Nature Study

A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson

Exploring Nature
Exploring Nature

Part 1 

Before we begin A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson

First, I explain why I’m focusing subject by subject. Also, I include Charlotte Mason quotes because I find her original lectures on education to be SO inspiring and helpful.

Next, please keep reading to see the break down of implementing lessons, the schedule, and resources I’m using that fit our family. Finally, I share the wealth of quality Charlotte Mason resources I have found helpful, from those mothers who have gone before me.

PREPARING THE FEAST

“Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests.” (Mason, vol. 3)

There are MANY subjects included in a Charlotte Mason education because she believed in spreading a wide feast. Sometimes, it feels a bit daunting for a new homeschooling mama.

Therefore, I’m attempting to learn, digest, and absorb how I’m going to be teaching each subject. I have decided to compose a blog post on each subject for Form 1B (roughly First Grade). This will help me prepare to teach my oldest son in the Fall.

“The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.” (Mason, vol. 1)

A Charlotte Mason Nature Study  

WHAT

“We were all meant to be naturalists, each in its own degree, and its inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” (Mason, vol. 1)

When I think about Charlotte Mason, I think about Nature Study, because it was such a big part of her educational philosophy.

WHAT WE ARE USING 

MIX MEDIA JOURNAL

Since Charlotte Mason advocated keeping a Nature Journal, we are using this simple one to record our outdoor findings. This is a mix media journal, so it will accommodate our notes, drawings, and watercolors. It is also compact enough to pack in a backpack when we go to a natural park, or the playground, or simply outside in the yard.

This Nature Journal looks amazing too, and I have seen many people purchase it!

WATERCOLORS

Although Charlotte Mason said children are worthy the best, we are using these great, inexpensive watercolors. These do a nice job, and since we already have them, we use them until they are used up. Then, we will probably purchase a nicer quality set, per Ms. Mason’s suggestions, and purchase these: Stockmar Watercolors. Also, I have this beautiful Cherry Wood Paint Holder, which we love to use when we are drawing.

Nature Drawing
Nature Drawing

HANDBOOK OF NATURE STUDY

In Home Education, Charlotte Mason says, “The mother cannot devote herself too much to this kind of reading, (Nature Study) not only that she may read tid-bits to her children about matters they have come across, but that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observation.” (Mason, vol. 1)

Although the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock is intimidatingly large, it holds a wealth of knowledge on Nature Study. This is meant as a resource for Mama to read, in order to prepare for Nature Study Lessons.

WHEN

Charlotte Mason describes the Nature Study Lesson as occurring daily. The goal should be to spend two to three hours outside in tolerably fine weather. Therefore, we plan to spend two hours outdoors per day in the afternoons, after finishing morning lessons.

A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson
A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson

WHY

Charlotte Mason volumes say it best, so here are three AMAZING quotes pertaining to Nature Study.

“That the knowledge most valuable to the child is that which he gets with his own eyes and ears and fingers (under direction) in the open air.” (Mason, vol. 1)

Nature Study lays the groundwork for Science.

“…the children will adore her (Mama) for knowing what they want to know, and who knows but she may give its bent for life to some young mind destined to do great things for the world.” (Mason, vol. 1)

The ladies at A Delectable Education note that Nature Study is the foundation for all school work: Reading, Math, Writing, Art, Geography, Language Development, and finally, Science. Therefore, Nature Study is not to be missed.

“…there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in. Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.”(Mason, vol. 1)

HOW

“In the first place, the child gets his rudimentary notions of geography as he gets his first notions of natural science, in those long hours out of doors of which we have already seen the importance.” (Mason, vol. 1)

After morning lessons, Charlotte Mason advocated ample time spent out of doors on a daily basis. Thus, Nature Study would occur daily, in the afternoons.

NATURE STUDY LESSON

  • First, go outside! This can take place in your own yard!
  • Next, the child observes nature. 
  • A very young child tells about the time they spend outdoors and his observations. This is narration. Or, the child can simply record observations in his Nature Journal.
  • Then, the child notes the month or date. Mama can write this in for the child if needed.
  • Sometimes, the child can include a drawing if they want to support their notes.
  • Keep a flower list and a bird list in columns in the Nature Journal.
  • Also, keep a list of anything interesting to the child (ex. mushrooms, trees, leaves, plants).

IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT NATURE STUDY

  1. First, keep formal lessons short.
  2. Allow the child plenty of time to observe nature on their own.
  3. Also, Mama goes with the kiddos when possible! It is as nourishing for Mama as it is for the children.

NATURE JOURNAL

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child. ” (Mason, vol. 1)

Often, we see beautiful drawings and illustrations used for Nature Journals. In reality though, the drawings are used to support the field notes and observations. Its amazing if the child can create beautiful drawings, however, it is not necessary.

Therefore, the purpose of a Nature Journal is to support observations in nature.

In the beginning, the mother writes notes for the child, until the child is able to record his own notes in his Nature Journal. The child is encouraged to take notes, and draw in his journal anytime, because this is such a valuable part of their education.

Eventually, it is suggested to keep lists of flowers and birds, and of anything interesting to the child. Also, a child could also additionally include poetry in their Nature Journal.

Also, this Parent’s Union article suggests the schedule would have been:

  • Find and describe six wild fruits
  • Watch and describe, if possible:
    • Ten birds and
    • Five other animals
tree study
tree study

SOME HANDY RESOURCES TO SUPPORT NATURE STUDY

 

FAVORITE RESOURCES

Finally, I have come across some outstanding resources in learning about a Charlotte Mason education. I’m so happy to share them with you! Some of these are sources I return to daily because I’m preparing to teach my children. Additionally, I list specific resources for a Charlotte Mason Nature Study Lesson.

GENERAL CHARLOTTE MASON RESOURCES

CHARLOTTE MASON NATURE STUDY LESSON RESOURCES

OUR PICKS

Additionally, if you are interested in additional Charlotte Mason information,

check out these previous blog posts in the series:

Thank you so much for checking in! Please stay tuned for the next ‘A Charlotte Mason Subject Lesson’ post.

Homeschool Preschool Supplies List

All of the quotes mentioned in this blog post, come from Home Education by Charlotte Mason. The Living Press published my favorite version of her books. I TRULY recommend any parent read Charlotte Mason’s books! They are truly treasured words I believe I will be reading and re-reading for many years to come.

Winter Trees

Winter Nature Activities for Preschoolers

EXPLORING NATURE WITH CHILDREN

I’m so thankful I get to spend time with my children for their Preschool/Kindergarten years. These early years are so precious. First, I share examples of our nature studies with Exploring Nature Curriculum with Children. Keep reading to find out how we explore nature during the Winter! Finally, at the bottom, we list our favorite supplies for the Preschool/Kindergarten years.

Winter Nature Activities for Preschoolers
Winter Nature Activities for Preschoolers

PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME

  • Exploring Nature Curriculum with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors (HINT: If you click on this link, make sure you click “Preview” to check out the preschool curriculum!)
Winter Trees
Winter Trees

WINTER BIRDS

In December, we studied winter birds with Exploring Nature Curriculum with Children. Almost daily, we pull out our Nature Anatomy book and use it as a lovely learning resource. We also LOVE these sandpaper letters for early letter formation and writing skills! They are so affordable to beautiful in their simplicity.

I have been wanting to collect some field guides, and we finally picked up a few at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. I choose the following guides since I felt they would get us started off on the right foot: Texas Wildflowers, Birds of Central Texas, and Owls of North America.

Finally, we read through Owl Moon. Have you read this story? If you haven’t, I highly suggest it! The last page in the book is so sweet:

“When you go owling
you don’t need words
or warm
or anything but hope.
That’s what Pa says.
The kind of hope
that flies
on silent wings
under a shining
Owl Moon.”

Winter Birds
Winter Birds

We also created bird’s nests from play dough and used some old string and feathers and twigs from the yard.

Also pictured are two other highly recommended books that we read regularly: Albert and A Nest is Noisy.

Winter Bird's Nest
Winter Bird’s Nest

Albert is a sweet story about birds who build a nest in Albert’s hands and help him overcome his fears. It is beautifully illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

Winter Bird's Nest
Winter Bird’s Nest

Now that my oldest is five, he is beginning to want to practice handwriting. I’m super gentle with their learning since I feel that is best for the littlest of children. I’m grateful for these letter worksheets from simplylearningkids.

Finally, we read through Are You My Mother? My little ones created another nest made from play dough and I loved when they added in eggs. Its such a joy to see their creativity come alive from play, good books, and nature! Here is the link to these lovely letters again! sandpaper letters

Winter Bird's Nest
Winter Bird’s Nest

WINTER SKY

Since we don’t have much snow in Texas, the boys don’t often experience what I would consider a true Winter. My husband and I talk often about taking them to a colder place in the Winter sometime so they can experience snowflakes and nature in wintertime.

To explore the Winter sky, we used coffee filters to make snowflake shapes, and also read the Snowy Day and Nature Anatomy again to look at different snowflake shapes.

Winter Snowflakes
Winter Snowflakes

Then, we read this sweet book called Snowmen at Night. I think its perfect for preschoolers since it seems like the boys enjoy to have this book read aloud often!

Winter Snowmen
Winter Snowmen

WINTER MOON

Once again, we utilized the Nature Anatomy books and these sandpaper letters . Seriously, we use them almost daily!!!

Winter Moon
Winter Moon

First, I drew in pencil the phases of the moon and then I invited my oldest to watercolor the picture however he wanted. I love his close attention to detail.

Winter Moon
Winter Moon

We also added in gluten free oreos into the study of the phases of the moon! The boys LOVED this part of course!

Winter Moon
Winter Moon

We don’t often buy cookies so this was a treat! I may or may not have a cookie or two with them!

Winter Moon
Winter Moon

My sweet friend sent me these beautiful moon resources.

Winter Moon
Winter Moon

WINTER TREE STUDY

The Exploring Nature with Children curriculum is so lovely written. She states:

     “Winter can be a very interesting time to observe trees. Their beautiful silhouettes stretch across the  winter sky line, revealing their shapes more clearly in the absence of leaves.”

My littlest one (age three) painted a tree from the Perfect Christmas Tree. Oh my goodness…this is SUCH a sweet story to read at Christmas time! You know a good book when it stirs your emotions and brings you to tears! This book was recommended from the Peaceful Preschool curriculum, which we use to gently introduce letters to the boys.

Winter Tree Study
Winter Tree Study

We have very loosely kept a nature journal. I tried my hand at drawing an evergreen with John Muir Law’s drawing tutorials, and my son wanted to draw a tree right next to mine! So sweet. I love his creations.

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

Then, we collected twigs and branches from outside in the yard and read this LOVELY book of nature winter poems.

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

We also read Winter Trees and painted using our tree branches.

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

Again, we used our Nature Anatomy book again to identify different kinds of bark. We also wound twine around some branches. The boys had fun figuring out how to wind the string around the tree!

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

Little Tree is another sweet story that shows the seasons nicely. Its a sweet story of a little tree who is afraid of change. Also, I love the illustrations by Loren Long.

Winter Trees
Winter Trees

CANDLEMAS WEEK

This beeswax candle making kit is so affordable, simple, and my boys LOVE to make candles. The boys also played with the letters beads and used their fine motor skills to string them on pipe cleaner.

Candlemas
Candlemas

EARTHWORM STUDY

Next, we read about earthworms and they colored in a picture of an earthworm that I drew. We briefly discussed the anatomy of an earthworm. I don’t focus on much detail at this point…I just let them observe as much as they can on their own.

Then, my boys had fun using play dough to form earth worms. We enjoy this natural play dough for playing, and forming letters.

Winter Earthworms
Winter Earthworms

I was completely shocked to see my oldest want to copy this poem that comes in the curriculum. Once he was finished, I didn’t pressure him to keep going. This is considered copywork and its AMAZING handwriting/language arts practice!

Exploring Nature with Children also has a Guided Journal and its so lovely! We have used it many times, though I can easily seeing using it weekly as the boys grow! The copywork pictured below came from the Guided Journal!

Winter Earthworms
Winter Earthworms

WINTER FIELD TRIP

We also took a hike to Pedernales Falls State Park. My hubby loved it so much that he purchased a state pass for the whole family.

Winter Field Trip
Winter Field Trip

Our boys and dogs loved it!

Winter Field Trip
Winter Field Trip

We have been a handful of times, so we can’t wait to return.

Winter Field Trip
Winter Field Trip

Finally, I hope this helps inspire you with some Winter Preschool/Kindergarten activities! I sure love this precious time spent at home with my kiddos. Finally, here is our curated Preschool supplies list!

If you are interested in Exploring Nature with Children, I encourage to check it out! Its super affordable and I intend to keep up this curriculum every year for many years to come! Make sure you click “Preview” so you view a sample of the rich curriculum!

SUPPLIES

Nature Anatomy Series
Owl Moon
Watercolors
Nature Journal
Paint brushes
Sandpaper Letters
Winter Trees
A Nest is Noisy

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writing

Letter L Preschool Unit

I’m so thankful I get to spend time with my children for their preschool years. First, I share our curriculum choices and why we use them. Keep reading to find out how we explored the Letter L. Finally, at the bottom, we list our favorite supplies for the preschool years.

Letter L
Letter L preschool

PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME

  • The Peaceful Preschool – The schedule is amazing because it sets aside one day per week for field trips
  • Exploring Nature with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors (HINT: If you click this link, make sure you click “Preview” at the top right corner!)
  • The Abundant Gardener – We are learning more about gardening together so this will naturally provide chances to visit gardens, plant stores, and be outside on our land
Letter L
Letter L preschool

THE PEACEFUL PRESCHOOL

We currently follow the Peaceful Preschool curriculum by Jennifer Pepito and we love it! The content is full of rich literature, therefore it is a perfect fit for my book-loving family.  We read through many rich, classic stories. We also complete playful projects to go with the literature theme or letter. Download Unit A for free to try it out with your littles to see if you like it.

The community she has created is such a beautiful resource and I’m grateful to be a part of it. Jennifer has included a wonderful preschool e-book which helps you prepare to guide your child in early learning. We have found her curriculum perfect for our homeschool preschool. The curriculum is comprised of Read Aloud, Phonics, Counting Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Large Motor Skills, Practical Life Skills, and Art Skills. Also, here is how we enjoyed the letter A unit. Feel free to explore all of our letter units!

Letter L
Letter L

LETTER L REVIEW

The focus books for letter L are The Grouchy Ladybug and the Corinthians Love Chapter from the Bible. Our favorite children’s Bible is the Jesus Storybook Bible. I also added Ten Little Ladybugs since my youngest really loves this story and its great for counting. Then, we read the Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, which is a beautiful, imaginative picture book and a great fable. Finally, we read through Locomotive, by Brian Floca and The Little Tree.

First, we created glitter glue letters. The Peaceful Preschool recommends glitter glue in order to create the finishing touches on sensory, alphabet flashcards. We have used them with all of the letters so far. My children are always excited to make a new glitter glue letter.

Letter L Glitter Glue
Letter L Glitter Glue preschool

L IS FOR LADYBUG

We read The Grouchy Ladybug many times. It is a beautiful book which is part of the Peaceful Preschool curriculum. We used this small wooden clock to introduce the principles of telling time since the book highlights the different times of the day as the grouchy ladybug moves from one animal to the next. This book was a regular during our introduction of Letter L.

Ladybug
Ladybug

Then, we revisited Ten Little Ladybugs. There are 3D ladybugs which the boys love to run their fingers over as I’m reading the pages. The beautiful rhyming words are simple. The boys loved foreshadowing the next number. In the story, the ladybugs are counted down from ten to none (and are returned to home).

ladybugs
ladybugs

We used Simply Learning Kids resources for Letter L and found the letters with a cute ladybug free printable.

Ladybug
Ladybug

L IS FOR LOVE

We were lucky that our Letter L unit fell around the same time as Valentine’s Day for us. We made some simple homemade cards for the boy’s Daddy and traced the word “Love” with our sandpaper letters.

L is for Love
L is for Love

Since it was Valentine’s Day, my older son signed Valentine’s cards and we made homemade chocolate candies to share with our friends.

love
love

Finally, we read 1 Corinthians 13 which is the Love Chapter from the Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible.

L IS FOR LEMON

I asked my children to make their glitter glue Letter L’s and we looked up a recipe for homemade limonada in Nature Anatomy. I just love these Montessori moveable letters too! We bring them out for every letter unit.

lemon
lemon

We squeezed fresh lemon juice, honey, water, ice and fresh mint for a refreshing drink.

limonada
limonada

We also made these lemon pomanders, which is just pressing whole cloves into lemons. My boys were having a difficult time so we ended up using toothpicks to make the holes first, and then sticking the cloves inside the fruit. We also really love these sandpaper letters and they are very affordable!

ABC BOOK

This sweet ABC book, Adventures with Barefoot Creatures, also introduces the concept of the seasons and a calendar. I just love the whimsical illustrations too!

ABC BOOK
ABC BOOK

L IS FOR LIBRARY

We normally visit our local small town library, but we decided to venture to the big city to visit the newest library. It was absolutely beautiful, filled with natural light, and we curled up to a couple of good books, and of course played with some toys as well!

Library
Library

ALPHABAET HANDWRITING PRACTICE

We practiced tracing the letters in the word “love” on our handwriting board.

alphabet practice
alphabet practice preschool

I love this alphabet board since it has both upper and lower case letters.

letter board
letter board

L IS FOR LION

The Lion and the Mouse is a great version of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables. I love how it teaches children about kindness and the value of helping one another.

Lion
Lion

L IS FOR LITTLE BEAR

I had this childhood book saved so we read Little Bear for Letter L! My boys love this story since its made up of several stories that build on one another.

Little Bear
Little Bear

L IS FOR LITTLE TREE

Finally, we read Little Tree by Loren Long. I just love her illustrations and the story is very sweet. We have read this many times through over the past year because its such a lovely book.

little tree
little tree

SUPPLIES

Locomotive
Little Tree
The Grouchy Ladybug
Sandpaper Letters
Montessori Moveable Alphabet
Glitter Glue

OUR PICKS

Here is how we enjoyed the letter A unit. We had so much fun with letter A and can’t wait to share the next letter with you!

NATURE BOOKS GIFTS

Top Gift Ideas for Mama, Toddler, and Baby

TOP GIFT IDEAS FOR MAMA, PRESCHOOLER, TODDLER AND BABY

Over the last six years, we have found some wonderful children’s items. I wanted to share some of them with you!

This post includes a list of some of our favorite things. Hopefully, this inspires you with some Christmas gift ideas! I start with gifts for baby, learning toys, gifts for nature loving kids, nature book ideas, and finish with gifts for mama. Many of these items we have and love, and many are on our wish list! Most items included have a nature or natural theme since that is one of the things we value and cherish.

GIFT IDEAS FOR BABY

Baby Gifts
Baby Gifts
  1. Organic Muslin Swaddle Blanket – We had similar blankets for the boys when they were babies and LOVE them. I almost always try to give this as a gift to my mama to be friends. They are super soft, organic and so versatile. They are large enough that you can swaddle babies and use them as the children grow! My boys continue to seek their blankets in cold weather.
  2. TinyTot Wooden Balance Bike and Tricycle – This is so adorable. It is so beautiful! I would have purchased one of these for my boys in their younger years if I had seen it! This seems to be a great price for a balance bike.
  3. Nature Wooden Mini Puzzles – These are super cute and perfect for little fingers.
  4. Natural Wooden Baby Teether – These are super cute and so important when baby wants to explore by putting objects in their mouth.
  5. Baby/Toddler Bamboo Spoons – I didn’t include these on the picture above, but these are so adorable. Its great when you can find perfect feeding spoons for the first couple of years!

GIFT IDEAS FOR LEARNING

LEARNING TOYS
LEARNING TOYS
  1. Wooden Xylophone – I’m not sure about your children, but my children would LOVE this toy! Last Christmas, we purchased them a mini piano and drum set and they STILL love to play on them! Children can learn so much from music, songs, and learning to play an instrument.
  2. PlanToys Wooden Bee Hive – This is so adorable and great for learning! Children can count, recognize colors, make patterns, and work on fine motor skills with this fun toy!
  3. Hape Alphabet Learning Puzzle – We have a colorful wooden alphabet puzzle but I have always been interested in this one. It seems this year, Hape has reduced the price quite a bit! If I we didn’t already have a wooden alphabet, we would snatch this up.
  4. Oil Pastels – I had to include these here too. My youngest son (age three) especially loves making art with these!

Here is a helpful list of our favorite, well-used Preschool Supplies.

GIFT IDEAS FOR NATURE LOVING KIDDOS

Nature Gifts
Nature Gifts
  1. Classic Wooden Swing for Adults and Kids – I have a hunch my nature loving boys will love a wooden swing hanging from the oak tree out front. This one can also hold an adult as well! It seems like such a great price!
  2. DIY Terrarium Succulent Planter Kit –  We made a terrarium this year as part of our Exploring Nature with Children curriculum and my boys loved the whole process. They really enjoy caring for plants of their own. Also, its such an easy and beautiful addition to your home!
  3. Wooden Hand-Carved Jump Rope – This would make a great pastime outdoors. My children love to be outside and active. What a unique jumprope to add to their outdoor collection!
  4. Lift and Learn Leaf Puzzle – This would be a beautiful puzzle to have lying around. Kiddos are learning so much about leaves, trees, and each leaf lifts up to reveal more facts about the leaf.
  5. Wooden Insect House – I have seen these at the garden center and I know my boys would delight at housing some insects!

GIFT IDEAS FOR NATURE BOOKS

NATURE BOOKS GIFTS
NATURE BOOKS GIFTS
  1. Animalium Activity Book – This looks amazing and I have heard many mamas recommend it! This would have been super to have on our long road trip we recently took. The Animalium Activity book and also Animalium is on our wish list.
  2. Usborne Outdoor Book – I supported a friend who sells Usborne books and the boys are getting this book for Christmas! My boys love the Usborne books. They are so informative and captivate their attention so these are a win.
  3. Nature Anatomy Collection – We use these books almost every other day with our homeschool preschool studies. They are SUCH a wealth or resources. I love the simple, watercoloring drawings and my oldest loves to draw and watercolor using these images as examples. There are so many fun projects in these books to try out as well.
  4. The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh – I think this is a MUST on any children’s book list. We have several copies from when I was a child. This particular copy is so beautifully illustrated and my boys and I have begun reading it through the second time. I highly recommend it!
  5. The Elves and the Shoemaker – I love the classic fairytales. The boys are getting this book for Christmas. I thought it would be a perfect addition for this time of year. I love the author and illustrator so I can’t wait to share this story with the boys!
  6. Tommy Smith’s Animals – Now that my boys are a year older, we have started formal school lessons. This is one of my son’s favorite books. It is a GOOD animal story and so informative.

GIFT IDEAS FOR MAMA

Mama gifts
Mama gifts
  1. Dead Sea Bath Salts CALM – Anything that evokes a warm, CALM, bath captures my attention. One of my favorite self-care indulgences is a long slow soak in the bath. My boys have even taken this on and we sometimes purchase bath salts at the grocery store to add to their bath. Such an indulgence and pretty inexpensive.
  2. Puracy Natural Household Cleaning Bundle – I have the Puracy dish liquid, hand soap and multi-purpose cleaner on Amazon subscription, which ships to us regularly. I love these cleaners because they are a wonderful product free of harsh chemicals you don’t want in your home. They do a great job and cleaning and smell wonderful too!
  3. Weck Glass Airtight Food Storage Jars – We cook most meals in our home. I’m always on the watch for functional, affordable glass containers to store our pantry items. These are beautiful as well as functional and I can’t wait to snag some for my pantry grains!
  4. Handbook of Nature Study – This giant book is a wealth of information on nature study. I have only scratched the surface, however, I have learned a great deal already. This helps me feel comfortable exploring nature with my children, therefore, it is highly recommended!

GIFT IDEAS FOR FITNESS MAMA

FITNESS GIFTS FOR MAMA
FITNESS GIFTS FOR MAMA
  1. Kitchen Aid 5 Speed Blender – We have this blender and it has been well loved and used. I love this bright, cheerful red Christmas color too!
  2. Yoga Mat Bag – This would be a great bag to store your yoga mat in when running to class or while traveling.
  3. Dumbbells – Over the last year, I have added weights into my workout routine. I feel its super important to use some weights occasionally with your workouts especially as we age (hello 35!). I really enjoy these weights and I personally use 3 and 5 lb. weights.
  4. Lululemon Juice Energy Sports Bra – Lululemon makes some really great workout clothes. They are my favorite brand because of their quality and comfort. I have this bra in white but would love it in pin as well!
  5. Stainless Steel Water Bottle – This is not pictured above, but I love a nice quality stainless steel bottle that is not terribly expensive! These are so versatile and we have smaller ones for the boys.

I hope this guide was helpful to you in your Christmas gifts for you and your loved ones. I could keep going….but Mama is ready to rest now 🙂 Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season!

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tree study

Fall Nature Activities for Preschoolers

Fall Nature Activities for Preschoolers

I’m so grateful to have found Exploring Nature with Children, ENWC, to use for the past year with my preschoolers because it has been perfect. Included are forty-eight weeks of nature study; four weeks for each month of the year, organized by season. I have loved using ENWC for Fall Nature Activities for my Preschoolers because we have gained so much from this program.

I’m so thankful I get to spend time with my children for their preschool years. First, I share our Exploring Nature curriculum choices and why we use them. Keep reading to find out how we explore nature during the Fall! Finally, at the bottom, we list our favorite supplies for the preschool years.

leaves
leaves

PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME

  • Exploring Nature Curriculum with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors (HINT: If you click on this link, make sure you click “Preview” to check out the preschool curriculum! Exploring Nature With Children is a complete, year-long curriculum designed to guide you, step by step, through an entire calendar year of nature study.
  • Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy – Early Years  – Volume 1 Home Education

SEED STUDY

First, we gathered seeds from the yard. Then, we read The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. My oldest son LOVES art! He used watercolors to paint in the flower I drew from the story. We use these watercolors almost daily and LOVE them! They have lasted a long time, and the boys really enjoy using them.

seed dispersal
seed dispersal

MAKING SEED BOMBS

We created seed bombs at home and with our sweet preschool co-op group. I found an easy tutorial on Pinterest on how to make the seed bombs. We used seed packets, water, potting soil, and air-dry clay.

flower seeds
flower seeds

This activity was so simple. We love to get our hands dirty. I can’t wait for Spring to see the flowers pop up!

seed bombs
seed bombs

COLLECTING NATURE TREASURES

Next, we discussed seed dispersal and used leftover egg cartons to house our nature treasures. My boys use egg cartons frequently now to store their findings!

seed gather
seed gather

We also read A Seed is Sleepy by Diana Aston. The books in this series are all absolutely stunning because they provide beautiful imagery. The boys had fun using a magnifying glass for the first time to observe their treasures up close!

seed dispersal
seed dispersal

Finally, we read through From Seed to Plant. Although this was an informative book, my boys were not attentive to this book. Perhaps as they get a little older, they will be more interested in it!

APPLE STUDY

Since it was Fall, we also explored apples. My boys practiced kitchen skills by slicing the apples, and removing and counting the seeds. Then, we painted an apple template using the sliced apple and tempera paints.

apple art
apple art

APPLE BOOKS

We read through the following books and these were all EXCELLENT:

I think our favorite book was the Apple Tree’s Discovery because it has such a neat story!

apple stories
apple stories

Since I’m a lover of sweets, we then made this simple vegan apple crisp recipe. This recipe is simple, pretty clean, and my family loves it, so we have made it several times!

vegan apple crisp
vegan apple crisp

I just love to see the attention to detail my older son has when he is painting!

apple life cycle
apple life cycle

BEE STUDY

Next, we explored and learned about honey bees. This was a fun lesson! I highly recommend Are You a Bee? I also highly recommend making homemade beeswax candles! To this day, my boys still get excited to light a candle that they helped create!

h is for honey
h is for honey

Of course, since my boys seem to love being creative with art, they colored in the honey bees I drew from them in their nature journals. We also made a bee card from cardstock, used our Nature Anatomy book to draw a bee, and read the Honeybee Man many times throughout the week!

honey bee
honey bee

FARM VISIT

In October, we visited Johnson’s Backyard Gardens for an open house event. When we first arrived, we took a tractor tour of the farm! Next, we completed a nature scavenger hunt searching for leaves, spider webs, birds, mini beasts and signs of bugs.

tractor
tractor

They were pretty excited to ride the tractor trailer!

tractor tour
tractor tour

We had a pretty view of the farm from the tractor ride.

sun set over the farm
sun set over the farm

LEAF STUDY

I try to begin and end the month reading a short and sweet poem from a beautiful book called Be Blest. I highly recommend this book. It is very inexpensive too! This is something extra I have tried to add to our exploring nature curriculum study.

OCTOBER
OCTOBER

First, we used Nature Anatomy to study leaf characteristics. This book has been such a huge resource to us, I highly recommend you check it out! We collected as many leaves as we could (there is not much variety on our property which mostly consists of cedar and oak trees). My boys had fun painting the leaves and making art with them.

leaf
leaf

We tried to identify leaves based on their shapes.

Exploring Nature with Children
Exploring Nature with Children

LEAF PAINTING

We read through many stories, and really enjoyed We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt. We have also read his other cute story We’re going on a Bear Hunt and it is one of my three year old son’s favorite books.

leaf painting
leaf painting

PUMPKIN STUDY

Perhaps our favorite Fall study was exploring Pumpkins! Since it is so useful, we used our Nature Anatomy book again to draw and paint pumpkins and squash. We read through Pumpkin Town more times than I can count over the week.

Fall Activities for Preschoolers
Fall Activities for Preschoolers

Next, my children painted mini pumpkins. Then, we made clean pumpkin energy balls with just a few ingredients. Prior to making the balls, we carved a pumpkin together, explored the seeds and pulp, and cooked the pumpkins to make homemade pumpkin puree, which was used to make the pumpkin energy balls.

pumpkin balls
pumpkin balls

It is so nice when your kiddos start an activity organically, which is exactly what happened with the mini pumpkin painting!

pumpkin paint
pumpkin paint

Here are my children scooping out the seeds! Its a messy job, but so fun!

pumpkin carve
pumpkin carve

Here they are painting pumpkins at a sweet co-op activity.

pumpkin paint
pumpkin paint

Finally, we also watched Too Many Pumpkins on a You Tube read aloud since my library didn’t carry it!

TREE STUDY

We finished our Fall studies with Tree exploring. Nature Anatomy once again was a great resource and we also used our Smokey the Bear Tree Poster to identify some trees.

tree study
tree study

For this study, we next collected seeds and leaves from the yard.

tree study
tree study

Then, we read the Giving Tree and attempted to make some leaf rubbings using crayons and cardstock.

tree rubbing
tree rubbing

We are lucky since we found SO MANY wonderful Tree books. Our favorites books we have read through several times are: Little Tree, Sequoia, and A Log’s Life.

Exploring Nature with Children
Exploring Nature with Children

I hope this helps inspire you with some Fall related Preschool activities! I sure love this precious time spent at home with my kiddos. Finally, here is our Before and After homeschool space.

SUPPLIES

Nature Anatomy Series
Watercolors
Chalk Pastels
Nature Journal
Paint brushes

Also, here is a link to purchase Exploring Nature with Children. It has been so much fun, so I think you will enjoy it!

Exploring Nature With Children Curriculum

OUR PICKS

Finally, you can check out 20 Nature Field Trip Ideas here.

blue butterfly farm

20 Nature Field Trip Ideas

FIELD TRIPS

Our first official year of preschool at home begins soon. Learning at home is a great fit for us because it affords us unique and natural learning opportunities. One benefit of homeschooling is the chance to take field trips together. Field trips provide many educational benefits to children such as real-life experience, tactile learning, and community service opportunities.

Camp ben mcculloch
Camp ben mcculloch

BENEFITS OF NATURE

Charlotte Mason was a homeschooling pioneer who believed learning in nature was extremely important. She wrote, “We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.”

According to Nature Play WA, children who regularly play in nature:

  • Get sick less often
  • Are calmer and less stressed
  • Are stimulated through imagination, creativity, and acquire advanced language skills
strawberry farm
first, strawberry farm

PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME

  • Charlotte Mason Preschool – This guide encourages overwhelmed homeschooling mamas of preschoolers by providing lifestyle tips on how to implement a Charlotte Mason education.
  • Exploring Nature with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors. Please make sure to click “Preview” on the upper right corner to view the handbook before purchasing.
  • Midsummer: Celebrating the Seasons -Celebrating The Seasons With Children is a series of handbooks written to guide you, step by step, in creating meaningful and authentic celebrations for your own family. If you are interested, make sure to click “Preview” on the upper right corner to view the handbook.
Letter A Preschool Unit
Letter A Preschool Unit

 

TWENTY NATURE FIELD TRIP IDEAS

While you can attend these places in your local area, many of them are located just outside of Austin, TX. I have also included links to the specific places we have been to in our area in case you are nearby!

1. Farm

It’s wonderful to allow your children to taste fresh produce from a farm since it often tastes better. There are more nutrients preserved in the foods because the food is fresh. We have enjoyed wonderful visits to Sweet Berry Farms, Blue Butterfly Farms, and Homestead Farms since they are close.

blue butterfly farmblue butterfly farm

2. Aquarium

These are great because children will have a chance to see fish and marine life up close. I can’t wait to take them to the Austin Aquarium. Their website states children can feed the fish, hold a snake and feed lizards and iguanas.

3. Nature Center

We are lucky to have many beautiful nature preserves and spots close to our home so we visit them often. Hamilton Pool Preserve and Westcave Preserve are a few minutes from our house. We have visited them both but since we are so close, we will be visiting more frequently. These two spots offer breathtaking beauty and a great opportunity to learn respect for nature.

Hamilton Pool Family
Hamilton Pool Family

4. Pumpkin Patch 

Barton Hill Farms was wonderful when we attended last Fall. We look forward to returning this year because there are so many wonderful activities for children. Children can pick out and paint their own pumpkins, ride hayrides, climb tractors, pet farm animals and eat some delicious farm foods.

5. Garden Nursery 

We attend the Natural Gardener because of its a great resource for gardening, edible plants, plants, trees, and flowers. My children love to visit because there are farm animals for them to view, mazes for them to walk through, a butterfly garden, and many things to touch!

6. Library

We read to our children probably an hour or more per day so books are abundant in our home! We attempt to find as many of the books in the curriculums at the library first before trying Half Price books. Then, we use Amazon if we need to. My boys love our local library because there is a play area designed for children. They also love finding their own books to bring to me for a read aloud.

Charlotte Mason Preschool
Charlotte Mason Preschool

7. Farmer’s Market 

Every Sunday, we go to the Lonestar Bee Cave Farmer’s Market to collect our CSA share and purchase a few more items. Learn more about why we love Farmer’s Markets here.

counting carrots with letter c unitcounting carrots with letter c unit

8. Zoo 

In our first year here, we were members of the Austin Sanctuary Zoo. The zoo is unique because they have mainly animals that that were given from people that no longer could care for them or animals that were rescued. My boys love to ride the zoo train too! Our favorite animals to see are the tigers, bears, and wolves.

9. River

My lovely neighbor introduced me to a beautiful place at Camp Ben Mcculloch. We love how peaceful it is. We also live very close to Reimer’s Ranch Park. Pedernales Falls has also been another favorite watering spot.

Camp Ben MccullochCamp Ben Mcculloch

10. Bakery

I used to own a cupcake shop so we spent a great deal of time seeking out bakeries and cupcake shops in our past. It has been a while since we have visited one so I’m thinking of attending one of these soon: Wildwood Bakehouse or The Steeping Room.

carrot cake cupcakescarrot cake cupcakes

Favorite Vanilla Bean Cupcake Recipe
Favorite Vanilla Bean Cupcake Recipe

11. Nature Hike

We are lucky since we have 10 acres. My husband and his Dad cut a walking path in the back of the property and we try to take a hike in the back once or twice a week.

20 Nature Field Trip Ideas
20 Nature Field Trip Ideas

then, Boys Nature Hike

12. Bird Sanctuary

I’m excited to check out Travis Audobon with our boys soon!

13. Book Store

We frequent Half Price Books probably too much, however, we love books! They are such a great learning tool.

14. Picnic

Pack your lunch and head outside for a treat! We utilize eating outdoors often while we are traveling and love heading to a local playground with a picnic.

Helping hands in kitchen. Fresh vegetables.Helping hands in the kitchen. Fresh vegetables.

15. Beach

We recently went to Galveston Island State Park and it was beautiful. Going to the beach is such a sensory experience. Children can easily make use of their senses at the sea: hearing the ocean waves, tasting the salty air, feeling the sand and sea, watching the waves come in.

beach timethen, beach time

16. Feed Store

I’m looking forward to taking our children to the feed store. When I was a child, I remembered looking forward to going to the feed store with my parents. I loved touching and seeing the baby animals for sale!

17. Pick Wildflowers

We loved Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center so much that we became members. The boys are exposed to a wide variety of wildflowers, trees, plants, grasses for this area. There is so much beauty there.

20 Nature Field Trip Ideas
20 Nature Field Trip Ideas

next, nourished children wildflowers

18. Bee Farm

We visited Bee Friendly Austin with a Wild and Free group. We learned so much, got up close to a hive, and ended our trip with honey sampling!

19. Fire Station

One of our favorite co-op visits was to the local Dripping Springs Fire Station. We climbed on a firetruck, learned about how firemen prepare for their job, touched heavy equipment and listened to the loud sirens.

20. Botanical Gardens

Visiting the Austin Botanical Gardens was amazing. It was a beautiful place with tranquil paths, waterfalls, native plants and wildlife. We are looking forward to another visit.

b is for bluebonnetFinally, b is for bluebonnet

I’m finishing up my homeschool preschool organization, planning and ordering a few more supplies. Find a great supply list here.

Finally, what are your favorite nature field trip ideas?

OUR PICKS FOR EXPLORING NATURE

letter c preschool unit

Letter C Preschool Unit

I’m so thankful I get to spend time with my children for their preschool years. First, I share our curriculum choices and why we use them. Keep reading to find out how we explored the Letter A. Finally, at the bottom, we list our favorite supplies for the preschool years.

letter c preschool unit
letter c preschool unit

PRESCHOOL CURRICULUM

SUPPORTS AMPLE NATURE TIME

  • The Peaceful Preschool – The schedule is amazing because it sets aside one day per week for field trips
  • Exploring Nature with Children – This works well for my family because it is centered around being outdoors
  • The Abundant Gardener – We are learning more about gardening together so this will naturally provide chances to visit gardens, plant stores, and be outside on our land

THE PEACEFUL PRESCHOOL

We currently follow the Peaceful Preschool curriculum by Jennifer Pepito and we love it! The content is full of rich literature, therefore it is a perfect fit for my book-loving family.  We read through many rich, classic stories. We also complete playful projects to go with the literature theme or letter. Download Unit A for free to try it out with your littles in order to see if you like it.

The community she has created is such a beautiful resource and I’m grateful to be a part of it. Jennifer has included a wonderful preschool e-book which helps you prepare to guide your child in early learning. We have found her curriculum perfect for our homeschool preschool. The curriculum is comprised of Read Aloud, Phonics, Counting Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Large Motor Skills, Practical Life Skills, and Art Skills. Also, here is how we enjoyed the letter D unit.

letter c unit
letter c unit which turned out beautiful

LETTER C REVIEW

The letter C unit was fun! There was so much to explore. We began by creating our glitter glue letters. The Peaceful Preschool recommends glitter glue in order to create the finishing touches on sensory, textured alphabet flashcards. We have used them with all of the letters so far. It is really one of my children’s favorite parts.

letter c preschool unit
letter c preschool unit

EXPLORING NATURE

We went outside and gathered wildflowers since our yard is full of them. This time of year, the wildflowers begin to fade, so we were lucky! We sorted the flowers, and counted them with our number cards. Finally, we filled up our letter C template with petals.

preschool nature counting
Then, preschool nature counting
letter c preschool unit
letter c preschool unit

LETTER C INSPIRED FOOD

Included in the curriculum, is a homemade whipping cream recipe. It was simple and easy to make. We mixed three ingredients in a small, mason jar. When it was complete, my boys topped homemade gluten-free pancakes with it.

Boys homemade whipped cream
Boys homemade whipped cream

My boys also worked with their daddy in the kitchen. They sorted, counted, and peeled heirloom carrots. We are members of a local CSA and these carrots were from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.

counting carrots with letter c unit
counting carrots with letter c unit

BOOKS

We read through Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This one surprised me because at first glance, I thought it was too babyish. It is a wonderful alphabet book and my children love it! They have brought this book to me countless times to read aloud. Corduroy was the next book to read. This was nostalgic for me since I also read this story as a child. To include an activity, we counted and sorted buttons.

sorting buttons with letter c unit
sorting buttons with letter c unit

We also began a simple button sewing craft on burlap to enhance fine motor skills. I gained the idea from the Peaceful Preschool community Facebook page and I’m so grateful to have this as a resource.

beginning sewing button craft
beginning sewing button craft

ADDITIONAL BOOK AND ACTIVITY

I also included the Carrot Seed book. We purchased it at Half Price books for a few dollars. My children, especially my youngest, love the story. We created a sensory bin for them to plant carrots. I found a similar idea on Pinterest. Dried chickpeas became the rocky soil. My older son and I made carrots out of natural scented play dough. He also added brown play dough for dirt soil and planted a chickpea seed.

the carrot seed preschool
the carrot seed preschool

In conclusion, we cut out and differentiated between Living and Non Living characters and parts from the story. I’m so thankful for the Peaceful Preschool curriculum because it provides the boys with many skills they need. Most of all, we are having fun while we are learning.

the carrot seed
the carrot seed which was so fun

SUPPLIES

Glitter Pens
Vanilla
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Corduroy
Colorful Buttons
Burlap
Plastic Needle
The Carrot Seed
Natural Play Dough
Wooden Trays

 


Also, here is how we enjoyed the letter D unit. I can’t wait to share what we are learning next!