Don’t Blink…A Mamma’s Thoughts On The New School Year

 

Here we are. School Year 2020-2021 is well underway. We’re actually about 6 weeks in at this point. For the last couple of years we’ve been doing school year round because it gives our schedule a little more flexibility so we started back in July. We’d given the kids the choice of schooling year round or traditionally and they all voted to continue on this way.

Every year when I take these photos for their annual progress reports and portfolios, they take my breath away. The change in those little faces from one year to the next is astounding. The longer I am a mother, the more the words “Don’t blink” resonate with my soul.

These “little” years are so full and pass by so quickly. With each child it becomes more and more obvious to this Mamma heart that they must be deeply cherished because these little people will be grown so very soon.

So, even if you’re in the trenches of the little years right now, don’t forget to take pictures and cherish these moments. They will be gone before you know it.

Here we are with a 4th grader. A handsome, man-child with a big heart.

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A 2nd grader, full of charm and personality and cute as can be.

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A 4 year old preschooler who makes us laugh so hard we could cry and is just about the happiest and bubbliest little guy I’ve ever known.

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…and this sweet little beauty…she is so full of spunk and love. She melts us all.

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May God continue to grow each of these little souls for HIS glory. May this year continue to foster in them a love for learning. I pray that even when we’re in the middle of the hard days of homeschooling, we will be able to know and feel how blessed we are to be on this journey together. ❤

Slow, Simple & Intentional

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I was going to post an update on the garden, in fact I’d even started writing it multiple times, but each time I start writing, I keep coming back to this topic. It’s been a bit of a personal mission for our family for some time now and we’re still working to figure it all out but it’s the story of the blog. The name and the why.

Scripture is a large part of our family’s life and while we would never claim to live it out flawlessly, it is the driving force behind all that we do. Because of it many will never “understand” us and many will disagree, even ridicule our choices. Nevertheless, we strive as a family to live differently from the world and are learning more about what that looks like each day.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 1:14

Many years ago, even before our first son was born, I remember reading this scripture from Ecclesiastes. I remember it struck my interest…and digging into it more. King Solomon, was powerful and wise…he’d done it all and seen it all. Much like most of us are striving to become and do. Participating in the daily race for more and success.

He’s speaking of our material pursuits while here on earth and how no matter how hard we work or how much we work…these things are all like chasing after the wind…the wind which cannot be caught. Materially, we can never have enough. We’re always striving for more success, fame and fortune. Big, shiny, flashy, fancy…popular…fast…disposable. These words and many others come to mind when I think about what’s considered desireable today.

This fast paced, make lots of money so you can buy all the things, don’t get your hands dirty, hire it out, eat it out and grow apart lifestyle that has been made the norm is meaningless…a chasing after the wind. A life wasted.

Marriage is all about my needs being met. Children are a nuisance and anything that requires work is undesirable. This is more often than not the norm of today’s world. Even in the church.

We’ve decided that want to live slower…not because we’re better, because we desire more.

…a marriage that is valued and fits into the schedule. Children that we invest in, even when it’s inconvenient and hard…take the time to raise and teach and cherish.

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We want to live simply without the bells and whistles and do as much of it ourselves as we’re able. The cooking the cleaning, the fixing. When did such things become beneath us? There’s dirty, hard work yes, but satisfaction too.

Homemaking and raising children is not a life wasted, it is the ultimate career.

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“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” CS Lewis

Living intentionally in terms of devoting our lives to God’s plan no matter where that takes us, a strong marriage that outlasts the disposable nature of our lost world and striving to raise up godly children who love and appreciate the little things that the Lord has blessed them with.

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” Charlotte Mason

So what does that look like for our family, right now in this season of life?

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Family time…as much as we can manage. The six of us…as much time together as possible because these children grow up too fast. Of course work and visits and appointments and such are a part of life but we have chosen to prioritize the time we have together.

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Of course not everyone will agree on this, but for us schooling the kids at home enables us to have even more time together, teaching them about the things that we feel are important and gives them the extra opportunity to slow down and play more while they are little.

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” John Wesley

Get dirty…imagine…have fun. It also enables us to take more time teaching them the things that are harder for them as well as move on faster when they naturally grasp something quicker. Less boredom is a wonderful thing.

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Making meals with love and care at home and learning old skills…less disposable and convenience. Less artificial and more real.

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We’re a work in progress ourselves and we fight the flesh as much as everyone else. We’re on a mission to slow down and live a simple life of chasing God’s good gifts rather than the wind…to take great care of what he has blessed us with.

It’s a journey we’re on as a family.

My hope is that through our journey others will be inspired to join along. That it will leave a positive mark in the world.

 

Summer Bible Study Resources and Activities

Are you wondering how to keep the kids going on Bible study and VBS alternatives? I did some research for my kids as well as some of the kids at church because we were all wondering the same thing…how can we keep them growing and learning and in the habit of church and Bible study when everything is so different.

I wanted to share with you all some of the fun, inexpensive (OR FREE) resources I found while researching options available to us now, in the midst of this strange season.

First, let’s talk about Superbook videos are excellent to add into screen time to reinforce some of your Bible study lessons. We’ve really enjoyed these. All three of my boys (ages 9,7 and 4) have loved watching them. My little guy incorporates these into his “school time” when the older boys need quiet to focus on harder subjects.

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 You can find those here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmkgg5el8Fg3IX_baZyfSaQ

Another great resource are these Answers in Genesis videos and activities for some fun creation related content. These are also free. You could use these along with other resources to do a “creation week” group of summer lessons.

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https://answersingenesis.org/kids/videos/

You can also subscribe for their magazine as well if you’re interested. There’s both a kids version and an adult version.

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https://answersingenesis.org/store/magazine/

If you love watching family friendly movies with your kiddos…check out Pilgrims Progress, you can currently view the movie for FREE with your children by providing your email address! This was a great movie with a wonderful lesson! My boys thoroughly enjoyed it! Just keep in mind there are a couple of spooky parts so if your little one isn’t quite there yet you may want to forgo this one for now. 

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We like to do Friday night pizza and movie night at our house and this would be a great movie for such a night!! Get out the popcorn and treats and ENJOY! 

https://www.revelationmedia.com/watchpilgrims/

Let’s look at some daily Bible study materials next:

You can check out this one by Christian Preschool Printables. It’s a Bible study tool with a 4 day per week/26 week study for kids with printables! All you have to do is download and print!! 

Here are the free coloring pages:

https://christianpreschoolprintables.com/free-bible-abc-coloring-pages/

If you’re interested in the whole study, it’s very affordable at $15.

https://craftyclassroom.com/product/bible-abc-letter-of-the-week/

Another great and very affordable resource would be Teachers pay Teachers’ website, they have many different options for easy & printable worksheets, activities and posters that focus on the fruits of the spirit.

These could be very fun to carry through the summer weeks and then wrap up your study at the end with a fruit themed party! Don’t forget the fruit flavored popsicles and a fruit pizza! 

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Check out the recipe here:

https://pinchofyum.com/fruit-pizza

There are also lots of other free and affordable options for fruits of the spirit lessons if you’re not interested in this particular one. 

Free Fruit of the Spirit coloring pages:

https://ministry-to-children.com/fruit-of-the-spirit-index/

Now VBS is one of those things that my two older boys really love and look forward to but given the circumstances I wouldn’t be ready for that even if it were offered. I’ve been trying to think of some ways to keep the tradition going through all of this and when I stumbled on this I thought this may be a genius alternative to traditional VBS. 

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Check it out… a quarantine friendly VBS option! You can get a family license for $25! 

Here’s what’s included:

Single Family License. . . $25

  • Permission for a single family whose church is not hosting BOLT
  • Access to the “Family Portal” where you will find…
  • 3 days of video content (approx. 25 minutes per day)
  • Parent and Leader Guide with step-by-step instructions
  • Game directions
  • Materials list
  • Coloring sheets
  • Origami instructions
  • Spotify playlist with featured BOLT VBS music by “Citizen Way”

https://www.gocurriculum.com/bolt-vbs

I also wanted to share a couple of books you could use with your kids for Bible study. I’ve personally used and loved both of these. Of course there are many other affordable options out there as well but these two are books we’ve used often and know well. 

The first one”Know Your Bible for Kids” includes very short quick lessons on various topics. Perfect to use with a preschooler because it’s short and sweet and includes a verse to go with the lesson that could be shortened as needed for the younger kids. You can get it on thriftbooks.com for under $6.

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The second one is a little more expensive but still very reasonable. We have used it for homeschooling, but it’s also a fantastic resource for family Bible study whether you homeschool or not! It’s called “Art and the Bible for Children” and includes short Bible stories and that’s followed by an art lesson.

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Christianbook.com has it for under $17. My kids have loved this one for several years.

The last thing I wanted to share with you is the Ark Encounter

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Learn more about it here: https://arkencounter.com/about/.

Now I realize that this may not be happening in the next couple of weeks, but from what I understand this whole year, all children under 10 get in free. Given that circumstances, they may even extend that offer into next year (that’s my hope… so I’m keeping this one on my radar). If you like to take educational field trips during breaks or you’re just looking for a fun family activity once things get back to normal, then this could be something of interest for some of you. 

There’s no denying it. It’s going to be a different kind of summer for all of our kids this year. One like we’ve never had before. I still believe that with a little bit of extra effort and creativity we’ll be able to make it a memorable one. Most of all, I’m hoping that the most memorable part of it will be extra time spent together as a FAMILY.

 

Silence

It’s been silent for a few weeks around here. Everything is fine and everyone is well, thankfully. Somehow even with social distancing and quarantine and all we have been so busy with school and work and projects that time has simply raced by. Before my unintentional break, I’d been working on multiple posts that I had hoped to get out a while ago (including a sour dough starter tutorial for a friend), but I’d run into issues with the photo editing program I was using and had to upgrade. If you look at the photos from my last post compared to the others…you’ll see what I’m talking about.

After that we just got so busy trying to catch up on other things and adjusting to the current normal. While much of our school and work routine hasn’t changed, our grocery shopping, errands and meals etc have had to be adjusted. It’s certainly a minor inconvenience compared to many peoples circumstances and by no means do I want to come across as complaining. It has however, changed some things significantly and we’re trying our best to figure out the best way to do things affordably with the best possible nutrition etc. It’s simply been a season of adjustment and it’s left us feeling a little…

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This may get long, so brace yourselves. I’ll start with an update on what’s been going on around here and then I’ll end with some things I’m hoping to do here with the blog and such. 🙂

First, I killed my trusty sour dough starter(insert sad face and tears)!! This was such a good starter and made us so much bread and pizza… and I could have cried! Technically I didn’t kill it, I’m pretty positive it was the cheap/bleached flour (all that was left at the store). It was doing wonderful until I started using that flour and then within days of using it my starter was dead. I tried to revive it but it was too far gone. Rest in peace “Sour Sam”, you’ve been good to us.

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Second, I’d wanted to purchase a grain mill for years and just hadn’t…mostly due to the investment, but given the flour shortage, thanks to Covid, I took the leap and ordered one. FINALLY. Naturally EVERYTHING is currently on backorder (I was a little late on acting on my instinct to purchase one and I’m on my second attempt to order one that’ll arrive before 2021).

After research and much debate, we decided to go with this guy. It was either this or the Wondermill but that one was simply too big and bulky for our small kitchen. I’m pretty excited to try out our Nutrimill Harvest.

NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill with Gold Trim

On that note, once this guy gets here, I’ll be starting a new sourdough starter with homeground flour. I’ll keep you posted on all of that.

I’m still planning to create a “How to create your own starter” post and I may even retake all of the photos since I want to wait until I can grind my own grains. I’m curious to see the difference in the starter with the fresh ground flour.

In other news, school is going well mostly. We’re trying to wrap up the school year as far as core subjects go. We started year round schooling with a month long break in June as of this past year so we’re going to be starting the next grade come July. My oldest will be taking his first standardized test in the next couple of weeks (as per Georgia law). We have received it and we’re both a little anxious about it but after having looked it over, I think he’s going to be just fine. There’s that part of me that has to fight off the thoughts of “what if I didn’t do enough for him to prepare for this…what if I’m not a good enough teacher…” but the reality is the test is there to let us know where we stand and it can be a very useful tool in helping me know where he’s excelling and where he needs more work.

Just look at them…lol. Ask me how many times per week I’ve been cleaning their bathroom, go ahead. It may or may not have been part of the reason for the silence.

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We’ve been spending a lot of time outside, as you can probably tell. This is the time of year that makes us just want to play in the garden all day. Warm sun, cool breeze…ahh.

Speaking of garden, we’ve planted one, a relatively small one this year. We’d had a lot of issues with our last one so we wanted to be a little cautious this year and see what we can do. We’re going to have (hopefully), cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, broccolli, cauliflower, radishes, herbs and some flowers for cutting. I’m also trying to get some lettuce and celery going. I’ll keep you posted on how all of that progresses.

Here’s some of the herbs that I started inside. I really love baby plants. ❤

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I told you it’s been busy around here. I never realized how busy quarantine could be! Of course I also never really thought any of us would have experienced quarantine, period.

Coming up next, is a collection of resources and activities that I’ve come across while working on some research for our church’s Cubbies class. In case it interests any of you who may be homeschooling or just looking for activities to do with your little ones this summer I thought it may be a fun post to share since summer is quickly approaching.

Until soon friends. Stay safe and healthy! Also, if you’re at all interested in Young Living Essential Oils, feel free to visit my new Instagram page dedicated to YLEO! Look for it at @wholelivingwithoils! 🙂

Of course also remember to check out my regular Instagram @oursimplefamilyliving!

Much love,

Nadine

Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom & Homemaker

Today we’re going to do just a fun sneak peek into an ordinary day. Josh was away on a business trip this particular Friday so things were slightly off from our usual routine but overall this is what most Fridays look like around our home. We do have school Fridays, but it’s our “catch up day”. Monday through Thursday is when we schedule the bulk of the schoolwork and then Friday we can take a more relaxed approach to school, work on housework that needs to be done, grocery shop, appointments, if the weather is nice, we can go outside and play in the afternoon, etc.

I pretty much took photos all throughout the day and the lighting was terrible so the photos aren’t the best quality. They do the job of telling the story though so we’ll just have to look past that.

This particular morning I ended up getting a bit of a late start, the kids and I didn’t really get “moving” until about 8:30. First thing I always do once I get up is get coffee going (that’s very important). That’s the cardinal cup Jaden got me for Christmas. He knows I love my birds and my coffee! Sweet boy!

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It was a rainy and cold Friday!

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Next I got started on breakfast for the kids. I made them a bowl of my vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar old fashioned oats. This is one of their favorite meals that in a pinch (like at the end of the biweekly grocery haul when you’re scrambling for meal options), I can feed them anytime of the day without any complaints. I always have these ingredients on hand, it’s easy and fast!

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While I worked on breakfast the boys played with legos.

Once breakfast was ready, everyone sat down to eat (and read…Jaden is my little bookworm).

This little girly had some teeth pop up!! See it?

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After breakfast the boys get ready for the day (this is also usually when I like to get myself ready.

After that we work on chores…look at that mess! A certain someone had some dried mud caked to his boots and when he put them on INSIDE to take out the recycling…well…there was some extra housework for me, lol. Apparently I need to be more specific about where to stomp the mud off!

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I also took a few minutes to work on laundry while Evi played and the boys finished chores.

Then around 10:30 we started school. This day we only had group work to do. We’d completed all of the core subjects like spelling and math earlier in the week.

We were continuing on with our bird unit study. We combined nature study and art for a little project.

We had a few other things to do for school and then we had lunch break.

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Because we were running behind all morning and it was already about 1:30 by this point, we opted for our “snack lunch” rather than what we had on the menu. This is a favorite quick meal at lunch for my kids.

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I started grading (I’m a little behind at the moment) but then had to get back to other things like prepping for our Friday night pizza).

The sour dough crust has to sit for a while so I like to do it several hours before I need to use it.

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After that we read aloud and then the kids played with legos some more while they waited on me to finish some chores around the house.

Evi girl kept her mamma company through it all. She’s so close to crawling!

After this point, it’s all a blurr honestly, lol. I remember finishing up some laundry (mostly putting it away). I kind of lost track of time but I think it was likely around 6:30 or so. I went ahead and started the pizza at that point and let the boys start watching “Little House on the Prairie” episodes. That’s been our Friday night family activity lately. They love it.

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I ended up making one half veggie/half pepperoni pizza and one cheese pizza since Josh wasn’t there to have any. Usually I make three or four pizzas and then we can have leftovers for lunch on Saturdays.

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We ate our pizza on the couch and watched a couple more episodes before the boys went to bed and then Evi and I cleaned the kitchen and fed the sour dough starter. We jokingly refer to it as “sour Sam” since it requires food and water like the rest of our pets. 🙂

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After that, we went to bed too. We were all ready to just get to Saturday to have Daddy back home with us! We kind of like him! ❤

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into a normal day for us. I’ve always enjoyed seeing what a normal day looks like for other moms. There’s always something to learn from each other and sometimes it’s nice to just see that we all have things like laundry piles and muddy kids boots and dinner messes!

 

 

Frugal Homeschooling: Bird Unit Study

Let’s be honest, homeschool supplies can get pretty expensive…especially when you’re buying supplies for multiple students. With a little creativity, research and help from fellow homeschooling mom’s sharing their ideas, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Today I’m going to share a few things we used for our Bird unit nature study. Some of the ideas and worksheets were completely free thanks to fellow bloggers (I’ll share the links in case you’re interested as well as to give credit to the ladies who created these items).

First, let’s talk about a couple of the books that I’ve purchased over the last few years as part of the kids’ school supplies:

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We use this guide quite frequently since we have a lot of birds visiting us on a daily basis. Whenever we spot a new bird we try to figure out what it is and it’s been wonderful to see the kids getting excited to look them up and find out more information. We got this one off of www.christianbook.com. It’s very inexpensive at $5.49 and covers the birds you’re likely to find in your backyard. It’s easy to read and understand.

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Next up, is Anna Botsford Comstock. I bought my copy at christianbook last year, but you can also get this one (and lots of others) here: www.thriftbooks.com. I’ve been very happy with this website in the past and have gotten some great prices on school books from there.

This book is a classic, originally written in 1911. It’s a detailed book, covering a large variety of information. I haven’t used this one as much as I suspect we will in the years to come as the kids advance in school. Even now though, it serves me well when I need some extra information on a particular thing we’re studying.

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The next one is this nature reader by Christian Liberty Press. My kids have thoroughly enjoyed these nature readers. We’re currently on book 2 but book 1 happened to have some info on birds we went back and reviewed for this unit study.

This one can also be found at www.christianbook.com.

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This little nature book was a wonderful gift to the boys from their Aunt and Uncle this past Christmas and is a great resource for nature study for the younger kids!

Check out the bird section:

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I was able to find it at www.amazon.com for $10.45.

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Next up, My baby Blue Jays. This one is around $5 at www.thiftbooks.com/. We were actually able to get this one at Goodwill for less than that. It’s a great addition to our library and has some sweet pictures for the kids to look at.

Now let’s talk about some fun free things to add into a thrifty bird unit.

First, we’ve been collecting bird feathers any chance we get. We also had a sweet little bird nest, but little curious fingers inspecting it regularly kind of took its toll. We’ll be keeping an eye out for another one but had to do without this time around. Kids love seeing and feeling the things they’re learning about so it’s definitely a great idea to get out there and help them find the real thing outdoors.

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Next, look around online for freebies like these gems below. There are lots of homeschooling mammas out there who are trying to help other homeschooling mammas. I will say, this process can be a little time consuming so you do have to set some extra time aside to be able to weed through the things that either aren’t truly “free” or just aren’t exactly what you were looking for.

Check out these blogs for the free printables of the worksheets below as well as some other ideas on compiling a Bird unit.

Julie Kieras http://happystronghome.com/bird-study-unit-lesson-plans/home.com (Bird coloring page).

Tina Robertson https://www.tinasdynamichomeschoolplus.com/free-bird-journal/ (Bird identification key)

Busy Bee Kids Printables http://www.busybeekidsprintables.com/Bird-Printables.html Word search)

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Here’s a brief video on Youtube that identifies some common backyard birds.

Some other things that could be incorporated are:

Bible verses 

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Luke 12:24

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Psalm 50:11

I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.

Matthew 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

Hymns & Poems

Emily Dickinson’s A Bird Came Down the Walk

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56593/a-bird-came-down-the-walk-359

Civilla Martin’s His Eye is on the Sparrow

https://www.godtube.com/popular-hymns/his-eye-is-on-the-sparrow/

I hope you’ve found some helpful information in today’s post! Let me know if there’s other homeschool related posts you’d be interested in reading. I have a few I’m planning out already but I’d love to get some feedback on what you’d like to see more of.

Check out our DIY Bird feeders we made for the craft portion of our unit here:

https://oursimplefamilyliving.wordpress.com/2020/01/13/diy-pinecone-birdfeeder/

I’ll leave you with some pictures of my adorable little researchers 🙂

Happy bird watching!!

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