3/12/14

NaturExplorer Books: Incredible Creeks {Review + Giveaway} Nature Walk Wednesday


** I received a complimentary copy of the Incredible Creeks Unit Study in order to review the product, and all opinions of this product are my own.  You can read my full disclosure policy here.  * This post may contain affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.**



The hopeful meditations of a coming spring have been heavy upon me these last waning weeks of extended winter.  The buds on the trees are giving me a peace, knowing that the season will soon change with the emergent joys of spring.  Joys that are best partaken of by preparing soil for the garden, airing out that spring wardrobe,  giving my house the once over spring cleaning (eventually), and emerging from our winter cave onto the sunny nature walk trails we have so missed.

We have been enjoying some early spring weather while on vacation in a more southern portion of Texas than we are accustomed to.  While enjoying a spring-ish break we had an opportunity to review some wonderful e-books and unit studies, from Shining Dawn Books, that have helped us welcome the new discoveries of an oncoming Spring.  The Incredible Creeks e-book is a wonderful starting point in Nature Study for children of all ages, and we are enjoying the chance to hit the trails again.



The ecosystem found in the amazing little steams of a commonplace creek can captivate both student and teacher.  The unit study Incredible Creeks has culminated this stream of creativity into a easy-to-follow and well organized study of such a simple looking realm of creation.  This Shining Dawn Book contains more resources and lessons than I could possibly list, particularly since the authors have designed this little e-book to be used by virtually any type of educator, be it Charlotte Mason, classical, eclectic, homeschool or public school.  The only limits to what you can do with this study will be time!
Incredible Creeks NaturExplorers Study from Shining Dawn Books
What we all loved:
  • I enjoyed the background information given to me, the educator, and the many tips for observation ideas, and discussion topics suggested in the "Getting Started" section of the book.  This section helped prepare me and spark my inspiration as an educator, helping me to share more confidently with my students while experiencing our Nature Walk on the creek together.
  • This book includes lovely images and Notebooking pages ready for immediate field work on your Incredible Creeks Nature Walks.  The Notebooking pages are easy to print from the appendix.
  • The greatest portion of the book is "Getting Outside with Incredible Creeks" which includes your outdoor field study ideas, online resources, in-depth lessons and observation activities: from skipping rocks, to nature sketching, to analyzing water specimens, to fishing, this book truly gave us so much to enjoy.  For my family, this means that what began as a one week study has now been extended on to the next three or four weeks. 
  • As a Charlotte Mason educator, "Branching Out with Incredible Creeks" was a wonderful resource!  This section contained many hands-on activities, ideas for composition and research, amazing selections for living literature, poetry study, art & picture study, composer study and biblical references and hymn study . . . all about creeks!
  • The family-centered approach to learning continued with the inclusion of ideas for helping younger children to participate, as well as older children.  I was most thankful to have great suggestions for bringing excitement into the study for my teenage students.
  • The price is right for this lovely 67 page, electronic book (PDF version), at only $8.95 each.  With such rich resources and lessons I feel this e-book is a thrifty option for any home educator.

What I did not love:
  • I am not certain this is even a complaint, but this e-book was so full of such wonderful ideas, I had a hard time choosing!  However; having so much to choose from helped me to broaden our horizons, as well as to choose a few "interest-lead" items for my individual students.  We will be continuing this study, along with the other NaturExplorer Studies that we have planned for the remainder of March.
  • My big pet-peeve with most e-book curricula is the amount of ink that it requires from the ink-sucking vampire that is my HP Printer.  However; again the authors of Incredible Creeks made it easy for me to locate most of the items that needed printing (mostly notebooking pages located in the appendix) making them simple to print without wasting much ink.  THANK YOU!
The joyful conclusion:
The Incredible Creeks e-book is a wonderful addition to any Nature Study library.  The freedom to create an amazing study for your family is made much easier and convenient using this book.  You will enjoy the moments found discovering together while using this e-book as your guide!


Shining Dawn Books is offering a discount exclusively to my readers and subscribers beginning today through March 18th, 2013!

**You can purchase the title Incredible Creeks for $6.00 using discount code JoyfulSocksMom at check-out. **

GIVEAWAY! 
. . . and last but not least, Shining Dawn Books is giving away a complimentary copy of the Incredible Creeks e-book this week on my blog, to three fortunate readers . . . psst, you need to come back next week for another great Shining Dawn Book and Giveaway.

Want a chance to win?  Leave a comment on the blog telling us what is your favorite subject to study in nature . . . then complete your entry in the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Many blessings to you all as you begin to thaw from winter and embrace the spring!

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook

3/4/14

Ready Or Not, You Are a Home Educator!

Don't be frightened off by the title of this post. I promise that I am NOT one of "those homeschoolers"

You know the one. 


The homeschool mom that even relatives run from to avoid hearing another soapbox speech about why homeschooling is the best-most-perfect-for-everyone-means-of-education.  That's not me.  And just for the record, I do not think homeschooling is for everyone. *gasp* 



I DO believe home educating IS for everyone. Hey wait, I thought you said homeschooling isn't for everyone.  Yep, I did.  Have I totally confused you now? Sit down and let me explain.

Let me start by clearing up some terms.  Homeschooling,in my own estimation, is a personal choice made by parents that, for whatever reason, have decided against utilizing the public education system for their children.  These parents have taken up the act of homeschooling their child, or children, in their home or through a cooperative.


Home education is what I am talking about.  Okay?  This is different than homeschooling how?


Home education is the act of guiding, or the lack thereof, your child in their educational journey, whether publicly, privately or homeschooled.  Let's face it folks, whether you intend for them to or not, your children will learn from you.


Good, bad, or indifferent.



They are watching, listening, mimicking, growing and learning.  Yes, they will learn from you!  Why not be purposeful about what they will learn from you? Why not choose to be fully participatory, and actively conscience about what your children learn from you?


Home education is for you, whether you like it or not.  Why? 

You. are. a. parent. 
God has purposed & created you to be so. 
To the children he has purposely blessed you with.
  
Why not make it an exciting challenge? Why not be purposeful about what you are teaching your children at home?  I mean, since they are  watching you and learning from you anyway.

Home education should be a consistent choice by parents coupled with the resolve to be purposeful and active in your child's education.  Yes, that means you must have a plan and purpose in participating in and guiding your child through their academic years, whether you homeschool or not.


How do I become purposeful in education at home?
  • Create a family-centered culture where learning is experienced daily; wisdom is sought after, and treasured.  A culture at home that places Christ as the center, and the parents as the authority.
  • Organize your schedule to best utilize free time, and instead make it learning time. Unplug your kids.  Not "homework" or "school time", but gentle learning times. Take a Walk - Nature walks. Learning old-fashioned games.  Learning a trade, or handicraft.  Exploring art.  Listening to music. Watching a play.
  • Read together as a family. Read-a-loud from a classic book that everyone can enjoy. I cannot even begin to list all the blessings that will be experienced if you just read to your children.
  • Spend time sharing one-on-one moments to just listen to your child.  What do they love to learn?  How do they enjoy learning?  What are their interests, both inside and outside of school?  Then begin making a plan to extend their learning from you in these areas.
  • Teach your child through leading them by your own example.  Help your child to love learning.  To seek knowledge on their own.  To be interest lead in their learning. By. doing. it. yourself.  Take time to learn when your child is learning, or alongside your child.
We can all be successful home educators (public school, private school or homeschooled) by the measure that success is not about your children's academics, but by how we live our own life as an educating parent.  Focusing on Christ.  Learning from Him, loving Him and teaching our children to do the same.

What is your favorite subject to enjoy as a family, or with your child?


Joyfully Learning with You,

2/24/14

Handicrafts for Homeschool: Up-Cycled Newspaper Basket

I do not make any secret of my respect for the teachings and methods of Charlotte Mason.  It is also well-circulated, that I love to create and craft with children.  There is something indispensable about teaching a child create and make something worth-while.  The teaching of handicrafts was a desirable skill that Charlotte Mason suggested for all levels of learning, and I personally feel that this handicrafting (or, learning a trade) is widely neglected in most mainstream academic circles.
We have taken up the challenge, in our homeschool, to create more handicrafts this year & devote time to learning a trade, while honing our craft.  I have chosen to use Pinterest as a springboard for our creations.

Here are the handicrafts, or trades we are planning together, and individually:
  • Creative Writing
  • Non-fiction Writing
  • Hand & Drop Spindle Spinning
  • Loom Weaving
  • Crochet
  • Wood Working
  • Metal Punch
  • Herb Gardening
  • Herb Craft
  • Basket Weaving
This month we chose to begin with the art of basket weaving, as part of our contribution to Pinterest Flips & Flops, from iHomeschool Network.  The Bug enjoys loom weaving already, as she learned this fall at the Homestead Heritage Fair, so I felt like this would help strengthen her in a handicraft she already enjoys.

The first "Flips and Flops" Pinterest Project we decided on was a lovely little up-cycled newspaper basket.  Here is a link to the tutorial that we began with Basic Newspaper Basket .  This first project appeared to be a real "flip" . . . at first.

The directions for this tutorial where simple and easy to follow.  Having clear pictures really helped both teacher and student.
We found along the way, as we were preparing our newspaper strips for weaving, that using a ruler to smooth the edges helped considerably. 
Another discovery that we made was that the tutorial we were following did not include any measurements for the basket.  We had to continually measure as the Bug was working on the bottom portion of her basket.  This was a slight nerve wrecker for the Type A personalities at the table, which is both of us by the way. (Note: Potential for "flop" #1)
Now, this is where it got tricky folks.  The tutorial we were following began to exclude photos for finishing off the ends of the basket, once we had reached the top. (Note: Potential for "flop" #2)
However, we persevered, and used a little ingenuity, glue & clothespins, and used it as a little lesson in patience.  When the glue had dried and the nerves were all settled, we had a lovely little basket and a happy young lady.

Here are a couple of important reminders about handicrafting with children:

  • One thing to remember when selecting and teaching handicrafts and trades for homeschool:  We do not make mistakes.  We only have opportunities to learn! 
  • Learning and practicing a handicraft is a skill that builds patience and endurance.  Don't let your child give up.
  • Allow your student to learn by correcting the work that they have performed unsatisfactorily.  Patiently teach again to create a love of excellence.
Be sure to stop by the other bloggers from iHomeschool Network's Pinterest Flips & Flops.  We will be back next month with more handicrafts for homeschool.


Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook


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