Weekly Recap: Journal-Free Nature Walks & the Cold War

Tornado Relief: 3 Ways to Help

Our week began with the devastating Middle Tennessee tornadoes. Here, just south of the city, we escaped the damage, but so many of our neighbors in Nashville and Cookeville were not as lucky.

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  • Samaritan’s Purse teams have arrived in Middle Tennessee (you can volunteer or donate).
  • Hands On Nashville is coordinating tornado relief efforts, too. I hear local chatter about this organization often, although I’m not personally familiar with them.
  • The Home School CARE Foundation, an arm of the umbrella school we use, is collecting funds for affected homeschool families and communities. Donate here, and select the ‘General Fund’ option.

If you know of additional relief efforts, please comment below with the details.

No-Stress, No-Journal, Sketch-Free Nature Walk

Tuesday dawned sunny and calm — so eerie, in the aftermath of all the destruction left behind. After co-op, we went for a mini adventure looking for tiny things. (If you’re a Sonlight Science user, you’ll recognize those magnifying glasses!)

Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids
Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids

Here’s a crazy fact: you can go on a walk, in nature, without sketching anything or identifying anything.

Really! I give you permission. ;) Nature journaling is wildly popular in homeschool communities, but if you add journaling to your list of to-dos, it should be something you enjoy, not something you dread.

Don’t feel obligated to make your kids sketch creepie-crawlies just because everyone else seems to be doing it. It’s your homeschool, not theirs. Plus, if you try too hard to make every experience an artificially-forced learning opportunity, you’ll burn out — and your kids will get pretty annoyed, too.

Do hard things, learn to spell, finish the math book, and then have the freedom to take a real break.

Since Lochlan still needs to be isolated from other people, we chose a low-traffic park nearby and walked a Civil War trail on an old battlefield.  From a distance, the field just looked like matted, brown grass. But up close — look! A mini jungle, all less than two inches tall.

Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids
Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids
Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids
Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids

Isn’t that just magical?

Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids
Weekly Recap: Homeschool Resources for Gifted Kids

Now on to the books —

What I’m Reading This Week

The Christian Church in the Cold War, by Owen Chadwick

Ever notice most church history books focus on Western Europe only? Acts 11:26 tells us the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch, yet even books which claim to be all-encompassing (like The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History) inexplicably focus on Western Europe and leave out a wide swath of the map. As a result, we end up reading very little of Eastern Europe, and almost nothing of Asia, Africa, or Middle East. I’m eager to know more.

This particular book, The Christian Church in the Cold War, focuses on Eastern Europe and catalogs the clash between Communism and Christianity behind the Iron Curtain. Although I’m too early in the book to give a definitive review, I can say it’s definitely not intended as an introductory or light read. It’s scholarly, not devotional, and geared toward readers who are already invested in this topic.

Lent: the Journey from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week, edited by Greg Goebel and Joshua Steele

Evangelicals don’t tend to embrace Lent, but there’s been a resurgence of Lent (and Advent) practices among Christians. This book — part guidebook, part essays, part devotional — walks the reader through Lent, from an Anglican perspective. Anglican minister Tish Harrison Warren, who wrote the most excellent Liturgy of the Ordinary, penned the forward. I’m reading it slowly between now and Easter.

What Aveline is Reading This Week

Trees, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom

This is a brand-new release, published in September 2019. It’s glorious. I am almost tempted to use it as a science spine for next year, actually. Trees, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds goes far beyond your average “identify a tree by its leaf shape” content, delving into parasitic plants, types of mosses, odoriferous flowers, varieties of cacti, flower forms, bonsai, the forest floor, and gloriously more. See inside Trees, Leaves, Flowers, and Seeds here.

Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom

Aveline says, “I thought this book was interesting because it had many fascinating pictures. The photos are beautiful and perfectly in focus. On each page, there is a caption of what the page is about, for example, “Fern Fronds”. Then, there are many pictures of the sorts of things specified in the caption, and what they are called (for example, White Fern). In addition, there is one fun fact in a colored circle per page. Finally, there is always a paragraph or two at the bottom of the page. In my example, this fun information would be about ferns. While most encyclopedias have long articles, this is a picture encyclopedia, but it still has so many facts!” -Aveline, age 9

6 Things We’ve Enjoyed This Week

1. I didn’t re-order our daily art calendar right away on New Year’s Day (because I’m cheap when it comes to calendar prices), but March seems like a good time to start a 365-day calendar, right? It’s the easiest art appreciation curriculum ever.

2. Seek, a plant (and insect!) identification app. (Thanks to Megan at Schoolnest for telling me about this.)

3. Speaking of Schoolnest, have you seen her temperature-tracking printable? Absolutely worth the $2! Some ways to extend this: print 2 per page, and track highs vs. lows, side by side. Print multiple copies, and track different locations — perhaps a desert, the arctic, the tropics? Egypt? Greece or Rome? The town your sponsored child lives in?

4. Gravitrax, a physics-based marble-run construction set! Review coming soon.

5. Still digging the gouache paint from last week’s Natural World Workshop review.

6. I spy new things from Sonlight Curriculum…oh, my! Should I review that new Kindergarten American History spine?! Let me know!

And that’s the week, wrapped. (See last week: Weekly Recap: Peredvizhniki, the Agora, and Lent) What do you think?

Do you have questions about our homeschool day? Ask away in the comments below.

See you next time!

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