Let’s Make A Nature Journal


Nature journals provide a one on one experience with nature. No matter what time of year, it has the ability to provide hands-on learning opportunities we are not soon to forget. These journals can be in any form you choose. They can be the starting point or inspiration for a lesson, or it can be a lesson in and of itself. There is no limit to what you can do.

Journals provide you with an opportunity to get to know your subject on a personal basis. Because you get to know your subject matter and not just be told about it, you are more likely to understand the concepts and retain the information. You experience nature with all your senses and hopefully develop a healthy respect for it.

It is always a perfect time to begin keeping a nature journal. Spring and autumn present us with a more instant gratification as the environments change quickly. Plus, they tend to have more pleasant weather which encourages being out of doors. Summer has the vibrancy of the changing flower blooms from week to week. While winter brings us full circle to prepare for renewal.

Nature journals come in all shapes, sizes and forms. They can be as simple as taking a sketch book along on a picnic. The type and purpose can be as individualized as it’s creator. From a few pieces of folded paper to notebooks and sketch pads and everything in between, nature journals can be made to suit your needs. Pencils, crayons, charcoals and water paints are all great supplies to have on hand as is a good field guide for your area.

Nature journals do not have to be formal.  It is collecting leaves, seeds or pine cones. Taking advantage of a teachable moment as it presents itself and then recording a history of it to look back on. They can be a stand alone subject, they can accent an existing lesson plan, or they can do both.


Among other things, journals can be used to spark interest. Let’s imagine your child has found a tree and has made an impression of its bark. He has collected some of its leaves to press and has written about how the branches hang and the shade of green the leaves are. But there is more. You see that a certain insect seems to like this type of tree. Then your child wonders, “What type of insect is it?”, “What type of tree is it?” and a plethora of other questions fill his mind. So you and your child look into it and find that it is your state tree. You find what type of seed it has and how long it takes to grow. You also find that this insect living on the tree is actually good because it eats another insect which is harmful to the tree’s well being. You begin to see how it fits into the whole environment and the role it plays in the ecosystem. Your child may not even realize it, but through all this fun he was having, he was learning.

Some Ideas and Tips for Your Journals:


* Don’t worry if your child is not an artist. Drawings do not have to be perfect. By letting your child have the freedom to draw it as he experiences it, it will have more meaning to him.
* Use charcoals, pencils or watercolors to create drawings of your surroundings.
* Try setting it up as you would a scrapbook with photos, drawings and notations about what you see, hear and smell.
* Use photographs
* Close your eyes and draw what you *feel*
* Add anecdotes to spark memories.
* Write the lyrics/words to a song or poem that reminds you of your adventure or use the lyrics/words to inspire a whole new topic.
* Having a field guide for your area can offer considerable assistance in determining the plants you are looking at.
* Use it to track the development of a particular location over the course of a month, season, year or more.
* Record what you find while on a nature hike.
* Use pressed flowers and leaves.
* Compare landscapes either within your own town or while taking a road trip.
* Note if a particular plant or animal tends to be found in similar surroundings or if they develop habitats over many types of environments.
* Keep track of your own garden (even if it is a potted garden).
* Track how the weather influences nature.

Nature Journals have the ability to give us a sense of awe and wonderment of our world and it’s Creator.
We begin to realize how diverse the world is, we begin to take time and look beyond the surface and we see how we can impact nature in tiny, yet meaningful ways.

Enjoy exploring and making your journals. They are sure to become keepsakes your family will enjoy for years.







Fruit Of The Spirit



But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Simple Beef Bone Broth

Have you ever wondered why chicken soup is the go-to food when not feeling well? Bone broth is becoming a well-known food for supporting health. I have personally used bone broth to help my family through illness, allergies, and autoimmune health issues. Usually within 30 minutes of consuming we feel “strengthened”. It is not a magic pill but it does have a place in a natural based health arsenal. For resources on the science behind bone broth’s effectiveness as well as more bone broth recipes, see the links at the bottom of this post.

Let’s begin with the difference between stock and broth. Broth uses vegetables and meat while stock  uses bones with or without meat.  Technically, this makes bone broth really a bone stock.  While stocks are normally made from cow and chicken, you can use the bones of any food animal. But, for the purpose of this post, we will be using beef bones.  Your bones can be raw or precooked such as a roasted chicken’s bones. When possible, pasture raised, organic, hormone and antibiotic free animal bones should be used because along with the nutrients you will also pull out the nasty stuff from the bones.

**The links on this page are affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure page.

For beef stock start with about 7-8 lbs of beef bone. You want lots of cartilage. If you have a severe MSG sensitivity you may want to use more meat and less bone and you will only want to cook it for a short time. This is because the bones will release glutamine. Our bodies need glutamine but in some people who have sensitivities to MSG, glutamine can also cause problems. I was not able to have any MSG but I have had no problems with the natural forms of glutamine from consuming bone broth. If you have any concerns at all, please use caution and do not make bone broth at least until you have studied it further. You may also want to read ** Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World.

Rinse your bones well. Next you can begin by roasting your bones for half an hour in a 400F degree oven. I’ve done this and love the flavor. You can skip this step if you’d like to. Then, cover the bones with about 4 quarts of filtered water and add a tablespoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar and let it sit for about half an hour. I use **Bragg’s  Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar but most any vinegar will work.


During the 30 minute rest, rough chop carrots, celery, onion and garlic. You can use the green tops as well. Any vegetable you like can be added.

In a stove top pot or crock pot, place all the vegetables, bones, and the water they were soaking in. Let them cook, covered, below a boil for as long as you’d like but at least 6 hours. I will often fill and set my crock pot to low or medium over night and all through the next day.  Occasionally open the lid to skim the scum off the top.

When you are ready, use tongs to remove the neat and bones. Use a strainer lined with cheese cloth and pour the stock and veggies through.

This is what mine looked like after the strainer without using cheesecloth.

You may notice a slick feel to your stock from the gelatin that naturally occurs in the bones. This is good. 🙂

You can freeze your stock or use it immediately. But wait until you are ready to warm it up on the stove top and consume it to add herbs and salt. Use a quality mineral rich salt such as **Himalayan Pink Salt or **Celtic Sea Salt.

Pour yourself a bowl or mug and enjoy! Making quality bone broth is that simple!






For more information on healing foods and bone broth I recommend **Nourishing Traditions.

 **The links on this page are affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure page.


Facilitating Foundation Building In Our Children



Imagine for a moment that you are making a quilt. You are collecting scraps of fabric in all different colors; these scraps represent the different areas of our lives. Perhaps they represent; home, work, housekeeping, friendships, hobbies, and so on.

As you lay out all the pieces you see how some pieces work together and others don’t exactly fit the color scheme. You search and search for the right materials but nothing is working. Sadly, many of us are in this exact predicament with an area of our lives.

Our relationship with God should be the thread that runs through every quilt square of our lives. It holds the pieces together but is also such a unique color that it actually makes all the parts work together and creates harmony. Now, and only now, can the quilt be used for its intended purpose.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our children had that thread from the start?

Because of this I know we should not be complacent as homeschoolers/parents/families who just also happen to be Christians. As Christians, we are fulfilling one of our responsibilities in the kingdom, by raising, training and educating our children in God’s Word. We also know we have a jealous God. He wants our time, attention and devotion. He wants to be the center of our lives.

Part of training our children is to encourage the growth of a personal relationship between our children and God. This doesn’t mean that we do not need to teach math or language-not by any means at all. What I am talking about is facilitating a relationship with our Savior and creating a Biblical world-view foundation.

Think about it. When we create a building we first need to create a foundation. The smaller the foundation, the smaller the building. I would struggle to find a parent who would say they are satisfied knowing they provided an environment only capable of producing small foundations.

I believe the greatest way  we can facilitate our children’s foundation building is by spending quality time with them. Engage in meaningful discussions, even with very young children. Bring our conversations and questions to their level. Encourage them to think before answering. Play games, read aloud, and do chores together. Earn their trust in the little things and you will see them grow to trust you with the larger things. Let them see that you have struggles too and let them see how you turn to God for the answers because what they see you do will impact them either by how your actions do or do not line up with you words. It isn’t about being “perfect” but about showing them how to lean on the One Who is perfect in all His ways.






What Are Unit Studies

learning puzzle


A unit study is an approach that focuses on a main theme or topic, incorporating as many aspects and subject areas as possible. I’ve heard it referred to as a ‘whole language’ approach, but I feel it is more a ‘whole child’ approach. The actual unit study may last anywhere from one day to three months or even longer.

What topics can unit studies cover?

One of the great things about unit studies is the flexibility. You can cover anything at all.

Some ideas are:
Events: First Moon Walk, Revolutionary War, Holidays
People: Artists, Mathematicians, Presidents, Authors
Books: Any Book, Story, Poetry
Places: History of your State, a Country, a Monument
Things: How Computers were Invented, the First Toothbrush, A Song

Topics are only limited to your imagination and resources.

How does it work?

Let’s say we are going to make a unit study on Ancient Egypt. The first area we would study is the history of the time period. Since Ancient Egypt is considered to have been for about 3000 years, we may want to narrow it down. For the sake of this example, we are focusing on the 4th Dynasty when the pyramids of Giza were built. We would discuss how the people of that time lived, their culture, speech, writings, food, homes and work. We look into more than just what they did and try to figure out why.

To tie it into science we might go into what metals, plants and other materials were available to them. We learn that Egyptians probably invented chemistry. The name chemistry is derived from the ancient name for Egypt, Alchemy. We also learn why flooding was so important to the people and the land.

From here we discuss papyrus and make our own homemade paper. We discover how the Egyptians wrote. We can play with hieroglyphics and make our own cartouches. Maybe we could make a model pyramid and decorate the tombs. We would even read a few books, maybe about King Kufu.

We picked up some great vocabulary words, like cartouche, pyramid, papyrus, pharaoh, mummify and hieroglyphics. For geography we learn about the land, the Nile River and the desert. We made our own map of the area and placed images of key places on it. Then we would find Egypt on the globe.

After a hard day working on the pyramids, the Egyptians were bound to be hungry. So we would make some unleavened bread just as they would have eaten. Of course, they cooked their food in holes in rocks. We will have to settle for a cooking stone in the barbecue grill. We also learn about how the average home was run, that woman could hold jobs, people kept their food in holes in the ground and that most of the time, they slept on their roofs. This would help us cover health studies.

We discover how many tons the pyramids weigh and how many buses that would equal. We also learn about the use of decimals since the Egyptians used special symbols for numbers and decimals. So we would practice what we learn by playing a hieroglyphic math game. The Egyptians also used Pi but their value was 3.16.
For fun one night, we will play Mancala since we know the Egyptians invented it. We will also play some Egyptian music and learned some dances and explain the religious significance it had to them.

When it is all done, we might write a story about what it might have been like to live back then.

There are many other concepts we could add in depending upon the age and ability of the student. This is just a basic idea so you get the feel for unit based studies.

While you may choose to use unit studies to cover one or two subject areas, it can also used to cover as many subject areas as you desire to. Other materials can easily be substituted for whatever you feel  is lacking.

What are the disadvantages to using unit studies?
The biggest criticism of unit studies is that it may not offer enough concrete skills in the basic 3R’s. (reading, writing and arithmetic). If you find this to be the case, these skills can easily be enhanced with additions to your lessons.

Another disadvantage is that it can be time consuming to create and plan the lessons. You will also need to track down resources such as books. However, many companies now sell pre-made unit studies. All you need to do is to borrow books from your library.

What are the advantages to using unit studies?

The greatest advantage is the ability to tailor the lessons to your child (ren). Because of the nature of the unit study, you can also teach the same concepts to a variety of ages and simply offer different assignments based upon age and/or ability. Subjects can be added to meet your needs as well. For example, my son loves woodworking. We can add a project which reflects our theme. Another child may play the piano and learn how to play a song.

You also have the ability to make your lessons based upon any criteria you choose. There may be a relative visiting who is a photographer. Your children can study all about the history of photography in time to hold their own in a conversation. Or maybe you passed by a local festival and your child wants to learn more.

Another bonus is that because unit studies attempt to totally encompass your child, he is more likely to retain what he has learned.

Still not sure?

If you are not sure this is the right method for your family, you might try making a mini unit study which only lasts a few days. Try a simple topic you know well. Maybe a small story could be your basis.

Unit studies can also be use s part of  a combination of teaching methods. These could be by subject area or just for certain themes. Don’t feel limited by a method. Expand and create something that works for your family.





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