Thursday, January 31, 2013

A "Natural" Way of Learning

       I'm a nature lover.  
                      Love nature.
                                 Love God's creation.  

It's a good day when we get to spend it outside, especially in the woods or on a trail or just "going on an adventure" as Jacob call it.

Thankfully, we all love being outside, so that has made it really fun to do our nature studies.  

I'm not a purist in any particular method of learning.  We have an eclectic style in our homeschool, blending classical, traditional, Charlotte Mason and even a little of the unschooling method.  

When it comes to nature studies and nature notebooks, Charlotte Mason and unschooling are where it is for us!  We love it!  I basically don't do anything, except help them research if they need help.  After all, God has filled His creation with so many wonderful and unique birds, plants, trees, creatures and so much more, that the children are naturally curious and excited to go explore and then come inside to sort and journal their findings.  Sometimes they take their notebooks with them outside and draw, but either way, I am usually amazed by what they come up with.  

Here are just a few pictures of our nature studies this year!

At the beginning of the year, we studied about Lewis and Clark for several weeks, so they made "leather" covers for their journals.  (They learned quite a bit about nature journaling from studying about those guys!)  The journals themselves are composition notebooks, and the covers are made of brown felt.  It was so fun watching Jacob sew the yarn around the edges.  The cover is made so that when the present notebook is full, they can slip it right out and put a new one in!

Well, clearly Evan wasn't ready for this snapshot!  This was a day back in the fall, when everyone was diligently working on their math, until Ashlyn randomly announced that we just HAD to go to the woods to see a GIANT pile of acorns that she had spotted the day before.  The kids finished their math and we dropped the next thing and went to the woods.  We saw the giant pile of acorns (part of it is in the bottom right hand corner of the photo), and several other interesting things too!
Jacob is really into feathers right now.  If we don't recognize what kind it is, we try to look it up online or in one of our books.  Sometimes he writes, but most of the time he draws his experiences or something he has seen outside and I write word for word what he dictates to me.
It has been fun to see Ashlyn's nature notebooks advance from year to year.  Her drawing has improved quite a bit!  She is naturally a writer, so many of her pages are filled with just words.  
The older three, working on their notebooks!  They are just finishing up the labeling here I believe.  Many times there is all kinds of "stuff" from outside covering the table as they sort through their treasures.
Emily has quite a few drawings in her notebook, but sometimes she likes to take the plucked specimen and "seal" it in her notebook with lots and lots of clear tape!!  
This little guy was snatched up one rainy day, and I'm pretty sure that there is a drawing of him in all of their notebooks!  
Emily came running into the house one day screaming for the camera.  She took the picture and then printed it off on our printer and glued it into her notebook.  Sadly, I don't think we ever figured out exactly what it is.  If anyone knows, please tell us!! :)
UPDATE: A good friend has informed me that it is milkweed in bloom.  
Here are the finished covers with the journals inside.

See how it works?  God has given children a natural curiosity, especially when it comes to His own creation.  There is no way I would hinder that curiosity!  Now is the time for them to learn, and to learn to love learning!   I would love to hear any ideas that you have when it comes to nature notebooking!

Our Lord's creation is a wondrous thing, and I'm so thankful to see it, every now and then, through the eyes of my kids in their notebooks.  But it doesn't end with just an in-depth observation or some research to satisfy academia.  I want to consistently remind my kids that all of God's creation was made for one purpose, and that is to bring glory and honor to Him.  As Romans 1:20 so beautifully declares, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made."  
He has made Himself known through His creation, so that all people are without excuse.  It's all for Him!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Real Home

This world is not our home.

That truth is one of the most important truths that Jason and I want to drive home to our kids. 

About a year ago or so, I remember talking with Jacob about how we are merely pilgrims in this world (we had been studying about the Pilgrims in school the last couple of weeks).  

I told him all about how the earth will all go away one day, and that there is a forever and ever after that.  I told him that when a person has been redeemed by Christ, heaven is their real home and that we should always think of our life here on earth as temporary, kind of like when we go on a trip (I was trying to speak on a level he could understand).

Then I said, "So see, Jacob, Christians don't have to be afraid of death.  We know we are going to heaven!  Death is just a passageway to our real home!"

He excitedly replied, "I know, I'm not afraid to die!"

A few quiet seconds passed, and what came next was the sweetest confession I've ever heard.  

"Well, really I am afraid, but I'll try not to be."

I understand completely, Jacob!

Death can be fearful because it is unknown.  Even though I know what's on the other side for me, it can be unnerving thinking of how it will happen.  Questions arise in my mind.  Questions like, "Will it hurt?"

Of course we will pass on from this life!  This life is miniscule compared to eternity.  

This life is a speck on speck on a speck compared to what has passed and what's ahead.

That's why it is so important that my children understand what's at stake.  I mean, what logical sense does it make to work, work, work and achieve everything this world can offer, but store up nothing for eternity?  If this tiny space of time is our only goal, then we really have nothing.  With Christ (and Christ alone), eternity will be grand.  Without Christ (even with many "good works"), eternity will literally be hell.

As parents, we have the opportunity every day to teach our kids about the importance of Christ's kingdom.

  Take it! 

I try to be mindful to let it be woven in and out of every subject, even sometimes math!  Lessons of Christ's Kingdom are not separate from academics, because I desire Christ to be the in and out of everything my kids are taught.  

After all, this world is not our home!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Space on the Web

Social media is funny, isn't it?

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the internet in general; I believe I can safely declare that it has changed our culture!

For instance, anyone can sign up for a blog or create an account with any of the above mentioned outlets and Voila! they are published on the web (in a restricted sense, albeit, but still published) for all the world to see.

We see people at their best and people at their worst  We see real life and not so real life.  We see nonsense and things that actually make a lot of sense.  But the point is that we see.

I'm not opposed to this necessarily, because when these types of media are used properly and with care, they can be very helpful and really fun!

But I do believe that this new norm has brought out in us a very old problem, which is that it opens up a whole new horizon of comparison.  I can go to any blog of any other homeschool mom like me, and read her writings and see her pictures and then log off wondering why I'm not as creative or as organized or as hip or as spiritual as she is.  Been there?

OR...I could get on someone else's blog or see a Facebook post and log off thinking how much more creative or more organized or more hip or more spiritual that I am than they!  Been there?

When we compare ourselves with others, 
we often times place ourselves either as superior or inferior to that person.  

Both of those places are located on a very slippery slope, and I would even call it, well...sin.  My identity should be found solely in my life as a redeemed child of God.  (I hope to write more about that soon.)

I haven't updated this blog in a long time for various reasons.  But I have a great desire to encourage people in the Lord; people like me who struggle daily in the battle against sin and want to grow in Christ.  I would like to share what works for our family in the realm of raising kids and homeschooling them.  I would also like to share practical things like recipes, because I have benefited greatly from such things online!

What I DON'T want to do is give the impression that my homeschool is perfectly organized and that I have great meals prepared every day.  Just the thought of that makes me chuckle!!

Also, I don't have a really awesome camera that takes cool pictures with blurry backgrounds, so you won't see a lot of that here.

I don't have a knack for crafts, and I'm not all that tech savvy.

BUT, out of all the spaces on this big giant web, this little space is one that I pray will be used to point you to Christ.   We are here on this earth to honor Him, and it is my joy to do so, even in my imperfection.

My prayer is that you will be blessed and encouraged when you leave this small corner of the web.

Thanks for visiting!  :)