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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
Fax: 503-253-7345
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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For 27 Years The Teaching Home Has Been Providing Families
Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement from a Distinctively Christian Perspective.
Cindy Short and Sue Welch, Co-Editors

Art: Nature Studies

by Barry Stebbing
How Great Thou Art

Drawing from the "How Great
Thou Art" Student Gallery.

Drawing Out-of-Doors

For the art student, going out-of-doors to study nature can be very inspiring. In the beginning, however, there may be some obstacles to overcome.

For one thing, trying to draw everything that is around us in nature can be overwhelming.

Along with trying to copy every little detail is the added frustration of working in surroundings that can be uncomfortable: the wind will blow your papers away, bugs will pester you, the weather will be too hot or too cold, and passing strangers may try to see what you are drawing.

However, as you acclimate yourself, you will enjoy working out-of-doors.

 •  Make sure to dress comfortably, suitable for the climate or the season.

 •  Take along a hat and chair and sit in the shade.

 •  Clip your artwork down so it doesn't blow in the wind.

 •  It may be better to start with a small sketchbook, keeping subject matter simple and colorful.

Most importantly, be thankful that you have God's creation for subject matter and inspiration.

Creating Greens in Leaves

A simple nature study to start with is leaves.

Most young students go outside with one green pencil and color everything the same green. It is said that Vincent Van Gogh knew of over one hundred different greens he could make when painting out-of-doors.

See how many greens you can find in leaves and then create these various tones with your colored pencils. Your tones of green will not be exactly like the greens in the leaves, but this exercise will teach you the beauty of making a wide variety of colors.

 •  Use artist-quality pencils.

 •  Draw and color each leaf, using various colors to make different tones of green.

 •  Draw with one of your colored pencils instead of a drawing pencil.

 •  Start with a light color like yellow, and then add darker colors.

 •  Don't outline your entire leaf with one heavy line; instead, only outline certain areas.

Make a Green Color Chart

While you are experimenting with various greens, make a color chart and place your new greens in it.

 •  To make a color chart, draw some small squares with a ruler on a sheet of white paper and then experiment with your colored pencils, seeing how many new colors you can create.

 •  First, experiment by blending yellow with blue.

 •  Another important green is a light, bright yellow/green. This is the color of grass, bushes, and trees when the sun is shining on them. To make this color, simply use a lot of yellow and then place a very light green over it.

 •  You can also make a light green by using a lot of yellow and adding a touch of blue. Another green is a dark blue/green, made by adding a lot of blue over green, making it darker and richer. This darker green is found in many shaded areas.

 •  For a dull green, you can add the complement of green to the color. A complementary color is simply the color that is directly opposite to it on the color wheel. Thus, the complement of green is red.

See how many different greens you can put in your color chart, and write under each the colors you used to make it, starting with the color you used most, to the next color, to the least. For example, a blue/green might be Y + G + B (yellow + green + blue).

Simple Studies from Nature

 •  In the beginning, keep your studies as simple as possible: one leaf, one flower, one pine cone, one branch, etc. Simple studies are both educational and easy to comprehend.

 •  Start by drawing each object lightly with a colored pencil. Then squint your eyes to see how many colors you see in the object.

 •  Place those colored pencils in your hand as a reminder, and then start placing a lot of color into your drawing. Learn to see color, and don't forget to use a lot of delightful greens.

So, let's pack up our art materials and venture outside! As you are surrounded by God's creation, you will sense its wonder and purpose.

Barry Stebbing is the author of How Great Thou Art instruction materials.

A Nature Notebook

A Nature Notebook gives your child a record of his discoveries as well as a journal of the places he has visited. It can help your child become more observant and extend your learning time after your walk. Plus, it's just plain fun!

Materials List

•  Notebook
A spiral-bound notebook that opens flat with unlined, medium to heavyweight white pages.

•  Pencils, Pens, Paints, etc.
Good quality colored pencils or, for variety, watercolor paints or watercolor pencils.

•  Flower Press
Small types are available at craft stores or you can make your own by layering smooth, thick paper towels between pieces of corrugated cardboard and stacking heavy books on top. More information.

•  Clear Contact Paper
Use to protect pressed flowers and leaves that have been glued on the pages. Wait for the glue to dry first.

What To Include

Your nature journal or notebook will be a record of your observations, using any or all of the following:

•  Written record of item, date and place found or seen.

•  Drawing of item in various media. This can be your original sketch or a drawing from a field guide.

•  Photo or post card of item.

•  Dried and pressed flowers or leaves (if collection is allowed by law or the property owner). It is best not to pick up feathers.

•  A rubbing of tree bark or leaves.

•  Added sentence or paragraph about the circumstances of found item.

•  An appropriate quote, Bible verse, or poem.


•  My Nature Book for grades 2-6.

•  Online Field Journal. Suggestions for keeping a nature journal, plus printable pages to record information and make drawings.

•  Suggestions and sample pages of a nature journal.

•  Nature Study from Living Books Curriculum.

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Thank you!

2008 State Conventions

Learn more about a major convention in your state by linking to the sponsoring organization's website below.  (Conventions already held are not listed.)

For regional and local events, check the listings of support groups on the state organizations' websites at

AL: May 9-10; AZ: July 18-19; AR: May 9-10; May 16-17; CA: July 10-12; CO: June 12-14; CT: June 13-14;  FL: May 22-24

ID: June 6-7; IL: June 5-7; IA: June 6-7;  KY: July 11-12; MS: May 16-17; MT: May 16-17

NH: May 23-24; NJ: May 30-31; NY: May 2-3; May 29-31; NC: May 22-24; OH: June 26-28; OR: June 20-21; PA: May 9-10

SC: June 20-21; TN: Various Dates; TX: August 14-16; TX: June 6-7; VA: June 5-7; WV: May 30-31; WI: May 29- 31; WY: May 16-17

Canada & International
NB: May 23-24; New Zealand: Various Dates


HSLDA offers homeschooling families a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense that gives them the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone.

(Use discount group number 299142 for $20 off your membership fee.)


These free newsletters are made possible by the fine suppliers who advertise in them and the accompanying e-mails.

Visit our new Resource Exhibit Hall (where we archive the Resource E-mails you receive—many with special offers) and consider if their products and services can benefit your family.

The Teaching Home
Back Issues

Teaching Home Back Issues

Fifty-one back issues are offered online or by mail order.

The information, inspiration, and encouragement packed into each back issue never goes out of date. They are always relevant, applicable to your needs today.

Order securely online.

Sunnyside Up

Combining Math & Anatomy

The other day my 5-year-old placed his hand on his forehead and asked me, "Mommy, is this my forehead?"

"Yes," I said.

Then he asked, "Do I have a six-head or a five-head?"

Guess those number facts are starting to stick!

Submitted by Janet, Texas.

Send your humorous anecdote to

24/7 Christian Music Online!

Listen to beautiful traditional, sacred, and inspirational conservative Christian music (commercial free!) when you tune in to Abiding Radio at

God Loves You.

Because we have been separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died in our place, then rose to life again. If we trust Him as our Savior and Lord, He will forgive our sin and give us eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

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Copyright 2008 The Teaching Home


Planing Summer / Enjoying Spring
     1.  Stay Cool This Summer
     2.  Seeing God in Nature
     3.  Go on a Nature Walk
     4.  Plant and Animal Identification

     1.  Art: Nature Studies
     2.  Keeping a Nature Notebook

Recommended Resources
 •  Beyond Phonics
 •  Creation Illustrated
 •  Living Books Curriculum
 •  Christian Book Clearinghouse


Spring is here!  It’s time to get out of the house, go for a walk, and enjoy nature.  Along the way you will find many opportunities to learn about, appreciate, and wonder at God’s creation.

May the Lord bless your family for His glory.

The Pat Welch Family, Publishers
Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian

The Teaching Home is a home-school, family-run business operated in our home since 1980.

It's Not Too Late for Poor Spellers!

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     Just one textbook covers grade levels 1-12; remedial for all ages. Compatible with all curricula and all learning styles.
     Examples: ie - "Natalie ate her cookie as she walked on the prairie with her collie";
     ey - "We didn't have the money to keep the monkey, so we took the trolley..." See samples.
Beyond Phonics / 1-800-518-3224

Stay Cool This Summer!

No, this is not about air conditioning; it's about scheduling. Actually, it's about overscheduling.

Since it is already time to consider and sign up for many summer activities, here are some thoughts to help you.

First, prayerfully consider your most important goals as a Christian home-school family, such as:

 •   Spiritual growth and service
 •   Personal development
 •   Family closeness

Then, ask yourself questions like these:

1. Spiritual Growth
Are we allowing plenty of time for personal and family Bible reading, study, discussion, and memorization, as well as prayer and hymn singing?

2. Service and Evangelism
Is there something we could do as a family
1) to serve others in our church, extended family, or community that would bring honor to God or
2) to spread the good news of salvation?

3. Academics
Which skills and/or subjects do each of our children really need to master, review, or maintain this summer to be ready for next year?

4. Relaxation
When can each person have time alone to just relax, without demands or deadline?

5. Family Unity
Will an activity we are considering tend to unify or separate our family?

6. Making Memories
What can we do together this summer that will create life-long memories and strengthen our bonds?

7. Limited Commitments
Can we limit our commitments in such a way that we all feel unhurried and rested, while accomplishing a few things we really care about?

As always, we need to diligently keep the good from crowding out the best!

Quality summer reading for students of all ages ...

Creation Illustrated:
"The Christian Answer
to National Geographic" —
Every issue a keepsake!

     Keep your students learning this summer!  They will watch the mailbox for the next issue full of inspiring, character-building lessons found in nature.  Perfect for summer trips, camping, devotions, and meaningful summer reading!
     Read sample stories at

     Order your subscription for only $14.95 (25% off)
or try a free introductory issue.

Seeing God in Nature

The Bible says that God has revealed Himself through His creation.  We can build our children's faith when we point them to the Creator through the study of all the wonders He has made.

“For since the creation of the world
     His [God’s] invisible attributes,
     His eternal power and divine nature,
     have been clearly seen,
Being understood through what has been made,
     so that they are without excuse.”
          (Romans 1:20)

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
     And their expanse is declaring
     the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
     And night to night reveals knowledge.”
          (Psalms 19:1-2)

1. Start with Creation

Teach your children about creation directly from the Scriptures, starting in Genesis.

2. Proceed to Appreciation

Teach your children to appreciate and wonder at God’s creation as you drive, walk, view videos, or look at books.  Notice its:

 •   Beauty
 •   Complexity
 •   Order
 •   Incredible dimensions, both large and small

3. Not Neglecting Praise

Don’t stop with appreciation and wonder; go on to express praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for His creation.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
     His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
          (Psalms 34:1)

4. Seeing What God Is Like

Help your children see God’s attributes in creation.  (Read Psalm 104 and Psalm 139:13-16.)  Some examples include:

•  Power and Might – in thunderstorms and the pounding waves

•  Faithfulness – in the consistent days, months, and seasons

•  Love and Care – for the smallest bird (Matt. 10:29)

•  Beauty – in scenery, flowers, sunsets, etc.

•  Majesty – in the grandeur of mountains and canyons

•  Infiniteness – in the expanse of the universe

•  Orderliness – in migration and design

•  Creativity – in the variety of nature

Quote of Note

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”
     – George Washington Carver


•  Christian Textbooks, Worktexts, and Unit Studies. See The Teaching Home's Resource Directory.

•  Answers In Genesis, mega-website with many articles and resources.

•  Creation Illustrated and Nature Friend, Christian nature magazines.

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

An easy-to-use guide with clear rules, real-world examples,
and reproducible quizzes.

     This is one of the best grammar resources we've found. It is concise, entertaining, student-friendly, includes easy-to-understand rules, abundant examples, dozens of reproducible exercises, and pre- and post-tests to help teach grammar to students ages 10 and up (parents too!). Paper, 160 pp. $14.95  Order Here.

Living Books Curriculum: A complete Charlotte Mason curriculum for the 21st century. Free downloads: Curriculum Sampler; eBook: Teaching Less while Your Child Learns

Go on a Nature Walk

Walking out-of-doors with your children is a wonderful daily habit.  The benefits include:

• An invigorating change of pace.
• An excellent form of exercise.
• A time to visit with, and teach, your children.
• An opportunity to observe and appreciate nature.

You can casually notice and comment on things in nature from time to time as you walk along, or you can plan a more formal nature walk.

Either way, it is important to teach your children, by word and example, to be aware of their surroundings and see the beauty of God’s creation all around them.

Wherever you go, be sure you know and observe posted rules, common courtesy, and safety. Stay on the paths, no loud running around other people, no picking plants or removing wildlife, avoid poisonous plants or snakes, etc.

See safety pointers at U.S. Forest Service.

Where To Go

•  Within walking distance: around your own yard, neighborhood, or nearby park.

•  Within driving distance: a nearby conservation area; garden; arboretum; county, state, or national forest or park; or the beach.

     Audubon Centers and Sanctuaries
     National Forests
     National Park Service

For State Parks in your state, search “state park” in Google.

When To Go

•  During your daily scheduled walk time.

•  Try walking your regular route at different times during the day and observing any differences.

•  At night (for a change). Take Dad or an older brother, follow safety precautions, and go quietly so as not to disturb your neighbors.

•  A whole or half-day outing and picnic with Dad and/or another family.

What To Take

Be prepared to observe nature and make your walk safe and comfortable by bringing:

•  Your curiosity. On the way, talk about things you might see and raise questions about them.

•  Snacks and water.

•  First aid kit.

•  Magnifying glass for a closer look at details. The large size is handier to use for small things like bugs.

•  Binoculars for long-distance things like birds.

•  Camera to capture images of nature.

•  Plastic jar with mesh lid for insects.

•  Plastic bag to collect items such as small rocks, shells, leaves, pine cones, or sticks.

•  Sketch book or small notebook for notes.

•  Regular No. 2 pencil and/or good-quality colored pencils and a good eraser.

•  Nature field guide(s) of birds, insects, animals, trees, plants, wildflowers, rocks, shells, etc. Look for those that specialize in species found in your state or region.


See more than 15,000 nature related books and products (including 400 different field guides) at

Types of Walks

You can add variety to your nature walks and learn more by trying some of the following:

Penny Walk
As you walk in your neighborhood, flip a penny at every corner and go right if it is heads, and left if it is tails.

A to Z Walk
Look for an item in nature for every letter of the alphabet that you can. (You might have to use scientific names from your guidebook for some letters.)

Rainbow Walk
Try to find something for every color of the rainbow.

Leave-It-Where-You-Find-It Scavenger Hunt Walk
Make a list and look for items such as something hard, soft, short, long, fuzzy, smooth, large, and small.

For a greater challenge, list specific species of plant or animal or types of rocks, leaves, or clouds, etc.

If you have a digital camera, you might photograph each item for viewing on your TV or computer screen.

Touch, Smell, Listen
Use your senses to observe nature by seeing, touching, smelling, and hearing.

Try to concentrate on listening to sounds on your night walk when you are not distracted by seeing things.

Print a worksheet for this walk and find other ideas at

Include Worship

If your family is in an area by yourselves, it can be very meaningful to quote or read a few Bible verses (Psalm 19), sing a song (“How Great Thou Art”), and pray, praising and thanking the Lord for the beauty of the earth.

If you are not able to have a time of worship outside, you might quote Scripture, sing softly, and pray in a conversational manner as you walk along the trail or ride home in the car.

Advanced Options

Your family may find that they want to make a serious hobby (at least for one spring or summer) of one of the following:

•  Bird watching
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
National Audubon Society
Online Bird Guide

•  Entomology
Gather, study, and display insects. Collections can be entered in state fairs. Don't miss these great websites:
Home Science Tools

•  Geocaching
Take your family or group geocaching—a type of scavenger hunt for a waterproof container bearing a “treasure.”

•  Hiking or Backpacking

Christian Book Clearinghouse & CBC Select
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Plant and Animal Identification
by Joy Marie Dunlap

A particular focus in our children's science study has been the careful observation of God's creation.

Familiarize your children with field guides, showing them the different plant families. Show them how to identify a plant by its shape, size, color, fruit, seeds, and leaves.

•  See if you can identify all the shrubs and trees in your yard.

•  Then go to a park and identify plants there as well.

•  Go on to identify birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fish.

Young Children

Younger children may not be ready for the technical details required by this exercise, but there are things you can do now to get them ready to use a field guide later.

When your young child sees a bird, ask him to notice and describe different characteristics to you.

•  Was it larger or smaller than a robin?

•  What color was it?

•  Was its tail short or long?

•  Did it have a crest?

•  What about stripes, spots, or other markings?

•  Did it fly smoothly or like a roller coaster?

List and Count

Our younger children have enjoyed making a list of the creatures they see on a walk. We often take long walks in nature and see rabbits, squirrels, ducks, hawks, egrets, and other wild creatures which are easy to identify.

Our children also count how many of each they see and write it down either on the walk or as soon as they get home.

This is the way naturalists become familiar with wildlife populations. In fact, a local naturalist, seeing our children's enthusiasm for wild creatures, asked us to help her by counting the bats in our area.

Read more of Joy Marie Dunlap's articles at


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