Nature Study: Big Horn Sheep

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We recently did a nature study with our kids about Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. They are frequently sighted on the side of I-70 near Georgetown, Colorado. My husband spotted a large group of them so we exited and slowly approached and observed them for a while. We kept our distance because whenever they moved across the steep slope rocks would slide down and threaten our minivan.
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We spotted 2 ewes, 1 ram and a lamb.
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The next day we read and Bud narrated from The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock about common traits and habits of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep. We also read the story about Isaac and Abraham from Genesis 22. We watched several National Geographic YouTube videos about rams competing by head butting each other. Clack! The noises apparently be heard for miles.
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The next Tuesday, we drew pictures of the sheep in our nature notebooks.
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Peanut – Age 5

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Bud – Age 7

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My journal entry

It can be hard to venture out into the single digit temperatures this time of the year to enjoy nature study so we jump at any opportunity to see wildlife up close. The kids had fun studying these amazing creatures.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Genesis 22:13

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Nature Study: Crayfish

In October, we enjoyed a wonderful nature study discovery at a little pond in our neighborhood…crayfish! We started by finding several shells and talked about the molting process.
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Then we found raccoon prints in the shallow parts of the lake. We read several books in the following week about raccoons to learn more and see the connection they have with crayfish.
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We found a large crayfish that had recently died and floated to shore. It was about 6 inches long!
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We also looked in the brook nearby and found several smaller crayfish that were 1-2″ long.
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The next day we came back with our nets in the hopes of catching a few crayfish to bring home and observe. The kids had fun exploring the ponds and nearby brooks. We didn’t find any crayfish, but we watched a friendly mallard duck and 3 small snakes.
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We reviewed the anatomy of a crayfish in our Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock and then we all spent time drawing crayfish in our nature notebooks.

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We also read and Bud narrated several great books about crustaceans and raccoons.

  • Lobster’s Secret, by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck
  • Hermit Crab’s Home: Safe in a Shell, by Janet Halfmann and Bob Dacey & Debra Bandelin
  • Dancing on the Sand: A Story of an Atlantic Blue Crab, by Kathleen M. Hollenbeck and Joanie Popeo
  • Character Sketches from the Pages of Scripture, Illustrated in the World of Nature, Vol. 1, by Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts
  • Raccoon At Clear Creek Road, by Carolyn Otto

It was a wonderful study and we enjoyed being outside in the clean, fresh air making discoveries and observations.

Nature Study: Pine Cones

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We studied pine cones this week during our nature study walk. Our home is surrounded by century-old ponderosa pines so pine cones are a common part of our backyard life here in Colorado.
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The kids had fun crunching the pine cones on the ground.
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We collected 3 different species of pine cones. The first one we came across was a spruce. The cone had light brown flakes around it.
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Next, we found a white pine. Its cone had sharp prickles on each section protecting the seeds.
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Lastly, we found a lodgepole pine cone. We could only find dark gray cones on the ground. It was rounded with sections more spread out. These beautiful trees towered above us on our walk.
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At home later that week, we read from The Handbook of Nature Study about pine cones. We found out that each section has two seeds inside and each seed has a wing that acts like a helicopter to carry the seeds away in the wind. We all drew the 3 species of pine cones in our journals.
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Bud – Age 7

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Peanut – Age 5

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My journal entry

After our journal time, quite by accident, we found some of the seeds. Someone dropped one of the pine cones on the floor and little seeds with wings came flying out. We went outside and threw the other cones on the ground and seeds came tumbling out of those as well. We had fun examining the cones – it made for a fun fall nature study.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls. Proverbs 11:30

Living History Day – A Glimpse into 1775

Today we enjoyed a wonderful homeschool field trip to the Vision Heir’s Living History Days to experience what life was like 250 years ago for the early colonists. There were wonderful activities and many ways for the kids to really see what daily life was like.
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There was a real working blacksmith display. The kids got to use the large billows to fuel the fire.
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There was a cider demonstration with samples of freshly made cider and a real cider press.
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A military band marched through providing authentic drum and flute music.
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Bud got to try his hand at sawing a log and then we listened to a gentleman tell us about different tools that were used at the time in carpentry.
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We listened to Patrick Henry give a spirited speech about the Olive Branch Petition that was sent to Britain in 1775.
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Bud got to see first hand how water was brought from rivers to the home for a wash basin. It really made us appreciate our laundry machine!
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There were some wonderful demonstrators who taught the kids what it was like as the colonists prepared for war. Even our little squirt enjoyed holding a pretend gun and saying “POW!”
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We watched a Military Drill reenactment. Bud said that watching the cannon fire was his favorite part of the event.
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To finish the day, the older two kids dipped candles in hot wax to see how our ancestors made candles. It will be fun to light them at home and see how they burn.
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My kids had a wonderful time at this event. We appreciated the hard work of the Vision Heirs organization. We are studying American History in our homeschool so it was so great to experience it all first hand.


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Little House on the Prairie Cornbread – Homeschool Activity

Nature Study: Yarrow

Throughout the months from March to October in Colorado, you can find little groups of white flowers at your feet. These little umbels of flowers are called yarrow. We recently made them the focus of our weekly nature walk. My kids, husband and I headed to the high country and hiked along a path at 10,000 feet and found many of these flowers.
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The kids discovered a visual treasure as they looked closely at each individual flower. I am always amazed at the intricate nature of God’s amazing creation.
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We pulled one plant up to examine the roots. The kids were amazed to find a purple taproot! We later saw and learned that many of these flowers can be a pinkish color.
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We also carefully looked at plants still in a bud state. The leaves were fern-like and spread out on the stem in a Fibonacci sequence.
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Later that week, during our nature journaling time, we read from our Rocky Mountain Wildflowers book that the plant was used by early Western settlers as an antiseptic. We learned more about when and where it commonly grows. Bud gave a narration of our walk, recalling all he could remember about what we observed that day. Then we spent sometime drawing in our notebooks about the plant.
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Bud – Age 7

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Peanut – Age 5

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My journal entry

We saw some other beautiful fall plants on our walk. These daisies were blooming everywhere. I love the abundance of daisies and sunflowers in late summer in Colorado bidding us a fine farewell to summer.
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This ground cover had the most beautiful array of color.
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“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you?” Luke 12:27-28


You might also enjoy these Fall Nature Study posts:
Traveling SeedsApple Trees

Charlotte Mason Style Tea Party

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Every Wednesday afternoon, the kids and I have a Charlotte Mason-style tea party. The kids love it because they get to sip tea and eat cookies. I love it because it has proved for our family to be a simple way to enjoy the enrichment studies of our Charlotte Mason-style homeschool. We listen to music from our current composer, enjoy reading poems aloud to each other and discussing them, and participate in a picture study of a work of fine art.

My kids are young (7, 5, and 2) so I have found a few helpful things that have kept our tea parties going weekly for over a year now.

There are some things that have helped this happen every week…

Enlist a Helper

We call ours the “Servant Heart” and the bearer proudly wears a felt heart paper clipped to their shirt. The older two kids take turns each week getting to be the special helper. They help pass out the snacks and help clear the table when the party is over.
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Serve Cookies!

Fresh baked cookies from the oven are the most essential element at our house to have happy kids eager to participate. The key for us has been to make 3 large batches of cookies every 6 months, ball them up, and then freeze them. Then I simply pull out 3 cookie balls each week and the dough lasts for 6 months because we only make a few each time. Peanut likes to help me make the big batches each time.
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Drink Tea from Fancy Cups

I have two boys so this seems a little silly, but I think they actually enjoy drinking real tea from real grown-up tea cups. Sippy cups are still in my kids’ not too distant memories so drinking from fancy cups makes them feel mature and distinguished in a silly way. I picked this set up at a local charity thrift store for $5 and the teapot was a heirloom from my grandmother. I’m sure GiGi would have been happy knowing it was being used every week.

We used to live in Boulder, Colorado so we naturally love Celestial Seasonings tea. We had “Bengal Spice” today (which is pretty darn spicy) and I think the different teas maybe do a little to widen their palettes.
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Keep Everything You Need in One Spot

I have a shelf in one of the kitchen cabinets where I keep all of our weekly Tea Time school materials so they are easy to grab and put on the table when Wednesday rolls around. These include poetry books, artwork printouts, and my iPad so I can play our composer’s music.
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Discuss, Narrate, and Laugh

My kids are very young so we just read light-hearted poetry that makes us smile. We read one today called “If I Were a Cave-Man” and we were laughing because this particular “cave man” ate bones and that sounded “gross”.

I love hearing how my children describe the artwork. We pass it the printed copy of the artist’s work and each look at it for about 1 minute and then (youngest to oldest) talk about what we saw. Even my 3 year old loves giving his thoughts on the works of art. It’s so cute and many times better than I could have described it!
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I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our weekly enrichment studies (a.k.a. Tea Party Time). How does your family schedule in time to enjoy these subjects? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Nature Study: Cottontail Rabbits

ns_rabbits_lgThis week, we looked at cottontail rabbits during our nature study. We frequently homeschool outdoors and we see bunnies hop into the yard to munch on the clover. We saw these rabbits one morning as we were working through our morning basket.Picture 1102Picture 1101Picture 1100Picture 1099Picture 1098We read and Bud narrated the section about Cottontail Rabbits in The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. Comstock suggested creating a rabbit trap to observe the rabbits further so we made one from a plastic milk crate and some sticks. We kept it in the driveway for several days and the kids had fun watching the rabbits grab the bait. We had many rabbits investigate the trap, but no captures.Picture 1109Picture 1104Picture 1103Picture 1110

We also read and narrated Old Man Rabbit’s Thanksgiving Dinner, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. It was a wonderful story of nature lore in which an old rabbit serves a generous feast to his forest friends. We have been working on the habit of usefulness so the story tied wonderfully into this virtue.Picture 1108During our nature journaling time, the kids enjoyed popcorn and lemonade and listened to Mozart (our composer this term). I asked them to recall all of our “bunny encounters” this week and paint or draw the images that came to their mind.

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Bud – Age 7

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Peanut – Age 5

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My journal entry

We learned many interesting characteristics of rabbits this week. By observing them, we saw how alert they are to danger. Their ears stand high and alert and their large black eyes keep a watchful eye for predators.

It was a good reminder for the kids and I to keep watch over our minds and hearts. We indeed have an enemy who is always read to take any opportunity to take our focus off of Christ.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8