The Compassion Experience Tour

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This week our family (and some good friends) had the opportunity to go to the Compassion Experience Tour presented by Compassion International.

This is a completely interactive, story-based exhibit put on my Compassion International.  It is free and really worthwhile visiting if you have one close enough.  In a nutshell, you walk through a simulation of a child's life from another part of the world.  These children face huge barriers and challenges in their lives and we walk through these right along with them as they tell their story through a headset/ipod that each visitor has in their hands.  It is a true 'living story' experience, friends.

We were all moved to near tears as we literally felt like we were immersed in the lives of these two precious children, Yanelly from Dominican Republic, and Jey from Kenya.   I will not give away their stories, in case you have the opportunity to visit the tour.  They are powerful, hard, heart-breaking, but then very hopeful stories of how the love the Jesus transforms lives.  The stories vary depending on where you catch the tour.

There are events coming up all over the United States so there are lots of opportunities to check it out with your children, family, or even homeschool group.  

(There were so many homeschoolers there when we went on a Monday!)

What I truly loved about this experience was how the kids got to really feel like they were part of this child's life.  They listened so attentively to the story as it was told from the perspective of a child their age.  At the end (in the last room), we are invited to watch our ipod screen as the 'real' Jey or Yanelli appears and shares that this was their REAL story and they express how the love of Jesus shown to them through Compassion completely changed their lives.  It is powerful!!!

 I thought I would share our experience with you...

Also -just wanted to mention, the quality of these photos isn't the best... which drives this A-type perfectionist slightly crazy.  However, the lighting was challenging and I was trying to snap shots while also remaining present in the experience... so forgive me!

Yeah... I'm taking the photo - you'll rarely find me in many photos...  *wink*  This is my husband with our three kids (Alex in blue, Audrey in stripes and Simon in grey long sleeve), and our two very good friends, Chantal and Ian.

Yanelly's story... growing up in poverty in the Dominican Republic.

Jey's story... growing up in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Pray for Compassion International and all their volunteers as they tour the country sharing these stories in hopes of encouraging more people to join with them in bringing hope to those who need it most.  Praise God for the work He is doing through Compassion.

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

A Detailed Review of WriteShop {Junior, Book D}

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A few weeks ago, I posted about how using games and activities enhances learning in our home school.   

My 9-year-old daughter, Audrey and I have been having fun with WriteShop Junior.

This is an incredibly detailed,  comprehensive writing program.  As I mentioned in my previous post, it most reminds me of my experience with All About Reading.  I say this because everything is here.  The program is completely laid out in the high quality Teacher's Guide and comes with everything you could possibly need to successfully teach/experience the curriculum.  (Don't you love that...?)

So, let's take a look at this program...

First Impressions

Upon opening up a box of WriteShop curriculum, I immediately noticed the very high quality of the books- solid paper, good binding, bright, fun colours, and a highly organized nature to the books and resources.  

I don't know about you, but quality matters to me.  I don't want to teach from resources that are poorly put together, dull, or lacking in a If you are looking for something you can open up, read, and go - this is definitely one of those resources.  

I received three main components when I ordered WriteShop Junior Book D Set:

1. The Teacher's Guide

The guide gives details about the purpose of the program, the motivation behind the methods presented, possible schedules, materials and supplies needed for each lesson, how to create a Writing Center in your home, setting up a reading log, and information about Skill Builders, Journal Writing, and the various components/steps of each Lesson.

The guide then breaks off into a full instructional section for each Lesson.  There are 10 Lessons in total.  In my next post, I plan to talk through a lesson with you, but for the purposes of this review, I'll highlight what you can expect to find in the Lesson plans.

You'll find:  Objectives, Advance Prep (what you will need to prepare in advance to do the lesson), Materials Needed, followed by very detailed Step-by-step Lesson Plans.

The Lesson Plans are broken down into Activity Sets.  I find this really helpful as I can easily look through and decide how I will implement the activities and steps in the process of finishing a complete assignment.  For example, Lesson 1 started with the Grammar Pack and Fold-and-Go Grammar for Punctuation Marks (Activity Set 1:1).  Then we move on to the next part which is discussing the parts of a letter by reading through an example (Activity Set 1:2).  You could choose to do more than one set in a day or you could stretch an Activity Set out for two days if you want or need to - it's really up to you to decide what pacing works for your child.

We moved along at a slower pace because we have lots of other things in our days and our language arts also consists of Copywork, Dictation, Spelling, and Reading.

A look inside the layout of the Teacher's Guide.

2. The Time-Saver Pack

This is a set of super colorful print-outs that go along with the Activity Sets in each of the lessons.  Basically, WriteShop has done all the hard work for us.  Everything you need for the games and activities is already printed out and ready to go.  All you have to do is cut out some of the components and store them so they are ready for use (or re-use!).

These are printed on high-quality, colorful card stock (for those dorky paper nerds like myself...).

3. The Activity Packs with Fold-N-Go Grammar

This includes all 10 of the Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs as well as the Student Worksheets.  The Fold-N-Go Grammar is engaging but requires you to purchase the folders (I used dollar store stuff and it worked just fine), and also assemble them in the proper way.  They do cascade in a lovely fashion though - super appealing to tactile learners and very colorful.

The grammar covered includes: Punctuation Marks, Adjectives, Self-Editing, Prepositions, Nouns, Adverbs, Capitalization, Verbs, Pronouns, and References.  There are examples of uses, some work-sheet style fill in the blanks, as well as an Answer Key.

I will be completely transparent here and state that the Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs are not my favorite.  We don't tend to gravitate towards fill in the blank/worksheet style stuff in our home, so these feel a little foreign to me.  We also don't tend to cover a ton of formal grammar in this way.  However, my school-loving daughter actually enjoyed filling in the blanks and circling answers.  (Go figure!)

The Activity Pack is basically Notebooking, Journaling, and writing prompt pages.  White sheets with black ink.  Great quality as well.  These go along with the lessons and are a required component to properly do the program, in my opinion.  Some are cut-outs, some are just basic lined journaling pages and brainstorming layouts.

Our pack - top left, the Teacher's Guide, bottom left, the Activity Pack folder, to the right - all the Fold-N-Go folders I put together for Grammar.

I decided to store our Student Worksheets and Time-Saver Packs in separate folders, just to keep things tidy.  Once I organized the various Acitivity Sets from the Time Saver Pack, I put them in labelled envelops and tucked them inside, ready to go (top right).

This is the inside of the Fold-N-Go Grammar.  As you can see, the pages cascade (is that even a term?  You know what I mean though...) in a really fun way.  These are full-on Grammar pages.  They cover basic grammar appropriate to the given level.  They are consumable.

More Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs.

An example of some of the kinds of sheets you will find in the Student Activity Pack, Brainstorming notebooking page and a Word Bank sheet for reference.

How We Used WriteShop in our home...

We (as many of you already know) lean towards a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool philosophy.  Within this philosophy, children are often not introduced to written narratives until age 9 or 10 and sometimes later.  So, we approach writing with a gentle touch.  I don't push my children to write in the same way I don't push them to read.  My primary goal is to preserve the LOVE of reading and writing.

Having said this, my daughter really enjoys writing and readily accepts challenges to write creatively. WriteShop is a good fit because we are able to use it in a gentle, fun way.  The program itself is quite rigorous and very detailed, however, you can modify it as you choose.

For example, rather than using some of the journal prompts (which require even more hand writing), we played more of the games and used oral narration to communicate ideas instead.  I will be walking through all of Lesson 1 in my next post to help you get a very clear idea of what this program looks like close up.  For now, let's take a peak at the Lesson flow...

How the Lessons flow:

The lessons generally start with an objective/overview followed by the Fold-N-Go set for that lesson.  Each lesson offers different grammar component through the use of the Fold-N-Go books.

The lessons follow a model each time which includes the following -

Model and Teach



Writing Project

Editing and Revising

Parent Editing

Publishing the Project

We fully embraced all the Pre-Writing activities and games, and I think they are probably my favorite part of this program.  We would spend as long as we liked just enjoying these hands-on activities.  Then, we would move on to the Brainstorming activities and have fun coming up with ideas.  I would usually act as scribe during this stage.

The Writing Project is when pencil gets put officially to paper and the writing actually starts to take place.  Depending on the day, I would sometimes scribe and other times Audrey would insist on doing her own transcription.  Once we'd worked through this stage, we were ready to bring the project to completion through a 'final copy' (Publishing the Project).  

There are various print-outs to help with the Brainstorming aspect of the process as well as suggestions for publishing the final writing project in a way that will make the writing a keepsake and something the child is proud of.  

Each Lesson is one project.  The entire Lesson, if done right, might take the child up to 2 weeks to fully complete (maybe longer?).  It is quite the process and there is plenty to keep you and your child engaged and learning for many weeks/months.

The writing projects in Junior, Book D include:

Letter of Invitation
Science Fiction
Historical Fiction
Personal Narrative
Expository Writing

Personally, I like this combination of writing projects as it offers a wide variety. The only one we probably wouldn't do is Science Fiction.  But we could easily sub in something different or tweak it to make it work for us.  We did accomplish the Letter of Invitation and the Personal Narrative Lessons in the past few months.  Both of which, we enjoyed.

Some more stuff we really liked...

  • Something I think is pretty awesome is that each Lesson has extension options that they call, "Want to Do More?"  This gives kids looking for something more related to the lesson another option or an extra challenge.  They also have a "Smaller Steps" option for a younger or more reluctant writer.

  • I love that this program encourages kids to read and to keep a book log.  We do this already, but I love how a writing program is including and acknowledging the importance of reading great books in the process of writing well.  Amen!

  • We also really enjoy all the interesting games and activities in this program (which I also wrote about right here).  There are so many great ideas for engaging kids in the thinking and writing process.  

Let me tell you about two of the activities we did:

The Incredible Shrinking Machine- this is a great one for practicing narrowing down a topic.  This is often called the topic funnel!  We started with a broad topic - Pets. Then, we would put that piece of paper in the "Incredible Shrinking Machine" and pull out a sheet of paper slightly smaller to narrow down our focus.  So, next, we would put "bunnies".  We kept doing this until we had a much more narrowed writing focus of a story about two pet bunnies we had adopted names Peter and Cottontail.

Punctuation Pointer Cards- This is so incredibly simple, but yet fun and effective.  There is a pile of tiny cards with words/statements on them.  Each statement is followed by a certain punctuation mark - period, exclamation point, or question mark.  We draw a card and read it the appropriate way, depending on punctuation.

My (very basic) Incredible Shrinking Machine.  This was a simple but effective way to help children learn how to narrow their topic and/or writing focus.

Storage was fairly easy once I cut out the activities from the Time-Saver Packs.  I love the variety of activities available.

More examples of some of the activities and games used in the Lessons:  Where in the World? Problem Cards,  Funny Sentence/Character Cards, and fun with Punctuation as well.

An example of some more of the Activities and Games that go along with the Lessons.

More games and activities.

Working on her Personal Narrative for Lesson 9.

Writer's Ruler - this was an activity we did in conjunction with the Personal Narrative project.  Children are encourage to take note of sentence length in a given narrative.  The idea is to encourage varying sentence length to create a more interesting piece of writing.

Playing a game to encourage personal oral narratives with prompts. 

And in conclusion... I'll share a little message I received from my daughter recently...  *smile*

I hope this post was helpful to you as you navigate homeschool curriculum options!  Blessings!

WriteShop • Inspiring successful writers.

*This post contains affiliate links*

Using Games and Manipulatives to make Writing Fun, Engaging, and Less Intimidating {with WriteShop Junior}

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Something I absolutely love about working on writing within our homeschool is the quality time in gives me with my children.  There's just something special about digging into your child's mind and pulling out the amazing ideas that are already there.  

I've got two boys, age 11 and 8, and one girl, age 9.  My daughter (Audrey) is working through WriteShop Junior Book D with me right now and she's really enjoying the journey.  There are quite a few elements that really work for her with regard to WriteShop, and I'd like to chat about them in a couple upcoming posts.  (I've had lots of requests for reviews of WriteShop, so here we go...!)

For this post, I'd love to talk about my experiences with games and manipulatives in the writing and language arts process.  I have found this easy-going, light-hearted and fun approach to work WONDERS for our children.

The funny thing?  It isn't what I gravitate towards.  If it were up to me, I wouldn't really choose this style of learning or presenting information.  BUT, I have seen how effective and fun it is for the children, so I tune in and do my best to implement games and hands-on learning into our language arts studies.

I first realized how much the kids would learn from games through our use of All About Reading Level 1 and Level 2.  That program is FULL of manipulatives, games, and interesting little activities to enforce reading and phonetic concepts.  (By the way, I LOVE All About Reading and have full reviews of Level 1 and Level 2, just click on the links!)

In many ways, WriteShop reminds my of All About Reading.  It is thorough, open-and-go, scripted (for those who want to use it), engaging, colorful, high quality, and gives you everything you need to present the concepts to your kiddos and have some fun doing it too.

"Come on, I've got a game for us to play..."

I can't express how many times I've pulled my kiddos in with this opening line. 

I mean, really - isn't it much more appealing to be asked to 'come play a game' than to 'come do work'?  I think so.  And sure, most kids are wise to the idea that the games and activities are really part of 'school' but they will happily engage if the activities are actually interesting and at least somewhat fun.

WriteShop has a pretty good chunk of time devoted to hands-on games and activities, all of which we've enjoyed.  These are created to go specifically with each chapter or writing project.  They help pull out vocabulary, emotion, narratives, and encourage kids in a less intimidating way than some other methods.

It's just so much easier to engage in a full activity to learn and practice new skills and concepts.  For those of us seeking a gentle, memorable learning experience for our kids, I highly encourage implementing this type of stuff in your homeschool.  Not only will the children have more fun, they will actually retain more of what they hear/do as well.

Some examples of WriteShop Activities and Games

Alright, so, if you're anything like me when considering a curriculum, you just want to know what exactly is included - I mean, give me the details.  Right?  Okay, here it goes... here are some of the games and activities we've done so far.

WriteShop comes with quite the packages (which I will cover next week in my full review).  There is the Teacher's Guide, the Student Worksheet Pack, the Fold-and-Go Grammar Packs, and I also got the Time Save Packs.  *whew!* 

Invitation Mix-Match

This activity completely engaged my daughter.  Basically, there are three different letters written and your child must correctly match up the parts of a letter to the correct one.  (Um, make sense?)  First, we discussed the different components of a letter of invitation.  These are:  Date, Salutation, Body, Closing, and Signature.

The three letters are cut up and mixed together, cut into pieces based on what part of the letter they are.  Now it's the child's job to match up the proper dates, salutations, closings, and signatures to the bodies that makes sense.  Great for tactile, visual learning.

After this activity, children work on their own letter of invitation.  My daughter did an invitation to Chicken Appreciation Day, because, well hens are largely under-appreciated in this world, you know.  *chuckle*  Love her.

Punctuation Pointer Cards 

These are fun!  So, there are several short sentences or statements on little white cards.  They include things like:

Turn left.
Grandma is here!
Be careful!

There are copies of each sentence with a different form of punctuation given for each.  For example, there will be:


Our job is to practice reading them as they are expressed, based on the punctuation.  We also practice the names of the difference punctuation marks.  Lots of fun to do together with goofy voices, silly expressions, and tons of enthusiasm.

Funny Situations Sentence Starters and Character Cards

This is a series of cards with two categories: Situations and Characters.  You take turns drawing cards together and making up silly situations and stories based upon what you draw.  For example:

"A funny thing happened when..."  (situation)

"two raccoons..." (characters)


"The baby giggled every time..." (situation)

"a group of monkeys..." (characters)

and so on.  Super fun, very engaging.  Love these little games and activities!

Another really fun activity - True Stories.  This was fun for both of us.  We spin the wheel, which will direct us to think about a personal experience using the prompts. "Last year, I...", "Last week, I...",  "Yesterday, I..." or "One time, I...".  Once you choose an experience, you draw a card. The card will give you a sensory prompt that asks the question, "What did you... taste/smell/see/touch/hear, etc."  Very interesting and engaging to work though.

How I chose to store our Student Worksheets and Time Save Packs/Activities.

So, don't underestimate the power of games and fun manipulatives in your homeschool.  And especially with writing.  We've been really enjoying our work with WriteShop Junior and I trust this post was helpful/inspiring to some of you!

Blessings.  My full review of WriteShop is coming next week!

WriteShop: Teaching writing has never been easier!

{This post contains affiliate links, thank you!}

Ideas for Embracing Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashanah (or The Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teruah) is one of the 3 Major Biblical Festivals.  The other two are Passover and Pentecost.

Rosh Hashanah is also the first of three very special fall festivals.  Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) follows 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. These days in between the two feasts are known as the Days of Awe and are a time of repentance, reflection, and rededication to the Lord.  

Then 5 days after Yom Kippur comes the beginning of the The Feast of Tabernacles!  It's an exciting time, friends!!!  All these fall feasts point us to Jesus and are a reason to reflect and celebrate!

If you are interested in the Biblical Feasts, I really recommend you pray, do some soul seeking, some honest-to-goodness research, read God's word, and seek reliable resources.  It is so powerful and humbling and EYE OPENING to learn more about the Biblical Holidays and what they mean for followers of Christ Jesus!

Ideas for Simple Ways to Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets:

Enjoy a special 'feast' together as a family.

It doesn't have to be an all-out-stress-you-out feast to be special.  The idea is to keep it simple and enjoyable... yes?  So, keep it simple.  Some simple ideas include, lighting candles, setting out some napkins or a table cloth, including a meaningful center-piece, cooking something out of the ordinary, or maybe even just add a really special dessert to the meal.  

Read God's Word together.

What I love SO MUCH about the biblical feasts is the abundance of prophetic and scriptural references.  There are tones of awesome scriptures that tie in to the theme of Rosh Hashanah.  Some include, Psalm 82 (a Psalm completely dedicated to the Feast of Trumpets!), the account of creation and scriptures about Messiah's return, as well as the traditional Psalm 27.  You can pick and choose a ton of your own readings by looking up passages with the themes of the Jewish New Year, Christ's Royalty and Kingship, the Day of Judgement, Remembrance of God's goodness, and the "birth" day of the world.

Make or buy 'Shofars' and have fun blowing them.

Our good friends actually own a Shofar, which is so neat. We, however, do not.  And... I'll go out of a limb and say most people probably don't own a Shofar.  The Shofar, however, is a huge part of the Feast of Trumpets!  What to do...

Make or buy your own 'Shofars'!  I've seen people use party noise makers, little horns, and even make Shofars out of cardboard tubes, etc.  There are tons of ideas for various crafts, which I tried to link to on my Pinterest board for Rosh Hashanah.

While having fun making and blowing your own Shofars, discuss the significance of the Shofar with regard to the themes of the Feast of Trumpets and Christ's triumphant return!

Learn more about the significance of the Shofar right here.

Have Apples and Honey and say a special blessing.  

The theme of apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah reminds us of our prayer for a sweet and fruitful new year.  It reminds me also of the Fruits of the Spirit and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit and walking with Him.

Slice up some apples and take turns dipping slices in fresh honey and enjoying the sweetness of the treat.  A special blessing: "Be it thy will, Oh Lord and Savior, that a good and sweet year be renewed to us/you/me!"

You could also learn this special traditional blessing -

"L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu!" (May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for a good year!)

Response -

"Gamzu!" (Also to you.)

Also - There are tons of delicious apple and honey recipes that can be made together as a family.  You could try and apple crumble or pie, caramel apples, honey muffins, honey cakes, whatever you like!  Then, why not make extra to share with friends and neighbors?

Make Challah bread (maybe even in the shape of a crown?) and enjoy communion together.

One of the themes of Rosh Hashanah is Kingship and Coronation.  For us, this is a focus on God Almighty as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords... Jesus as the King of our hearts and of this world.  I've seen some really beautiful Challahs made in the shape of a crown for this feast.  Here's a good tutorial.

Have a Casting of the Stones Ceremony

Also called, Tashlikh, which means to 'cast off' or 'cast away'.  A group of people would gather together at a body of water (river/stream/pond) and have a time of worship, prayer, scripture reading, or whatever they feel led to do.  Each person will bring either small pebbles or crumbs or leavened bread to empty our of their pockets and toss into the water at the given time.  This symbolizes the casting away of our sins.

There are many traditional links to this ceremony including, Abraham's sacrifice of his son and God's faithfulness to provide the ram, the coronation of Kings next to water, and the life that comes from water (Christ is the Living Water!)

For Christians, this is also a reminder and a symbolic act to give thanks and honor Christ Jesus who, through His sacrifice on the cross, washed our sins away and made us new again through the power of His blood.  

This would be such a wonderful thing to do with young children - so visual and symbolic and a great reminder in preparation for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  I'd encourage you to look more into this meaningful tradition and decide for your own family what might and might not inspire you.

Other Possible Ideas...

A few other ideas I thought of included visiting an Apple Orchard together, doing apple taste testing with honey, making crafty crowns, painting a picture of celebration, taking a nature walk and observing the ultimate beauty of our world - giving thanks for God's amazing creation.

I really love Michelle's ideas in her post, "Feast of Trumpet Ideas for Little Ones", be sure to check it out!  *smile*

As always, I highly recommend checking out The Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays.

Also, feel free to follow my Rosh Hashanah /Yom Kippur board of Pinterest for more ideas... 

Autumn Nature Studies from NaturExplorers... oh, how I love Fall...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It is no secret I love the NaturExplorer Nature Study Units from Shining Dawn Books.  I thought I would share some of the great nature studies available for the Autumn season.

This is such a beautiful time of year for so many of us - Harvest, leaves changing colour, cool nights, sunny, wind-blown days.  Pumpkins, corn stalks, wheat bundles, Mums on the door step... oh, how I LOVE Autumn!  It is also a fantastic season for all kinds of nature studies!

If you are looking for easy, hands-on, ready-to-go Nature Studies, the NaturExplorers units are a great option.  

What is included in the NaturExplorer Units?

There is SO much in these amazing unit studies!

These are very Charlotte Mason-friendly. Cindy has packed the pages full of incredible ideas and inspirations to jump start all kinds of nature study as well as notebooking and nature journaling.  The guides are easy to use and very well laid out.   They are also good for quite the age range, with ideas to carry you from preschool to even high school depending on how you use the information and how you direct your student.

Some of the elements include:

Getting Started - Literature Launch gives a list of recommended children's literature to inspire and introduce the concepts of the study (love this so much!), Inspiration Point and A Bit of Background offer the 'teacher' a chance to gain quick and easy basic understanding of the motivation behind the study and some background knowledge before heading into nature study both in and out of doors.

Getting Outside - Nature Walks and Outside Activities (the core of the curriculum) is the section where Cindy has written so many great topic-related ideas for getting outside!  This is exactly what I was looking for since the simple, "Hey let's go for a walk," doesn't always captivate my kids anymore.  

Branching Out - This section goes more in depth and, well, branches out on the topic of study.  There are many ideas for hands-on science experiments and activities, vocabulary and scientific concepts (this one includes a look at Allen's Rule, Bergmann's Rule, The Egg Rule, and Gloger's rule, along with discussions and activities for the concepts of adaptation, camouflage, how to make your yard animal and bird friends, and much more.)

In the Branching Out section, you will also find a ton (really!) of ideas for research, study and creative writing.  The ideas are so many and so varied that I mentioned to my husband that I would surely keep these units for years to come and pull them out during the applicable seasons to use as a launching pad for Nature Study over and over again.  Cindy gives hundreds of ideas that could serve as a very engaging springboard for all ages.

Bible, Poetry, Artist and Picture Study, and Composer and Music Study:

I love the Bible Lessons from His Creation section.  This highlights multiple verses and chunks of scripture that relate to the topic of study.  We used Matthew 6:28-30 as our copywork in our Nature Journals.

Poetry Place includes several titles of theme-related poems and suggested books of poetry.  For this unit, we printed off all the poems and read them aloud.  We used Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field as a nature journal page and learned more about the Canada Geese from Handbook of Nature Study. when we used Coping with the Cold this winter.

I was so excited to discover the Artist and Picture Study References included as well.  What a wonderful addition to any Nature Study!  Cindy gives great suggestions for kid-friendly picture study with artists and artwork related to the topic.  We really gravitated towards studying works by Robert Bateman for our Coping with the Cold unit and it was wonderful.  

Composer and Music References offers some lovely ideas for music study related to the specific theme of the given Nature Study unit.

There are also many notebooking pages to use within your home and homeschool for each unit - so many I couldn't list them all!  Each page pairs easily with the content within the unit study and can be printed off as needed!

Seriously, amazing resources!

So, specifically for Autumn, let's take a look at these -

Remember, there are easily downloadable samples of all the NaturExplorer Units on the Shining Dawn Books site.

Delightful Deciduous Trees

In our area, we have so many delightful deciduous trees changing colours in the Autumn.  What a perfect time for the Delightful Deciduous Trees unit!

Here's some of what this unit includes (from the Shining Dawn site):  "Delightful Deciduous Trees comes with a huge amount of notebooking pages – Nineteen!  Some are seasonal scavenger hunts, others focus on tree parts, tree life and tree comparisions. The notebooking pages alone will keep you busy for quite some time! However, there are many additional ideas for studying trees outdoors. From leaves to bark to tree critters, ideas abound for detailed observation.
At home, you can choose from such things as making chlorophyll prints, graphing leaves or completing a transpiration experiment. You might also choose to learn more about photosynthesis, fungi, deciduous forests, state trees, erosion control, etc."

Fruits and Nuts

We absolutely LOVE checking out all the wonderful fruits and nuts that appear in the Autumn season.  This is why I chose Fruits and Nuts for Autumn Nature Study.  Some details from the site:

"This unit will not only have you observing and examining fruits and nuts, you will learn to observe insect and animal behavior, watch for the effects of disease or weather on plants and be challenged to create meals, make models, create history reports and so much more!
The outdoor and indoor activity ideas abound in this 64 page unit that includes 16 notebooking pages.  We’ve also included a slight focus on the Fruits of the Spirit in the Bible section with additional book, music and activity ideas to follow through with Biblical character training.  This is a well-rounded unit chock-full of lessons to fit every academic area!"

Remarkable Rain

I don't know about you, but in our area we get a TON of rain the Autumn months!  So, maybe a great time for a Nature Study about rain?  We haven't done the Remarkable Rain NaturExplorers unit, but I would love to get it.  
Here are some details from the site:  "Remarkable Rain will encourage you to observe the details of an approaching rain system through such things as the five senses and art journaling.  You’ll actually get outside in the rain (when the weather is safe) to examine, experiment and make notes about a variety of topics including erosion, run-off, plant and animal behaviors and much more!  And, you’ll get outside soon after the rain for many more activities such as photography, soil discoveries, and witnessing the water cycle to name just a few.
Inside, continue your discoveries through hands-on experiments and demonstrations that will help you understand more about the hows and whys of rain.  As usual, we’ve also included several art ideas.  In the Hands-On and Writing & Research sections, learn about the water cycle, weather fronts, erosion, pollution, storms, rainbows, plant and animal adaptations, rain forests, deserts  – the list goes on and on.  Eighteen notebooking pages are included, too!"

The Autumn Bundle

I think the Autumn Bundle would be a great way to dive into Autumn Nature Study with Delightful Deciduous Trees and Fruits and Nuts, then keep on going through the Winter with Coping with the Cold.  We used Coping with the Cold for about 3 or 4 months this past Winter and LOVED it.  You can see our full review right here.  It included quite a bit of pre-winter content, which made me wish I had started it sooner!  So, yes, this would make a great Autumn and into Winter study and bundle.

The great thing about investing in Nature Study Units like these is they are completely non-consumable!  This means, you can print them out, put them in a notebook or binder and use them year after year.  There are so many ideas in them, you will never do every activity or nature exploration.  We used Coping with the Cold last year, but we will certainly pull it out again this year!

Some more of my faves that would work well for Autumn...

Incredible Creeks

We used this unit over the Summer.  It is full of great ideas for studying not only creeks, but streams, rivers, lakes, you name it.  This would work well in the Autumn, as it is often recommended to study creeks and watershed areas in Autumn!

Incredible Creeks  includes: looking at the Water Cycle, completing detailed observations on both a large and small scale plus accompanying Notebooking pages, Wading Scavenger Hunt, observing rocks and collecting pebbles, finding and exploring waterfalls, discussing the various parts of watershed areas, looking at tree roots, identifying and journaling about Wild Flowers, looking for signs of a Healthy Creek, looking at amphibians, monitoring and charting creek temperatures, and tons more.

There are also ideas for making a model of a creek, drawing a cross-section mural of a creek,  and several really interesting science experience to help understand watersheds, erosion, and creek habitats.  Writing ideas include things like creating lyric poems, researching and writing about a famous gold rush, and learning and writing about dams.

There are multiple scriptures included in the unit that relate to life, water, and God's care and provision for His children as well as songs

Peaceful Ponds

Some of the hands-on ideas in the Peaceful Ponds unit include: Creating an underwater sampler, using a strainer to find live creatures in a pond, identifying specific pond plants and sketching and labelling parts in your Nature Journal, identifying and note booking the four main zones where pond plants grow, creating a map of your pond and surrounding areas, watching for birds/insects and create stories about their adventures, dissecting a pond plant, looking at pond water under a microscope, and looking at various pond animals.  

There are scriptures tied into baptism, creation, and God's hand in nature.    Poetry includes poems from Matsuo Basho, Alfred Noyes, and Eleanor Ferjeon and suggests a beautiful poetry book that specifically covers Pond Poems.  Picture Study includes Claude Monet, Cezanne, and Rousseau, and Renoir!

There are over 25 amazing suggested read-alouds to go with this unit as well as numerous note-booking pages to print-out and use along with the hands-on activities and learning.

Captivating Clouds

I love this unit study.  As I flip through all the wonderful ideas and suggestions for studying clouds, I'm reminded just how vast and beautiful our world is and how awesome our God is.

Here are just some of the ideas from Captivating Clouds: learn to identify different types of clouds, observe and journal clouds on a nature walk using an identification chart, keep a log of the cloud types you see every day, use a compass to identify the direction clouds are moving, learn about water vapour,  identify shapes in clouds, observe and journal about colours found in clouds, write Haiku, sculpt clouds using clay, learn the five main cloud components, learn about condensation, evaporation, and precipitation, make 'fruit in a cloud' for a snack, and so much more!

For writing ideas, suggestions include: make a chart showing cloud levels and altitudes, create an accordion book about fog types,  research, illustrate, and write a paragraph about Interesting Cloud Names, and several more engaging writing topics.

Multiple biblical references and readings are provided along with poetry suggestions.  Art and Picture Study includes Van Gogh, Monet and Norman Rockwell, among others.  Also has composer suggestions and numerous suggested fiction and non-fiction titles to work with the study of clouds.

Creative Nature Walks

This is such a great resource!  Who couldn't use 100+ 'easy and fun' Nature Walk ideas on hand to pull from?  I have used this at the drop of a hat, literally as we're walking out the door.  The ideas a varied in age range, length of time require, prep-time (most require none), and ease.  

Some of the ideas include: ABC's of Nature (I recently posted about our ABC walk here), Adjectives Abound - describing things in nature using adjectives, Below My Knees- noticing and journal things found below 'knee' level, Collect and Create - collect things that are no longer living on your walk, bring them home, and get creative, Fly By- noticing and identifying things found in air, and on and on it goes!  Honestly, this is an amazing Nature Study resource for any family to have on hand!  

I highly recommend it! 

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground