Thursday, October 27, 2022

Weekly Lessons for All Grade Levels

Here are some Lesson Plan Ideas for this week, including Nature Journaling and Math in Nature.

Language Arts

- Why Nature Journaling works: "The long-time industrialized approach, the so-called factory model of schooling, has failed many.... Nature journaling, by helping learners become observant or immersed in, and reflective on, the world around them, sets the stage for lifelong self-learning from primary sources.... It incorporates sciences, local social and natural history, math, language, art, and physical education into one, integrated practice." (Clare Walker Leslie, from Keeping a Nature Journal).

- Read about the learning workshops based on Keeping a Nature Journal by author Clare Walker Leslie.

- See examples of Nature Journaling from the book entitled My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People.

- Create a unique, artistically inspired Nature Journal of your own.

- Books on Nature Journaling: My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People by Adrienne Olmstead. Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles Roth. Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Nature Experiences by Deanna Brandt.

- As you write about and sketch scenes from Nature, immerse yourselves in Nature activities, such as rock collecting, leaf collages, nature scavenger hunts, inspecting animal tracks, insects, plants, and pond life. After sketching and investigating, notice how children begin seeing their world differently and more clearly.

- Journal writing activities: Have children regularly compose poems or songs based on some of their Nature sketches. Have them create imaginative stories revolving around topics inspired by their Nature Journals, such as a bird's travels, a rabbit's adventures, a tree's history, a flower's hopes, a seed's beginnings and future, a stream's journey, etc.

Social Studies

- View the beautifully illustrated Nature Journal of Aleta Karstad. Discuss the ways that sketches and writings from Nature can document the history and ongoing changes of a place.

- See how to make and keep a Nature Journal, according to John Muir, the inspiration for and first president of the Sierra Club. Read "What Is a Nature Journal" then "Make Your Own Journal."

- Learn more about John Muir, read his biography, and read quotes by John Muir at the Sierra Club site (

- Use your Nature Journal to document the history of places near you. Sketch the way they appear today and date your sketches. Sketch the same scenes a month from now, and three months from now, remembering to date the sketches each time. Discuss the changes and how the areas might have looked 100 years ago, and 100 years from now.

- Take field trips to places of interest nearby, bringing along your Nature Journal. Sketch new buildings or stores that now stand where fields or woods once stood. Research the history of those areas. Find previous photos of those locations and sketch how the area once looked. How have the changes affected your community? What are the positive and the negative effects of the changes?

- Determine if any upcoming changes, developments, or new construction are being planned for your community. Sketch those areas as they appear today, before the changes or construction occur. Sketch the locations periodically, as the changes progress. You will have a graphic and descriptive history of those areas, which you can share with others in the future.

- If you sketch and document changes within your community, consider donating your Nature Journal to your local library or as an exhibit for special events at your local museum.


- Research Math in Nature. Learn about Fibonacci numbers in Nature, patterns in Nature, and spirals in Nature.

- Fibonacci numbers can also be seen in flower petals and seed heads. Find flowers or seed heads in nature and sketch them. Or sketch those that you find on the Internet. Label and date your sketches in your Nature Journal.

- Learn more about Fibonacci numbers in flowers, shells, trees, leaf arrangements, pinecones, pineapples, and more.

- Find pinecones or view pinecones on the Internet. Then sketch your pinecones, noting the spirals in the cone.

- Make bird feeders from your pinecones for your backyard friends, too.


- Create a "Backyard Wildlife Scrapbook" of your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

- Investigate the animals and plants, make your own "animal cards" or "plant cards", construct dioramas or poster displays of their habitats and ecosystems, and write reports or label your projects with descriptive paragraphs.

- Get more Nature Journal ideas from the Smithsonian's richly illustrated "Introduction to the Nature Journal".

- Create Journal pages for recording nature observations and drawing sketches of what you see each day.

- Remember to encourage your children's enthusiasm, ideas, and activities, and run with them! Allow them to lead you in new and varied directions, for fun, well-rounded learning your children will remember for a lifetime!

Life Skills

- The process of sketching and drawing helps children to learn how to focus in the "here-and-now." The end results of their artwork help children see how "effort correlates to results."

- Accomplishments and improvements in drawing capabilities show children how "practice makes perfect". They will see, and better understand, that building skills does require time and effort. But they'll also see that the process is fun and inspirational, making skill-building all the more enjoyable and worthwhile.

- Sketch "everyday life" scenarios, such as mom doing yard work, dad cooking, siblings doing daily chores, the family playing games together, family members caring for or playing with pets, the mail carrier delivering mail, the neighbor taking out the trash, etc.

- Read "Getting Back to Nature with Your Kids" ( and "Nature and Kids" ( Then discuss ways to enjoy the outdoors, while staying safe and healthy at the same time.

- Brainstorm all the fun outdoor activities you could take part in and make a list of them.

Arts and Music

- Create a unique Nature Journal and always keep it handy.

- Try illustrations from Aleta Karstad's journal.

- Listen to your favorite music while sketching, drawing, or painting. See if the music helps to inspire your drawings, or does it hinder your inspiration? What types of music are most enjoyable to listen to while you're drawing?

- Try drawing birds and learn about John James Audubon.

Check back often for more lesson plan ideas to come!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Learn Something New Every Day!

Learn something new – every day - with a book!

Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida hard at the end of September. For the first 2 weeks of October, thousands of families were without electricity, drinkable water, and many without a roof over their heads. Several schools were damaged, as well, and school was postponed for two or more weeks.

In addition to all the worries parents experienced during and after the hurricane, many also worried about their children falling behind.

Without power in their homes, they had no Internet access, and children couldn’t even connect virtually to schools, courses, or teachers.

Without water in their homes, kitchen science or hands-on experiments weren’t easily doable, nor were many crafts kids might normally do.

Simply surviving each day, and performing basic everyday tasks – without water or electricity – understandably consumed much of the family’s time, energy, and emotional and mental capacity. Caring for families, pets, neighbors, and devastated communities, without basic amenities we are all accustomed to, has been a daily challenge for them.

Several families turned to libraries and books as a way to keep their children learning during that time. For a while, libraries were closed, roads were closed, and gasoline was in short supply, so even trips to the library weren’t always a possibility.

That’s when many families gave their “home libraries” a closer look, finding books they had forgotten about or revisiting favorite books from an “educational perspective.”

Imagine what could be learned from reading and discussing the morals or lessons conveyed in books such as the following.

Then, going further and encouraging children to draw or color favorite scenes from the books, to write or deliver short book reports, and to create or compose their own stories, perhaps imagined or inspired from reading favorite books such as these:

* The Little Engine That Could
* The Ugly Duckling
* The Runaway Bunny
* Velveteen Rabbit
* Where the Wild Things Are
* The Giving Tree
* Town Mouse and Country Mouse
* Grimm’s Fairy Tales
* Aesop’s Fables
* Magic Treehouse
* The Incredible Journey
* Black Beauty
* Sounder
* Little House in the Big Woods
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
* Treasure Island
* Hatchet
* My Side of the Mountain
* Robinson Crusoe
* Swiss Family Robinson
* Wrinkle in Time
* Phantom Tollbooth
* Diary of Anne Frank
* To Kill a Mockingbird

These are just a few of the books that might be on the shelves of your home library. And they are full of wisdom, insight, and learning for any age.

Books can provide not only an escape from daily challenges during a hurricane - or any other time - but also offer reading enjoyment as they provide glimpses into another time or place.

Books such as these can touch on historic events, social events, survival strategies, and ways that children and families can overcome challenging circumstances or worries, no matter how big or small.

When you might grow concerned that your children are “falling behind” or “not learning enough,” just reach for a book. Something new is learned every time a book is opened!

Happy homeschooling!