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