Tag Archives: Christian living

Loving the One

Loving The One

If you spend time with me in person, you will very quickly discover the things I get passionate about. There are a number of them! But sharing the love of Christ with those that need it, both in practical ways and also meeting the needs of the heart; then looking at long-term solutions for every person to enjoy the fullness of life that God has created for us – those are biggies. I love the big picture, but also the details. I love cultures and nations, but also love the one, and sowing into a single life the love of Christ in whatever ways he opens up.

I’ve felt heavy of heart lately with the sheer enormity of the needs of people across our nation and the globe. The estimate of people currently in need of humanitarian assistance has risen from 82 to 102 million people just in the last 8 months. The scale and sometimes complicated circumstances around some of these situations can make it easier to turn away from, as it seems that what we can do is so little.

I realise I can’t change the world for every person, but I sure can for one. Every single life is worthy of touching with the love of Christ.  Love does not hold prejudice, or make a judgement on which life is more worthy than the next.  Love has to look like something that is more than words or good intentions.

I love this:

“I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important and that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionise the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities, nations, and yes, the world.” (Beth Clark in “Kisses from Katie”, by Katie Davis)

If I turned up on your doorstep and was in desperate need of your help, would you turn me away? Think about it. Picture my face. Imagine my children at my heels. Of course you wouldn’t. You’d invite me in. You’d meet the most immediate needs right then and there. You’d care for my children. If need be, you’d help me work out a plan for my future. You’d pray for me, hug me, and encourage me with hope.

And now imagine again, and this time picture this woman at your doorstep, with the same needs.

Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

The fact is, there’s no difference between this woman and me. Other than the obvious cultural difference and geography, she’s a mother like me, she loves her children and wants to see them live the best life they can. She hopes that one day they will never have to worry about having enough to live. She wants them to have an education, and gain skills that will see them through life. I want this for my children too.

This women, and others like her, are not on my literal doorstep, but in a sense they are. We share the same earth under our feet, and neither of us chose where we would be born. I was blessed to be born and raised in a country without war and one with a ‘safety net’ via our Government should I ever need it.

Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

Will you look at what you have in your hands today, and considering offering what you have to be Jesus’ hands and feet?

I’ve been tremendously encouraged lately by the work that Caritas have been doing worldwide, including in my own country.  They are working in almost every country, and when a crisis hits they are already on the ground.

Have a read about one place that has especially moved my heart recently, and pray about whether you can add your strength, resources, and prayer behind their efforts.

It just takes a little sacrifice, compassion, and willingness to partner with others.

“ With no husband I worry every day how I am going to cope; how I will pay for food, school fees and medicines for my children.” says Rawia*. Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

“ With no husband I worry every day how I am going to cope; how I will pay for food, school fees and medicines for my children.” says Rawia*.  Photo: Annie Bungerouth/ACT-Caritas

If you click through nothing else in this post, I would love you to read this one:  Darfur Voices: Vulnerable Families

Thanks for reading, and have a blessed week.

Victoria

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
 – Micah 6:8

Home – The Heart of Homeschooling

Home the heart of homeschooling

Our family’s journey in homeschooling this year has been largely focused on establishing a rhythm that will be sustainable long term.

One of the things we’ve been doing is concentrating on our relationships with each other, particularly the children with one another (more on this another time).

The other thing we’ve been focusing on is keeping our home as the centre of our homeschool.

This is what I’m sharing at Lindsey’s website today.  I hope it encourages you.

“We’ve heard it said: ‘Home is where the heart is’. For homeschooling families, home is where our children’s hearts are. It’s the place where we intend to lovingly guide, equip, shepherd, and prepare our children’s hearts for the life set before them.”

READ MORE

Victoria

PS. A quick note from me – you will find me posting a lot less for this next season of life, possibly just once or twice a month.  If you enjoy what I write, you might like to subscribe to receive posts by e-mail (see sidebar on the right).  Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Choosing to Stand Tall

Choosing to Stand Tall

It’s taken years to be truly on this path to freedom, but here I am in 2014 finally able to embrace who I am, and whose I am. And I don’t plan on retreating back to where I once was!

We have an unfortunate cultural trait in our country called ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. It’s common enough for there to be a name to it. When a person stands taller from the crowd, they are pulled down or cut down with words so they no longer stand tall. It’s sometimes overt and sometimes more subtle, but the outcome is the same – to prevent another person from rising to all they could and should be, so that another feels better about themselves. It’s the opposite than what Heaven intends for our country, which a culture of true honour, comradeship and courage, and a People that will cheer on others in their chosen path.

I have been on the receiving end of this, and without doubt I’ve probably hurt others in this way. I can only repent for where I have partnered with this myself, and pray the Lord keeps me sensitive and humble from walking in it again!

What we want in the Body of Christ is for EVERY PERSON to walk in fullness, and in that way we are all better for it! We can honour the unique voice of one another, and enjoy and celebrate the brilliance that shines from each person.

My Journey in Becoming a ‘Tall Poppy’

For many years, and more so since becoming a mother, I’ve frequently been on the receiving end of jealousy, cutting down, and revilement, because others have desired what I have or have been jealous of what I am capable of. It has caused me to withdraw, be silenced, and isolate myself from others. Sometimes, it’s been shrouded in religious language, or a ‘minor’ reason given instead of the ‘main’ reason that hides what it really is. Other times the responsibility has been put back on me, as though the cause is me – I’m causing insecurities to rise up in others, or intimidating women because I am skilled and gifted in areas that others may not be. I’ve been pressured to hide my light, to be less of myself, to enhance my struggles and shortcomings so that others feel better about themselves.

But do you know that excluding others, cutting off or cutting down someone, or withdrawing your friendship or care of someone because you perceive them to as the source for your discomfort, is really unloving and based on a lie?  And at times, the victorious life they lead might actually be the result of years of perseverance, cost and sacrifice? Or perhaps an outpouring of favour of the Lord they have grown in, to be celebrated and cheered on?

Here’s a snapshot.

I love my husband and children. I very rarely need time away from them. I do need time by myself to re-energise at times, but it’s not because I’m fed up with them. It’s because I’m an introvert that likes to sit and read, listen and think. So I don’t crave the time out of the home without my family that others might. I also love spending time with other families, and I don’t crave women-only get togethers. Rejoice with me that I’m different and what a change the Lord has brought about in my heart – when I first got married I wasn’t sure I wanted children, as I was still hurting from my parents’ divorce. What a transformation God has done in my life!

I don’t believe my way of parenting is the best/only/right way. Truly. I have many convictions about things that are right for our own family, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s the best way for your family. Those decisions that we all have to make about raising children, eating, Church fellowship, homeschooling or public school – they are all things that we can only be responsible for ourselves and not for others! I freely and joyfully love to help others, hence this blog as one example. But if you decide a different way, then go for it and be the best you can! So celebrate with me the victories and the courage it has taken to go against the mainstream, as we have pursued the best plan for our family.

I (usually) have a well-ordered and clean home. My mother set a wonderful example for me. I also learned young how to do this, as from 11 I lived without my mother under the same roof. It became necessary if I wanted clean clothes! Celebrate with me God’s redemptive purpose that has come about, and that he has brought strength and excellence into my life as a homemaker. It’s come at great cost.

I love to be home with my children and am glad for the blessing to homeschool them. I’ve had hard days. Really hard days! But the vast majority of the time we enjoy ourselves and my children are thriving and doing well. But the cost of living off one income is I only get a haircut once a year, we wear our clothes out (except the kids who benefit from a very generous Nanna!), we don’t get out of town to see family often, and a thousand other things we can’t afford to do. Worth it? Yes yes yes! So tell me I’m doing a great job and encourage me. Don’t tear down homeschooling because it offends your worldview or theology, or gossip about me because you see imperfection or you feel inadequate yourself. Be the best ‘you’, and encourage me to do the same!

I love to create a warm and hospitable environment for people to come to. It’s true – before you arrive at my home, I will often whisk around and pick up things that you might trip on, check the toilet for any ‘surprises’ my children may have inadvertently left, and perhaps wipe down the dining room table where you may place your coffee cup on arrival. Enjoy the place I’ve created for you to enter into. Embrace the English cultural background I come from, where you can sit and be served rather than the more common way in our culture of being told to ‘help yourself’ or ‘make yourself at home’( which is fine too). This is how I do hospitality – be blessed by it!

I love to create nourishing meals for my family and am good at it. I had to learn young, and at 11 I was cooking roasts and making school lunches. God has used those difficult circumstances and turned them into something good, something helpful, a blessing to my family, and also to others that have been on the receiving end of my generosity. Please, rejoice with me at His goodness expressed in my life!

I’m frequenting on the receiving end of the Father’s generosity and our family find ourselves with abundant provision that is beyond logic. Rejoice with me in the goodness of God! It has sometimes come at the cost of many times of enduring faith and hope, tears and prayer, and we ourselves have been generous with all we have in our hands, at times with extraordinary sacrifice.

You probably won’t catch me posting photos on Facebook of my messy lounge, my baking fails, or any other imperfectness – not because I don’t have those days like every other mother, but because I choose to celebrate the victories and strive for the excellence that I know is in me.

I’m not perfect. I fail daily. There is grace daily. I’m utterly dependent on Him.

I am a beautiful, gifted, beloved child of the Father. I love who He’s created me to be, and love my life, and I love growing in who I am in greater measure. Rejoice with me that God has taken brokenness and grief and turned it to wholeness and joy. He’s brought beauty from the ashes. I will no longer hide my light!

And He can do the very same thing with you.

“The church is God’s body, where every member is welcomed, accepted, loved and valued as a contribution. There is room for us to live in Christ while we are learning to be Christlike. This means we make space for the ugly and the beautiful in all of us to grow and change.” From MANIFESTING YOUR SPIRIT (Graham Cooke)

Tall poppy Monet

Spring Has Arrived – My Word for the Year in Motion

Spring has arrived

Here in the southern hemisphere, we are in the middle of winter and about to have a couple weeks of holiday time from ‘official’ homeschooling. Mid-way through the year, it’s a good time to reflect on the word I had for this year: Spring.

Here’s the gist of that original post:

Here’s what ‘Spring’ means for us:

  • New life
  • Renewed vision
  • Restoration of hope

Spring is a time of warmth, and of buds and blossoms giving the promise of fruit within their beauty.  It’s a time of growth and a bustle of activity within nature – but in the midst of all the activity, there’s no striving or stress.  No-one tells the bees to collect pollen or the grass to grow.

For us, this means that we are going to enjoy the journey, and God’s promises unfolding in our lives without striving to obtain something that is already freely given.  If we find ourselves striving or stressing, then we’ve left the place of peace and it’s up to us to return and remain in His abiding presence.

So how are things going?

It wasn’t all smooth riding right from the start, but I can honestly say I’m learning to live out of a whole new level of joy and peace in my stride that rises above any challenges that life brings our way. In fact, I’m seeing challenge and difficulty as opportunities to grow and be transformed from the inside out – which in turn is changing my circumstances as I release the atmosphere within me into the atmosphere around me.

This year has seen plenty of challenge in all those usual ‘big’ areas. But I’m committed to releasing goodness and grace in all those places, despite what comes against me. It means being loving, generous, joyful, kind and relentlessly committed to seeing the best in people, even when what I’m faced with the exact opposite.

So instead of usually not enjoying the process of becoming more like Jesus, but loving the eventual glorious outcome, I now find myself enjoying the journey as well. A new problem comes my way, and I’m starting to get immediately excited about the possibilities and just what the Father has for me instead. The key is rejoicing. Always!

Do I still have bad days? For sure! I still get moments of temporary amnesia and forget what I’ve already been freely given from Heaven.

Here are some great scriptures to meditate on:

  • Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
  • You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
    (Psalm 16:11)
  • But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy. (Psalm 68:3)

So halfway through our school year, I’m not burnt out in the slightest. In fact, I’m energised and enjoying the journey beyond my expectations.

I have nothing but outrageous hope for the future, and fully expect heaven to continue to invade my world. You’ll be amazed at what can take place in your life if you just keep releasing goodness all around you.

My encouragement to you is this: firstly, rejoice and give thanks; then pray and ask the Father what He is saying so you can agree with Him. Pray with the answer, and not for it. Expect Him to answer you, because His word says He will, and in the meantime, wait with joyful expectation.

Start the day asking: ‘So what are you saying Lord? And what would you like me to see/do/be today?’ Every day has encounters for you to have with the Father, and opportunities for you to bring heaven to earth. Enjoy the journey!

For behold, the winter is past,  The rain is over and gone.  The flowers have already  appeared in the land;  The time has arrived for  pruning the vines,  And the voice of the  turtledove has been  heard in our land.…

“For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already
appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for
pruning the vines,
And the voice of the
turtledove has been
heard in our land.…”

Comforting A Friend Through Miscarriage

Comforting a Friend Through Miscarriage

This one is a subject close to my heart, having walked this journey twice before, and some of you will have too.  My best friend and her husband recently lost their little one, and it has freshened up those emotions again that never really go away completely.  As I’ve seen her courageously walk through this, my heart has ached for her grief, yet also rejoiced in the life that she carried for a short but significant time.  You are eternally changed!

I remember some of those things that were said to us that were so affirming and encouraging, and some of the others that, although well intended, just deepened the pain.

The estimate on how often a miscarriage takes place is usually either one in every four, or one in every five pregnancies.  Despite how common a miscarriage may appear, it can be a life-altering experience, and the loss bears its affects both physically and emotionally.

Let’s call it what it is: a miscarriage is the death of a child.  It is not merely a failed pregnancy, or nature simply taking its course.  Whether you’re 4 weeks along or much further, the loss is no less significant.  As with any loss, grief is something that is personal and different for each person.  You’ve also lost the hopes and dreams that you have carried for your child, regardless of the length of your pregnancy.

If you have other children, you may find that holding them helps to find a resting place for your love and longing, but they don’t replace the child you’ve lost.

A decade has passed from my first loss (of two), and yet still it has a deep and immovable effect on my heart.  I’m forever changed.

I look back on those experiences, and I’m grateful for the love and support we were given by those around us.  Not everyone knew how to help us or what to say.  For those that lose earlier on in their pregnancy, speaking about their loss carries some risk as not everyone will respond with a level of compassion or understanding.

Can I offer some suggestions as to how you can help comfort a friend through their loss?

What To Say

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss”.
  • “I’m praying for you”.
  • “I’m here for you”.
  • “How are you feeling today?”
  • “What do you need from me?”
  • “It’s OK to feel the way you do”.

What To Do

  • Be available to listen
  • Be patient with where your friend is at, and how long it may take to walk through their loss
  • Send cards, flowers, and words of acknowledgement for your friend’s loss
  • Drop off a meal and/or some groceries
  • Offer to help with housework or children
  • Send a text saying your thinking of them, but don’t expect a reply back.
  • Remember the first anniversary

What NOT To Say

  • “You’ll have other pregnancies”.
  • “When will you try again?”
  • “Try not to think about it”.
  • “At least you weren’t too far along”.
  • “You have your other children that you can focus your attention on instead”.

The thing that touched me more than anything, was when people used my babies names, and acknowledged them as precious and valued lives.

I also found the the simplest words, kindest gesture, and the ongoing words of love as time went on, were the most significant and helpful as I journeyed through our loss.  Sometimes people got philosophical, or tried to say too much, and it often made the pain worse.  If you don’t know what to say, simply say “I’m so sorry for your loss”.  If you don’t know how to help, just ask.  Be prepared if your friend doesn’t want to talk about it, or perhaps doesn’t want to hear about what is happening in your life just at that moment.

Just love them, listen to them, and offer yourself to be and do whatever they need.  Pray for the Father surround them with His presence, and be His hands and feet in their life.

Even if you don’t understand or can’t identify with your friends journey, you can still lovingly help them as they walk out their loss and grief in the days and weeks ahead.

Be blessed,

Victoria

Psalm 139 hwh

 

Magazines for the Whole Family

Magazines for the whole family

Here are a handful of my favourite magazines for some whole family reading.  I love to sit down in the quiet with a magazine and flick through short articles on all kinds of different things.  It’s definitely one of my favourite ways to re-charge.

HOMEMAKING

Seasons at Home

This is a great read that seeks to minister to homemakers and their families by providing encouragement for mothers, homemaking tips, DIY projects, homeschooling, recipes, crafts and more.

From Scratch

From-Scratch-April-May-2014-CoverWeb‘From Scratch’ is a free bi-monthly online magazine for the modern homesteader and for living life simply.  You’ll pick up heaps of great ideas for your home on gardening, food, DIY projects, homemade products and more.

HOMESCHOOLING

Answers

Creation scienceAnswers is the Creation Science magazine published by ‘Answers in Genesis’, and reaches 200,000 homes each quarter.  It’s packed full of relevant articles on the latest creation science news while also having an apologetics and theological perspective through which to understand culture.  While I don’t share all of Ken Ham’s theology in its entirety, I so appreciate the solid science and his dedication to defending a creation science worldview through the written word.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

TOSThe Old Schoolhouse Magazine is a free online magazine by The Old Schoolhouse that is packed full of homeschool encouragement and resources.   Read my review here.  They also publish a print version, which for 2014 has over 300 pages of homeschool goodness. I have a copy in my hands which I’m still not finished.  This edition features Deborah Wuehler, Todd Wilson, Heidi St. John, Andrew Pudewa and many other homeschool greats, including my talented online friend Bonnie Rose Hudson who is completely fantastic.

Nature Friend

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Nature Friend is a creation-based children’s nature magazine for the whole family to enjoy.  There is opportunity for your children to submit different contributions as well.  This is one we haven’t gotten ourselves yet but plan to at some stage in future.

FAITH

Voice of the Martyrs

We have joined the mailing list for the NZ branch of ‘Voice of the Martyrs’ and they send out a magazine a few times a year with the latest news and ways to partner with this mission.  I wholeheartedly recommend supporting their ministry if you have a heart for the oppressed and persecuted.  Visit the US website or NZ website for more information.

Relevant

Relevant

Relevant is another magazine that I haven’t physically had in my hands yet but I’ve been enjoyed the articles online for some time, plus some of the worship sessions that have been recorded by Relevant.  The magazine is targeted at the 20 and 30-something age group, and covers topics of ‘faith, culture and intentional living’.  The digital magazine is free to view, and the print version is a very small $6 for 6 months.

FOR CHILDREN

Answers for Kids

kids-answers-092

Answers for Kids is the children’s magazine from Answers in Genesis, and contains just 8 pages that fold out, with a theme each time that fills the pages.

God’s World News

gwnews24We subscribed to this super magazine last year and even with the international postage it’s still incredible value for a monthly magazine for each of my children.  The different editions cater for different age groups, and cover the same content but age appropriately.  This is definitely one of our favourite homeschool resources.

** Update on ‘God’s World News’ – the magazine have decided to halve the number of print editions per year from 10 down to 5, and in the month’s between your child will receive an e-mail instead.  There are less print edition options also.  The cost remains the same.  In my opinion, this is no longer the fantastic value that was offered before so I no longer recommend it, but you might still decide it’s worth it for your family.  **

Do you have any favourites?

Victoria

Tips, Treats, Topics and Treasures {April 2014}

Tips, Treats etc, monthly round up April 2014

The last month has flown by again, and we’re feeling like our family is in a relatively good rhythm going into the winter.  We have enough commitments outside our family life for now, and the kids are settled into some good routines.  Here’s hoping we can cruise a bit for a while, after a couple of months of some really stretching circumstances.  Love the outcome of faith having grown, but do not love the process as much. 🙂

In the Kitchen

Take a break from your gluten-free living and enjoy these simple Cornish pasties from Jamie Oliver.  I can’t imagine how a Cornish pastie would taste with gluten-free pastry, but if you have a recipe feel free to prove me wrong. 🙂

A simple recipe of melted blueberries with mandarin orange and ginger.  And let’s not forget the whipped cream with it.

What I’m Reading and Watching

Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson.

Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson

Trim Healthy Mama – it’s taken me a while to get hold of my own copy, but I’ve decided to give this a read and see what all the fuss is about.  So many people I know are using this eating plan.  I’ll let you know in the coming months what I think.  So far, I like the emphasis on increasing healthy fats in your diet.

New Discoveries

Here’s an informative article on agave nectar that I encourage you to read.

Last month I linked up a post at Wellness Mama on how to re-mineralise your teeth.  Here’s another well written post on oil pulling.

On the Homeschool Front

I’m going to be adding ‘Life of Fred’ Math to our homeschool curriculum soon.  I’ve only ever heard great things about these books, but we’re going to supplement our existing Math-U-See rather than replace it.  This series of books bring Math alive to children through stories.

We have switched things around a bit for a month (in case you missed it, read Mix it up May).  So far, all is going well and our learning times feel like they’ve freshened up a bit.  I recommend doing this if you’re children start to drag their feet behind them!

We’ve picked up our ‘All About Spelling’ again after an extended break.  This really is a great spelling program and I find my daughter instantly picks up the rules.  Here’s an article from All about Spelling on learning spelling logically: Spelling Can Be Easy When It’s Logical

Hidden Treasures (great reads in the blogosphere)

Chareen has some great resource lists for free homeschooling.  My favourite is her Free Fine Arts Resources.

Have a read of this one: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church.

A Few of my Favourite Things

We were blessed to listen to Loren Cunningham twice yesterday, who is currently on tour with his wife Darlene in New Zealand.  He has a fresh challenge for us seeing a bible in every home, in every nation.  Listen in here.

You’ll enjoy this personality test – it totally summed me up perfectly which these tests rarely do.

All Sons and Daughters have released a new self-titled album.  Listen to the whole thing here at Relevant.

Quote of the Month

‘To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today’. – Unknown

I’ve got some posts tucked away and ready to go for this month on our ‘Back to Eden’ garden, Maestro Classics, Story of the World for Christian families, some of our favourite magazine reads, plus a few other things.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Victoria

Reasons for Christian Families to Homeschool

Reasons for Christian families to homeschool

This month’s post for Lindsey at ‘Roadto31’ is on some reasons why Christian families may chose to homeschool.

“The longer my husband and I journey as parents, the more we see just how important it is to hold securely to the incredible responsibility of raising and educating our children. 

 

We believe it to be our sole responsibility and not that of the State, or extended family and relatives, or Sunday School teachers and pastors, or Hollywood, or anyone else.  There are certainly times we invite others into carrying this out with us, whether it be intentionally or unknowingly, but we alone have sole stewardship of our children’s upbringing.

 

We have found that homeschooling provides the best opportunity to educate your child according to Christian values and emphasis, and to do so in an environment that is loving, supportive, nurturing and Godly.”…

READ MORE

Whether you’re considering this, or have been homeschooling for a while, I hope it encourages you.

Have a great week.

Victoria

Keeping a Nature Journal

Keeping a nature journal

Recording and collating is an important part of nature study, as it’s where your child can journal the things they have investigated and experienced.  With a little guidance, their nature journals will become something to treasure in the years to come and a wonderful resource to look back on.                     

Ideas on Getting Started

You can simply use a plain unlined spiral-bound notebook, although I love to print pre-designed notebooking pages as they make a lovely end result to look through.  It also helps with my children’s interest level when the pages are bright and engaging.

I prefer to take paper and clipboards on our walks, and then paste into our journals when we get home.  This way their journals are kept nice.

What to Record in a Nature Journal

Nature journals don’t need to be a place of facts and exact scientific names.  In fact, I prefer not to go overboard with learning all the correct scientific names with my young children yet.  But rather, let them creatively record their observations with sketching, pastels, diagrams, words and short sentences, poetry, and simply their thoughts if they’ve been stirred by something they’ve seen.

You like might to encourage your children to keep a simple list of things observed in the back of their journal for each season, and date each entry.

For Younger Children

My 4 year old daughter has a giant scrapbook that she uses for her nature journal.  At her age, I encourage her to simply draw what she sees and hears, and I label and date it for her.  If she’s not interested, I don’t pressure her to draw.  If she’s interested, we might talk about what she notices, thinks and feels.

Once your child is writing more competently, they can record what they see and hear in just a couple of words, or you could also write what they tell you.   Encourage them to observe for about 10 minutes first, and ask them questions about the environment they are seeing, hearing and touching.  You could collect things like leaves and flowers, press them, and add into their journal.

A fun thing to include is their photos, which you can just print onto paper and glue into their journal.  Let them take photos of your walks out, things they’ve grown in the garden, or of each other holding some of the treasure they’ve found.

For Older Children

Nature Journaling is something to grow in over time, and eventually you’ll find your child will be ready to record more detailed observations as their written language develops.  Encourage them to research the names of flora and fauna, and to research things further that they have interest in.

Let your child experiment with using coloured pencils, soft pastels, watercolour paints, and different ways of presenting their work.  If you make this a regular event in your homeschooling, in no time your child will have a beautiful journal filled with their own observations.

The natural cycles, rhythms and seasons speak and have the handprints of Creator God evident.  Encourage your older children to write scriptures and record their thoughts in their journal on what they see and hear God saying to them through his creation.

Lastly…

For all ages, the most important thing is to encourage a love for God’s creation and be enthusiastic yourself about the experience.

We find we go through seasons where we do very little, and then find our enthusiasm again once we jump into the experience and realise how much we enjoy it.  I know all the core subjects are important to get through, trust me, I know the struggle of juggling essentials and electives!  But if you make nature study and journaling a priority in your homeschooling, you might find that the rest just falls into place.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series.  I would welcome any thoughts you have, and further ideas for making nature study fun.

Further links

Nature Study: Out and About

Nature Study Out and About

There are so many different encounters awaiting you in nature, no matter where you live and what you have access to.

One of the things you might like to do, is plan out a year-long schedule, and spread out some of the bigger trips further afield, with the smaller and more accessible in between.  Planning ahead also makes it more likely to happen amidst all the other commitments that homeschoolers have.  You’ll also want to consider the different seasons, and what might make a fun nature study during those months.

Here are just a few ideas and topics for your nature studies which can be easily adapted for all ages:

  • Nature scavenger hunts – especially great to do with younger ones, compile a list of small things to collect of different colour and texture.
  • Beach walks – study the tides and currents, sand and stones, shells, tide pool life, plant life, erosion, things that wash up including driftwood, and birds.
  • Cloud study – observe and record cloud types on different days.  Note the seasonal differences.
  • Gardening – teach your children about planting and managing a garden of their own, and sustainable practices for pest control, soil health, harvesting, and seed saving.
  • Leaf study – collect leaves and bark to do leaf rubbings or sketch.  Look up in your identity guide and record what tree they come from.
  • River or stream study – observe and record animal life, erosion and soil, plant life, animal life in and around the water, habitats, and see what you can scoop up in your net.  Collects stones and rocks to draw or photograph.
  • Weather and climate – this is great to do all year around.  Record the weather every day over a month, and note the differences in temperature, clouds, rain or sun, and wind.
  • Erosion – find an area where erosion is prominent, such as by the beach, and record the different soil types in the layers, the effect on its surroundings, and the speed at which it is occurring (you’ll need to do this over regular intervals, every 3-6 months).
  • Backyard birds – set up a birdfeeder and birdbath in your backyard to encourage birds.  Identity your backyard birds using a field guide.
  • Wildflowers – observe and record wildflowers and their growing conditions.  Where permitted, dry and press, or simply sketch in your journal, noting how and where they grow, what the soil is like, and use a guide to find their identity.
  • Tree – Choose a particular tree and record its changes through the four seasons.  Note the changes in its bark, leaves, soil and whether there are blossoms or fruit.

Places to Visit

Your local town or region might have some of the following (some of these are indoors):

  • Zoo or animal park visit
  • Aquarium
  • Quarry park
  • Beach
  • Trails
  • Wetlands
  • Caves
  • Tide pools
  • Desert
  • Botanical gardens
  • Inner city community gardens
  • Planetarium
  • Observation decks
  • Orchards
  • Farms
  • Mangroves or swamp
  • Garden centre or nursery
  • Forest
  • Historic sites
  • Science museum

Getting Equipped

You’ll probably find there’s very little you’ll need most of the time besides your paper and pencils, but here are some things that might come in handy depending on your nature walk:

  • Nature Journal
  • Compass
  • Binoculars
  • Magnifying glass
  • Containers
  • Paper bags
  • Camera
  • Field guides
  • Pencil, eraser and coloured pencils
  • Bucket and spade
  • Butterfly net

Through the Seasons

In the course of doing our nature studies, I’ve found there are some things that are best studied at different times of the year.  Below I’ve put some suggestions, based partly on what is in abundance through that season or where interesting and notable changes are taking place.  It might vary in your area, so feel free to use this as a starting place, and adapt accordingly.

As a suggestion, you might like ensure you have spread different topics within life science and earth science over the course of the year.

Summer

  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Ocean life
  • Trees

Autumn

  • Harvest and crops
  • Rocks and minerals
  • Mammals
  • Leaves

Winter

  • Stars, planets, constellations
  • Weather/climate
  • Invertebrates
  • Landscapes

Spring

  • Wild plants and spring flowers
  • Amphibians and reptiles
  • Garden plants and soil
  • Seeds and seedlings

So far I’ve shared on the ‘why’ of nature study, and some ideas for how to go about it.  Next time I’ll write more specifically on keeping a nature journal.

{Shared at Hip Homeschool Mom, Teaching What is Good}