Jul 022011

I may have mentioned a time or two about how much I struggle with actually doing nature study. Science has been somewhat inconsistent as well. Why it is so hard is kind of a mystery to me. I like science and I love nature. (Although I’m not real big on temperature extremes, so that does keep me inside a lot of the time…)

This year I tried something new with my kids. I gave them a survey to evaluate what things they liked about how we were schooling, what things they would like to study, etc. Most of the results were not surprising. However there was one area that took me a bit off guard. My older daughter doesn’t like science, and if given a choice of what to study in science, she chose botany.

Botany? That would be a great springboard to gardening. But trust me, I don’t garden. You can take one look at my yard and see that.

So I began searching for relatively independent things she could do to learn about botany.

NaturExplorers ReviewOne of the resources I found is the NaturExplorers series. Shining Dawn Books graciously gave me a copy of Fruits and Nuts to review.

The unit begins with a few ideas to get you thinking about the study. These include some suggested literature books, an inspiration point, and some background information about fruits and nuts for the teacher. After that you get right to the heart of these units: Getting Outside — because these are nature study units after all.

The Getting Outside section consists of several pages of ideas for learning about fruits and nuts…outside. Ideas include:

“Adopting” a fruit or nut tree to study throughout the year,
Going on a fruit and nut scavenger hunt,
Comparing wild berries to cultivated ones.

Many of these activities have a notebook page to accompany it. The notebook pages are very attractive color pages to print out as needed.

If this were just a nature study curriculum, the review would be over now. But there is so much more! After Getting Outside is the Branching Out section. Branching Out is divided into the following sections:

  • Hands-on Activities
  • Writing and Research Ideas
  • Bible Lessons from His Creation
  • Poetry Place
  • Artist and Picture Study References
  • Composer and Music Study References
  • Other Related Literature
  • Related Internet Links
  • Including Younger Children
  • Including Older Children
  • Additional Suggestions for Nature Clubs and Co-ops

The Branching Out section is what transforms this curriculum from simple nature study to a unit study. I am admittedly not a unit study kind of teacher. It’s not that I don’t like the concept, but I can’t wrap my brain around how do implement them. But I can see how other subjects are easily covered in this study. History (For example heirloom seeds and Johnny Appleseed), English composition (The writing ideas are super!), Bible, Literature, Art, Music, and even Math (graphing and measuring) are covered.

I hope to have my 6th grade daughter do much of this study independently. That’s probably not the intent of the authors, but I think this is an extremely flexible curriculum. Since my daughter is on the older side of the target age range (elementary), I think it will work well that way. I’m especially excited about the research ideas! Plus I’m planning on having her work with my kindergarten daughter next year as well. There are some great activities for the two of them to do together.

There are also some other great titles I’ve got my eye on like Constant Conifers, Delightful Deciduous Trees, Fungus Among Us, and Wonderful Wildflowers. (Actually they all look good, but these go with our Botany plan.) For only $12 for each e-book, these are easy on the budget too.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Fruits and Nuts from Shining Dawn Books to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the link, I will receive a small commission.



Jan 142010

We finished our Islam study in Tapestry of Grace Year 2. (And yes, we are tremendously behind in history, but we’re moving forward now!) We discussed Muhammad and his life, as well as the basic tenets of the Islam faith. We looked at pictures of mosques, and built our own model.

Islam study - mosque

My daughter made a notebook page to summarize our Islam study.

Islam study notebook page

My son didn’t want to do a notebook page, so he made a video. It was a lot harder than just making a notebook page, but he loves filming and editing. He did a really great job. Let me know what you think.


Jan 142009

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from the link, I will receive a small commission.

We are using Apologia’s Elementary Zoology Book 3 for science this year.  It is the study of land animals.  We just finished chapter 4 and completed an interesting demonstration of the relationship between populations of predator and prey, specifically the cougar vs deer population.

The experiment called for marking off a 2 ft X 2 ft square on the floor.  In that square, begin by placing 3 “deer” (2 X 2 inch paper- we printed a picture of a deer on ours).  Then, a cougar (a 6 X 3 in cardboard) was tossed into the square. The cougar has to “eat” 3 deer to survive to the next generation.  If the cougar survives, then the next generation toss 2 cougars. If the cougar doesn’t survive, use 1 cougar for the next generation.  (The assumption being that another cougar will move into the territory) For each deer that doesn’t get eaten, add 1 additional deer to the next generation.

For our experiment, we had several generations where our cougar failed to eat any deer.  That made the deer population increase dramatically.  The instructions only said to make 20 deer.  We wound up needing over 90 deer at one point in our experiment.

In this picture, there are 3 “cougars” that have been tossed. We haven’t picked up the deer that have been eaten yet.

We graphed our results in Excel. I was impressed at how well the graph demonstrates the predator/prey population relationship. First, the population of the prey begins to increase, this allows the predator population to increase. As the predator population increases, more prey will get eaten. Eventually, the predator population will fall too because there is not enough prey.

My son also did several notebook pages on the computer about the experiment.

Cougar vs Deer Population
This one is sort of a procedure page. I honestly just give him free reign most of the time and see what he comes up with. It turns out better that way! We are really loving Elementary Apologia.

Aug 202008

My son completed his 10 plagues book yesterday.  He did a really good job on it.  It took him forever and it about drove me crazy, but I was mostly successful at holding my tongue and letting him work at his own pace.  That is a huge accomplishment for me.  The pictures are hand-drawn, then scanned and resized to go with his text.  Here is his book minus the cover because I just noticed it has his full name on it.

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

10 Plagues Book

Apr 022008

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through the link, I will receive a small commission.

We’ve had a nice couple of days again, so we’ve spent some time outdoors.  We read about pollination in Exploring Creation with Botany.  My 8 yo daughter made her notebook page outside.

Pollination Notebook Page
Here she is working on her page.
Pollination Notebook Page
And her completed page.

She used a page from the Basic-plus set of Notebooking Pages from Notebookingpages.com.   I was really proud of the job that she did.


My older son much prefers making his notebook pages on the computer.  He’s a terrific artist, but he prefers typing to writing so much that he doesn’t like to do notebooking on paper.  So, for the most part, I let him use the computer.

Pollination Notebook Page
10 year old ds notebook page

I trimmed my lavender plant (a lot) and have lots of lavender drying in the attic.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it all.  I might use it in a wreath if it dries well.  DD wants to put some in soap.  I’m not sure what I need to do with it first to use in soap.  I have the  Your Backyard Herb Garden. I need to check out what to do with dried lavender leaves in there.


Then I cranked up the Mantis tiller (well, I can’t crank it, I had to wait for dh) and tilled up a little patch for spinach.  This is quite an experiment for me.  I’ve not had great success with gardening in the past, but I really want to try it again.  We have tomato and pepper plants that we’re growing from seed in the light hut.  So far one tomato plant has sprouted.