I Will Honour Christmas In My Heart…

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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

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This week has been dark and rainy, but we managed our nature walk. All the birds & fowl were extremely hungry!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Happy exploring!

 

 

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.

The Autumn Book Basket

The Autumn Book Basket

The Autumn Equinox is almost upon us, so I wanted to share with you the children’s books that I have collected over the years. They are very much family favourites, and I hope that you will find a favourite or two here also.

Brambly Hedge Autumn Story by Jill Barklem

The Brambly Hedge stories are an absolute treasure, and these books were my own as a child. The stories are sweet and the illustrations are truly outstanding.

Mousekin’s golden House by Edna Miller

Again, beautiful illustrations. This is a lovely story for the younger child on Halloween.

Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

A gentle, rhythmic story about seasonal nineteenth century New England farm life. This is my own personal favourite, one that I look forward to having grandchildren to read it to!

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

A great introduction to the lifecycle of the pumpkin, a little boy plants a seed & waits for it to grow..

Halloween Is… by Gail Gibbons

A book about the origins of Halloween, & modern celebrations. Beautifully told.

The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons

Another smashing book from Ms Gibbons, all about..pumpkins 🙂 Bright pictures & very informative.

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

A simple tale of a kitten seeing the world bathed in moonlight for the very first time.

We Gather Together by Wendy Pfeffer

A glorious telling of Autumn celebrations from around the world & over time. A must!

Hello Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher

A beautifully written tale that is essential reading for the Harvest Moon. One you will read year after year…

Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow

Another delightful nature tale from Elsa Beskow.  Two acorn children who get carried away by the blustery autumn wind. A wonderful, curl-up-by-the-fire Autumnal read.

Please note, the booked linked is the mini edition

The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwym

The bitter-sweet story of a child giving up her treasured blanket. (Though I confess, I didn’t really think she needed to!)

The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony

One for all year around, I choose to keep this wondrous tale in our Autumn basket. A smashing read about the plant lifecycle.

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Inspiring illustrations (think your nature journal!) and packed with information for all ages.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

A magical story that will inspire your child’s creativity. One to pull out & read before heading out of doors on an Autumn day.

Thank you for sharing with me my favourite Autumn books. I would love to hear about your own; please do share in the comments section.

Please note, I have linked to the books on Amazon.co.uk as I am in England 🙂

Some of the books may now be out of print, which either makes them super-cheap, or super-expensive!

Exploring Nature With Children: A Complete, Year-Long Curriculum

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The last few months have been busy..very busy.

I wrote a book!

I have written the book that I have always wanted to buy; a book that really does take the hassle out of nature study, the book that I can just open and go.

I am so very excited to present: Exploring Nature With Children

Exploring Nature With Children is a complete, year-long curriculum, that will guide you step by step, through an entire calendar year of nature study. It has been a true labour of love, and one that I know will make nature study actually happen for many home educating families out there.

Inside Exploring Nature With Children you will find:

An entire chapter devoted to getting you up and running with nature study. This will get you all fired up and ready to go.
Forty-eight weeks of nature study; four weeks for each month of the year, organised by season. Exploring Nature With Children can be used as a whole year’s study, or dipped in and out of as you please. Each study comes with a complete list of
Each week’s nature study contains the following:

A themed nature walk.
Exploring Nature With Children will take you step by step through a themed, Charlotte Mason-style, nature walk. There is no need to hunt through various books and websites; all the information you need is there, leaving you free to enjoy being out in nature with your child.

References to the Handbook Of Nature Study.
Exploring Nature With Children is completely self-contained, but we have also included references to related pages in the Handbook Of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, should you wish to delve a little deeper.

A themed book list.
With books for children of all ages, you will find a comprehensive list of living books related to the week’s nature study theme. Again, Exploring Nature With Children is a self-contained course, so the book list is a bonus, not a necessity.

A poem
Related to the nature theme of the week; a classic piece of poetry that can be used for copywork, dictation, or simply to just read aloud and enjoy.

A piece of art
The name and details of a piece of art that relates to the nature theme of the week has been included. This can easily be looked up online, or in art books available from your local library.

Extension activities for your child
Here you will find a list of activities, written directly to your child, that will extend their nature study throughout the whole of the week. You will find ideas for crafts, writing, science and more, with absolutely no busy work.

I have written the book that I have always wanted to buy; a book that really does take the hassle out of nature study, the book that I can just open and go. I have tried to make Exploring Nature With Children as user friendly as possible for all families. The book gives you the necessary scientific information for each week’s nature theme, then the parent can present that information to each individual child as they see fit.

The extension activities included vary; venn diagrams, writing poetry, making models. A child that is old enough to keep a nature journal would get the most out of this book, however, the reason Exploring Nature With Children came to be written, was because I have been looking to buy something like this since my twelve year old was a toddler. I would have jumped at this book, even with such a tiny child, because it would equip me as a mum to talk with my child about nature, without having to go through a pile of different books first! To know what to be specifically on the look out for each week, with out a lot of extra information that overwhelmed me!

If you click on any of the blue links, it takes you to the page where you can buy the book. On that page is a preview page. Click on the preview (the top right-hand corner) and you can view the table of contents, plus a whole week’s activities. It should give you a good idea of whether the book would be a good fit for your family.

Exploring Nature With Children is currently available as a PDF. Click on one of the blue links in this post to see a preview of the book or to go ahead and purchase.

The regular price of the download is $15, but I have a coupon code for 30% off the price that runs until August 31 2015. Please enter coupon code: Earlybird15 for your 30% discount.

Please feel free to join my FaceBook page & do let me know what you think.

Update:

Here is a review from a happy customer:

I am so thrilled to be reading “Exploring Nature With Children: A Complete, Year-long Curriculum” by Lynn Seddon. It came out exactly when I needed it as well, being a first time home educator of a very spirited four year old boy. While Charlotte Mason advocates waiting a few years before starting formal education, I believed my child would benefit from learning about the rewards of patient observation and he could certainly make meaningful drawings for himself in a nature journal. Armed with two other wonderful CM based books on the subject of Nature Study, I thought I was completely ready to deliver Nature Study to my son.

However, I found myself overwhelmed when it came to trying to figure out where to start. I was afraid of missing very relevant details and was unsure about when to commence certain parts of study. For example, its said that winter is the best time for studying bird song. When exactly? What other activities could we be doing in winter? How often should I be taking my son to revisit pond study? What if I completely forget to do this particular nature craft which is holiday themed, in time for that holiday?

I learned a lot about Nature Study from my existing resources as an overview, but when it came to the week by week nuts and bolts of putting a comprehensive lesson plan together, I often found my enthusiasm for natural wonder waning, bogged under the practicalities of actually having to pull it off.

Lynn Seddon’s book solves a lot of problems for me. First, it is written with gentle, loving reverence for the study of nature which makes it an enjoyable read. At every step, she offers suggestions for adapting the lessons for younger children and then for older children. In Lynn’s lesson plans, she asks questions that encourages the use of all of the senses that invites more inquiry and curiosity. The lessons are all laid out complete with equipment lists of everyday, inexpensive items and additional related activity suggestions that build upon what’s being learned, using many different skills from many adjoining disciplines. I find the extensions engaging and I look forward to sharing these with my son.

JGC

Week 37 ~ Our Last Week!

We made it! We made it to the end of our school year!

Our last few weeks have fizzled slightly..we have had a lot going on here; I am currently working on a project, and we had the girls changing bedrooms, which was a lot of work.

This week has been minimal; reading, Latin, maths, and a little science for my big girl.

Rose was intrigued by her eyes this week and took many, many photos so she could look closely at the colours.

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She also set up scenes for her guinea pigs, and took lots of photos to tell a story. This one features Nibbler as a bank teller:

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And here is Prince Albert. His story was all about his day, beginning with shots of him in ‘bed’.

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Rose got another new fish: Bob. This of course involved another trip to the pet shop, which is Rosie’s favourite trip out 😉

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We had friends over one afternoon and watched the Big First Aid Lesson by St. John Ambulance. This was a smashing little course to raise awareness of very basic first aid.

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Listening to the Faraway Tree and playing with her toy animals

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We took a trip to The Lady Lever Art Gallery. I was so very excited to see The Scapegoat by Holman Hunt, The Blessed Damozel by Rossetti, The Beguiling Of Merlin by Burne-Jones, and Snowdrift by Onslow Ford. Elianna particularly liked the sculptures & was fascinated by the way the body could be sculpted in marble. Rose loved whizzing ’round and seeing everything! They had the hand-held ‘telephones’ which presented a short talk about varying art works, so this was right up Rosie’s street.

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Here are our sketches from the museum:

Elianna’s sketch of the sculpture ‘Venus’ by Lorenzo Bartolini

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Rosie’s sketch that she did not write down the name of the painting.

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My Sketch of The Scapegoat by Holman Hunt

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For our last day of lessons, we met with friends and went to have ice-cream, and then on to the park.

Here are the girls doing their best superhero poses 🙂

 

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Books we are reading this week;

Rose:

The Magic Faraway Tree

I struggle to keep track of Rosie’s reading; she tends to read a lot of nonfiction, dipping in and out of what appeals at any one time.

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners. She completely adores these books & we are usually getting a couple of new ones each week.

Plus many others..

Elianna:

Percy Jackson & The Lightening Thief

Horrible Histories Woeful World War Two

The View From The Oak – This is a smashing book, recommended by a wonderful friend. A great living science book.

We are now officially on our summer break 🙂

Happy Summer!

Week 28 ~ Creativity Abounds!

We are back on track this week; last week we had our Easter break, and the week before that I did not post as everyone was poorly at various parts of the week!

This week has been lovely – we have had some days of sunshine which reminds us that spring is really here!

Primary Language Lessons had Rose write a letter this week, which she really enjoyed, so much so that she wrote two more letters to family of her own choosing. 11

We all played Math Wars several times this week, after not having played it for a while. (One of our guinea pigs is peeking from his wee sleeping bag on the table, but unfortunately the photograph is too dark to show him)

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The girls did a fun activity together – The Leak-proof Bag Trick which was all about polymers, a smashing activity that was fun & required no prep (other than sharpening a few pencils!)

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Rose rescued a tired Bumble Bee this week. She found it on the lawn, tired out & unable to fly, or even walk. She gave it some honey & watched closely as it used its proboscis to feed. It was soon waving its wee legs around & was flying away in no time at all.

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There has been much creating at our house this week – both girls made signs to put on their bedroom door (they share a room)

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Elianna made a card for a dragon loving friend

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And Rose is working on a secret painting for me for my birthday (here she is drying it part way through, with my heat gun) Clothes are not essentials for artists 😉

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I have been doing quite a bit of painting myself this week. Here are some water colours I have been working on

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Friday is Science Club day. We are working slowly though this KS 3 text which I am pleased with. I loved Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding so much, and honestly think it is the better book. But, it required too much prep for me & therefore was not getting done, so ultimately the Letts text is turning out to be the better option.

This week was more about atomic structure & we watched some great videos: Models Of The Atom Timeline & This Atomic Structure Activity. Science club is a real hit, I am pleased with how the girls work together & I think they are enjoying working together. Rosie’s friend came over again, so they took our dog to the park & played ‘wars’ while the big girls got on with science 🙂

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Little Passports turned up for Rose, which is always exciting. She decided to organise all the postcards she has received into a scrapbook and played all the online games for this month, which is South Africa.

We did some Nature Study earlier this week. Rose found a caterpillar to study & Elianna drew a fading blossom from our Magnolia tree. Elianna has been reading about Constantinople for history & outlining in her history book.

Plus all the regulars; English, maths & Latin.

Books we are reading this week;

Rose:

Poems To Read To The Very Young

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Annotated Classic Fairy Tales Fairy Tales are going down a storm with Rose right now – she is lapping them up, making great connections, asking thoughtful questions, & even coming up with scientific ideas, such as the porridge in The Three Bears cools incorrectly (the Middle Bear’s being the coolest)

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners

A Child’s History Of The World

Elianna:

Mockingjay

The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl

I am finding these ‘teacher guides’ helpful:

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher Guide

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher’s PDF

I have completed my plans for the 2015-2016 school year, which I am very excited about. I really must post them soon!

Happy Weekend!