Category Archives: Practical Application

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?


Homeschool Mom Lessons

Which items speaks to you? For me it was 2) Engage.

In general...

When our family began the homeschool journey in 2007, I knew very little other than it was my responsibility as a homeschooling mom to be the primary teacher of character, academics, emotional intelligence, and cognitive skills to my children. Fortunately only one child began official schooling at a time, but when I had three kids in three different grades, all of my relaxed ways needed to change and I needed to build a visual of goals, standards, and what I’ve learned so that I could build on previous skill and knowledge. So 8 years ago I was pregnant with little guy #3, on bed-rest with partial placenta previa. My amazing, full-of-life intelligent child was not going to get sent off to school, because I was going to make sure that my oldest son’s potential was reached at home. My goodness, I have no teaching degree… what have I done?


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Top sites for Charlotte Mason related content

Here are some of my favorite places to go when I need more information and I want it to be Charlotte Mason related:

Ambleside Online: Hands down this is my favorite website for Charlotte Mason related information.  They offer free curriculum, a free version of the Charlotte Mason six volume home school series in the original and the modern English paraphrase version, the Ambleside Online Parents’ Review Archives, a blog, Archipelago, written by the AO advisory board, and so much more.

Simply Charlotte Mason: SCM has a bookstore with products to help you apply the Charlotte Mason method and it includes some free ebooks for download, a blog to uplift and inform you about Charlotte Mason and her methods, events, a free curriculum guide, and more.  I like the free downloadable ebooks.

Charlotte Mason Help: CHM describes itself as “Practical Ways to apply the lofty ideas of Charlotte Mason in your Home and School”.  My favorite part of this site is the history section.  They have a historical wall timeline and four year history rotation that is very nice!

These are my top three so far.  I hope you find them helpful, too.

Here is a helpful article explaining what a Charlotte Mason education is…

In Susan Schaeffar Macaulay’s book “For the Children’s Sake”, she makes references to Charlotte Mason and her teaching methods.  If you are interested in learning what a Charlotte Mason education is, there is a very thoughtful, informative article that was written by Karen Andreola  on Homeschool World @ entitled “What drew me to a Charlotte Mason education?” that was first published in 1996 in Practical Homeschooling #12.   It lays out the key points of a Charlotte Mason education.

Hopefully, this will give you a reference point into who Charlotte Mason is and her style of education while you are reading “For the Children’s Sake” and “Pocketful of Pinecones”.

God Bless you on your Walk!

What kind of notebook do I use for my Nature Notebook?

What kind of notebook will I need to use for my  “Nature Notebook”?

The easiest answer: whatever you like best.

However, I realize that is vague and  if you aren’t used to keeping notebooks, much less a note book with your thoughts and drawings on nature, you might be wondering what to use.

Ideally, you need to have room on the page to draw or paint the flora or fauna that you are journaling about.  Additionally, you may also wish for the notebook to be lined for recording your thoughts.

You could have a notebook and use two sheets of paper for each entry: one page for your artistic rendering of your subject matter and one page for your written observations.  This would allow you to use paper that is the most suitable for each objective.

Another option would be to use a blank sheet of paper.  Leave space on the paper for your drawing and, using a ruler, line the remainder of  your page for recording your observations.

You may simply wish to purchase a blank spiral bound or hardbound notebook from your local general merchandise or book store.

Tonight at a meeting with some other CM friends, one of the ladies brought up the book “The Country Diary of the Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holder.  True to it’s name, this book records the nature observations of a woman from the early 20th century.  It is beautiful to behold.  Looking through the book may be intimidating if you are considering your own nature notebook, but try to think of it as merely a guide or an example remembering that we all have our own skills and abilities and no two nature journals will look alike.

Here is a link to “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady: A facsimile reproduction of a 1906 naturalist’s diary” by Edith Holden on Amazon (via our affiliate account) if you wish to see it: