Happy New year!
I hope it is a peaceful one, filled with wonder x
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/
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.
Please use the share buttons, and be sure to subscribe to the blog so as not to miss a day!
It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar––the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest, the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.
Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p. 54
ETA: Setting Up Your Calendar Of Firsts
At the beginning of the year I came across Stephanie Ackerman’s Documented Faith Project.
Stephanie was using a journal to record “my life, my dreams, my prayers, my moments. A place to document my faith sometimes monthly, often times weekly possibly even daily”.
I was really moved by this idea and immediately set to work, creating my own pages, capturing daily happenings, special moments, and so forth.
I added sketches, photographs, words, stickers and other memorabilia.
This diary helped me to develop my style of quick pen-sketches, with touches of splashy water colour.
I used a Moleskine Large Weekly Diary, which has days of the week on the left hand page, and a space for notes on the right hand page.
On the right hand page, I would glue in a piece of paper to create a larger sketch. (The paper of the Moleskine diary is very thin, & not the best for water colour.)
A lot of my sketches have been nature-orientated
Which has led me to thinking…What a wonderful format this would be to keep a Calendar of Firsts, as Miss Mason advised!
So my goal for 2016 will be to use this way of diary-keeping, to keep my very own Calendar of Firsts. I intend to do this in addition to my nature journal. I am planning to use the same diary; The 2016 Moleskine Large Weekly Diary.
Each week I will record the firsts of nature as they happen in my locality; the first Snowdrops, the first time the goldfinches visit my garden, the fist visit of the hedgehogs, and so forth. I shall still continue to record special family happenings, but the focus will be Nature-firsts.
This is something that could be kept individually, or a family Calendar would be a family treasure to return to year after year.
It would be wonderful to have you journaling along with me; do let me know if you would be interested in keeping a Calendar of Firsts yourself. I will post nearer to the time some ideas for setting up your journal, supplies, tips and so forth.
This week’s theme from Exploring Nature With Children is Moss.
Today was an extremely wet day! We braved the rain to go and feed the pigeons, geese, ducks and swan at our local nature spot.
The geese & ducks were worm hunting..
We hunted for moss..
We found a few, before the rain drove us home to warm up & complete our journals.
We are fast approaching Christmas, and any parent who values their sanity, looks to buy gifts that will last long after the holiday season, rather than requiring a new set of batteries every few weeks!
To help make gift giving that little bit easier, here is a list of wonderful presents that will delight your nature-loving child.
Binoculars and Birdwatching Book
A smashing combination that will have your child out of doors over the Christmas holiday, instead of cooped up indoors. Add a small notebook and pencil if your child is writing and they can record all the birds they see.
A great way to teach respect for living creatures, whilst allowing your child to explore and observe them.
A beautiful wooden puzzle, perfect for small hands that need to be busy on bad-weather days.
A Nature Magazine Subscription
Flower Press and Wild Flower Guide
More useful in Spring and Summer, but your child will be able to make some beautiful pressings of evergreens over the Winter holiday.
Indoor Bulbs for Winter Forcing
Enjoy the beauty and fragrance of flowers during the dreary, cold months by giving your child build suitable for forcing indoors during winter time.
These soft toy birds with their authentic bird calls were a real hit with my children when they were younger!
Nature’s Collection 1000 Piece Jigsaw
A smashing jigsaw for older children featuring some lovely nature photography. Perfect for cosy afternoons at home after a brisk morning walk.
A more expensive option, but this would make a smashing family gift! Fantastic for filming local wildlife, and will film underwater, too.
Gardening tools and gift voucher
Get your child all fired up for spring, with their own gardening tools. A gift voucher for a local garden centre will allow them a morning choosing their very own packets of seeds; there are some types of flowers and vegetables that are particularly easy to grow & interesting for young children.
America’s National Parks – A Pop Up Book
For my American friends, or those who love America, this is a smashing book that brings the parks of America to life, whilst raising funds for their upkeep.
Finally, consider my book Exploring Nature With Children, as a gift for the whole family.
A complete, year-long curriculum designed to guide you, step by step, through an entire calendar year of nature study. Completely self-contained, this book has all the information you need to make nature study happen regularly for your family.
As an early Christmas present to my readers, enjoy a 30% discount by using coupon code CHRISTMAS15 which is valid until December 25th.
This week is Fungus Week in Exploring Nature With Children.
We headed to our local nature spot for our Monday nature study.
This morning was perfect Autumnal weather. Foggy, with a slight nip in the air, but not uncomfortably so.
We fed the birds first.
They were, as usual, rather hungry.
Then we went on to hunt for fungus.
We found some beauties!
Then home to complete our journals.
Later this week I shall be posting a tutorial to show you, step by step, how I create the watercolour pages in my journal. I hope this will be helpful.
How is your nature study going this week?