Sharing Nature


I was at Lowe’s picking up paint last week and decided to save Jonny some time and buy myself a few Mother’s Day gifts. We have an area behind the sink here perfect for houseplants, so I bought a couple small ones along with a violet. Amidst my childhood memories of places and events, there are fond memories of specific plants. The banana shrub at my grandmother’s house in Gadsden, and a potted violet at my dad’s house on Missionary Ridge. A few years ago I planted a couple of banana shrubs, but I think we are just too far north for them to thrive here, and neither made it. I’m not sure why I’ve never bought myself a violet, probably lack of a good spot for it, till now. When I arrived home from Lowe’s, I whispered to Jonny that there were some surprises for me in the trunk of the car, and he should move them to a hiding spot. I looked forward to potting up those plants and setting up my little space behind the sink for the next few days. On Sunday morning, I was surprised with my gifts and then Jonny took the kids out for a couple of hours. I potted my plants and tidied the kitchen and then worked on birthday gifts for Silas and Mabel. It was a lovely morning. My younger kids are still a bit confused by the whole thing and keep accusing me of buying my own Mother’s Day gifts. I guess at some point they’ll read this post and my secret will be out.

We just wrapped up our homeschooling co-op year and for my last class I chose to focus on nature study with my kids, despite the fact that my class is based on stories, mainly historical fiction. It was a free day though, so I thought it would be fun to share something different, something that comes more naturally for me. It’s always most fun to share what you love, isn’t it? This is the reason my children know how to identify trees better than they can name state capitals. To prep for the class I took my own children on a walk to gather anything of interest that I might share with my class. We filled a couple of baskets and had so much fun spreading everything out on the table and discussing our finds. The next day at class, I read one of our favorites, (affiliate link) A Year Around the Great Oak, and then shared all of the bits and pieces that we had gathered the day before. Then I took my class on a nature walk and we did a lot of observing. I think that it is good to teach children to slow down and actually observe their surroundings. It’s easy to race around and play outside and never take notice of the diversity of life that is all around you, and that is okay. But it’s a wonderful thing to pause and really notice and study all the tiny pieces that make up the big picture of our beautiful Earth. I taught the kids how to tell the difference between a maple and a sweet gum, explained to them that those beautiful lichens are actually a combination of two organisms, but maybe most importantly, I demonstrated an enthusiasm for nature. Not everyone gets excited to identify plants, but children tend to be easily affected by an adult’s example. We really had a lovely class, a wonderful way to end the year. And now my children at home are asking to take nature walks every day and it makes me happy to hear their shouts of excitement over the simplest and most common of things found on the forest floor.

In other news, I’ve been working on a project with a close friend that is making me really happy. It involves Scripture, and journaling, and my photography: specifically flower photography! I haven’t felt quite this excited about something in a long time. I’ll be able to share more in a couple of weeks! I think that many of you will love it. I hope so!!!


  1. Yes, the enthusiasm for nature is such a good thing to share! 🙂 A friend of mine has led some guided nature walks for our homeschool group and she loves it so much and her excitement over each thing is so contagious, the children love it. So do I!

  2. Jodi Lloyd says:

    Is Mabel walking? I can’t believe she’s almost a year.

  3. Trees to be named remain after empires shift and change. I love history but think it quite wonderful that you are teaching your kids the names of trees ♡

  4. I love Violets. My grandmother always had one on her kitchen window sill. It was in a big purple tea cup planter. I’m going to buy one this weekend, thanks for the reminder and the inspiration x

  5. Mary Beth says:

    Can you please come teach my kids? Why am I intimidated by nature study? How do I learn without someone to teach me!

  6. I want to be in your class!! 🙂 I think it’s wonderful that you ended with nature study. Maybe you could do that instead of history next year since it is such a love of yours?? As always, beautiful pictures!!

  7. My mom always kept african violets above the kitchen sink, and now I do too. For awhile we also had chameleons living in them, I don’t think I’ll carry that tradition on tho! I love plants for a Mother’s Day gift-the gift that keeps on giving!

  8. Just from your post I can tell you are really happy and that makes me happy! Next year at homeschool you should teach nature studies. It’s so valuable for children to be exposed to that & many parents know nothing about it! Can hardly wait to see your new project!

  9. My favorite picture is your little flutist behind the music stand. Makes me so happy to see children learning an instrument (especially the flute!)

  10. Cindy in NC says:

    When I worked for the public schools I snuck history lessons in whenever and wherever I could. Standardized testing and Common Core meant history was sorely neglected. I was just researching George Washington Birthplace National Monument, which is not far from you. I haven’t visited there in years and would like to go back. I see they now have a Colonial garden and an interesting looking outdoor event on June 3. Admission is free, so taking a large group there won’t break the bank.

    It’s a good thing my livelihood doesn’t depend on being able to make things (other than children) grow. Though just one generation removed from the farm, I have a serious black thumb!

  11. I’ve only lately become more interested in Nature Study. It was always something I wanted to do but never really did. It helps to have group of other homeschoolers now that also love going on hikes, lol.

  12. I wish I could go on a nature walk with you! We recently moved from CA to Columbus, OH and I am bewildered by all the new plants. There are many wonderful metro parks here and we often take walks by the rivers. It’s frustrating for me not to be able to name all the plants I see. I want to know!

    I’ve always thought it was interesting how plants that some people love, others hate. They’re not like people, where you can pinpoint obnoxious or unlikeable traits. Perhaps, some of it is childhood associations. I don’t like oleanders because an aunt who I disliked had them all over her yard. I’ve had a soft spot for African violets because a favorite piano teacher used to grow them. The first time I saw a fuschia plant was on a beautiful day in New Hampshire and I’ve always wanted to grow one (now I can in my new humid climate). I love the common purple lilac and they were the only flowering bush my parents had at our childhood home for a long time. Yellow roses always make me happy – I had them for my wedding bouquet. For no specific reasons I don’t like begonias or dahlias or red geraniums or orchids.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Kate,

      Welcome to Ohio. We live just east of Columbus. You should come out our way and check out Dawes Arboretum if you haven’t already. Just east of Buckeye Lake.

  13. Beth Beal says:

    I just love all the tree galls that were collected! What a great variety!

  14. I have fond memories of my dad taking us on nature walks through the woods and identifying many trees. Also he would entice us with the hope of seeing wild life. That never happened because us children were too noisy walking and talking.

    I walk daily with Frodo and that is when I am most at peace, noticing the world around me 🙂

    I cannot wait to see/hear about your adventure Ginny ! Oh the secrets that you keep.

  15. I love that your kids know their plant and animal species better than state capitals, haha. There’s some deep truth in that we value best what we know!

  16. I love your photography so much; it is always such an inspiration. I did not grow up identifying anything in nature; I could have identified a deciduous tree or a handful o differentf flowers and that was about it. But in the past five years,as I have prepared for homeschooling my kids, I have fallen in love with so many different aspects of the world around me as I begin to see things in new ways! Birds are my greatest love still, but that love has grown into a love for learning about trees and other plants and more. It took thirty years for my love of nature to ignite but now that it has, I can’t get enough! I hope someday to have the foundation you have in knowledge of the natural world. Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your world!

  17. I love plant identification and enjoy teaching some to my small children as well! I only wish I had the background in it and rich store of knowledge that you do. Do you have any favorite resources or suggestions for an adult trying to learn more on the subject?

  18. I love your violets. My grandmother kept violets from my first memory of her. Your picture makes me smile.

    I too am very excited about the project!

  19. Can’t wait to see your new project; especially love those first photos of all your nature finds!

  20. I love African Violets and have two in my kitchen. They just seem like that is where they belong. I love your photos and am looking forward to seeing your new project!

  21. Oo so excited to hear about your forthcoming project! I always find your photography soothing.

  22. Julie C says:

    I look forward to seeing what you are working on. I know it will be beautiful.

  23. “But it’s a wonderful thing to pause and really notice and study all the tiny pieces that make up the big picture of our beautiful Earth.” I couldn’t agree more – I’ve been trying to do that more myself lately…when I’m really busy, it feels particularly good to stop and notice where I am :).

    Your project sounds exciting! Have fun with it!

  24. Maybe you can offer an Nature Study Class next year at Co-op. That sounds lovely!

  25. Mabel is walking- so exciting!

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