Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hobbies that Begin with "N" - Blogging from A to Z Challenge

During the 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on hobbies that I have introduced to my daughters to through their childhood and teen years. Some were done as part of homeschooling, while others were areas that we explored because we were interested in the subject or activity. These are hobbies that anyone of any age could try as well.


There have been three main hobbies that begin with the letter "N" that the girls have done throughout their childhood: nature journaling, nature walks, and numismatics (coin collecting).

Nature Journaling

When the girls were about 4 and 6 years old, we started keeping nature journals. I thought it would be interesting for them to look back and see what they wanted to remembers as it related to nature. 

For example, in the nature journal entry below, Olivia wanted me to label it: "Black chickadee throwing bird seed out." 

November 4, 2007

Filling the feeders and then throwing some seed onto the ground for the ground-feeding birds, rabbits, and squirrels was something we did regularly.

Another entry that Olivia did focused on the pine trees we had around our yard:

February 5, 2011

Sometimes the nature journal entries we did required that we go out and do some hands-on activities - like measuring the circumference of trees.

February 4, 2011

One of the nature studies and journal entries that we did was on April 19, 2011, when we studied about cattails. We went to the pond and got a couple of cattails and brought them indoors. We dissected them to learn more about their structure which was fascinating.

The girls wrote about the cattails and included part of the cattail to visually show what they wrote about. Below is Sophia's nature journal:

On April 22, 2011, Olivia did a nature journal entry about trees. Below she is doing a bark rubbing to show the comparison between different types of trees.

Sometimes they approach the same subject in completely different ways. For example, on October 16, 2011, Olivia wrote a journal entry about a grasshopper. She shared a personal experience and memory.

Sophia, for a nature journal page about wooly bears, shared facts and personal observations.

Sometimes the girls included pictures and poems they cut out of magazines about the wildlife they were doing a nature journal about that day.

September 21, 2012

Sometimes using clippings and photos enhances the entries; and helps with quickly getting information and images onto a nature journal page.

Nature Walks

Another integral part of our lives and homeschooling have been nature walks. When the girls were young, we would go on walks around our farm. Below they are in the far south pasture spreading milkweed seeds.

September 29, 2007

Other times, we would go on a short car ride to William O'Brien State Park and go on walks along the river and through the woods.

May 27, 2008

The girls would enjoy sitting by the river and watching the clouds reflected in the water or see if they could spot any fish.

April 14, 2009

Some of our nature walks were done in the backyard so we could include the dogs in them. Below, Sophia is taking Olivia on a sled ride while Montague leads them on a walk. There was so much snow that season that I shoveled paths around the backyard so we could get around better.

February 4, 2011

Other times our "walks" were to the window where we would observe wildlife from indoors. Below, the girls spotted a vole that was near the bird feeder. We watched it come out of little holes and tunnels in the snow to get birdseed and bring it back to its home.

February 8, 2011

We always enjoyed having the dogs with us on nature walks. Below, Gretel is running along with Sophia as she jumps from dog track to dog track in the backyard.

March 23, 2011

Our walks sometimes yielded special finds - like these pheasant feathers that the girls found near the woods by the pond in the west pasture.

March 30, 2011

Nature walks at times took us into our pond to explore the aquatic life living there. In the Spring and early summer was the best time to look for spring peepers, frog eggs, and tadpoles.

April 30, 2011

During the summer, we would listen for bird songs and calls while we were walking on the trail. Below, the girls are in the east pasture. I used to mow pathways throughout the pasture. It must have a year of prolific growth of grass since the horses were not keeping up with eating the grass.

June 10, 2011

Even when we travel, we make it a point to go on nature walks. Below, we are on a nature walk at Dinosaur State Park in Hartford, Connecticut.

September 4, 2011

One year, we were able to see trumpeter swans in the field between our next door neighbor's home and our home. A big flock had landed (this is part of the flock).

March 11, 2012

Sometimes we go to places with the dogs. One of their favorite walks is at William O'Brien State Park. We walk along the river for a distance.

May 16, 2013

At the end of the trail along the river, there's a point where we can jump down and wade in the river. The dogs love this part of the walk because it means they can go in the river to walk and swim around (on their leashes). Montague enjoyed the visits to the river from when we adopted him at about 1 1/2 years old well into his senior years.

May 16, 2013

Cooper, as a young dog, loved getting as much of his body under the water. He would be soaking wet when he was done playing in the river.

May 16, 2013

On trips up north, we've gone on nature hikes at almost all of the state parks. Below, Olivia is standing near some rocks at Banning State Park.

June 3, 2013

We went on a long hike to get to a beautiful waterfall and river at Tettegouche State Park.

June 4, 2013

We have walked on many trails on the Gunflint Trail. The trail below is one near Lake Saganaga near Chik-Wauk Museum. We went with my dad on the beginning part of this hike in September 2010. Although he was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease, he was able to do quite a bit of the walk. However, when the trail started getting a bit more rough, he knew it was time to turn back. 

The girls and I returned to this trail after his death and walked more of it until we reached a peak where we could get another view of the lake from a higher vantage point .It was so beautiful. We could see why my dad enjoyed going on canoe trips on this lake with his Little Brothers and Boy Scout troop.

June 5, 2013

Although not technically a true nature walk, we did walk on trails around Fawn Doe Rosa in Wisconsin.

June 16, 2016

The girls were able to get very close to deer that were comfortable approaching them. They were able to feed the deer which was exciting!

On November 25, 2017, we took our annual hike around Interstate State Park. We climbed and explored the rock formations at the park. Sophia found some stone steps to go from one area to the next.

Olivia found a great place to lay down and observe the St. Croix River.

I feel like nature walks as well as reflecting on them in a nature journal will be part of the rest of our lives. These hobbies have enriched our lives so much, and it has been wonderful looking back on what we've written and drawn in our nature journals; and looking at photos from walks. All bring back so many good memories. 

Numismatics (Coin Collecting)

On July 6, 2011, the girls began exploring numismatics - or coin collecting. They used a magnifying glass to identify where the coins were minted.

They enjoyed looking at the pictures on the coins.

They would go through rolls of quarters and look for ones that they needed for their coin collection cases.

Olivia has two different coin books.

One book focuses on statehood quarters.

That collection is almost done.

The other booklet contains the quarters that have national parks illustrated on them.

Sophia also has the statehood quarter booklet and is finishing up her collection.

Both girls also have coins from other countries. They will continue to add to these collections so eventually they will have a diverse foreign-coin collection.


Deepa said...

The kids do such diverse activites. This is awesome

Tongue Twister for N
Tongue Twister for M
Tongue Twister for L

Beth Lapin said...

Wow, great examples!


Melanie Crouse said...

I'm a huge fan of nature walks, and my family collected the state quarters as well! It was very fun...I don't think we ever quite finished. I'm going to dig those out and see which states we didn't quite finish!
Melanie's Stories

Leanne said...

Home schooling has certainly allowed your girls to discover so much more than they would have if they'd sat in a classroom all day! I really enjoyed all those pictures of them discovering nature.

Leanne |
N for Never lie

Purba chakraborty said...

I would love to try nature journaling.
Nature is my healer and teacher. I enjoy Nature walks. And I am sure if I journal about the walks, the experience would be beautiful.
Loved the post.

cheryl lennox said...

We collected sand and dirt from nature walks for years. The jars holding our treasures also include stones, shells, bones and other earthly trinkets that come home in our pockets. My "little boy" is now 27 and he still likes to look at our collection when he comes home.

Kristin said...

It looks like your daughters have a beautiful area to explore nature in. I homeschooled four of my six children in the 1990s. It was one of the best decisions we made.

Liz A. said...

The nature walks look like fun.

KatyTrailCreations said...

Taking photos of all those experiences will definitely help them with the memories! I'm sure they'll look back on them years and years to come and appreciate this so much :)
Stephanie Finnell
@randallbychance from
Katy Trail Creations

Sue McPeak said...

So many wonderful opportunities for exploring nature, and your girls seem to have taken them all in. Great photos for their nature journals and memories. Loved the coin collecting, too...didn't realize it was an 'N' word. Well done!

Heather Erickson said...

This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling. Each child can pursue their interests and have it be a fun, learning experience. And your girls seem to be loving it!
Heather Erickson Heather Erickson Author