Category Archives: Pocketful of Pinecones

Assignment 5: Reading – Pocketful of Pinecones

For Assignment 6, please read Pocketful of Pinecones pages 19 – 24.


Assignment 5: Review – Pocketful of Pinecones

Did you get the opportunity to read  pages 17-18 from Pocketful of Pinecones?

In our reading, Carol is out shopping and goes into the book store looking for field guides.  The clerk recommends “The Handbook of Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock.  Wow!  Have you seen the book?  Do you have a copy?  I do, and it is a little intimidating. I am glad that our character, Carol, bought the book.  because it was recommended on Ambleside Rotation – Handbook of Nature Study.  So, I also bought it on a recommendation.

When I first received it, I read the introduction, and was really motivated.  However, that was it.  I put it down and kept thinking I would get to it eventually.  Then, I went to the 2015 CMI Conference and there was a chat (a discussion) on “Using Comstock Handbook”.  Yeah, I thought.  Now, I am going to learn how to use this book.

The first thing I noticed in the class was – it was FULL.  Obviously, I was not the only one intimidated by it 🙂  The discussion leader gave some very simple instructions on best practice for using the book.

  1. Read the Introduction in the Handbook for Nature Study on your own.
  2. Remember this is a resource and not a text book.  So, do not read the lessons out loud to your children (obviously, you can if you want ,she was just giving advice.)
  3. Select a lesson.  Read the lesson on your own prior to your nature study time with your kids.
  4. Gather your students for nature time (preferably outside). Present them with a quick lesson (brief overview) of what you read.
  5. Begin your nature walk.  If they happen to stumble across something that brings the object lesson up in the conversation – great.  If not, follow their lead. Don’t force the topic.  Let them be children and ramble and discover.

Did you love the quote “Wear the old quote, buy the new book.”?

Assignment 4: Review – Pocketful of Pinecones

Did you get the opportunity to read  pages 12 – 14 from Pocketful of Pinecones?  I hope so.  It is well worth the read, since it gives us a peek into how we can create a nature notebook.

Nature study is not my strong suit.  In fact, I have often put it last on the list, because it overwhelms.  However, I had the opportunity to attend the CMI conference in June and there were some great tips and suggestions about doing Nature Study.

In the book, Pocketful of Pinecones, we read that Carol helps Don to work on his picture and overcome his anxiety with drawing.  While it is worthwhile to help children with their drawing, I heard from another mother at the conference that is good to stress that Nature Study is not about pretty pictures.  It’s about observation. If we over stress the drawing we are directing the children towards that particular subject when we should focus on the actual specimen and the nature study.  Obviously, I love pretty pictures.  If we are doing our drawing classes separately from nature study then the hope is that the drawing techniques the children are learning will flow over into their Nature notebooks.   Another great suggestion for children that struggle with drawing and become anxious about their pictures and overlook the nature study is to have them focus on collecting the metadata: temperature, time, location.  This allows us to redirect them away from drawing and back to observation and nature study.

So, on this point, I would say that I disagree a little with this particular point of stressing the beauty in the picture as Drawing and Nature Study are two different courses with different objectives.  What do you think?


Assignment 3: Review – Pocketful of Pinecones

The reading for Assignment 3 really struck a chord with me, and I think it was best summed up in the last couple of sentences on page 11:

“Perhaps I’m just suffering the nervous symptoms of a novice. Nonetheless, as I conclude this page of my diary I will pray to be less anxious about obstacles in our path.”

We are in the process of concluding our first year of homeschooling and when I look back on this journey, I remember feeling very anxious and nervous.  Unlike Carol, I had a big plan and was firm that we were going to stick to it.  However, as the year progressed, I learned to let go and not be so intense.  Now, we have our school time in the morning and the afternoons are left for walking to the local dock and playing on the beach.  In our play, we inevitably stumble across something interesting: a bird feather, a new flower, a ghost shrimp.  It is thrilling to see my child make that discovery on their own, in lieu of being force fed what I think they will be interested in learning.

When we first began these nature walks, it seemed to take all of us a little time to unwind from the house and all it’s cares and truly open our eyes to the nature around us.  It took time and it takes time and THAT is the single most important thing I have learned and am still learning.  Giving my time to my children.  Letting them lead.  Being available but not overbearing.  Listening.  Really listening.  Not just, “uh-huh,uh-huh” while I’m doing 10 other things.

With that being said, I appreciate the following quote from page 8:

“I don’t want to be the kind of person who is content with having good intentions, or who is too afraid to carry them out.  Rather, I am determined to set aside the time to do what I have purposed to do and not be distracted.”

Carol’s journal this week reflects her purpose, but also shows her flexibility.  She knows when not to push her son about showing his drawing, but continues to take both her children out into nature and have them draw.

What did you think about this week’s reading?  Have you enjoyed reading Carol’s nature study journey?

May God Bless You on your walk!



Assignment 2: Review – Pocketful of Pinecones

Did you get the opportunity to read?  If not, take a moment and catch up.  The reading is very easy.

In this lesson, as Mrs. Andreola pointed out in the introduction, she laid out how to begin a nature study.  Carol provided each of her children  with a composition book, a clipboard, colored pencils and paper and very simple instructions “…keep a record of whatever bit of nature they found, drawing and writing a little something about what they observed…”

And she gave them the most important gift she could give them: her attention.  Right when she was ready to begin her canning, the children asked her to come outside and see what they discovered.  Instead of brushing off their request, she stopped what she was doing and took the time to listen to them.  Above everything else she did, I think that was the single most important thing Carol could do to encourage her children: participate.

So often, I get busy with my “to do list”.  This was good encouragement to me to stop, listen and encourage.

What did you like about the reading this week?  Did you learn anything new?

God Bless you on your walk!