Tag Archives: notebook

Around the World

This summer, we have a lot of friends traveling all over the world. My niece and her husband came back last month from Rwanda, our neighbor just returned from a trip to Turkey, another friend is on her way to Australia to finish school, and another niece is set to go as a missionary to Uganda for a year. We also have friends who are long-term missionaries in Paraguay. What amazing adventures! Not only do these trips make the world seem much smaller, but they offer great opportunities for learning!

When someone we know travels to another country, it provides a more personal reason to study that country. We can study the culture, language, people, cities, government, religion, landscape, flora and fauna, and cuisine of a particular nation with our friends and family in mind. We’ll discover what they’ll see and experience while they are there.

But even better, we’ll also be able to learn more than we ever would from books or online. We’ll be able to take what we’ve learned from reading and ask them about it. They’ll be able to give us details that would be hard to find in a typical report. For example, we learned that many Australians are very laid back, and use the phrase “No worries!” quite often, even in situations when the average American would be stressing out.

If you have a friend of family member who will be traveling soon, try creating your own unit study about the country they will be visiting. Start off with basic maps and facts about the country. Then tap into your friend’s experiences. If your friend has  a blog or Facebook page, visit it often with your children to see where he is and what’s he’s doing.  Find the cities where he’s been and have the kids mark them on a map. If he posts photos, include those in their notebooks as well.  If he’s staying a while, have them write letters, and add any they receive in return.

So even if you’re not traveling around the world this summer — no worries! Your children will have a great learning experience anyway!


Photo by xandert

Nature Journaling

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Lillie came running in from playing outside.

“Mommy! Mommy!” she shouted. “It’s spring! It’s spring! I saw one of those yellow flowers in the front yard!”

It was still pretty chilly outside, but she was right — the daffodils were starting to bloom. It was a good reminder to pull out our nature journals.

We started working in our nature journals again last fall, then with the busyness of the holidays we tucked them away for a while. But new life in the spring presents the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. 

Fridays are our least busy day, so that’s when we set aside some time to go outside. If you’d like to start a nature journal, here are a few tips for getting started. 



Paper: An ordinary tablet, sketchbook, homemade journal, composition book, or spiral notebook 

 Pencils and erasers

Colored pencils or watercolors

Field guides of birds, snakes, lizards, mammals, rocks, trees, etc.



The date, time, place, and weather conditions

What you see, hear, or smell. You can try to identify the objects, plants, and animals and write about what you find.

Drawings in pencil, pen, colored pencils, or watercolors.



The scientific names and common names of specimens

Interesting facts about the specimens you find

Special poems, scriptures, or hymns

A brief description or story about what you’ve found

Pressed leaves or flowers 

Leaf rubbings


There aren’t any set rules to nature journaling — one child may want to include only butterflies, while another is interested in trees. Or, a child may want to include everything he finds. As you head outside with your child, though, be sure to take a notebook and pencil for yourself. You never know what you might find!


A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to a great family activity: letterboxing. For the children, letterboxing is a treasure hunt; for parents, it’s a chance to get out and have fun with your kids.

Letterboxing involves following clues (posted online) to a small plastic box hidden in a public place, such as a state or city park. Inside the box is a small notepad, a rubber stamp with a design, and sometimes a pen. For our first hunt, we decided to look for a mermaid stamp that had been hidden in our nearby state park. The clue we printed off made it even more fun – the author had written it as a story about the mermaid and her travels through the woods.

We took along a small notepad of our own, a rubber stamp I had on hand, and a marker to ink the stamp.  My children were extra excited by this treasure hunt because my college-aged niece was going with us.  We found the landmarks mentioned in the story, though some were a little trickier to find than others.

We worked at it for about an hour, all the while talking and sharing and enjoying our time together. We eventually found the mermaid stamp at the top of a hill, tucked under a rock in a small plastic box. We took out the stamp, inked it with our marker, and stamped our own notebook with it. Then we took out our stamp, inked it, and stamped the little notebook  that was in the box. We signed and dated it as well, so the owner of the mermaid stamp would know that we had been there.  Before we left, we returned everything to the box, sealed it, and hid it again where we had found it, so other letterboxers could have a turn.

To make our next adventures even more fun, I made a little booklet for each child out of plain white paper to collect stamps in, as well as their very own rubber stamp to take along. You can also make your own stamps with custom designs. My friend has even put together her own letterboxes to hide and posted the clues online.

Ready to start your family on a letterboxing treasure hunt? Two great sites to visit are www.letterboxing.org and www.atlasquest.com.