Nature-Themed Advent Calendar ~ Supplies

Nature Advent Calendar

Here is a list of supplies you will need to follow along with the nature-themed advent calendar, which begins on December 1st.

Week One

  • Ingredients to make hot chocolate.
  • Your nature journals, or heavy paper for sketching, plus your sketching materials of choice (watercolours, coloured pencils etc)
  • Secateurs, or robust scissors
  • Old newspapers
  • PVA glue
  • Small paintbrushes (ones that you do not mind using with glue; the glue will spoil them somewhat.)
  • Lots of glitter!
  • Cotton thread

Week Two

  • Garden wire
  • Garden twine
  • A selection of Christmas books to read aloud
  • Bird seed to top up your feeders
  • Dark-coloured crayons
  • White paper (printer paper is ideal)
  • 300g salt
  • 360g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 250ml warm water
  • optional extras:
    • Cinnamon & ground ginger (1 tsp each)
    • Peppermint essence (a few drops) and red food colour dough
    • Glitter & food colour
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Metallic marker
  • Blank cards and envelopes (or make your own cards from folded coloured cardstock.)

Week Three

  • Ingredients to bake your favourite Christmas treat
  • A pencil
  • Felt-tip markers or poster paints
  • Metallic marker
  • Varnish or PVA glue & a suitable brush (non-essential)
  • Large sheets of paper:I like to use brown wrapping paper, lining paper is another option.
  • Poster paint
  • Small cookie cutters (festive ones will be extra special!)
  • Potatoes ~ you can see where this is headed ;)

Week Four

  • A favourite Christmas film

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Weather Week ~ Exploring Nature With Children


This week’s theme from Exploring Nature With Children is weather, and this post is rather pitiful I’m afraid.

Rose has been extremely poorly this week with a virus, so we have stayed at home and done very little; though we did get to read a little Lassie.

So Rosie’s virus, combined with working on the Nature-Themed Advent Calendar and daily home educating life has meant Rose & I did not get our nature journals completed this week. (My big-girl did, however, and I forgot to take a photograph. Oops!)

Rose & I made it to the park yesterday. Elianna was feeling a little under the weather, so we left her at home, working on her Latin and maths, while we went to visit the pigeons and pond-dwellers…


They were rather hungry..


As we got ready to leave, Rose emptied the last of her wild bird seed into the water and the ducks had a feeding frenzy, with their little bottoms all up in the air!


We said good-bye, and walked away with Rose looking like the Pied Piper of Hamelin!


It seems the cold and damp weather is having a very strong effect on the wildlife as well as us humans.

I hope you are all well and have managed your nature walk this week, let me know how you are getting on in the comments, or on the FaceBook group; It makes my day to hear from my readers.

I shall be posting a supplies list very soon for the Nature-Themed Advent Calendar, which begins on Tuesday! I love Advent so much; we go from regular lessons to ‘Advent-school’, which is the best part of home educating, in my opinion. I love the waiting, the contemplation…

Anyhow, I shall be back soon with the supplies list. (Don’t worry, as this is a nature-themed calendar, the list will be very short!

Happy Exploring!

Nature journals For Young Children

Whilst have a sort-out of my knitting books, I came across my eldest daughter’s very first nature journal. (Now, now, I have never said I am the most organised of home educators!)

This was her first book from when she was four years old. Four! how time flies! My big girl turns thirteen in a few short weeks. We did not begin formal education with her ’till she was six, but we had her journal on the go so much sooner.

I thought it might be helpful for those families with younger ones to see some pages from her journal. She had a simple, stapled sketchbook, with nice, heavy paper (this will prevent the frustration of sketches showing through on the next page, or the paper being too lightweight to hold a decent mark.

I usually dated her pages for her. Sometimes she wanted to write a word or two herself.


Often I labelled her sketches for her.


I wrote her wee narrations into her book


Please give your child good quality pencils, both sketching & coloured. There is nothing more frustrating than pencils with no ‘payoff’ on the paper. I always used the chunky Lyra ones when my girls were little. Crayola are good too. Be aware that less is more with little ones; too many colours to choose from can be very overwhelming.


I gave very simple directions to my girls when they were little, and I use that same instruction today: draw what you see, not what you think you see.

We still ended up with some happy-faced insects :)


Today Elianna still sketches. She enjoys creating art & has moved on to also creating digital art which is a huge passion of hers.

Here are two watercolours that she worked on earlier this year.


Keeping a nature journal with your child has so many benefits. It teaches them the wonder of the natural world around them, they learn lots of technical skills with paper, paints, and pencils, but I think the biggest benefit is that they get to know the world around them. Really know it. I can photograph a flower, tree, or creature many times, but it is only when I get out my paints & pencils that I really see it, really observe it, and get to know it.

The nature journal is such a wonderful tool to develop the habit of observation in our children. The words of Charlotte Mason express the idea best:

Just keep in mind that these notebooks are designed to help cultivate within your child the joy of nature and discovery, not to become a source of irritation, frustration, or competition. If your child finds writing difficult, offer to write his comments in his notebook as he dictates them. And whatever you do, don’t grade or correct a nature notebook! “The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature note-books, which are left to their own management and are not corrected. These note-books are a source of pride and joy, and are freely illustrated by drawings (brushwork) of twig, flower, insect, etc.”

Home education Vol. 3, p. 236

Happy exploring!


A Nature-Themed Advent Calendar

Nature Advent Calendar.jpg

I am really excited to share with you today an upcoming series that will be starting soon right here on Raising Little Shoots: A nature-themed advent calendar!

Beginning on December 1st, through to December 24th, each day there will be a new post; an unfolding of the Christmas Story in scripture, and an activity for the day. The activities will be mostly nature-based, with a few special Christmas activities here and there, to add a little Christmas magic.

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Setting Up Your Calendar Of Firsts

A few days ago I shared my idea with you for keeping a Calendar of Firsts.


I have been so encouraged by how many of you shared, both here and on FaceBook, that you would like to join me in keeping a Calendar of Firsts for 2016.

I promised information on setting up your own calendar of firsts, so here goes.

I used the Moleskine Large Weekly Diary (soft cover) last year & will do so again this year. Please feel free to use any diary you like; you do not need a Moleskine to join in with me. Just beware of any diaries with a glossy finish to the page. They will not take colour well.

CF 1

The paper is not great; a little thin for nice, splashy watercolour, but the layout is perfect for my needs. You can see in the photo below you have a left side with a week to view & space for each day.

This is perfect for recording the ‘firsts’ that you see in nature, and making wee sketches.


You can also see in the picture above that I also printed out tiny photographs on my printer; these made lovely additions to my sketches.

The right had side page is lined, so I added full-sized photographs to some of these pages.


To others I added a full-sized sketch


Because the Moleskine paper was so thin, I worked these full sized sketches on watercolour, or cartridge paper. This also helped with the mini sketches for the following week, as although I was working on the Moleskine paper, it had some weight to it from the paper glued in the previous week.

Here you can see my lovely 2016 Moleskine. It is a lot thinner than the book that has been well loved this year (see the top picture)


Not essential, but a nice touch, is to add washi tape to each & every page edge in your diary. This makes the pages more substantial, and the edges prettier :)

I have several roles of tape; here are a few. Don’t worry about this step, it is not essential.


Here you can see I have added a strip of wash tape to the first page; simply apply half the width of the tape, then fold it over, so it covers the free edge of the reverse page. (I hope this makes sense!)


Here I just need to trim the top & bottom of the tape.


You will also need a waterproof pen; I love this one. The micron pens are great too. Basic sketching supplies of your choice, be that watercolours, coloured pencils, or even pens. You might find an old post, Supplies For Nature Journaling useful.

I think that is everything! Please do let me know if I have missed anything.

I look forward to getting started with you in January. Please do share what you are up to, either here, or on the Exploring Nature With Children FaceBook group, or find me on Twitter.