Being A Naturalist In The Digital Age-An Excerpt From The Naturalist’s Notebook

“These days, the notion of using a pencil or pen to write down natural history observations in a journal sounds almost quaint, even to my ears. So, a word of explanation is in order about the advantages and disadvantages of writing versus typing, and of paper versus electronic spreadsheets.

My own motivation for maintaining a hand-written natural history journal is simply to attune myself to the world around me, and a journal suits me well. If my primary objective were to combine my quantitative observation with other researcher’s, or to advance global knowledge by contributing to a citizen science data-base, or to communicate quickly with friends, then I would type my observations directly online.Both approaches are fine, but they have fundamentally different aims. In fact, I routinely use both approaches in my work.

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For several reasons, however, I prefer the “old-fashioned way” of writing down backyard natural history observations. All I need is my journal and a pencil, and I like the intimate feel of a book in my hand. Handwriting helps me focus in a different way than when I’m typing ; research suggests that handwriting actually changes the brain function, making it more likely that I will remember what I’ve seen. Jotting down a note on a paper is fast, but even if writing took more time than logging data on a computer, I cherish the chance to slow life down, to saunter for a moment rather than sprint. I can always enter natural history observations into a spreadsheet later on.

Nevertheless, if you prefer to maintain your observations in a spreadsheet, on a tablet, on a smartphone, or in the cloud, that is perfectly fine. There are real advantages to having your observations in a digital spreadsheet such as Excel. For example, if you have a large number of related observations, spreadsheets allow you to select, sort, and organize them by species, date, or any other variable. With spreadsheets, you can easily access your data and manipulate it, perform statistical analyses, and graph the results, and it’s effortless to create backup copies of your records.”

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This is coming soon to our store! 

Which way do you prefer to journal?

 

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Hello New School Year!

It’s back to homeschool around here, and we couldn’t be more excited to begin a brand new season filled with brand new goals. Our goals may seem small, but we found that they make such a huge difference in our homeschool days! Here are three of our daily “musts” for this school semester…

 

  1. Getting up an hour (okay, 20 minutes) before the littles.

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Having an hour to drink some coffee (while it’s still hot), get some laundry done, and breakfast prepped, is so important for us. It sets the tone for the rest of the day, and we don’t feel rushed and behind when the kids wake up.

 

2. Get outdoors more!

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Even if we just go to the backyard for 10 minutes with a magnifying glass, it makes such a huge difference in our day. The fresh air, sunshine, and quietness are so good for our souls! Shop our favorite nature journals here!

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”

 

3. Free time play!

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Giving our littles time to think and explore on their own is when real growth, discovery, and learning takes place!

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

 

Do you have any “musts” for your school days? 🙂

Enjoying an Indiana Summer!

Summer is officially here, and it has been nothing less than amazing thus far! It’s about creek stomping, firefly catching, and seemingly endless daylight. It’s about creating a whole new batch of memories and remembering those of days past. It’s slowing down. It’s cherishing the moment. Because this season too will pass.

Here in central Indiana, we have a lot of parks. We have over 12 within 20 minutes of our house! Needless to say, there is always plenty to choose from when choosing a day outing. Here are a few local events we’re looking forward to attending this summer!

#1. Bamboo Wind Chimes

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Create your own natural wind chime while learning about wind and what causes the wind to blow! What will your whimsical wind chime look like?
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$3/project (up to 2 people per project).

 

#2. Lil’ Explorers 

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Get to know the various kinds of animals that visit or live at McCloud Nature Park, visit the Bee House, and build a simple bird feeder to take home. For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#3. Young Adventurers Camp

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Look for animals, build a shelter, and go on an adventure! Become an expert of all kinds of McCloud animals.
For kids ages 6-12.

 

#4. Creek Critters and Bugs

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Step into the natural habitat of our local aquatic creatures! Together we will capture water insects to see how healthy Big Walnut Creek’s ecosystem is. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes in the creek to protect your feet. A towel and extra shoes and socks are also recommended, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#5. Nature’s Floral Fireworks

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Nature is bursting with color in the summer and putting on a vibrant display just in time for the 4th of July! Learn to identify some of our native wildflowers and discover which ones will complement your landscaping!
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, natural and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.

 

#6. Firefly Night Hike

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Learn why fireflies flash (and why they never have to pay an electric bill!), and catch and release these bioluminescent insects! Registered participants will receive glow sticks and insect jars. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$5/person.

 

#7. Fly Fishing for Beginners

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Have you ever wanted to try fly fishing? Learn the basics of fly fishing during this hands-on program. We will go over some of the local fish that you can catch, as well as assemble fly fishing rods and practice casting on land. No fishing license is needed, as this is on land only. Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 13+.

 

#8. Bald Eagles

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These majestic birds have recovered from their endangered status, and it is much more common to spot bald eagles now. With any luck, we’ll see our national bird flying along Big Walnut Creek! Be sure to bring your camera and a water bottle, and wear comfortable hiking shoes as we learn all about these regal creatures who double as our national symbol. 
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, grass and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#9. Mud Soup!

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Get messy! Help make mud soup and mud pies, paint with natural materials, create natural crafts, and play outdoor games.
For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#10. Creek Stomp Hike #2

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Cool off and enjoy a splashing good time in Big Walnut Creek! Stomp in the water with Naturalists to learn about the health of the creek and to discover some great places to explore! Wear closed-toe water shoes or old sneakers, bring towels, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
Recommended for ages 6+.

 

 

A Charlotte Mason Summer

Summer is here  (we still can’t believe it)! With that being said, it’s time to step back and enjoy some calmness. One of our favorite things about the Charlotte Mason method is that it promotes short lessons, outdoor time, nature, books, and narration. Perfect for the calm summer we so often seek.  Here are some fun Charlotte Mason inspired activities to enjoy this beautiful summer!

National Sunglasses Day (4)

Teaching Kids How To Use A Map And Compass

Learning To Embroider 

Washing Farm Animals Sensory Bin

Weather Stones

Color Changing Flowers

Flower Fine Motor Activity

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

Painting Sunflowers

Nature Suncatchers 

Leaf Threading

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Light and Shadow Painting

Rock Balancing

Making Mandala Art

Make A Stick Picture Frame

Name That Tree

Journey Sticks

Nature Cuffs

Bark Rubbings

Using the Senses Outdoors 

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Art and Nature Study with Beatrix Potter

How To Start A Family Nature Journal

Nature Journal For Kids

Nature Journal With Twig Binding

How To Make A Nature Display 

Printable Nature Journal

Julia Rothman Nature Journal Guides

Nature Log

Keeping A Nature Journal

Nature Observer

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5 Free Living Book For Nature Study

Billy and Blaze Series 

Living Forest Series 

Nature Reader Series

Robby-Bird Life

The Locust Story

A Horse Called Willing

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Learning From the Book of Nature

 

Nature Sensory Activities

Being outdoors has incredible benefits, and with spring being just a few months away, we’re compiling some of our favorite sensory activities for littles!

#1. Mud Pie Kitchen

 

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Some of our favorite memories were those of making mud “food”. We would mold the mud into whatever our imaginations created and then would paint the creations once they dried. 

 

 

#2. Creek Wading

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#3. Pine Cone Sorting

 

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Our little guy loves to gather all the different pinecones and sort them according to size. 

 

 

#4. Leaf Threading

 

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A thin stick will work just as well for threading leaves together. This is another one of our favorites!

 

 

#5. Stone Sorting

 

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Grab a little bucket, and let them start a collection!

 

 

#6. Lots of Grass

 

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Playing in the grass is one of the best sensory things to do with littles!

 

 

#7.  Tree Bark Rubbing/Art

 

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Take a large piece of paper and hold it (or tape it) on the tree. Then take some chalk and gently rub the paper over the bark! The results are beautiful! 

 

 

#8. Barefoot Sensory Walk

 

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You can walk on grass, small pebbles, sand, mud, and so much more!

 

 

#9. Water Play

 

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Playing with water can inspire so much imagination! 

 

 

#10. Chalk

 

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If you have a smooth surface and some chalk, the possibilities are endless! 

 

 

Achievable Goals for 2018

These are some of our goals for 2018!

 

#1. Get Outdoors!

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It’s easy to get caught up in the daily little tasks. This year, we’re making time to simply be. 

 

#2. Plan Ahead

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 Taking time to prepare on the weekends, make such a huge difference in how our week goes! We prep meals, plan our lessons, and take time to rest.

 

#3. Declutter

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Clean room, clean mind!

 

#4. Read More

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There are so many wonderful books on our reading list this year!

 

#5. Try New Food

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We don’t branch out from what we know too often, so we’re looking forward to trying new things this year!

 

#6. Make Time For What Truly Matters

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Stop, unplug, and savor. 

 

#7. Travel

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Even though we travel a lot for work, we’re looking forward to planning some extra trips to explore new areas!

 

#8. Camping

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We can’t wait for some October camping this fall!

 

#9. Nature Journaling

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Take time to be observant of nature!

 

#10. Perfect Something New

 

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Attempting to write an original is on this bucket list!

 

 

 

Have any more ideas!? We would LOVE to hear!

Our Favorite Science Curriculum for 2018!

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

Science has always been a favorite subject around here. We love the hands-on learning aspect that it entails, which is one of the many reasons why we have greatly enjoyed Dr. Jay L. Wile’s science curriculum! Science in the Beginning is the first book in the hands-on, multilevel elementary science series that introduces scientific concepts using history as its guide. The beginning of history is given in the Bible’s creation account, and this book uses the days of creation as a way of introducing a wide range of scientific concepts including the nature of light, energy conservation, the properties of air and water, introductory botany, our solar system, basic zoology, and some aspects of human anatomy and physiology. As the students learn about these scientific concepts, they are constantly reminded of the Creator who fashioned the marvels they are studying.

Another HUGE reason why we love this series is the lab kits that go with it! Although many of the items may be easy to find at home or stores close by, this kit makes it a lot easier to do the experiments by having the items gathered together all in one box ready to use. It’s been a great timesaver and actually makes all the experiments doable. Win!

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The others in the series are Science in the Ancient World, Science in the Scientific Revolution, Science in the Age of Reason, and Science in the Industrial Age. All come with the option of the full experiment lab kit!

 

_My goal is to build a life I don't need a vacation from._ (20)