Sunday, September 20, 2020

How I Created my own Nature Study Curriculum for Free!


If you've been in the homeschool circles long enough, you've heard of the Nature Anatomy books. We have used them with the Peaceful Preschool, as well as the Playful Pioneers. These books are beautifully illustrated and informative. As a Christian, I will note that the phrase 'millions of years' shows up a few times, but I can easily skip over or explain things from a Biblical worldview. 

I loved this set of books so much, that I wanted to use Nature Anatomy as a jumping off point to creating my own science Curriculum. When I decided that I wanted to use this book, I started out figuring out how I wanted the year to go. These would by my goals. I wanted the year to be: fun, interactive/hands on, informative, and where my 1st grader would understand. 

Where I began...

I searched Pinterest for others who had used this book as a curriculum and came across this blog post:

A Forgotten Joy, Nature Study with Nature Anatomy

I loved how she planned out her year and chose chapters based on season. Since we wouldn't be learning year 'round and I wanted to put a zoo and health unit in our year, I edited it to fit my schedule. Here is what the year looked like:

September: Chapter 1 Common Ground
October: Zoo Unit and Chapter 4 Take a Hike
November: Finish Chapter 4 Take a Hike
December: Health Unit using My First Body Book (find review here)
January: Chapter 2-Snowflakes and Moon Phases
February: Chapter 5 Creature Feature
March: Chapter 6 A little Bird told me+finish Chapter 2 Rainbows and storms
April: Chapter 3 Come Close (Bugs and flowers)
May: Do a month long unit study using the Ocean Anatomy book

Now to find books, videos and activities

Next I searched Pinterest for unit studies and activities based on each chapter. I wanted child friendly books and videos, hands on crafts and activities to help Little Man remember the things he had learned in the chapter. 

While searching, I came upon this free nature journal that went along with the chapters in Nature Anatomy! I chose just the pages that would be on Little Man's level, but still downloaded the entire thing, since we can use it again and again. 

I also found this Youtube channel with some great science videos for kids.

Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

Creating the Curriculum

Finally it was time to put it all together! I tried to have each section of the chapter include reading about it, a corresponding book or video, and an art project or other activity. Here is what the first chapter (month of September) looked like:

Week 1: Layers of the Earth
M:Read Layers of the Earth, and color worksheet from the free nature journal
T: Foam ball activity (see picture below: We colored with a marker and labeled the layers of the Earth)
W: Read Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth
Th: Layers of the earth pudding cup (we wound up not doing this. New mom brain forgot to put pudding on the list. We did some video watching instead, I believe)

Week 2:
M: Read Minerals and do Stalagmite mason jar experiment from Mason Jar Science book
T: Read the rock cycle and Take a nature hunt and search for rocks. Discuss what type of rock they are
W:Read Fossils and do fossil salt dough
Th:Watch rock videos mentioned in this blog post

Week 3:
M: Read Landforms
T: Playdoh Landforms
W: Watch video about landforms and look at pictures of the Grand Canyon
Th: Take a break (we went to my moms one day this week and were unable to complete our science. We moved things to the next week to finish up the chapter)

Week 4:
M: Read Landscapes
T: Watercolor Landscapes
W:Review-Look at Geology book 
Th: Nature walk-talk about what we've learned this month

This is what Chapter 1 looks like for us, and I'm hoping to continue the trend of watercolors, nature walks, Magic School Bus books, and kitchen science creations. I am also including the books I'm linking in my Amazon recommendations (links are affiliated) to supplement and use just to help reinforce what we are learning. I don't think my curriculum quite fits into any method, but I like the blend of hands on, and worksheets.  This past month only took me about 30 min or so to put together, once I had started the search and pinned my favorite activities. It was just a matter of blending each of the things I found into the week. 

I hope this inspires you, if you would like to put together your own science curriculum! I think you could easily do this to fit any science or nature book, and just make unit studies to fit what you would like to learn for a certain time frame. 

Next week, I'll be talking about how I created my own unit study history curriculum from a text book. Let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Indestructibles: A Timberdoodle Review

As many of you know, I recently started the adventure of having 2 under 2 in my house, as well as a beginning first grader. The house is always a bit chaotic right now, and Baby Girl's newest hobby is taking every kid book off the shelf and looking through each. I've had to set apart some of the oldest and most fragile books, as she tends to be a bit rough with them at times. 

I am excited to share about a set of books that may actually survive my crazy toddler and new baby! These social study baby/toddler books are called Indestructibles that are made out of material that can be chewed on without tearing, and can be wiped off if there are any spills. These books were given to me in exchange for my review, but I am giving my honest opinion of these wonderful books!

These books are not only indestructible, but come in bright, vibrant colors in 3 fun themes. I can see this fitting perfectly in our Tot School activities, that will help with building Baby Girl's vocabulary. The words are also simple enough that Little Man can read them to his baby sister. Actually, I've seen him pick them up as much as Baby Girl. I think it's the fun, bright colors that cause him to enjoy looking as well as the simplicity of the words. 

I thought it would be fun to give a few activity ideas to correspond with each book, to help inspire even more fun together!

Hello Farm!
Ooblek mud (which can be turned into a wash sensory play afterwards!), A 'fill the silo' sensory play (this post has several ideas)

My Neighborhood (community helpers)
occupations dress up play, fire truck and fire craft

Busy City
Use blocks/Lego's to build 'skyscrapers', I love these 'invitation to create' posts (this one is about a city)! I keep random construction paper shapes around for just such crafts!

If you want more ideas, check out my Tot School Activity post!

Here are some Amazon recommendations for other activities you can do (links are affiliated)

When these books came in the mail, Baby Girl immediately wanted to snuggle up and look through each one of the colorful books. She has also already decided to test the 'indestructible' part, and so far, they've stood up to her little toddler self! Timberdoodle has added these books to their complete tot school curriculum, which I think is a perfect addition. They are great vocabulary building, sturdy books. I highly recommend them! I haven't found a single 'con' to add. The Indestructibles book set would make perfect gifts, or as stated before, an addition to early learning. 


Sunday, September 6, 2020

My Favorite Fall Themed Learning Printables

Fall-my favorite season! I am excited to share some of my favorite ways to incorporate my favorite season into my kids' learning. I tend to gravitate towards more hands on learning and less 'book-work', so what I'm sharing with you today are my favorite printables that encourage hands on learning. I'll have them organized by subject and learning level. Please note: I have more experience with early learning-1st grade, so this is mostly geared toward that age range.


I used Christian Preschool Printables for a couple of years when my Sunday School class needed literature. A good portion of their things are free, and I absolutely love their graphics. Click here to find their fall/Thanksgiving themed worksheets, crafts, and coloring pages!


This link has tot school/preschool math as well as other learning worksheets, but how cute is this!! Anytime you can add a fun treat to learning is a win! I see being able to come up with several things math related with candy corn now: candy corn addition, candy corn shapes...and now I'm hungry for candy corn! (I know people have a very differing opinions on the candy! haha)

Language Arts:

I talked about this in my previous fall learning post, but I have to mention it again here. This literature unit study for little ones has wonderful printables and activities for The Little Blue Truck. We did this a few years ago and loved it! I plan to do it with Baby Girl in the next year or so. There is also a unit study called Bear Says Thanks that is perfect for Thanksgiving. 


We did these printables and activities last year and both kids loved it! It has so many things to do for hands on fun and observation with pumpkins! I am planning to do it again this year as well! I think Baby Girl will enjoy getting her hands down in pumpkin guts!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Easy School Lunches at Home

When you search on Pinterest for school lunches, what comes up is something only super-moms put together-or is that just me? My son literally wants the same thing every day for lunch-pb+j sandwich, fruit and goldfish. Sometimes I worry it's not diverse enough, which puts me on the Pinterest hunt, which then makes me feel like a failure for not having dino cut sandwiches, bento box configuration, or cute little shapes cut into our fruit. If you are like me and need semi-healthy, easy lunches then I hope this inspires you!

PB+Banana Sandwich

I've actually been surprised at how many people have not had this. PB+B was a definite staple growing up, and it's a plus when you can add fruit to any meal for your kids! You simply spoon a couple of dollops of Peanut butter and 'smoosh' (great cooking term, right?) the banana into the peanut butter and combine. Smear on whole wheat bread, and you have an easy but fairly healthy sandwich!

'Lunchable' Meal

My son loves when I make our own version of a 'lunchable'. Taking inspiration from the easy-to-grab lunch, I let my son 'diy' his own. This can be crackers, lunch meat, and cheese or bagel pizza (I normally add sauce and let him add cheese and toppings himself). I also allow a dessert that goes with it-cookie, snack sized Snickers, or something similar. This is the star of the show and makes it special for my son!

Cheesy Tortilla Roll-up

This isn't what I would I consider 'healthy', but it's very easy to put together, and it's one of my kids' favorite. Tortilla+ shredded cheese, microwave for 30 seconds, roll-up, half and add some sour cream as a dip. We don't keep chips around, so I normally just pair it with my normal sides (I'll be talking about in a second). A lot of times, it's leftover tortillas from a taco supper. I like to also add tomatoes and bell peppers to add some color and veggies to the plate (I know, I know, tomatoes are technically a fruit!)

Black Bean Burrito

Another lunch that my picky eater will eat. Also another that normally is a great 'after taco night' meal. I often use leftover black bean taco filling (black beans, cilantro, corn and seasoning), spooned onto a tortilla, sprinkle cheese, and roll. Microwave for 30 seconds and it's another easy and simple meal that has great protein and a veggie. 

Sides, Fruits, and Veggies

Normally I try to keep things seasonal-apples in the fall and winter, oranges in the winter, berries in the spring, peaches, watermelon, and nectarines in the summer. For veggies, we do more for supper, but during the summer, I use cucumbers out of my garden, as well as bell peppers and such. To make things cheaper, I choose one or two fruits a week. Normally it will be a bunch of bananas and one other fruit. However, Baby Girl has been loving mixed fruit here lately. My mom or sister will cut up a whole bunch of fruit and the kids enjoy snacking on it during their lunches. It helps them explore other fruits they may not have thought about before. This can be pricey at times, but it can be a fun addition to an easy lunch!

For sides we are super boring! I like to get whole wheat Goldfish-my kids like it, and it is 'better' than chips, so I feel like it's a win-win! I would love to hear what you use for sides for your kids lunches! I also sometimes buy cheese sticks for extra protein. Other good sources of protein would be plain or vanilla yogurt, and use the fruit as a topping. 


Another boring item for us. We only drink water for lunch. We drink milk for breakfast, and water or milk for supper. Juice or lemonade is for special occasions, normally when we eat out. Water is cheap, and it's good to make sure your kid is drinking plenty of water throughout the day. We don't introduce cokes or fizzy, sugary drinks until they are much older. My son has had a couple of fizzy drinks in his whole life! 


I don't go out and specifically buy desserts, normally, but we seem to always have something sweet around. I keep Easter, halloween (we normally participate in our church's trunk or treat), Christmas, etc. candy in a bucket and I allow the kids to have one thing a day for lunch. This stretches what we have, and when a new holiday comes, I empty any old candy that we may have. Right now we don't have anything, but that's okay too! This makes when we do have something, special! 

Hope this gives you a little inspiration! When I first thought of this topic, I felt like I had more to share. I then realized how boring our lunches actually are. My mom calls them 'streamlined' lunches, and it is true that having just a few basic lunches keeps things on budget and easy to put together! I would love to hear other ideas. You can comment below, or on Instagram or Facebook and I'll share them to my stories!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

What's in my Morning Basket for 1st Grade

Last year, I talked about starting a morning basket for Little Man. We enjoyed having a designated time for Bible, music, and read alouds. This year looks a bit different, as we enter 1st grade with a toddler and a newborn. If you are unfamiliar with a morning basket, it's a basket (or binder, bin, whatever you want to use!) filled with things you do together as a family. This is great if you have kids of multiple grade levels that need to work together on a few subjects. Some ideas for a morning basket include:

Read Aloud
And more! 

Growing up, my mom had all 6 of us come into the living room for Bible and memory work. We would also have a hymn, and an educational song (we did countries/states songs, skip counting, folk music, etc. ). Mom would also read to us from a character book (like Built for Work, and Biblical Girlhood) and then dive into a read aloud that corresponded with what era we were studying in history. All this was accomplished in an hour, and while she read we would work on a handicraft project or art. This was one of my favorite times during the school day, and I hope Little Man finds it equally enjoyable. Baby Girl (And technically the newborn) will be able to join in! 

This year, this is what is included in our Morning Basket:

Bible: The curriculum we are using has the Bible story, questions and Memory verse work. We will work on each of those during this time. 

Music: We will sing a hymn that goes along with what we are studying that week in Bible, and a song from Wee Sing America, to go along with history. 

Morning Binder: Unfortunately, Math U See doesn't focus much on calendar work, so I bought this cute weather board from Micheal's, and printed this free calendar page from TpT. I may get a little coloring page for Baby Girl to do at the same time, or this may be the time I get out a puzzle or small project for her to do while Little Man does that. 

Read aloud: This is a perfect time for me to sit down with our newborn and nurse her, while I read one of the books we are reading for history. 

Skip Counting: This will be music or spoken form, and a great transition into the next subject: Math!

Do you have a morning basket? What do you include?

Sunday, August 2, 2020

First Day of Homeschool Traditions

Little Man is only in 1st grade, but we've been doing 'school' (preschool for a couple of years) for a while now. Each year, I like to make the day as special as possible, to get Little Man excited for the learning to come! Today I am sharing a few of these here:

Fun Morning Breakfast

Starting the day with something fun and out of the ordinary, can make the beginning of school exciting! I normally let Little Man pick what he wants, which could be donuts, pancakes/waffles with sprinkles, or like last year, he chose yogurt with m&m's. These are things he doesn't get to eat all the time, so it makes days like this special. 

1st Day of School Picture

These are a normal activity for those starting school. My sister got a chalkboard sign this year for Little Man that I can't wait to use!

And speaking of pictures, I try to take a bunch of photos of what we did on the first day of school. When you look back, you'll see just how much progress your child has made. There's a picture I took of Little Man writing August in huge awkward letters at the beginning of the school year last year, and I love comparing it to how well he writes now!

At least 1 fun, hands on project or activity

My son loves all things arts and crafts, so this really helps set the tone for the rest of the school year. Whether it's a craft, Lego structure, or food creation, your kids will love 'learning' with their hands. 
Some fun things we are doing on our first week of school (trying to do one of these around one a 
day this week):

Layers of the Earth pudding cup for science
Lego American flag for history
Skip counting songs for Math
Mystery watercolor words for Spelling

(These are a couple of fun things we did on the first day of school last year and the year before-Apple sort and count in preschool, and dyeing material for Kindergarten-So fun!)

This is what we do, and I would love to hear what you do! Some other ideas include: not actually doing 'school' the first day, but maybe an about me or just do a fun activity, decorate folders or binders (we normally do this ahead of time), gift of school supplies or books (Little Man got 2 phonics readers for his first day of school, last year. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Getting Ready for Baby on a Budget: Finished Girls' Room/Nursery

Here it is! Paint, floors, mattress, bedding, curtain, and decor, everything has been done in our little girls' room. I love the light grey walls, with the pink, white, grey and gold in the decor, bedding and curtains. If you missed out on us working to transform this room, you can read that here. I mention how much it cost and any tips I had for a diy room redo. Today I am sharing with you the finished product!

It's hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks I will be changing and dressing a little baby in here!
I talked in a previous blog post about how that I wanted to keep the Disney Princess theme subtle here, and I think I achieved that. The canvases above the changing table are Icons of my favorite Disney movies: Rose from Beauty and the Beast (my favorite movie of all time), Crown from Tangled, and Carriage from Cinderella. Not pictured is a Sleeping Beauty light switch cover, and if you look at the pictures below you'll find Snow White and Belle. 

We ordered this quilt from Amazon. I also got Baby Girl these Frozen 2 sheets, as she is obsessed with that movie right now. The sheets will be something easy to change out as she changes likes/dislikes, but the classic pink quilt can grow with her for years to come!I also bought these blackout curtains so it can be dark and cozy for nap time. We have a side bar that will go on this bed to keep Baby Girl from rolling off while she sleeps. 

Last week I talked about organizers for the nursery, and you can see most of them here! I have the two (pink and grey with gold) baskets that I bought on sale at Kirklands. They hold all the diapers, wipes, and creams on one side, for easy access during diaper changes. The other basket holds burp cloths and receiving blankets at the ready as well. I share where I got the other baskets and what they have in them in my stories on Instagram. You can check out that and all my other baby themed stories in my saved stories on my profile. 

I also shared the bow organizer I used, and while they hold quite a few bows, I had so many left that needed a place to stay! I found this 40 piece bow set from Amazon, and there are so many bows of so many different colors! The quality feels great, and I'm excited to try them out on our new Itty Bitty. I don't know about you, but bows are like socks for me...they disappear! I've learned you can never have too many bows!

Above Baby Girl's little kitchen, I've stored the remainder of the bows and put up a few more decor pieces. To the side of the kitchen is the chifferobe where both girls clothes are stored. Everything is ready for our Itty Bitty to arrive, and Baby Girl is loving all the girly sweetness of her new room!

Do you have any questions about this room? You can comment below, or go to Facebook or Instagram and ask me there!  

Note: Amazon Links are Affiliated

How I Created my own Nature Study Curriculum for Free!

  If you've been in the homeschool circles long enough, you've heard of the Nature Anatomy books. We have used them with the Peacef...