A Calendar Of Firsts: Lists

cal of firsts

How are you getting on with your Calendar of Firsts?

I have begun mine and I am finding it to be a quick, and non-threatening form of nature journaling!

Inspired by Charlotte Mason, who mentions list keeping,  I thought I would share with you some of the list-type entries I plan to keep this year.

“The study of natural history and botany with bird lists and plant lists continues throughout school life, while other branches of science are taken term by term.”

Vol 6 Home Education

Daily Temperature

I will be using the calendar section of my diary to record the daily temperature. As a fun twist, I am going to colour each date according to the temperature. You can see my colour key at the bottom of the calendar:


If you miss a day, here is a good site to check the temperature of your locality for the last two weeks.

Colours Of The Year

This idea comes from Clare Walker Leslie. It is in one of her books, but unfortunately I cannot remember which one. Please do post in the comments if you know. I have done this previously, and it really does help me to think about the colours in nature through the months of the year. Simple sketch out a circle and divide into twelve, each twelfth representing a month of the year. You then simply paint the current ‘month’ with the colours you see around you in the natural world. Fun!


Bird List

Simply a list of birds I have seen. I include the following information:

  • Common name
  • Latin Name
  • Location
  • Date


Flower List

As with the birds, a list of wildflowers I have seen. I include the same information as for the bird list.


That is all for now; I shall let you know if I decide to add further lists.

A New Year, A New Diary. Beginning A Calendar Of Firsts


A happy New Year to you!

My goal this year is to keep a Charlotte Mason inspired Calendar of Firsts; to record recurring seasonal events, such as the first snowdrops, the first apple on our tree in the garden, and when our apple tree loses it’s leaves.

I am really pleased to have some of my readers planning to join me in this diary-keeping, which, scientifically speaking, is known as phenology.

Here are some past posts you may find useful:

A Calendar Of Firsts

Setting Up Your Calendar Of Firsts

My Diary Is Ready!

If you plan to add little watercolour sketches to your calendar of firsts, you may find this tutorial helpful:

Creating A Watercolour Nature Journal Page ~ A Tutorial

Sometimes, a brand-new diary or sketchbook can be dreadfully intimidating in its pristine perfection. If you are following along with Exploring Nature With Children, you may find the ideas in there to be helpful. The current focus is the twelve days of Christmas; here is a short prompt to help you along:

New Year’s Day

Take a walk to your special nature spot. Be thankful for this place and look forward to the year ahead. Remember to replenish the food for the birds there.

You could choose to observe what is happening in your special nature spot and record that, or perhaps make a list of things you are thankful for today, (both in nature and as a family). Instead you may decide to focus on observing the birds. Record them feeding, keeping warm, even looking for a mate!

The first January week in Exploring Nature With Children is all about the Winter Sky, so you will find lots of ideas there if you would like a resource to ‘hold your hand’, so to speak, as you begin your calendar-keeping.

Please let me know how you are getting on in the comments below, or on the Exploring Nature With Children FaceBook group. I am so very excited to be sharing this journey with you!


Another Fresh New Year Is Here…

ny 1

Happy New year!

I hope it is a peaceful one, filled with wonder x

I Will Honour Christmas In My Heart…

x eve 1

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, dear readers

Lynn x

Christmas Plants Week ~ Exploring Nature With Children

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.


Happy exploring!



Advent Calendars


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?


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/

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.

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.

Please use the share buttons, and be sure to subscribe to the blog so as not to miss a day!