Saturday, December 22, 2007

Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons- Winter

I thought it would be fitting today, as the first day of winter, to post this piece of music. I love Antonio Vivaldi. He has been my favorite composer for a while. Summer is my favorite movement of his Four Seasons but I love to listen to all of the movements. I love stringed instruments, I think that is why I love Vivaldi so much. Hope you enjoy listening.

If you are interested in studying a little more about Vivaldi you can check out the Harmony Fine Arts Free Dowload (Vivaldi is on page 8 of the PDF). It has links to biographical information and online listening.

If you want to purchase a Vivaldi CD from Amazon, here are some to get you started (We own the first one and highly recommend it.):

And if you haven't seen my winter themed art, handicraft and nature study kit, check it out here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter Nature Walk Worksheet

I've put together another free printable nature journal page. It is a Winter Nature Walk Worksheet.

A nature walk is more than just walking or being outside. It involves stopping to really enjoy and explore being outdoors. This worksheet is designed to get you and your kids outside and looking for specific things. Once you get outside I am sure you will find lots of other interesting things to record in your nature journal.

For my other free printables see my page here.

(You can also check out my Fall Nature Walk Worksheet.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some ideas for a boy's sewing box

Last week I posted about putting together a sewing box for a child. I had some questions about how I would put together a sewing box for a little boy. It seems that the actual things put in the box would be the same:

  • Fabric (cotton and felt are the easiest)
  • Thread
  • Needles (needles with larger eyes are better)
  • Pins (pins with round plastic heads are best)
  • Safety pins (they are sometimes easier to use than straight pins)
  • Scissors (they should be sharp, so be sure to supervise)

Other things you could add:

  • Measuring tape
  • Thimble
  • Needle Threader
  • Buttons
  • Ribbon

I think the main difference would be the colors and prints of fabric and thread you would include, as well as the container you put it all in. You would also probably not want to put it in a cute wicker basket. Perhaps a tackle-style box would work instead. (I like this idea because tackle boxes usually have trays or compartments that would make it easy to stay organized.) Or maybe you could use an old tin lunch box. Or a plastic lunch box of your boy's choice even. Get creative! If you have any other fun ideas, be sure to leave it in the comments!

If you are inspired to put together a sewing box for the boys or girls in your life, I would love to see photos of what you come up with. Feel free to email me photos or links to posts inspired by this post. (

And be sure to check out my post for the instructions for an easy no sew fleece project. It's perfect for a cold winter day!

Here are some things I found on Amazon to get you started:

And I still have quite a few Hearts and Trees Winter Themed Art, Handicraft and Nature Study Kits available, so be sure to check out the post here if you haven't already done so!


No Sew Fleece Blankets

Another great and easy project is to make a no sew fleece blanket. If you haven't made one yet, you have to try it. Everyone in my family has their own. There is so much fun fleece out there, the hardest part of this project is to decide which fleece you want! Of course it wasn't until after I made my blanket that I found Hawaiian print fleece- how awesome is that!

Here is my middle brother with his flame fleece blanket.

And here is my youngest brother making my dad's fleece blanket.

And here is my youngest brother's bed with his Nemo blanket and fleece tie pillow.

****To print these instructions you can download them as a PDF here.****

No Sew Fleece Blanket Instructions:

You will need:

  • Two lengths of fleece. (The length size is up to you. My brothers each used 1 yard lengths for their blankets and they are perfect for curling up with, but don't cover their whole beds. My fleece blanket is made with 1 1/2 yard lengths and I use it to cover my double bed. My father's blanket is made with lengths that are 2 yards each and if perfect for a covering everyone on the whole couch, but it is really heavy.)
  • Scissors
  • Yard stick or tape measure
  • Ruler


~Here is a diagram I made to sort of illustrate the steps below.~

1. Trim the salvage edges of each length of fleece. (That means trim the sides which are usually folded in and have little holes in them.)

2. On a large, flat surface lay the two lengths of fleece out. Lay the first length face down and the second length face up on top of the first.

3. Trim both layers of fleece to make them square and the same exact size.

4. Cut 4" squares out of the four corners of the stacked fleece.

5. Now you are going to cut fringe along all the sides. Lay a yard stick or tape measure from one inside corner of the cut square to the another.

6. Cut every 1" (using a ruler as a guide) from the edge of the fleece to the yard stick or tape measure. (That will be 4".)

7. Cut fringe on all the sides.

8. Tie the fringe together. (The first step when you are tying a shoe, do it twice.)

9. Work around the whole blanket tying the fringe.

And that's it!

Have fun with this project. As seen in the third photo, you can adapt this to make a pillow. Just work with smaller lengths of fleece and before you finish tying around the whole blanket stuff the fleece with cotton batting.

As always, you are welcome to share any photos of completed projects using the ideas on this blog. You can email me photos or links. ( Now, go find some fleece!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Completed Projects

So, I've had some emails of photos and links to posts about completed Hearts and Trees projects. First up we have hippiechyck's two sons completed Hearts and Tree Winter Kit fleece hats. I love this project because it is so easy and yet it makes something fun and useful. I had another Mom, Doris, send in this photo of her daughter Beth wearing her completed hat. I think the smile says it all.
If you check out Penny's blog you can see two posts of her son Levi completing the easy felt bear project. I love the way it turned out. The button eyes are the best!

If anyone else has photos or links they want to share, feel free to email me.

I will be back Monday with some ideas about putting together a sewing box for a boy and another easy craft project. Have a great weekend everyone.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Child's Sewing Box

"The Handicrafts best fitted for children under nine seem to me to be chair-caning, carton-work, basket-work, Smyrna rugs, Japanese curtains, carving in cork, samplers on coarse canvas showing a variety of stitches, easy needlework, knitting (big needles and wool), etc."

~Charlotte Mason Volume 1 Page 315

Sewing is a great handicraft for children, especially because it is also a useful skill a child is likely to use later in life. Sometimes though it seems that parents are not sure where to start. Sewing to me is like all other artistic mediums. It seems like we need to first let children become familiar with the supplies, next provide some guided instruction and then let the children explore the possibilites on their own.
This post is going to explain how to put together a sewing box for a child. It doesn’t take much to put together a box of fun stuff to inspire some sewing. And at the end is a link to an easy sewing project tutorial also posted on my blog.

Here are the basic you will want for a sewing box:

Fabric (cotton and felt are the easiest to start with)


Needles (needles with larger eyes are better for little hands to thread)

Pins on a cute pincusion (pins with round plastic heads are easiest for little hands)

Safety pins (they are sometimes easier to use than straight pins

Scissors (they should be sharp, so be sure to supervise)

Other fun things to add:
Cute measuring tape
Fun thimble
Needle Threader

Put all these items together in a cute sewing box and you are set.

You can also include instructions for the easy felt bear I have posted. The link to the post is here. I would love to post photos of your sewing boxes or bears you have sewn using my instructions on this blog, so feel free to email me photos or links to your photos at

I can usually find little travel sewing kits at my local DollarTree store, which has assorted thread, pins, needles, and buttons. Walmart also has little sewing kits already put together. Or here are some links to get you started.

You can even buy felt on!

And I still have quite a few Hearts and Trees Winter Themed Art, Handicraft and Nature Study Kits available, so be sure to check out the post here if you haven't already done so!

Easy Felt Bear Instructions

Easy Felt Bear Sewing Project

You will need:
Bear template (found here at
Two 9”x12” sheets of felt (you can use two colors or one)
Cotton stuffing
Buttons and permanent marker (optional)
1. Gather your supplies. 2. Cut out the bear template. Stack your two sheets of felt. Pin the bear template on top of the two felt sheets.
3. Cut around the bear template. Remove the template and re-pin the felt together. 4. Starting at the top on one ear sew around the edge of the bear with a whip stitch.
[To sew a whip stitch you will start at the back of the two sheets of felt, about 1/8” away from the edge, and come to the front. Your next stitch will be the same- back to front. Your stitches will cross over the edge of the felt. Make your stitches close together and tight.]
5. Stitch all around your bear to the top of the other ear. Leave the top of the head open to stuff your bear. When you reach the other ear knot off your thread. 6. Stuff your bear with cotton stuffing. Use small clumps at a time. Use the eraser end of a pencil to gently push the stuffing down into the bear’s legs and arms. Use more stuffing for a stiffer bear and less for a floppier bear. 7. When done stuffing your bear, pinch closed the top of the bears head and whipstitch between the two ears.
8. You can draw a face on your bear with a permanent marker or you can sew on buttons if you like.
**I would love to see photos of any bears made using these instructions. So, feel free to email me photos or links to photos of this project at Hope you have fun!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pre-Orders...Ready to Go!

So today is the pre-ordering ship date. As you can see I received a lot of pre-orders. In the first two days I sold more than my original goal! Thank you all so much for your interest and your support. This afternoon I am having a special carrier pickup for all of these. I am so glad I don't have to get them to the post office! If you haven't purchased a kit and are interested, don't worry I still have kits available. I put together plenty, so hopefully everyone who wants one will get one. For more information about purchasing winter themed kits please see this post.

Check back here on Monday for instructions for putting together a child's sewing basket and a pattern for an easy cloth doll!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Sneak Peek at the Winter Kit!!

This post will stay on top as long as I have kits available.
The Hearts and Trees
Winter Themed Kit is here!

So I am busy putting together the Hearts and Trees winter themed art, handicraft and nature study kit. We have a lot of fun projects to include in this kit. Here is a sneak peek at the contents:

The plan is to have the kits ready to ship December 7th. I will be accepting pre-orders in the meantime. I am putting together more winter kits than I did fall themed ones, but the supply will still be limited, so be sure to get yours early.

A more complete kit content list is available here, but briefly I will mention that included in this kit are the materials and instructions to make a fleece hat, the materials to put together a weather nature study themed lapbook (which among other things includes a pocket-sized winter nature journal) an artist notebooking page, a 4"x6" winter scene art print, a worksheet discussing cool colors, the instructions and papers for a cool color crayon resist night scene and the materials and instructions to make Sculpey bug thumbtacks.

These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. The parent will need to be involved in some of the more complex projects such as the hand-sewing activity. You will also need to provide basic art and office supplies, including glue, watercolors, crayons, a hole punch and markers.

We are offering this Winter Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study Kit for the low price of $9.95 plus $4.60 Priority rate postage. (If shipping outside of US or Canada, email us for shipping costs.)

Each kit is enough for one student but we will be offering additional student kits for $8.00.

If you are ordering two or three kits, please note your shipping cost will be $7.00 Priority.

**If you are interested in purchasing a kit, please see this post.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Our house has turned into a kit making factory!

Our artistic shot of cut and folded fleece. The colors are off,
but it makes for a pretty photograph.

So, our house has turned into a kit making factory... we are busy cutting fleece, printing, collating, packaging, etc. We went and bought more fleece! So I have more cutting in store for me!
I can't wait to get the kits off in the mail to all of you guys. Just a few more days!
If you still haven't ordered your Hearts and Trees winter kit, the information is here.
Cutting and folding...
The printing factory...lapbooks, notebooking pages, worksheets, instructions....

I'd love to stay and chat, but there is still so much to do. ~ Amanda :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

One More Week of Pre-Ordering...

So, I've already exceeded my original kit goal! But I've decided that I will make sure that everyone who orders the Hearts and Trees winter art, handicraft and nature study kit before the 7th of December will get one. So, if you order before the 7th you are guaranteed to receive a kit! After the 7th it will be first come first served until I am out of kits. My mom had to go out to buy more fleece yesterday and again today for me, so that I can keep up with the orders! I have enough supplies to make a lot more kits, so if you haven't pre-ordered your kit, do so today! I just want to thank everyone who has already purchased a kit. And a big thank you to my returning customers and to everyone who is spreading the information about my kit in their blogs and internet groups. I am overwhelmed by the great response to my little kit. I also appreciate all the feedback and nice emails.

Scroll down for kit details and ordering instructions!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Complete Winter Kit Contents List

In the Hearts and Tree Winter Art, Handicraft & Nature Study Kit, you will receive:
1. Art Print: Signac’s Boulevard de Clichy, Paris
2. Paul Signac notebooking page
3. Cool Colors worksheet
4. Watercolor paper & black cardstock for Cool Colors Winter Tree Crayon Resist Project
5. Materials to make Sculpey Bug Thumbtacks (Sculpey colors will vary)
6. Materials to make the Easy Fleece Hat (fleece, 4 safety pins, thread, fleece strip & a needle)
7. Instructions for the Easy Fleece Hat/Sculpey Bug Thumbtacks
8. Instructions for the Cool Colors Crayon Resist
9. Colored file folder for Weather Lapbook (colors will vary)
10. Weather Lapbook (which includes: Winter Nature Journal, Kinds of Clouds, Moon Log, Weather Words, Wind Scale, Weather Record, Weather Forecasting, and space for your own weather poem)

We are offering this Winter Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study Kit for the low price of $9.95 plus $4.60 Priority rate postage. (If shipping outside of US or Canada, email us for shipping costs.)

Each kit is enough for one student but we will be offering additional student kits for $8.00.
Please note if you are ordering two or three kits your shipping cost will be $7.00 Priority rate postage.

**If you are interested in purchasing a kit, please see this post**
And this was too cute not to share. My little brother loved the fleece hat idea. He made himself one, and this photo shows him sewing up another to sell at a craft fair. They were a big success.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Colder weather and it's time for some baking...

As soon as it starts to get cooler I start to think about baking. I am the official cookie baker of my family. Ever since I was really little my mom encouraged me to help her in the kitchen. I remember making oatmeal cookies one night when I was either in preschool or kindergarten for my "snack day" at school. Even if it was just pouring what she measured into the bowl or sliding the dough off the spoon or putting the sprinkles on top of the sugar cookies it was great to feel like I was really helping. It must have been these experiences that made me love to bake. As I grew up I sort of took over the cookie baking. When my little brothers were old enough to help I realized that it is a lot harder and takes a lot longer when you have little hands helping. It may take more work and more patience, but it really is about the experience: letting your children try something new, letting them experiment, letting them feel a part of the action, sharing the joy of cooking and making memories they will remember for a long time.

So, I am encouraging you to get out your mixing bowls and aprons and get a little messy in the kitchen. Sounds like fun to me.

Here are a few favorite recipes to try:

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
You will need:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup oatmeal
2 cups chocolate chips (divided)
3/4 cup nuts (I use pecans) (divided)

Combine flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Beat in the egg. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the oatmeal, 3/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of nuts. Spread mixture into a greased 13"x9" baking pan. Bake at 350' for 22-28 minutes. As soon as you remove from the oven, sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Let sit for 5 minutes and then spread. Makes 2 1/2 dozen bars.


You will need:
1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Shape the dough by teaspoon fulls into small balls. Mix the 2 tbsp. granulated sugar and the 2 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the balls in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake in a 400' oven for 8-10 minutes.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
You will need:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Preheat oven to 400'. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 min. Cool completely. Frost and decorate. (This is the fun part!)

If you have a favorite family cookie recipe I invite you to post it on your blog (if you have one) and send me the link. I will add any recipe links to the bottom of this post.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Include Handicrafts in Your Home School?

I used to work for a before/after-school elementary school program. I was responsible for planning "projects" for the kids. It was amazing the difference in the attitude and enthusiasm of the children when we did more hands-on crafts with a real product as a result, instead of the stand-by coloring pages, collages, or cut and paste projects.
I think their favorite project was when we sewed fleece pillowcases. The whole group (K-5th graders) all got into the project. Sometimes it was a chore to get all the students to sit down and work on that day's project, but this was an exception.

As I was reading from Charlotte Mason I was struck by her points about what makes an appropriate handicraft:

"The best handicrafts for children under nine seem to be caning chairs, carton work, making baskets, weaving small rugs, Japanese curtains [?], carving cork, sewing pretty samplers, easy needlework, knitting with big needles and coarse threads, etc.

The important things to keep in mind about children's crafts are that:

a. they shouldn't waste their time making useless things like paper mats, or models constructed from softened peas and toothpicks.

b. they should receive patient, thorough instruction so they know how to do the craft correctly.

c. sloppy work should not be allowed.

d. they should be given work well within the ability of their age range so that they are able to do it well and not sloppily."

Charlotte Mason in Modern English Page 315-6

I really appreciate point a. Children don't want to make something useless. The want to learn how to sew, knit, garden, scrapbook, etc. They want to learn the skills they see us adults using.

The difficulty with teaching the children real handicrafts, and what seems to deter most parents I think is point b. It takes "patient and thorough instruction" on the parent's part. Yes, it may take more time and attention to teach a child to knit instead of having them color in a coloring book, but remember the idea is to teach a life skill. That is Charlotte Mason's whole idea behind teaching children handicrafts- teaching them life skills.

When I was probably 10 or 11, my parents bought me a sewing machine. I attended classes at the sewing shop and joined the home school sewing club. Today I sew gifts, sell crafts online and even attempt to sew clothes occasionally. What a great skill, that I never would have developed without the encouragement as a child. It is hard to explain how relaxing and satisfying it is for me when I am immersed in a project. That is something worth sharing with our children.

I think what I like the best about this idea is that parents can share whatever craft and skill they enjoy. Do you like to garden? Help your child plan, plant, and tend to his or her own little plot of land. Maybe he can just have a pot on the deck of his own to care for to start with. Do you knit? Teach your child to knit a simple scarf. Do you love photography? Share that passion with your child. It might even motivate you to get back to your favorite handicrafts. We all need that time.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Things To Do With Acorns

This time of year the ground is littered with acorns. After taking a nice nature walk and collecting acorns, what can you do with them? Below is a list of links to some fun ideas.
1. Make an acorn wreath.
2. Turn your acorns into pumpkins! (I want to do this without the jack-0-lantern faces.)
3. A little more effort required for this one: Make acorn napkin rings.

4. Make acorn cap candleholders.

5. Make acorn people. (I am going to try this.)
6. Use acorn caps to decorate a frame. (like below)

If anyone else has any other fun ideas or links feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks so much. Enjoy!

And please be sure to check out my Pinterest Fall Kids Craft Board for more ideas. 

And check out all the handicraft kits and PDFs I have for sale HERE!

Yes I am still here!

Did you all think I disappeared for good? You can't get rid of me that easily! For those of you who don't know me, I am a college student and the past week has been filled with quizes, midterms, papers and presentations. I think things have finally died down a little, thank goodness.

I have a few more photos that have been sent in of completed Hearts and Trees fall projects to share. These are from Ellie and her two sons ages 6 and 4.

~Ellie's 6 year old son did the middle painting, her 4 year old son did the left one and she even got in on the action and did the one on the right. Great work you guys!~
I love the way she mounted them so they can see and enjoy them everyday.
~She also mounted the art print and hung it on their board so they could keep looking at it. Smart idea!~

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall Themed Kits SOLD OUT!!!

So, as of today, October 13th, I am officially sold out of fall kits!! I just wanted to thank everyone that purchased a Hearts and Trees fall themed art, nature and handicraft kit. We have had such a wonderful response to this initial offering. Thanks for all the feedback and the shared photos of completed projects. We are already hard at work on our winter themed kit and hope to have it up for sale around January. Meanwhile I will be posting recipes, art ideas, nature study ideas, book suggestion, and other related items on this blog.

I am also toying with the idea of putting together smaller, more specialized kits. I welcome any feedback or suggestions or comments anyone might have. What do you think of a crochet or knitting kit? Would you like to have a specific sewing kit with a larger project? Any other ideas of what you would like to see? Feel free to leave me or comment or email me at

Friday, October 12, 2007

Introducing Our Fall Themed Kit

Announcing a Fall Themed Art Kit!
Fall Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study
8 great projects to complete and all materials are provided.
Each kit includes the instructions and materials to complete eight great projects with a minimum of effort. (Please note that you will need to provide common art supplies such as glue, tape, watercolors, washable markers, colored pencils, etc.)

These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. The parent will need to be involved in some of the more complex projects such as the hand-sewing activity.

Contents of this kit:

1. A color art print of Van Gogh's Mulberry Tree and a short biography for Van Gogh
2. A worksheet to learn about this kit's art element which is "warm colors"
3. A 12 page nature journal ready to decorate and complete with the activities provided on each page
4. All the materials to complete this kit's sewing project which is a quilted potholder using fall colors (fall print fabric will vary)
5. An origami project with the paper provided
6. Materials to make a fall colored Sculpy leaf pendant necklace (Sculpy color will vary)
7. A watercolor project that demonstrates warm colors (you will need to provide the watercolors)
8. Materials for a fall leaf banner- including the fabric, dowel, yarn, and other items

We are offering this Fall Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study Kit for the low price of $9.95 plus $4.60 Priority rate postage. (If shipping outside of US or Canada, email us for shipping costs.)

Each kit is enough for one student but we will be offering additional student kits for $8.00.

We have a limited number of kits for this initial offering just to see how great the interest is in this sort of thing so please email us ASAP so you won't miss out. Please email us to make sure we still have kits available. For your convenience we will be accepting Paypal payments. Email us at:

***To order a kit, first email me at I will email you back and let you know if I still have kits available. I will also then give you my paypal account address so you can make a payment. Once I have received your payment I will ship it within the next few days**

**EDIT 10-13 as of today we are SOLD OUT**

Check back often for information about our upcoming winter themed kit. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Some completed fall themed projects

So I am just about out of our fall themed kits. As of right now I just have two left! So if you are interested feel free to email me. I am getting a lot of good feedback. It seems like the kit is really meeting a need homeschooling parents have. Everyone wants to do arts and crafts and nature study it is just hard sometimes to get started.

Jennifer H. emailed me this photo of her four year old son's completed warm color worksheet. He drew a pumpkin patch in the box at the bottom of the page. The drawing next to it is fireworks. He used all the warm colors he could fine in his crayon box. Too cute!
Here are Rhonda's two children Robert and Ruth with their completed fall banners. Don't they look pleased with the results? I love how they are both so different. Great work guys!
If anyone else has purchased a kit and would like to share some photos on this blog feel free to email me. And be sure to check out my free downloads on the sidebar. I will be adding more soon. I have a whole list of ideas I want to share.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Free Download- Nature Journal Page

So I put together a free printable nature journal page to go along with my last post. I talked about taking a nature walk being more than just walking, but stopping to really enjoy being outdoors. The nature journal page is a fall nature walk/sense scavenger hunt.

Nature Journal Scavenger Hunt Page

Enjoy. I will be putting together some more printable nature journal pages as well as some artist notebooking pages, so check back often for updates.
I will be listing them on my sidebar as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fall Nature Walk Ideas

If you are familiar with my mom, HarmonyArtMom, and her blog The Heart of Harmony then you have most likely read about the Green Hour- The National Wildlife Federation's encouragement to everyone to take one hour outside every day. An easy way to pass that hour is by taking a nature walk. If you live in the country it could just be around your yard, down your street, around your neighborhood. If you live in the city you could walk to a park, a garden, etc. Taking a nature walk is more than just walking, it is taking time to really take in and enjoy your surroundings.

Use your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? What is the weather like? How many birds can you see? Can you hear rustling leaves? leaves blowing and falling? leaves crunching? birds chirping? Can you find any animal tracks? How many different color leaves can you find? How many different leaf shapes? How many textures? Can you find something smooth? Something rough? Something cold? Something wet? Can you feel the warmth of the sun? Can you feel the wind?
Collect acorns, pinecones, seedpods, leaves, rocks, or anything else you find interesting and bring them home to display as a collection. See if you can identify the things you collected.

Any time you are able to spend outdoors will be time well spent. Having that connection with nature is so important, not only for children, but for us adults as well. It sort of reminds me of a quote that I recently read in Ralph Waldo Emerson's book Nature, "The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough." Isn't that so true? Something about being outside is energizing. When we can see all the way to the horizon without the clutter of people and buildings and cars it is refreshing. At least for me, it feels easier to breathe.

Monday, October 1, 2007

See the Fall Art Kit in Action!

~I absolutely *love* the results of this fall banner! Beautiful!~

Hope over at The Sinister Scribe has posted some photos of her and her children's projects from the fall art kit and has invited me to share them on this blog. Check the posts out here and here and here and here. Keep up the great work!

~Hope really embraced the whole idea of our kits- to introduce new and easy ideas parents can take and use in their home schooling and nature study even after they've completed the kit's projects. She took our idea of a Nature Journal book and made one for her younger daughter as well.~

~Hope's son Sam completed the warm color watercolor project and was inspired to try his hand at another painting. I love the wet on wet effect!~

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Nature Study- Things to do with leaves

So, now is the time of year to collect all those beautiful red, orange, yellow, green, maybe even purple leaves. I know today I picked up some aspen leaves, but now the question is... what do I do with them?

Here are some ideas:

1. Make leaf rubbings- we've all done this before- place the leaf under a sheet of paper and rub with the side of a crayon. You can make cards, wrapping paper, notepaper, etc.

2. Make a leaf guide book.

3. Make a leaf mobile.

4. Make a Leaf Man inspired placemat.

5. Make a
framed leaf collage.

6. Make leaf bouquets, place in a small vase and put somewhere you will enjoy.

7. Organize your collected leaves by color, shape, size, etc.

8. Use your leaves as a
stamp when painting.

9. Press leaves between the pages of a heavy book for about a week and then use them to decorate cards, bookmarks, etc.

10. Make a leaf wreath. Glue the leaves onto a circle of cardboard. Hang with a string.

Well, there are ten easy ideas to get you started. If you have any other favorite ideas, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nature Journal Poems and Quotes

In my nature journal I like to include poems or quotes related to what I am sketching or writing about. Sometimes I write my own poems, like when my family recently went hiking. It doesn't have to be "good," just something to help recall to mind what I saw and how I felt. Here is one of the poems I wrote sitting at the edge of the mountain lake about a tree I wanted to sketch:

Tree at Eagle Lake.
Stately tall pine. Branches reaching.
Bird singing. Wind rustling. Peace.

You don't have to write your own poem. You can find a poem or a quote from a book or even online that says something about your topic. I am including some quotes and poems below for inspiration. They are all about trees, since it is Autumn after all. So go outside, find something you want to record, write your own poem, or pick a quote, and copy it in your nature journal.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world. ~John Muir

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter. ~Nova Bair

falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly~John Bailey

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For
nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. ~Edwin Way Teale

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will
flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own
freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off
like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Link to Fall Art Show

Today I thought I would post another link to one of HarmonyArtMom's fall posts from last year. She put together a list of fall themed fine art to view online.

Here are two of my favorites:

Paul Gauguin. Yellow Hay Ricks (Fair Harvest). 1889.

Monet, Claude. Autumn at Argenteuil. 1873.

Here is the link: Fall Art Show