4 Nature Walk Projects

nature walk

In our family, one of the best things about the weather change is the increase in family walks. We walk all year long; however, in the good weather, we are ALWAYS taking walks and planning outdoor activities.

Another of our favorites is to incorporate a “nature walk” into our day. A nature walk, by definition, is a walk in nature – learning about nature, noticing nature, capturing nature. We do these differently every time. Sometimes we simply slow down and talk about what we see. This is usually child led and we stop and discuss anything they find interesting.

Another way to make our nature walks fun is to collect things we find in nature and bring them back home to create a project. This usually furthers the discussion as well as spurs our creative side.

If you would like to be a little creative and turn your next nature walk into craft time, here are some suggestions on what to collect and some ideas on the craft you can make with what you create.


One of the easiest and most common nature walk projects is for your child to collage various flowers and plants along your walk. You can then take these home for a variety of projects.

Dry your flowers – If you take the time to dry your flowers and plants, you can either make a picture with the dried collection or a framed picture of your collection. Lastly, potpourri is a great project if you have some very fragrant items in your collect.

Decorative arrangement – If you collect mostly flowers and there are plenty of them, you can head home to play with flower arranging. This can be fun to see how they look and discuss sizing and placement. Remember to water your flowers.

Live plant picture – Those obviously not drying your flowers will limit the “life” of your picture, you can make a lovely picture with live flower petals.

nature walksCOLLECT STICKS

A fun thing to do while you are taking a nature walk is to collect various sticks. Find ones of different sizes and shapes.

When you get home with your sticks, put them in piles.
Get construction paper or a large piece of art paper.
Arrange the sticks to spells names or make a heart. You can make many different shapes with the twigs.
Once you find what you would like for your picture, glue the sticks in place.
Hang on the wall or frame.

Something the kids have always found fun is to take a piece of paper and crayon with them on a nature walk (backpack or in a pocket or the bottom of the stroller) and make tree and plant rubbings. We usually use those big crayons for little kids or we use the crayons we made out of scrap crayons and melted together.
Take the paper and lay it on the bark of the tree or over a plant leaf and then lightly rub the side of the crayon over the paper with the bark or plant under it
You can label it or use it for a print or drawing.
The kids think this is fun and we usually do a bunch of them.
Be sure to take lots of paper!

Another favorite is to collect rocks. The kids will collect rocks along the way and bring them home to paint. This is fun because they know they are going to paint them. However, if they find something really unique, we don’t paint it, it goes into our rock collection box for later. You might be surprised what kinds of rocks you find along your way.

Remember, in the end, the goal is to enjoy nature and have fun with what your children collect. Let them be creative. There is no one way to make something with what they collect. Simply collect some things and let their imaginations carry them. You might be surprised what they will create.

Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set – Alpha Omega Publications Review

Alpha Omega Review

My son is entering the 1st grade this year – how did that happen? He is SO excited to be a 1st grader and was even more excited when I placed the Horizon’s 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set from Alpha Omega Publications in front of him and showed him we were starting 1st grade work. This is one review he was excited to get started on! Having the opportunity to review this product from Alpha Omega Publications was a great opportunity to get our school year off to a good start!

For this review we were provided the Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set, which is comprised of two consumable student workbooks, two student readers, and a teacher’s guide. Between the two student workbooks, there are 160 lessons covering topics such as consonant and vowel sounds, consonant and vowel blends, vowel pairs, prefixes and suffixes, and syllables, to name a few.

20150817_140329Each lesson works on penmanship, vocabulary, phonics, phonemic awareness, text comprehension and fluency. The lessons are presented in a spiral method meaning that what is learned will be reviewed throughout the lessons, ‘spiraled’ through with new material throughout the year. Each lesson is 2 pages long, brightly colored with engaging illustrations and varying activities and exercises. The lesson activities include fill in the blanks, word searches, letter and sound recognition exercise, and picture matching. My son completed his first cross word puzzle in lesson 7 and was amazed that he could complete such a puzzle.

20150725_151906The lessons move along at a good pace, so a lot of material is covered; but, as I mentioned, the new material and old material are spiraled together so some review is intermingled with new concepts being presented. The student readers are fun, easy to read stories with comprehension questions at the end of the story. These questions help the student recall what they have read and allow the parent to see if they are comprehending the story rather than just reading words.

The Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set also includes a thorough Teacher’s Guide which includes daily lesson plans with clearly defined goals, supplies and activities to help the parent make teaching phonics fun for the student. Teaching tips, duplication masters, answer keys and review worksheets are included in the teacher’s guide.

My 5 year old will turn 6 in September and will be entering his 1st grade year. However, he is a boy and his attention span is still short. The 2 full pages, front and back, of the lesson takes him anywhere between 15-30 minutes, depending upon the exercise and his attention span abilities that day. We used it 3 days a week for the period of this review and found that completing a full lesson on most days was difficult. We decided to do 2 pages each day (1/2 a lesson). This seemed to work much better for him. We found that forcing completion of the lesson made it take even longer and for him to lose interest. We began doing 2 pages of the lesson and then reading a story in the reader. I am hopeful that as we continue to use this curriculum, his attention span will improve and we will be able to get through the entire lesson. However, for now we intend to continue to 2 pages per day and increase usage to each school day – 4-5 days a week. Obviously this would drag out the year a little; however, we do tend to do school into the summer month and we also take breaks as needed and do extra weekend school at times. This would be something we would use to work through even on light days therefore hopefully completing the entire program at least by the summer even with the slower pace.

I am certain that as he matures and his attention to the lessons and reading improves, as well as his writing skills improving, we will be able to complete more of the lesson in the 15-20 minutes we take for these lessons. I look forward to seeing him progress as the year moves forward.

Alpha Omega Review
In this short amount of time we have been using The Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set, I have seen him enjoy activities he did not feel confident he could do before as well as increased understanding of the materials. His reading is improving and he seems to enjoy the readers, which is a feat in and of itself. So many reader are boring and these stories thus far have been interesting and engaging to him.

Horizons 1st gradeOne thing we struggled with was understanding what some of the pictures were indicating. For instance, a picture of a girls face, he says “girl” but the exercise is hard and soft “c” sounds so the picture is supposed to make the student think of the word “face.” This happened several times and I had to search myself forward in the lesson of the teachers manual to figure out what word to which the picture was referring. But usually we just skipped these and moved on so as not to draw out the lesson any further. There is usually plenty of practice that skipping one example is not detrimental to the lesson.Overall, we liked the lessons, the readers’ stories, and the pace of the lessons. The colorful illustrations, fun and varied games, and interesting stories make this is a good curriiclum for my son. He is not reluctant to work on his reading, which is something he has had confidence issues with. The curriculum is easy for him to use and easy for me, as the teacher, to teach. I think it’s a good and solid program that will make teaching phonics and reading fun and easy for teacher and student.  I would recommend this program.Be sure to check it out for yourself on their website. You can even see sample pages of the workbooks and readers here.

You can purchase the Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set for $106.95 on the Alpha Omega Publications website. If you are interested in what the rest of the TOS Review Crew through of Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set or some of the other  Alpha Omega Publications curriculum sets,  click the banner below. And be sure to check out Alpha Omega Publications on social media:

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Alpha Omega Review


4 Ways to Combat Spring Fever

spring flowersSpring is in full swing and summer is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but we still have some school to wrap up. But how do you stay focused with that big ball of sunshine hovering overhead?

Doesn’t your homeschool have a case of Spring Fever? you know what I’m talking about. Those longing eyes staring out the window, the lack of motivation to complete schoolwork, the difficult getting the day going?

Here are 4 suggestions on how to combat Spring Fever, embrace the weather, and still get school accomplished.

#1 – Start Your Morning with a Walk
If your weather is warm enough, start your day with an after-breakfast walk. Getting some fresh air and some exercise can get the mind working and the blood pumping. Plus, why keep all that weather on the other side of your double-paned windows?

#2 Break Up the Day
Start your morning with the harder subjects and get them out of the way. Then take a break. Do something fun and outside, if possible, before coming back in to the other subjects. Breaking up the day with fun outdoor break time can make the day go faster.

#3 Have a spontaneous Field Trip Day
In the Spring we like to take a mid-week fieldtrip to break up the week and get out of the house. After a winter of practically hibernating, getting out of the house more often is a welcomed change. Plus, who said all the learning has to at the house?

#4 Move class outdoors
I can’t emphasize this enough. There is NO reason not to have class outside from time to time. Barring severe allergic reactions to pollen and grass I suppose. But getting outside for some of your subjects is a great way to embrace the weather AND get things done. If there is reading to do, whether it is a classic literature book you are reading aloud to the kids or a time for the older ones to read science or economics for themselves, why not do so in a hammock, treehouse, deck chair or on a blanket under the tree in a park. You might even find you do some exploring after your are finished with your work and find you aren’t even counting the house until the end of the day but enjoying the day. (Gasp!)

What things do you do to combat spring fever in your school?

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