Just How Important Is Nature Journaling?

How Important Is Nature Journaling?I enjoy the notion of nature journaling. Perusing other people’s gorgeous collections of art, admiring their hard work and artistic abilities is a hobby. Unfortunately, the minute I ask my children to pick up a pencil, all joy is lost. Which causes me to ask, just how important is nature journaling?

This is not something we started from infancy. This was not a mom hobby. Oh, I like looking. But I’m not one of those awesomely passionate moms who’ve been journaling for years and my children just naturally pick this up. That would be nice. No, I’ve only started having an appreciation for nature journaling in the last few years and my kiddos are still catching up.

I think our problem derived from a forced study of nature. “Here is a flower. Now draw it.” While I would attempt to coerce them into seeing the beauty of the flower – which wasn’t too hard – the moment I pointed to blank paper, this became another chore on their list. No longer was this fun and creative, it was homework.

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion I should still carry our journals on trips as often as possible. I will make a point of taking time to stop for the purpose of journaling. But instead of forced participation, I will pull out my own and start to doodle. They are free to join in or simply enjoy God’s creation. If He leads, they will follow.

We’ve also adapted the notion of nature journaling to fit our needs. At times my children enjoy drawing, at others they would rather collect specimen and write about them. To this end, we carry tiny plastic bags which our children can glue into their journals with notations made beside each item. They collect flowers, seeds, sticks, and more. (Obviously this method does not work with creatures, but we take pictures of those and journal about them later.) With the freedom to choose their favored method, they are once again experiencing joy in this activity.

Whether or not our children choose to journal, I make a point of leading our children to God through His creation. I might not take time for a full lesson on the parts of a flower or the levels of a tide pool, but I am sure to express joy and awe in the colors God has chosen to use, the intricacy of the tiniest creatures, and the obvious design in everything. I am not nagging. This is not an assignment. This is true exploration and appreciation by leading my children to God.

I am inspired by the many women I see online, and in person, who take time to journal at every opportunity. We share joy in seeing all those lovely illustrations crafted by multitudes of creative children. Through God’s leading, we are trying to find our own way to nature journaling. It’s going to look unique to our family’s needs and that’s just perfect. Journaling needs to be God centered and open to His leading. What’s truly important is seeing Him.

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”
Psalm 104:24-25

Your Turn!: Do you like keeping a nature journal?

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Art Attack: Magnificent Machines

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!


Summer_ArtDo you remember when your children were little? You would buy them a wonderful present, they would open it with anticipation, and then proceed to forget the toy and play with the box? Yeah; I remember those days too!

This week’s art project will finally make use of all the packaging, boxes, bins, and toilet paper rolls you’ve been storing away.

Using materials you find around the house, give your children the task of creating a ‘Magnificent Machine’! There are no rules and no limits; simply build with the boxes, rolls, and paper on hand. This should be fun.

A few years back, our kiddos did this to create cars out of larger boxes. We added tires, a steering wheel, and more! When our project was finished, we created a “drive-in” movie theatre in our living room and watched a flick; complete with popcorn, soda, and candy. Our AWANA group did this at large, proving everyone had fun with this activity.

Magnificent Machines

Do not think your project has to end with cars though! Expand your horizons. Create “time machines”, robots, space ships, shuttles, and more. There is no end to the possibilities.

Don’t forget to paint your magnificent machine and add details like knobs, dials, and gauges (if appropriate). Above all, use your imagination and have fun!

Time to Chime In: If you don’t use them for art, what do you use all those left over boxes for?

How Pinteresting: One Bite at a Time

One ‘pin’ a week; that is the goal. Nothing too fancy, nothing too far-fetched; just a good opportunity to finally test out a few of those Pinterest ideas and see which ones really work! Join along and chime in; let us know which projects you’ve been working on and how they’ve turned out!


Summer_PinterestWe’re big book readers over here. I think there is current debate going as to who is the fastest reader, myself or my oldest daughter. Amidst all the books we own and borrow, you’d think we have a plethora of bookmarks, but no.

Our ‘pin’ of the week was to make these little monsters to help us out:

Monster Bookmarks

Click on the image above to be taken to the original ‘pin’.

These were super simple to make. Even the littlest of hands could have made these. There are a few suggestions I’d like to make, however:

  • Using plain white paper would be utterly boring AND the paper would be too thin. Consider grabbing a few sheets of patterned or colorful card stock and using that instead.
  • Follow directions when it comes to gluing pieces. The kids might get a bit over-anxious to complete their projects and accidentally glue incorrectly. Make sure they are clear on which pieces should be glued and which should not.
  • Do not strictly stick to the pattern. Our girls got the basics down and then were free to be creative. One of my girls added antennae to their monster’s head; another colored the irises of their monster quite uniquely.

Above all, have some fun and be creative. These little guys are super cute and definitely do the job! I can’t wait to put mine to use.

Time to Chime In: What is your bookmark to book ratio? Do you own enough book markers?

Care to participate in next week’s Pinteresting project? Take a look at THIS link to get a head start on next week’s ‘pin’!

Art Attack: A Spoonful of…

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!


Summer_ArtI think our kiddos have had just about enough of spiders. It is definitely time to move along… to the kitchen!

Before your mind starts conjuring up images of frosted cakes and towering piles of cookies, this project involves wood and paint. (laughing) Instead of working with food materials, we are going to be exploring the creative aspect of cookware.

For this project, each child will need a wooden spoon. Nothing fancy, just a simple, wooden spoon often used for cooking dinners and stirring pots of simmering stew. Nab a few bottles of your favorite paint, a few paintbrushes, your imagination, and you are ready to go!

Spoon Art

The project: Using their imaginations, they are to paint their spoons any way they would like. Will it be a bumblebee, a flower, an owl, or something altogether different? There is no right or wrong answer; they are merely being judged on their creativity and their neatness.

My kiddos are really looking forward to this project. It is simple, straightforward, and easy. What more could you ask for?

If you, too, decide to work on this project, shoot us an email and let us know how it turned out!

Time to Chime In: If you could redesign any piece of cookware in your kitchen, which would it be and why?

Art Attack: The Web We Weave

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!


Summer_ArtContinuing on with our spider theme, started last week, we will once again be delving into the world of arachnids. To change things up, instead of focusing on the creatures themselves, we will be taking a look at their webs.

The project, to take a simple string of yarn and turn it into a spider’s web. The challenge, to focus on only the web; no decorations may be added. They are being judged on their creativity with the weaving and on neatness.

Each child will be given one sheet of 8×10 black card stock. On this canvas, each kiddo is free to create their web of choice. There are no rules as to the color of the web or the structure; creativity reigns!

Sound like fun? Join us! Here is a sample, to show you the basic concept:

Spider Web

Time to Chime In: What is the most unusual spider’s web you’ve seen?

Art Attack: The Eensie-Weensie Spider

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!


Summer_ArtNever mistake simple for easy. For example, one of our summer art projects is to decorate a spider printout in the most creative way possible. Simple, yes; easy, not necessarily!

A basic spider shape is being provided to all four of our children. Each child is to then take this outline, cut it out, adhere it to black card stock and then decorate it however they’d like. The challenge: To be as neat as possible and to think outside the box.

Are their spiders going to be realistic or creative? Will they paint their spiders, color them with markers, cover them in glitter, or perhaps try embossing powder? (Oh; maybe we should buy some flocking and give that a whirl! Good idea…) The only limit given is that they cannot use food to decorate their creations. Not only do they need to concern themselves with the body of the spider, which is provided, but they also need to create legs for their arachnid. Eyes might be a good idea, as well.

No other embellishments may be made to the 8×10 card stock; this is a test of their spider only. They are being judged based on their adherence to the rules and their imaginations.

This is going to be an interesting entry. Each year, we do a competition of this sort and it always proves to be fun. A few of the kids tend to lean towards reality, while the other two prefer to come up with their own designs. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

Should you care to join in the fun, here is a quick printout which you can use with your own kiddos. Simply print, cut, glue and decorate!

Spider Outline

Feel free to print this out and try your own project at home!

If you do decide to try out this project, please shoot us an email and share pictures of your results. We’d enjoy cheering you on and sharing in the fun.

Time to Chime In: Would your children prefer to create a realistic spider or fictional?

How Pinteresting: Shrinky Dinky Doo

One ‘pin’ a week; that is the goal. Nothing too fancy, nothing too far-fetched; just a good opportunity to finally test out a few of those Pinterest ideas and see which ones really work! Join along and chime in; let us know which projects you’ve been working on and how they’ve turned out!


Summer_PinterestTo be honest, we’ve done this before. It wasn’t a success, but we’ve done it. How could we have gone wrong, you ask? Simple; we didn’t follow the directions!

This week’s project was to re-tackle Shrinky Dink. We tried this experiment last summer and had no success. The ink we used to color our images kept coming off and the projects ended up breaking on us, due to our mishandling of the material. This year, we were determined to conquer this challenge and figure out how to create a masterpiece with Shrinky Dink.

Shrinky Dink

Click on the picture to follow the Pinterest link! (Original image not mine.)

This project is fairly simple and straightforward; if you follow the directions, that is. Here is what you’ll need:

Shrinky Dink
Alcohol Based Inks
Stamps (optional)
StayzOn Stamp Pad (optional)
An Oven (either toaster or traditional)
Corner Punch (optional)

Creating these beauties is fairly easy. Draw your image onto the Shrinky Dink paper; color the image using alcohol based inks; cut out the image; then bake it in your oven until the image shrinks down in size and flattens out. Carefully remove your projects from the oven and allow them to cool for a moment. Once they are finished; have fun!

If you’d like, you could use stamps and a StayzOn ink pad to create your images as well. Simply ink your stamp; stamp the image; and color it. The rest of the steps are the same.

What did we do differently this year? Well, here are a few tips on what we did wrong last year and how we did things this year:

  • Draw and color on the correct side of the Shrinky Dink. Last year, a few of our kiddos got a little confused.
  • Use the correct colored pens. Last year, we thought we could get away with using Crayola markers. It didn’t work out so well. This year, we used colored Sharpies and Pantone markers.
  • Use the right ink pad; no water based stamp pads will work. Definitely stick with StayzOn!
  • Place the projects face down in the correct manner and not too close to one another, when putting them in the oven. Ours tended to stick to each other, if placed too near. Plus, if put the wrong side up, they will curl in upon themselves and turn into a sticky mess which will break if you try to fix them.
  • Use a corner punch for square objects, especially if you are making jewelry (as shown in the above picture). Once shrunk, this material will get very sharp on the edges and cut little fingers, if you aren’t careful.

With these tips in mind, we proceeded with caution. We are very happy to say this year’s projects turned out wonderfully! Our girls even decided to be especially creative and use the Shrinky Dink to make Father’s Day cards for the men in our lives. They turned out beautifully!

Given that we payed attention to instructions, we had a blast and were successful in our endeavors. Let this be a lesson for all our future projects. Yet another successful ‘pin’. (Well, this time around!)

Time To Chime In: Have you ever made jewelry out of Shrinky Dink? Share your creativity!

Care to participate in next week’s Pinteresting project? Take a look at THIS link to get a head start on next week’s ‘pin’!


Art Attack: Computer Challenged

In a world of busy-ness and responsibility, it’s just as important to take a few moments exploring the creative side of life. Join us as we share ideas on how to get those imaginative juices flowing and explore a world of art!


Summer_ArtThis summer our art is full of personal challenges. We’ve attempted to recreate the past, color creatively, and more! This week’s challenge: computer art!

Instead of using a traditional form of art, our kids were given the task of creating a completely digital piece of artwork. They could use reference, but the work had to be entirely their own handiwork.

How is this done? Well, first off, you need the right tools. Luckily, I’m married to an artist!

Our kids used Photoshop to create their images. They first used the drawing tool to get the initial design. They then used a myriad of other helpful tools included in the program to color, highlight, and detail their project. Besides Photoshop, our kids were given short lessons on how to use a drawing tablet.

Unfortunately, you will need the right tools to complete this challenge. Unlike traditional art, digital art is all about having the right program and equipment. While we understand this is not feasible for everyone, if you can afford to go this route, we highly recommend it.

Pete the Cat

A previous digital project, completed by my son.

In the current age of technology, digital art is the standard. Does this mean traditional artists are a thing of the past? No; heaven forbid! (My man still likes painting.) What it does mean, is that if you want to work at art for a living, digital is a necessity. There are very few companies who will accept hand drawn art any longer. We have come to a place in time where everyone expects their product to be emailed, downloaded, and Drop Boxed. They want to be able to change colors, angles, and styles at the drop of a hat. This is almost impossible with hand-drawn art; unless, of course, you don’t mind spending hours at a drawing board adjusting clients’ requests.

Our challenge is a tough one this week, but well worth the effort. Our children are having fun. The only rule is that they be as creative as possible; nothing else. The goal is to better learn the tools at hand and eventually to master the art of digital media.

Time to Chime In: Do you own any computer art programs? Which do you favor and how often are your children using it?

How Pinteresting: Hoo Wants to Join In?

One ‘pin’ a week; that is the goal. Nothing too fancy, nothing too far-fetched; just a good opportunity to finally test out a few of those Pinterest ideas and see which ones really work! Join along and chime in; let us know which projects you’ve been working on and how they’ve turned out!


Summer_PinterestWhen we can combine our love of learning with fun and art, you know we are going to put it to the test. Settled down at the kitchen table, with all our tools at hand, we were ready to go…

Who doesn’t like owls? They’re cute, believed to be smart, and fascinating to watch. My kiddos enjoy anything remotely related to owls, so this is the perfect ‘pin’ for us to start off with!

Owl Modeling Project

Simple and easy, right? Well… For those who have little to no experience working with clay this might be a bit of a challenge. For adults, this project would probably come out almost exactly like the picture. For the littles, it might prove a tad more difficult.

I created a sample while my children watched, hoping this would help them with making their own owls. I had to start over twice, but finally got the hang of it. I haven’t worked at modeling in such a long time, it took a few minutes to get a feel for the texture of this particular clay.

My girls were able to complete the steps fairly well, but (being perfectionists like their mama; poor things) they kept redoing the project till they felt it looked more like the picture provided. The wings just wouldn’t fold at an exact angle and the ears weren’t coming out even. They did get it after a few tries though and seemed pleased with their project.

My little man had the most trouble with this. He needed to learn the concept of rolling, or pressing, the clay without making it too thin. Once the clay gets too thin, it is very difficult to work with and manipulate. We re-rolled and modeled several times before he understood this a little better. Once we got our initial circle going, he did fine from there.

One thing I will say for this project: besides being fairly simple, it can be made very quickly! From start to finish, the owls took approximately fifteen minutes to complete! (It should be noted, however, that this does not include dry time or painting; which must be done later.)

Rather than make clay (I was feeling rather lazy), I chose to purchase a bucket of Crayola modeling clay which I found for a great price. The clay proved very easy to work with, formed nicely, and cleaned off well. It’s non-toxic and, as I mentioned, a pretty good price for the amount received.

For those die-hard DIYers; here are a few recipes for clay which would also work:

About.com (Chemistry)
Homeschooling Ideas

Overall, this was a great project to have started off with. It was simple, fun, and sparked an interests in my kids. We will definitely be doing more modeling in the future!

Time to Chime In: How often does your family practice modeling with clay? Which recipe do you prefer? (Or brand, if you’d rather buy!)

Care to participate in next week’s Pinteresting project? Take a look at THIS link to get a head start on next week’s ‘pin’!

Work Hard, Play Harder: Smile for the Camera!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecc. 3:1) Join us as we explore a season of fun and family! Help us discover new ways to enjoy family time and build lasting memories.


Summer_work-playWe are always looking for creative ways to spend time together as a family. If we can document those memories, even better! This week, our family is going to spend a little time exploring the fun world of photography!

After an exciting outing to our local Apple Store, our kids are even more enthusiastic about exploring the world of photography and video filming. We learned how to better use iPhoto, Pages, and iMovie to help us document all those moments we don’t want to forget.

Building on this theme, we thought we’d continue on with our lessons and do a little exploring on our own!

•We all have iMovie on our desktop computers, but mommy is going to download the app for her iPod; helping us to better make use of this incredible application. Our goal is to better learn this app and to use it to the fullest before the summer ends!

•We are learning how to not only take better shots, but how to alter those pictures using applications on our computers. We’ll explore taking black and white photographs, changing images to sepia, shooting HDR, and more.

•We are spending time out-of-doors this week, practicing our camera skills; learning to take portrait, landscape, and macro pictures. With several cameras at hand, we’ll practice taking all sorts of fun, serious, and creative pictures. There are no ‘rules’, except to have tons of fun and to use our imaginations.

Photography Fun

•Using iMovie, we will be creating fun films about our adventures at local museums. Speaking of which…

•We are going to be visiting a local museum which has a special exhibit on Victorian photography! That should be neat.

•We are going to create a photo book, put together a slide show, do a little scrapbooking with the pictures, and print some of our favorites for the kids’ walls. We are going to surround ourselves with photographic art and memories.

Want to join in the fun, but aren’t sure where to start? While buying an awesome camera isn’t affordable for everyone, there are definitely ways to better learn the device you currently own.

I would highly recommend a quick Google search for tutorials on how to get a handle on your camera of choice. From there, take a look at these websites for tips on how to take incredible pictures:

Digital Photography
Wiki How
Peta Pixel
iPhone Only Photography

With these handy-dandy tips (and my husband’s incredible know how), we are ready to explore the world around us and capture memories on digital ‘film’. This should be loads of fun!

Time to Chime In: What is your camera of choice? Have you taught your kiddos how to use it?