Candlemas : Exploring Nature With Children

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This week in Exploring Nature With Children is ‘Candlemas Week’.

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles for use in church throughout the coming year, and marks the presentation of the Holy Child in the Temple, where Simeon held Jesus and called him a ‘Light to the World’. In pre-Christian times February 1st was an important festival to celebrate the returning light.

Here are some helpful links to get you going:

Do let me know how you get on.

Happy exploring!

Our Phenology Wheels

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A few years ago, we kept phenology wheels that combined the natural world with the liturgical seasons and festivals. Rose and I have decided to each keep one again for this year.
The larger section for each month is where we will record the natural world, the smaller section is for the festivals; January’s being Epiphany. (We both chose Epiphany to record.)
There really are so many different ways to keep a nature journal!

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Calendar of Firsts ~ Week 48

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This week’s sketching took a festive turn as I decided to sketch our Christmas tree.
Norman Firs are probably the most popular Real Christmas Tree in the UK. It has gorgeous deep green foliage, with the underside a striking blue, and is very much the traditional ‘Christmas tree’ shape we have come to expect.  Christmas tree day is such a special day in my home, I wanted to capture a little of that in my nature journal.

The weather here has been either heavy rain, or crisp, frozen, sunshiny days, with glorious sunrises & sunsets. The birds have been filling up at the feeders in my garden; Sparrows, Blue tits, Great Tits, Coal tits, Starlings, Blackbirds, and our wee Robin. I have an huge Holly tree in the garden and the Blackbirds are going a grand job of eating all its berries.

What’s happening in the natural world where you live?
Happy exploring!

Happy Michaelmas!

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I love this time of year; the sense of abundance in nature combines with the cosiness of home. After a long summer of lazy days, we return to our familiar daily routines. Everything begins to turn inward again as we prepare our hearts and homes for the long winter months ahead.

Where I live, the Michaelmas Daisy is everywhere.

The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds, 
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.

On that lovely note, I wish you a happy and healthy Michaelmas, from my home to yours!

Advent Calendars

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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.

Image of Yankee Candle Christmas Advent Calendar 2015 Pink

Image of Yankee Candle Christmas Advent Calendar 2015 Blue

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?

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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.

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Here is our Jessie tree

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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!)

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We have this calendar, into which I tuck wee chocolates

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This year we have also added the Latin Advent Calendar from Classical Academic Press.

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In the kitchen, I have my very own Nativity

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, we have many different advent calendars in our home! Please share what you use in your home in the comments. I would love to know.