I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers
I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers
‘Then came October, full of merry glee.’
Back in January, we began to keep phenology wheels to record not only the changes in the natural world, but also the festivals of the liturgical year that we celebrate.
Here are our entries for February, which Rose worked on whilst I read from the February chapter of Roald Dhal My Year, which is new to us, and is proving to be a very lovely, engaging read.
Rose recorded the frogspawn that we found in the pond on Monday, along with symbols for Candlemas and Saint Valentine’s day.
I recorded both the frogspawn, and also Hazel catkins, along with symbols for Candlemas and Saint Valentine’s day.
Our Phenology Wheel posts for the year:
This morning we were reading The Christmas Book by Enid Blyton, a beautiful, living book, that details the customs and traditions of Christmas, tells the story of the birth of Christ, and tucks in a wee bit of nature study too.
We read the chapter about Holly, and picked some from our garden to study.
Rose cut up some of the berries to see what was inside, and we sketched the holly in our journals whilst listening to Bing Crosby singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’
Rose wrote a short dictation from the story we had read.
I copied out part of the story that had most interested me.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
There are only a couple of days left ’till sign ups for the Nature Pen Friends close, so please do get in touch soon if you would like to participate. Information is here.
It has been a while since I did a weekly round up, and while this post isn’t exactly that, it gives you a bit of an idea what we have been up to.
We are really excited to be involved with Rocket Science, an ‘out of this world’ educational project, run by The RHS Campaign for School Gardening and The UK Space Agency .
Back in May 2015, Two kilograms of rocket seeds took off from Florida bound for the International Space Station as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month Principia mission.
After several months on board, the seeds were sent back and landed in the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2016. After they returned to the UK, they were packaged up with identical seeds that had stayed on earth. Schools (and home educators!) were invited to take part, and participants each received two packets of 100 seeds to grow and compare.
We planted our seeds with friends who are helping us with the project. I shall keep you posted on the developments!
We also had heaps of fun investigating Barn Owl pellets this week!
Big girl took a break from exam revision to join us as we carefully excavated the pellets to find what the owl had eaten.
This was utterly fascinating, and we found the remains of several small mammals and birds. Here are just a few of the bones we found.
This week was also my birthday, so I did some celebratory dyeing and dyed up some sock yarn, inspired by the colours of the bluebells that are beginning to bloom.
I received some books for my birthday that I am really looking forward to getting stuck into; Creating Textured Landscapes, and Drawing and Painting Trees in the Landscape, both by Claudia Nice. Her art work is beautiful and inspiring, so I am hoping to learn a lot from working through the books at my own pace.
Speaking of books, we have some great ones on the go; Elianna is reading Never Give In, The Extraordinary Character Of Winston Churchill, Rose is reading Woof! by Allen Ahlberg, and together we are reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel, which is hilarious (though, be warned, it does contain swearing.)
Rose has been very busy in the garden, rescuing tired bees and even a wasp, tending and observing the tadpoles, and chasing our cat when he unfortunately caught a baby bird. She is making the most of the burst of fine weather we are having at the moment; getting her schoolwork finished as early as possible, and heading barefoot into the garden. Which is where she would much rather be.
This week our nature study has taken a planned detour from Exploring Nature With Children. A grasshopper!
As part of Rosie’s science lessons this school year, we have been working through Memoria Press’ Book Of Insects and I promised that when we got to the grasshopper section, we would get a grasshopper to observe. So here he is, in all his glory. My little animal lover is thrilled to bits!
We abandoned our planned walk this morning, due to the horrendous rain, and spent time instead observing Jerry the grasshopper.
How is your nature study going this week?
I recently had a request from a lovely reader to share my favourite nature books. I thought this a smashing idea, so here are five of my most-read books.
Keeping A Nature Journal by Claire Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth
My all-time favourite book. This is the book that really got me on my way with nature study. There is so much information packed into this book, you can keep dipping in, year after year. Having this book is the closest you can get to a day spent in the field with Leslie, coming along side you and encouraging you in your studies.
A Trail Through The Leaves by Hannah Hinchman
Another great journaling book, without quite the same nature focus as Leslie’s book. Henchman takes a broader look at daily journaling, which for her, as a naturalist, is the natural world around her. This book will bring out the naturalist in all of us.
Nature Anatomy. The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman
A beautiful, American book. As an English reader, I still really enjoy flipping through this book, enjoying Rothman’s whimsical illustrations. An engaging read, you will come away wanting to learn more.
The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald Durrell
A classic on English natural history. This is also a very practical book, It includes information on identifying tracks, preserving a wildlife area, collecting shells, taking lichen scratchings, making a cast of a footprint and caring for wounded birds. Really engaging, Durrell’s passion shines through.
The Art of Field Sketching by Claire Walker Leslie
You really cannot go wrong with books by Leslie. A passionate artist and naturalist, this particular book is great for getting started with field sketching. Packed with techniques, examples, and exercises, this book will help you to develop your skills.
This week’s theme is Christmas Plants in Exploring Nature With Children
This week has been dark and rainy, but we managed our nature walk. All the birds & fowl were extremely hungry!
We observed & sketched holly from a large tree in our garden; it was studded with bright, jewel-like berries last month, but is pretty bare now.
We are making the most of the darkness & cloudy skies; we have twinkly fairy lights and candles everywhere. In front of our nativity is a gorgeous, ginger & citrus scented candle.
As an aside, I am on the second sock of a pair for myself (a rare treat! they are usually for someone else)
I hand-dyed the yarn and chose a stitch pattern to accentuate the colours, which I thought were rather similar to the illustration in our read-aloud today; A Christmas Carol.
I thought I would take a little time to show you the many different advent calendars we have in our home.
I am compelled to point out that I have celebrated advent with children for many years now; my eldest will be thirteen years old in a few short days. So our collection has been built up over the years.
In the photo above, you can see the Advent spiral I made many years ago. We used to have a more traditional advent wreath, with five candles, but I made the spiral & prefer to use this instead. This year we have been very blessed my my mother in law, who gave the girls these two Yankee candle calendars, so we will be using the lovely scented tea lights to light our way to Christmas.
We say this little rhyme as we light our daily candle:
Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day
Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright light
Of Christmas Day.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I found this rhyme, so I am not able to give credit to the author. Please let me know in the comments if you do!
The country diary of an Edwardian Lady advent calendar I bought last year, but for some reason we did not use it, so is new to us this year. Isn’t it beautiful?
Next up, we have two lovely books; Tasha Tudor’s A Book Of Christmas, which is so much more than just an advent calendar. A real treasure!
The Animal’s Advent is a sweet nature-themed calendar.
Here is our Jessie tree
Again, I made the most of the ornaments when the children were very small, we also use a clay Christmas tree ornament, which goes onto the Jessie tree on the last day.
I found the templates for the ornaments free online (the link has been long-forgotten; I printed out the daily readings and such years ago, but there are many links on the internet for you to follow. I customised the daily readings, and now use the ornaments I made with selected readings from The Jesus Story Book Bible
You will notice the nature table has been cleared for December, so we can add our nativity. We add baby Jesus on Christmas eve, before bed-time 🙂
The Wise Men make their way from a shelf in my bedroom, along the landing, down the stairs, as advent progresses, arriving on the nature table on Epiphany.
This is the children’s nativity set. When they were little, they would play for hours with this set.
(Picture of Elianna when she was a wee dot!)
We have this calendar, into which I tuck wee chocolates
This year we have also added the Latin Advent Calendar from Classical Academic Press.
In the kitchen, I have my very own Nativity
I love having this in my window! As I stand washing dishes, or preparing food for my family, its presence gently reminds me to reflect upon Christ.
I bought this set the first Christmas I was married, and in my own home. It is a very treasured possession.
I also have my advent devotional readings, which are a calendar of sorts.
This year I am using Lighted Windows, which I have used in previous years too.
I usually journal during my quiet time; sometimes I add drawings & colour.
This is an excerpt from my Lenten journal this year.
Often I just write 🙂
Each evening, I read this lovely book to Rose: Advent Storybook 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas. A beautiful tale for young children/