Posts

1. Picnic Basket 2. Bees: A Honeyed History 3. Straw Hat 4. Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener App 5. Honeycombs 6. Vintage Hexapod Chart 7. Kid’s Neckerchief 8. Wrap-tie Jumpsuit 9. The Secret Life of Bees 10. 3-D Wooden Bee Puzzle 11. Plant These, Save the Trees T-Shirt 12. The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook 13. Bee House 14. Kid’s Rainboots

Connection is a new monthly series here, featuring simple ideas to spark connection points with our children and the world around us each month. In it, I will include books, activities, and style (for fun) that ideally become a bit of a rabbit hole in each of our homes.

A few years ago, we took our first visit to a local apiary. Bees are complex and fascinating creatures, and my children and I learned so much about their importance in the earth and the ways they benefit our lives. We also learned how to not to fear them and which plants and flowers help sustain them. The drone bees crawled on the children’s arms, and the guides showed us gentle ways to waft away honey bees when we encounter them in nature. An apiary visit can be a tasty experience as well as informative, a delightful way to begin outdoor adventures again this Spring.

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We tend to keep the holiday season in our home fairly simple in terms of gift giving, both the quantity and expense. This isn’t from a desire to be Scrooge-like or withholding, but instead another way we’ve learned over the years to simplify, to stay within our financial means, and to help keep our home filled with fewer things we really enjoy and can manage well. Living in a small home has taught me a valuable life lesson: less really can be more, but it means making tough decisions. Buying less, means I choose something far more carefully. My husband and I often pick high quality gifts, something that can easily be passed down between siblings, family, or friends when they’ve outgrown it. We also love giving gifts that engage their interest and skill sets, tools that can double for our home school experience, too.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a few emails and comments and texts from other parents asking about Christmas gifts for their own homes, wondering what we’re getting our children or asking about our favorite books or toys or nature books. Although it took me a bit of time to collect a few, I created this gift guide as a way to share both our favorite learning tools and ones still on our wishlist. I added “gifts of experience” section to each category, because often we have given experience over things to our children for Christmas or their birthday. It can be a fantastic way to give something meaningful without carting more things into your home or when finances are a little tighter. Clearly, this is not a finite list, nor is it strictly for the homeschool or Christmas season, but I hope it in itself is a tool of inspiration. Enjoy.

gift-guide-nature_cloistered_away_homeschool[ THE YOUNG NATURALIST ]

1. Kanken mini backpack | full size 2. Suunto compass 3. Wild Explorers Adventure Club membership 4. Critter Cabin 5. National Park pass (4th graders are free!) 6. Nature Anatomy 7. Cavallini Insects wrapping paper (frame it as a poster)  8. Fujifilm instant film camera 9. Strathmore watercolor journal 10. Animalium 11. laminated local pocket field guides 12. Magiscope

 GIFT EXPERIENCE | museum passes | a state or national park pass | handmade coupons to use during the year for weekend camping, star-gazing, fishing, or hiking | Wild Explorers membership

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[ THE YOUNG FOODIE ]

13. Odette Williams apron set 14. Farm Anatomy  15. A Kid’s Herb Book 16. Garden in a Can 17. Le Petit Chef Set 18. Chop Chop: A Kid’s Guide to Cooking Real Food 19. The Simple Hearth play kitchen 21. Mini Woven Basket 22. Moleskine Recipe Journal

GIFT EXPERIENCE | 20. local cooking classes | handmade coupons for special kitchen time together | meal at a special/favorite restaurant

gift_guide_artist_homeschool_cloistered_away[ THE YOUNG ARTIST + DOODLER ]

23. Tabletop Paper Holder 24. Pottery Wheel 25. Paint Jar Holder 26. Lrya Rembrandt Polycolor pencils 27. Strathmore Mixed Media Journal 28. Lyra Ferby colored pencils (best for little hands) 29. Lost Ocean coloring book  30. WhatchamaDRAWit  31. Fun with Architecture book and stamp set  32. Drawing with Children  33.Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series  34. Stockmar Beeswax crayons  35. Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Places Real and Imagined  36. Stockmar watercolor paint

GIFT EXPERIENCE | 37. art museum membership or trip | art lessons | meet a local artist in a similar medium

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[ THE YOUNG WRITER + BOOKWORM ]

38. Bookrest Lamp  39. The Puffin In Bloom Collection  40. Emoji Stickers  41. Personalized Pencils  42. Postcard Set  43. Calligraphy + Lettering Set  44. Mamoo Bookbag  45. The Storymatic Kids Game  46. Tell Me a Story  47. Wood Small Moveable Alphabet  48. Wool Writing Journal  49. Don’t Forget to Write (elementary grades) | (secondary grades)  50. Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing

 GIFT EXPERIENCE | tickets to a play | homemade coupons for a new monthly book | summer writing camp | create your own story prompts

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[ THE YOUNG TINKERER + BUSY BODY ]

51. Lap Loom  52. TinkerCrate subscription  53. Things Come Apart  54. Morakniv Wood Carving Junior Knife  55. Rulers and Compass  56. Seedling Fashion Design Kit  57. The New Way Things Work  58. Wooden Child-sized Real Tools  59. Child’s Natural Broom  60. Playful Math Kit  61. European Math Kit  62. Sewing Kit  63. Child’s String Mop

GIFT EXPERIENCE | build or make something together | sewing or woodworking classes | tickets to a science museum or the Exploratorium in San Fransisco

 

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I always mourn how these two months seem to seep through my fingers each year, but something this year felt even faster. Maybe it was the trip to Chicago or my kiddos’ growing energy (and needs) or our late arrival of cold weather. Who knows. I still loved every bit (minus the stomach bug at the beginning of November and a cold in December). We gobbled down our fall days by spending more time outdoors, taking in the color and dry air, often taking our books or schoolwork outdoors with us. Ooh — and we started our first fall garden! Although I love the color of spring gardens, all of my favorites veggies are growing right now in our backyard: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, varieties of spinach and romaine lettuces, and even tomatoes. Of course, the kids have enjoyed harvesting the lettuces and spinach the most — one moment in the yard; the next on their plates. Delightful. We still spent much of our time buried in books this semester, together and individually. Burke finished The Hobbit in time for the film release in December, and since Liam had read it last Spring, Mark and I took both boys to the theater on Christmas Eve too see it, a holiday highlight for sure. In December, the kids and I also wrapped up our semester with a little Christmas party and mini-musical through our Classical Conversations campus. We also enjoyed volunteering with the Salvation Army, drinking lots of hot chocolate (coffee for me), decorating our Christmas tree, enjoying rare visits with dear friends from California and DC, and traveling to spend several days with our parents, siblings, and nieces and nephew. On top of it all, this year it snowed on Christmas day. We stared out of my parents’ large glass windows as the rainstorm turned to heavy, white snowdrops piling on the fence and table and walking paths: by far my favorite gift and a magical way to end 2012. Happy New Year, everyone!