
-Chp 31 Jonathan Edwards
-Chp 32 George Whitfield
-Chp 33 John Wesley
-Chp 34 John Newton
Adventures from the Bay by Clifford Wilson
Hearts and Minds: Chronicles of the Awakening Church by  Mindy and Brandon Withrow
The Arts by Hendrick Van loon


Week 16
Isaac Newton: Physics for Kids by Kerrie Hoolihan
Newton and Me by Lynne Mayor
Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion by Andrea Gianopolus
Isaac Newton by John Hudson Tiner

Squares, Rectangles and other Quadrilaterals by David Adler

** I have included books that directly correlate to the history sentence and several living books that are set during World War 2. (*) denotes a book that would work well for younger students.
Victory in the Pacific by Albert Marrin
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen (*)
Hannah’s Cold Winter by Trish Marx (*)
The Little Ships by Louise Borden
The Little Riders by Margaretha Shemin
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden
The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
Hiroshima by Laurence Yep
Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy
House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert De Jong
The Avion my Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hunter
Twenty and Ten by Claire Bishop

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
Story of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 14 James Cook
George Washington by Cheryl Harness
George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory
Stories of America Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
–Chp 16-22 Revolutionary War
–Chp 23 Voyage of Our Ship of State (Constitution)
–Chp 25 America Grows (Lewis and Clark)


Week 17
Sam’s Sneaker Squares by Nat Gabriel
Perimeter, Area and Volume by David Adler
Square by Mac Barnett

Isaac Newton: Physics for Kids by Kerrie Hoolihan
Newton and Me by Lynne Mayor
Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion by Andrea Gianopolus
Isaac Newton by John Hudson Tiner

A Boy Named FDR by Kathleen Krull
Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Janet Benge (Plenty of information on Hitler’s rise to power)
Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill by Stephen Mansfield
Franklin and Winston A Christmas that Changed the World by Douglas Wood


The Story of Napoleon by HE Marshall
The Year of the Horseless Carriage by Genevieve Foster
Story of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 16-19 Napoleon
-Chp 20 Bolivar the Liberator
Stories of America Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 27 How the English and the Americans Fought Again
The Town that Fooled the British by Lisa Papp


Week 18
Triangle by Marc Barnett
The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Triangles by David Adler

The United Nations Website
Declaration of the Rights of the Child
History of the United Nations
Stories of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 25 Commodore Perry Opens the Door to Japan
Stories of America Volume 2 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 1 Heading West on the Oregon Trail
-Chp 3 The Sad Story of Slavery
Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornelian
Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
Charles Darwin by Jennifer Thermes
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shoguns by Rhoda Blumberg

Nature Study Book & Supply List


When I first sat down to compile this list it was quite dark outside. The crickets were still busy with their evening symphonies and the bravest birds were just beginning to rouse. My favorite part of the day. The small stretch of minutes when night and day mingle a bit. I sit at my desk and look out the window at the large bougainvillea, elephant ear palms and gorgeous patch of ripening beauty berry just in front of me. Within an hour of the sun’s rising I have been visited by several small cuban tree frogs, roused from their amphibious dreams by a frolicking dog,  and a wide array of birds. Our resident Mockingbird came bouncing past at a quarter before 7, trilling as loudly and obnoxiously as possible. A pair of cardinals came to check on the ripening beauty berry and brought a smile to my face when I beheld their mischievous flirtations and listened to their calls, which have always reminded me of a car alarm.  The ibis will soon fly by over the water and within minutes the dragonflies will all appear as if from nowhere and begin their day long hovering over the farm in search of mosquitos. Now everything within the window frame is tipped in that radiant morning gold and there is an abundance of noises in the form of chirps, calls, buzzings, croaks, and the tell tale rustling of leaves from the black racers darting out to find a patch of warm sunshine. Nature study, even just by peering out the window, has such a miraculous power to refresh and restore, simply by being itself and pointing to the Creator.


Sometimes we venture out doors and enjoy the incredibly rich and varied nature study opportunities here in South Florida. Some days (mostly unbearably hot summer days), we open a book and enjoy nature in other part of the world that way.



These are some of the books, mostly non fiction, that we have enjoyed during our Nature Study time over the years. I know this list is quite large and it may seem alarming that I said “some.” Keep in mind, you don’t need all these books. Remember: 1) I rescue books and have a large collection of out of print books from the golden age of children’s literature. I have not included out of print books in this list. (See ** at the end of the post) 2) I have a child that is passionate about nature study and has procured quite an extensive collection of his own over the last half decade of birthdays, Christmas and end of year gifts.


Books to help inspire Mamas towards more Nature Study:
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter
Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (Thank you Terri for recommending this one!)
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Core Resources:
Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.
Lynn Seddon’s Exploring Nature with Children (I had mine printed and bound at OfficeDepot and will be using it for many, many years)
Lynn Seddon also has journals available here and here.
Phrenology Wheels


References We’ve used and loved:
The Naturalist’s Notebook: Observation and Five Year Journal by Nathaniel Wheelwright
Keeping a Nature Journal by Claire Walker Leslie
The Curious Nature Guide by Claire Walker Leslie
The Nature Connection by Claire Walker Leslie”
Julia Rothman Collection


The Laws Guide to Drawing and Nature Journaling by John Muir Laws
The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds by John Muir Laws
Watercolor with Me in the Forest by Dana Fox
(Watercolor with Me in the Ocean by Dana Fox -releasing November 12, 2019!!)

Nature Journals to love and imitate:
Drawn to Nature: Through the Journals of Claire Walker Leslie by Claire Walker Leslie

Nature Journals for the little kids:
Nature Journal by Alice Cantrell


Guides for more sophisticated Venturing Out:
The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley


Take Along Guides:
Tracks, Scats and Signs by Leslie Dendy
Trees, Leaves and Bark by Diane Burns
Birds, Nests and Eggs by Mel Boring
Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies by Mel Boring
Fun With Nature by Mel Boring
Wildflowers Blooms and Blossoms by Diane Burns
Berries, Nuts and Seeds by Diane Burns

Frogs, Toads and Turtles by Diane Burns
Snakes, Salamanders and Lizards by Diane Burns
Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks by Mel Boring
Seashells Crabs and Sea Stars by Christine Tibbetts
Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads by Laura Evert

One Small Square Series by Donald Silver
Cactus Desert
Night Sky
Tropical Rain Forest 
Arctic Tundra
Coral Reef
African Savana 


What is a Biome? by Bobbie Kalman
A Walk in the Deciduous Rain Forest by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Tundra by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Desert by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Prairie by Rebecca L johnson
A Walk in the Rain Forest by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Boreal Forest by Rebecca L Johnson


Bird Study for Littles
Mama built a Nest by Jennifer Ward
Birds, Nests and Eggs by Mel Boring
Feathers, Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart
What Makes a Bird a Bird? by Mary Garelick
A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins
About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sills
The Bird Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Elhert
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W Burgess
Beaks! by Sneed B. Colard III
An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston
Birdsong by Audrey Wood
Our Yard is Full of Birds by Anne Rockwell
Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell

Ocean Study
Picture Book List: Beaches and Oceans


I know I’ve blogged before about what we keep in our nature packs and even made a Christmas Guide for outfitting an Explorer pack, but these are a few Nature Study basics we keep in our packs to help us study things we find.
Small plastic Container Boxes for keeping nature finds intact. (Those cicada moldings will crumble to bits without these! ha!)
Plastic gloves for handling bones
Plastic bags for storing said bones
Rite in the Rain Journals (Small field journals for quick note taking, totally water proof!)

Footprints: Boy and Ibis

***There are many fantastic living nature books out there that are sadly out of print. You might be able to find a few in the $30-$40 but most have shot much higher in the last few years. If you are yearning to find some great living books from that golden age of children’s literature, check here to see if you have a living library near you.