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Exploring Nature this Winter with The Winter Journal

If you’re like me, it’s always a bit difficult to let go of the autumn season when you know that six (or more) months of cold and snow wait on the other side. When I first set out to create this winter nature study, I researched all I could about the flora and fauna this time of year, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there is SO much going on out there under the dirt, snow and ice.

In tree hollows, burrows and sheltered among the trees, the outdoors is bursting with life – even if it’s a little harder to spot.

This winter we’ll be studying the animals that tuck away for the season, and those that brave it. We’ll be learning about the plants that sleep and those that keep right on producing.

My family and I are looking forward to exploring everything nature has to offer this winter – and we’ll be using the new Winter Journal to help us.

We’ll be taking a deep dive into the following subjects:

  • Winter Trees
  • Hibernation
  • Winter Birds
  • Wintry Weather
  • The Winter Night Sky
  • Foraging in the Winter Woods

I hope you and your family are able to get out this winter and do some exploring!

The WINTER Journal

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Autumn Activities to Celebrate the Season

Fall is here! It’s my very favorite season, and because of that I tend to go *slightly* overboard with all of the fall things. (Can you relate?)

I put together a list of all the things the boys and I have done over the past few years, as well as some on our list for the future. All of these are simple, no-fuss activities, and a great way to lean into the season.

Leaf Masks

A fun way to use those beautiful leaves gathering up in your yard. Find the tutorial here.

Cinnamon-Scented Playdough

Seasonal playdough is always a hit around here. Add autumn nature finds and you’ve got yourself a winner! Get the recipe here.

Beeswax Leaf Dipping

Our favorite way to preserve and use those stunning autumn leaves – beeswax dipping is simple and fun. Here’s how to do it.

Mushroom Spore Prints

This is a great time of year to hunt for mushrooms, and making spore prints is a fun way to observe your finds.

Leaf Lanterns

With the nights getting longer, these sweet leaf lanterns add a bit of cozy magic. Here’s how to make them.

Bat Study (Free Printable)

My boys always want to learn about bats this time of year, and we always try and make a visit to our local bathouse to watch these little furry creatures. Download the free bat printable.

Leaf Animals

Some glue, googley eyes and leaves are all you need to make these adorable leaf animals.

Leaf Ghosts

I mean, how cute are these? If I could choose one Halloween decoration to display in my home, this would be it. Check out the tutorial.

Leaf Symmetry

Leaf symmetry combines math, art and nature study – plus, it’s fun!

Maple Syrup Playdough

Mmmm, I can almost smell it now. Check out this recipe for maple syrup-scented playdough.

Leaf Crowns

Dandelion crowns in spring, flower crowns in summer… and these leaf crowns are so perfect for your autumn prince or princess.

Exploring Moss and Lichen (Free Printable)

When the weather turns cooler and damper, it’s a great time to study moss and lichen. Go on a nature walk, bring a magnifying glass and see what you can find. Bring this free moss and lichen printable with you.

No-Carve Pumpkins

I love this alternative to carved pumpkins. Learn how to make these sweet, nature pumpkins here.

The Autumn Journal is Here!

A complete nature study to embrace the season.

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37 Favorite Books from our First Grade Homeschool

Wow, did we cover a lot this past year! I finally went and sorted through the books my son and I worked our way through for his first grade year.

It made me smile to see all the different subjects we covered – art, music, biographies, history, science, culture… I realized what a rich homeschool year we had, despite the setbacks and shortcomings that inevitably happened.

I’m sharing some of our favorites below, in case you’re looking for something new to add to your shelf (fiction, non-fiction and reference books).

** For reference, we primarily followed Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations, which covered medieval to new-world history, physics, and astronomy, along with Beautiful Feet Book’s Around the World Europe study (with a few others mixed in)**

If you have pre-K or Elementary aged children – I promise these books will not disappoint!

The Arts

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers

The Story of the Orchestra – Four Seasons in One Day

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?

Leonardo and the Flying Boy

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Nature + Science

A Butterfly is Patient

A Rock is Lively

The Beetle Book

Bees – A Honeyed History

Trees – A Rooted History

There Once Was a Tree

Ants – Just Like Us

The Night Sky

Who Was Neil Armstrong?

Who Was Isaac Newton?

Hot Air – The (Mostly True) Story of the First Hot Air Balloon Ride

History + Culture

Time Traveler

I Lost My Tooth in Africa

Anno’s Journey

Anatole

Manfish

Ferdinand

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

Martin’s Big Words

When Rosa Parks Went Fishing

Reference Books

MAPS

Nature Anatomy

Read-Aloud Chapter Books

The Long Winter

My Father’s Dragon

The Trumpet of the Swan

Chronicles of Narnia – The Complete 7 Volume CD Box Set

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Around the World in 80 Days

The Little Prince

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

The Adventures of Robin Hood

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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12 Nature Play Ideas for May

Now that our yard is waking up and everything is blooming, I though it would be fun to do a roundup of nature play ideas you can do from your own backyard:

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Nature Playdough Caterpillars

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Nature Butterfly Symmetry

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Nature Weaving Craft

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Nature Salt-Dough Pendants

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Nature Scavenger Hunt

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Nature Bugs

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Grass Weaving

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Sun Catchers

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Nature Letters

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Nature Mandalas

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Leaf Shape Match

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Flower Mud Kitchen Play

You don’t need anything fancy to do these fun nature crafts – in fact, simpler is often better.

I would love to hear if you try any of these!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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New! Lilacs Mini Nature Study

If you are lucky enough to have lilacs in your area, you probably agree that they are one of the most lovely, fragrant blooms around.

We have a few bushes in our yard and THE SMELL! It’s one of my favorites, which is why I had to add a lilac nature study pack to the shop.

Flower activities

Lilacs have a rich history and I was pleased to discover that they held a special place in the hearts and homes of many famous names in history.

In this mini nature study pack, I’ve included a fact/anatomy page, recipes, an art activity and lilac color flash cards. (And it’s only 4 bucks!)

Lilac Mini Study

(The lilac would be a great plant to study for Exploring Nature With Children blossoms week.)

As always, thanks for supporting my little shop here – without you, it wouldn’t exist. So THANK YOU!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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Free Bird Migration Printable

Now that birds are chirping again and the robins and the hummingbirds have returned, I thought it would be the perfect time to create a bird migration nature study pack.

For freeeeeee!

Click on the link below for the instant download. Just my little way of saying *thank you* for supporting my little shop!

Bird Migration – Free Download

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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Night Sky Playdough; Our Favorite Way to Study Space

Let me begin this post by saying we made this night sky playdough NINE MONTHS ago and it is still going strong!

I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but this playdough lasts forever. (We store it in a ziploc storage bag inside a cupboard inside a cool room).

We’ve used it to study constellations, galaxies, planets and for just plain fun. The glitter – which was my main concern – magically stays contained inside the playdough.

Again, I don’t know how. It’s just plain magic, folks.

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Here is the Recipe for Night Sky Playdough:

Mix together:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 3 Tbsp cream of tartar (helps make it smooth and elastic)

Stir in:

  • 1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of boiling water (carefully!)
  • 5-10 drops blue or purple food coloring

Knead it together until it’s nice and smooth. Then, pour a small amount of glitter in the center of the dough, and knead it in a little at a time.

Add star sequence or beads and press them in to make constellations.

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Or, use stars or marbles to make galaxy spirals.

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Use different colors of playdough to form planets and create a solar system.

There are so many ways you can play with this playdough!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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New! The POND Nature Journal is here

Friends, it’s here! The Pond Guided Nature Journal is in my Etsy shop and ready for your little explorer.

Inside are posters, flash cards, coloring pages and journaling prompts covering 5 different topics (frogs, dragonflies, turtles, aquatic plants, aquatic minibeasts), and I’ve also included ideas for activities, sensory play and a book list.

Head over to Etsy to check it out!

 

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Rocks and Mineral Properties – FREE Activity

rocks and mineral download

Here’s a little boredom buster that’s sure to keep the rock-lovers happy in your house. This is a FREE Rock and Mineral Properties Activity Sheet for immediate download. My boys loved testing the rocks from their collection – I hope your kids love it, too!

Rocks and Minerals – Free Download

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DIY Kids’ Space Room – With REMOVABLE Wallpaper!

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My boys share a room – and they’ve been collectively asking for a space room for, well, years. So a few weekends ago, we sent the boys away to their grandparents’ house and surprised them with their new space room.

By far, the coolest part of their new room is this Constellations wallpaper from Coloray.

This isn’t traditional wallpaper. This is actually PEEL-AND-STICK wallpaper. That’s right, folks. Slap it up there, and then when they change their minds or change rooms or if we decide to move – it PEELS RIGHT OFF. And, it’s REUSABLE.

(I am talking in all caps because I have spent a month slowly scraping wallpaper off four walls and THIS IS A BIG DEAL.)

So, yes, this is a life-changing home décor product – but, you do need to know how to hang it properly or you are going to get yourself in trouble. Ask me how I know.

**Note – make sure to remove all jewelry before hanging the wallpaper. We noticed our rings made tiny scratch marks when we first started out – so learn from our mistake!**

Step One – Clean and Prime Your Walls

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This is the most important step.

I repeat – the most important step!

Wipe your walls down with a wet cloth (because you know if it’s in a kid’s room, it’s going to be covered in all sorts of grime). If the wall is painted with a latex paint (especially a gloss paint), the wallpaper won’t stick properly. Your best bet is to lay a quick coat of primer on the wall and let it dry completely.

Step Two – Remove Baseboards and Outlet/Light Switch Covers

Our baseboards were a bit tricky to remove in one piece, but we were able to get them off without doing any damage.

Step Three – Lay Out the Wallpaper Panels

Carefully lay out your wallpaper panels on the floor (with clean hands). Make sure the design on the edges line up and double check the length of your wall. If you have slightly more length than you need, you may be able to overlap the panels a bit, as long as the designs still match up.

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Step Four – Start Hanging

Once you’ve determined your left-to-right panel order, get ready to hang. Starting at the top of the wall (and working in a left-to-right fashion), peel back the first four or so inches of the backing.

(Note: I would NOT recommend peeling the backing on the carpet or bed or any surface that may have dust or hair on it. The first time we did this on the floor, all kinds of little things immediately stuck to the back of the wallpaper and affected its sticking power in those spots.)

Line up the top of the panel with the top of your wall and press it down, making sure it is straight across. Have someone step back and verify that it’s straight. If not, you can peel if off and try again.

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Step Five – Work Your Way Down

You’ll want two people for this step – one person to pull the backing off from behind, about a foot at a time, and one to smooth down the paper by pressing from the middle out to the edges. Smooth out all those little creases and bubbles.

If you’re finding that the paper isn’t laying flat, peel it up a bit and try again. Continue smoothing it down, one foot at a time, until you get to the bottom of the wall.

Step Six – Cut Around Outlets and Light Switches

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If you run into an outlet or light switch as you’re laying the paper down, make note of where it is and lay the paper right over it.

Then, before you do anything else – GO TURN OFF THE POWER.

Seriously, don’t try to cut the hole out with the switch power on. Use a flashlight if you must for this part (we did).

Using a sharp utility knife or a single edge razor blade, carefully cut a hole as big as the opening in the drywall. The cover will give you some leeway to work with, so don’t worry about it being perfect.

Step Seven – Cut Off the Excess

Once you reach the bottom of the wall, cut off the excess below where the top of your baseboards will be. (You’ll want a little wiggle room.) Then, press really well and voila! You’ve just finished your first panel.

Step Eight – Repeat Steps One Through Seven

Keep following this process with additional panels until you’ve finished your wall.

You may want to run your hands over it once more to smooth out any additional bubbles. If there’s a tricky spot, you can run a blow dryer over it and then try smoothing it out – this works surprisingly well.

Step Nine – Install Your Baseboard

(Or convince your husband to do it thirty minutes before your kids’ bedtime while you get the kids dressed for bed. I mean, he’s a lucky guy.)

That’s it! So much easier than traditional wallpaper – as long as you follow the important preparation steps.

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We chose the Constellations pattern, but there are so many beautiful categories to choose from:

Coloray Vintage

Coloray Floral

Coloray Patterns

and Coloray Kids

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Have you ever tried removable wallpaper? Tell me what questions you have!