CM 3: Lynn Seddon; Exploring Nature with Children

CM 3: Lynn Seddon; Exploring Nature with Children

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Show Notes:

Episode 3: Exploring Nature with Lynn Seddon

Description: Charlotte Mason puts a great emphasis on children having plenty of time outdoors. In her programmes, students would study specific aspects of nature each term. How do we incorporate this part of the feast in today’s modern, mostly inside lifestyle? What about the mom who has little experience in the natural world? In today’s episode, Lynn Seddon, creator of Exploring Nature with Children will help answer these questions and many more to help get you started on offering this rich subject in your home.

Meet Lynn:

Lynn Seddon resides in the United Kingdom where she has homeschooled her two girls using the Charlotte Mason method. She is the creator of Exploring Nature with Children. Exploring Nature With Children is a complete curriculum with 48 weekly themes. Each week contains a guided nature walk, a poetry and art selection, a themed booklist, references to the Handbook of Nature Study, and relevant, authentic extension activities for your child.

Show Transcript:

Julie Ross Lynn Seddon CM EP 3

JULIE - Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show. A podcast dedicated to discussing Ms. Mason’s philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich living education in your modern homeschool.

So, pull up a chair, we’re glad you’re here.

Today’s episode of the Charlotte Mason show is brought to you by Medi-Share. Find out more about this affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance at

Alright, hello everyone. This is Julie Ross for the Charlotte Mason podcast and I am here today with Lynn Seddon. Hello Lynn.

LYNN – Hello Julie, thank you for having me.

JULIE – Yeah, thank you for being on. I know our listeners will probably be so excited to hear from you. I know so many of them follow the Exploring Nature with Children on Instagram or use the curriculum themselves, but, for those who don’t, this is an exciting opportunity to talk with you about it. But also, just to learn more about what Charlotte Mason had to say about Nature Study, which is just such an important part of her curriculum. I mean, not curriculum, you know. Her programs, but… Before we get started, can you just tell us just a little bit about yourself?

LYNN – Yes, thank you, it’s a real pleasure to talk to you today. I’m Lynn and I live with my husband and two daughters in Lancashire, in England. And my eldest is now 17 years old. And my children haven’t been to school although my eldest did go to college for two years when she was 14.

JULIE – Wow, that’s amazing. So how did you find out about Charlotte Mason? Or does just everybody across the pond know about her?

LYNN – No, I first heard about her when… I first heard about Ms. Mason when my eldest was about 4 months old. And I belonged to… I’m going to show my age now… I belonged to a Yahoo group.

JULIE – Oh girl, I was in those too! It’s all good. Yes!

LYNN – So, I belonged to a Yahoo group, which was all about cloth nappies, cloth diapers, and I heard about Charlotte Mason. And I was so enthralled with her ideas, time out of doors, in nature, and good books, and working to produce good habits, amongst other things. And it was complete revelation that children didn’t have to go to school. So that’s how our journey began.

JULIE – Now, is homeschooling… I’m sure it’s… I don’t know, I could be wrong… like here in America, you know, that it was definitely becoming more and more popular. And when I first got started, that was not the case. You were kind of like, the weird people. So, but now it’s definitely more acceptable and I meet people all the time when I’m out in the middle of the week at a park or something who are also homeschooling. Is that kind of how the trend has been over there as well?

LYNN – It is growing in popularity, but it’s still quite an unconventional thing here.

JULIE – Oh, okay, alright.

LYNN – It’s not as commonplace as in America.

JULIE – So has it been challenging then, to find Charlotte Mason style resources over there?

LYNN – It can be. We do have quite a thriving community over here. We have the Charlotte Mason Facebook group and Lia, who runs that group is incredible, and she organizes meetups with people. So, there is community.

JULIE – Yeah, good, that’s so important. So, tell us about Exploring Nature with Children. I’m so interested to see what inspired you to go, Oh, I should write a nature study curriculum.

LYNN – Well, Exploring Nature with Children was the book that I wanted to have when I first started out. So that became a thing.

JULIE – I wish it was around then too, girl!

LYNN – Thank you, Julie. Exploring Nature with Children is a curriculum that I wrote for parents who wanted to make nature study a part of their own home education but were really struggling to form a habit. Nature study was one of the first things that really drew me to Ms. Mason’s method, and I saw the fruit of it in my own children’s lives. So, over the years, I would meet mothers and chat with them and they would say that they would do themselves up and they would buy field guides and nature books and paint balls and water feasts, and we would make these huge concerted efforts to go for a nature walk. And then that would be it for six months.

JULIE – Oh, I feel so much better. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

LYNN – Definitely not. So, I wanted to encourage parents that they could make nature study a habit. And Exploring Nature with Children was born out of the desire to help other mothers and parents and families get out of doors regularly and reap the benefits that I believe nature study brings. I was opening go, so it makes nature study really doable for the overwhelmed parents.

JULIE – Yes. So, I have to tell you, that it was your curriculum that really helped me finally figure out nature study. Because I would take my kids to the park or we would find a nature trail, or we would try to go even into just our front yard. You know, I was always trying to do something like that once a week, but I just felt clueless, actually. And I just felt like, go find something that looks interesting that you wanna put in your notebook this week. And I didn’t know, like, what the trees were or what we were supposed to be looking for or doing out there. And I just really felt like we were just kind of wandering around. And then when I got your curriculum, I was like, Oh, thank goodness. Okay. Here we go. Cause I’m a very much a “tell me what to do and I’ll do it”. And I read Charlotte Mason’s volumes, I knew what she had to say about nature study, but I just never could figure out practically, okay, this week is when we’re walking, we’re gonna look for lichen on the trees. You know, I would have never thought of that one my own.

LYNN – Well that’s smashing, thank you, Julie.

JULIE – Yeah, and also thank you. It really has helped us a lot, and that’s why I recommend it to any new homeschooling mom, or someone like me, who has been doing it for awhile but was just kind of clueless in that area, to have some structure. And I love that you bring in the handbook of nature study readings so that… you know, I’ve just learned so much myself from doing this, about nature that I didn’t really know about. And I grew up in the 80s and we didn’t go outside and do all this stuff Charlotte Mason talks about, in my suburban life… so I have just really reclaimed that knowledge of nature for myself, which has been such a gift. You talk about the fruit that you saw in your children’s lives from doing nature study with them. Do you mind, just kind of highlighting some of those things that you were seeing?

LYNN – Yes, well, they’re both very very observant and they will notice the most minute details that would just completely pass me by. And they really do have that relationship with the natural world, and they love being out of doors and they don’t find it a boring thing at all. Whereas, I think a lot of children today, unfortunately, see it as being a boring thing to be out and about. They both are really talented artists now. And that is purely just from keeping nature journals regularly. We really fumbled along in the beginning. I know that Ms. Mason says let the child keep their own nature journal, and we don’t correct that nature journal or use it particularly to give lessons. She would suggest to have drawing lessons separate. But I couldn’t draw either. I had to teach myself to draw, so we learned alongside each other. And they are really talented, though.

JULIE – Wow, and your nature journals are beautiful by the way. You put them on Instagram. And I think that’s the thing too, like, with the nature journals. You can go on Instagram or Pinterest and you see these beautiful journals, and get intimidated and be like, my kid scribbled something with a colored crayon, you know? We’re not doing this right. This should be a beautiful watercolor whatever, and, get discouraged, and like you said, when you’re discouraged, that passes on to your kids that you have this expectation of, like, oh, I’m sorry that beetle you painted wasn’t correct or proportional, you know? And kind of scared them from wanting… where they look at the blank page and go, oh, I can’t do this, you know?

So, since we’re on that topic, do you mind just talking a little bit about keeping nature journals and what you recommend for that?

LYNN – Yes, of course. Ms. Mason suggests that a child can start from around the age of five or six, keeping their own nature journal. And I think it’s a really good idea if the parent keeps one too. Because it gives… I think it’s really good… especially if the parent can’t draw. For the child to see the parent struggle with something. And I think it’s really good for the parent to remember what it’s like to struggle towards a thing as well.

JULIE – Oh, for sure, yeah.

LYNN – And it’s a great thing to do together and sort of learn together. And basically, just won’t start out… the thing I find is a lot of people try to get the perfect supplies. But what is the perfect pencil? I get a lot of emails, what book do I need? What pencils? What pens? You know, just start, literally, with what you have. I would always say, when you go for your nature walk, just start by jotting down on the family calendar some thing that you’ve seen. So, almost like a calendar first, really. But just write it on the family calendar that’s on the wall, and just start right there. And then you can purchase a journal. Get something that’s got nice, strong, sturdy paper, and just sit down together, as a family after the walk, and capture what you see. Now I tend to get the children to… I used to get the children to collect a nature treasure, we would call it. So, you know, a leaf or a feather or whatever it was. And then we’d come home and have a cup of tea and something to eat, and we’d all sit there at the table and we would all chat about what we’d collected. And then we would sit and just spend ten or fifteen minutes and just draw in our journals what we had seen. And we did go through times where we’d have tears over our journals.

JULIE – Yes, okay, I’m glad I’m not the only one there too.

LYNN – Definitely. And I do have one child that’s a ferocious perfectionist. And it’s very difficult because the tendency is to say, Oh, don’t worry, it’s fine. It looks lovely. When actually, the child is correct in their frustration that this feather they had sketched looks nothing like the feather. So, we kind of need to encourage that, really. And just looking, you know, what is it that’s not right? Is it the shape? Is it color? Try and get them to see what’s not right, and they have to understand that learning to draw is a skill, just like learning to write or learning to read. And they have to learn how to do it. And it takes time, and they have to be patient, they have to learn that they… if they keep going, they will get there.

JULIE – Yes.

LYNN – And that’s the key thing, is keeping going when everything that they’re drawing looks terrible.

JULIE – Yeah, that’s a really great point. And I think what you said, too, about, having drawing lessons during your week at some other time is key too. Because then that gives them that skill. Like if you are doing… especially like the brush drawing lessons. You know, it seems like you’re just putting little blobs on a piece of paper. But, well, you are actually doing that at first. But that does translate over after time, they build those skills. And even my kids in their free time, they love to go on YouTube, and oh gosh, I can’t even remember what the name of it is. Bu it’s like where you draw cute little Star Wars figures or something like that, you know. And it seems so silly, like they’re drawing Star Wars figures has nothing to do with Charlotte Mason right, but their drawing ability in their nature journals is greatly improved. It does translate over, so. You did mention a calendar at first too. Can you explain what that is and how it’s kind of different than a nature journal?

LYNN – Yes. Ms. Mason had her students record literally the firsts that they saw in nature, so when they saw the snow drops bloom, they would record that. When they saw the first buds on the trees, they would record that. And the way that they actually did it, they didn’t do it in a separate book. They would have charts in the back of their nature journals. And they would just literally write the date and write what they had seen, so it wasn’t a complicated thing at all. It’s very simple, but very effective.

JULIE – Yeah, that’s neat. And I like yours too, I’ll see if I can link to the one, a picture of yours. You have that up on your blog, don’t you?

LYNN – Yes.

JULIE – Okay. Why did Charlotte Mason include nature study in her programs? I mean it’s a very… I mean it’s not something you typically think of when you think of education, especially in today’s world, right? And it’s very much something you don’t see in other philosophies of education.

LYNN – Definitely. I think she was an incredible woman. One of her quotes that inspires me the most is a pure testament, I think, to nature study. She said, “Consider too what an unequalled mental training the child naturalist is getting for any study or calling under the sun. The powers of attention, of discrimination, of patient pursuit, growing with his growth, what will they not fit him for?”

So it’s marvelous, she’s encouraging us that this is not just a pleasant pursuit. Nature study has real substance that will develop the child’s attention, their observation skills, their ability to know notice all those wee details, and the patience. She encourages us that whatever this child is going to do with their life, whatever path they’re going to take, these schools that they’ve taken... that they’ve gained from nature study, are going to be useful. It’s going to be their training ground. And then as well, she also used nature study as a tool to lay the foundations for more formal study of science in later years. I mean, nature studies went all the way through her curriculum. It was the real foundation building blocks for science in later years. And then I think ultimately, she yields these nature studies and means to inspire the child in a life of worship and reverence to their Creator.

JULIE – Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yeah, and I get that question a lot, like, where’s the science for form one, or grades like one through three, they’re like, where’s the science. I’m like, this is science. And this is how you should learn about the world that we live in. Like, being out in the world and not watching a YouTube video of frogs. Like go in a pond and try to catch some and see them and hold them and that’s how kids at that young age, especially, need that hands-on thing. But like you said, later, when they’re in high school and they’re learning chemistry, if they’ve learned that power of observation and attention to detail, that’s gonna transfer to those higher sciences as well, which is really neat. Alright, so what are some principles to keep in mind when implementing nature study? What should parents know if they want to get started with this?

LYNN – Well, for me, I would say the most important thing is keep it simple. I think, as educating parents, we want to do the best for our children. And so, we try to … we tend to overcomplicate everything. I’d say, don’t worry about having all your ducks in a row before you begin. You don’t need the perfect nature journal, or the perfect watercolors, you’ve just got to get started with what you have. And I would also say don’t worry about your lack of knowledge. Because the child is really important, the child forms their own relationship with nature, and so they don’t need us to tell them the names of everything or be able to spout off a reel of facts for them. That would be a hindrance. So, here’s a really good quote. Ms. Mason said, “They must be left alone, left to themselves, a great deal. To take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens for at the evils of modern education, few are worse than this, that the perpetual heckle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time nor an inch of space where into wonder and grow.”

JULIE – For sure, yeah. That’s a great point. I think that is intimidating for parents, they feel like, my kid’s gonna be like, Mom what tree is that, and you’re gonna have to like, go well that’s a such and such and here’s the Latin name for it… you know, like… but you don’t’ have to be the spout of all knowledge. That just ties in with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, overall right? That it’s the child’s self-education, and so then giving out and wondering and questioning, they should be doing that.

LYNN – Yes, and I think… so, say the child is… what is this tree? I think it’s really good to sort of look at that tree and see what you can see about that tree, and the tree is going to change over the weeks. And keep going back and seeing that tree and seeing how it changes and really get to know that tree. And then put a name to that tree.

JULIE – Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, and she talks about that in her programs too, like, having a space, right? That you’re watching throughout the year. And that’s great… the contrast of the next question… cause that’s really great if you’re like me. I live in suburbia. There’s… I mean, if we wanna go out in nature, we gotta drive 30 minutes to some park or some nature trail or something like that, and some weeks that’s just not possible, right? But like literally, I have one tiny little tree in my sad little yard, it’s very very depressing, but you know, but that one little tree, we can watch that one little tree all year long and even when it’s 100 degrees here in South Carolina, we can look out the window at the tree. Which I’m very thankful for, cause we’re in air conditioning. So, you know, I don’t think it has to be this huge ordeal that we have to, oh, I can’t do nature study because we don’t live on a farm, or we don’t live near a creek or whatever, to… you know, it can be right where you are at. So, I’m sure you get this question a lot cause I do too, so what do you recommend though, for like a person who lives in suburbia or they live maybe in a city or they live someplace where the weather is super cold or like down here in the summer it’s way too hot to go outside. Can they still do nature study and what do you recommend for that?

LYNN – Absolutely. Nature is all around us. So, whilst it may be nice to take a 30-minute journey every now and again I don’t think you need to do it all the time. I would say look at the sky and you could maybe chart moon phases. Or the constellations. How does the position of the sun change and the sky each day? Look at shadow lengths and then how they change. And look at the ground. You might have weeds growing in cracks in the pavement. Observe insects going around and the grasses that you’re growing. Put up a bird feeder. Watch and wait. You have to wait. It might take a week or two, but you will have visitors. Record where the patterns… there’s a lot that you can do, I think.

JULIE – Yeah, we put up a little tiny bird feeder right above our kitchen sink. We have a window, so we put a little bird feeder on that and… we had to take it down though because the poor little birds kept going into the window. So, we’d be sitting there reading and all of a sudden it would be like, BAM! But it was definitely a lesson on birds. So, yes, I love that. Just you know… and even if, you know, you do live in a city or like, where we are, I mean we do have nature park that has classes and they have animals and they’re all inside, but you can still go in and see them. And I don’t really wanna see a snake outside, so I’d much rather look at the snake through the glass. And using the people that work there, or going to our state park that’s nearby and talking to those rangers and people who are experts, I really enjoy asking… you know, and I think they’re kind of shocked by my kids sometimes, because they have like four thousand questions where they get lots of field trips with kids who could care less, right? And so, they love to be able to talk to kids that are interested and excited about nature.

Today’s episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family centered, inspired by Ms. Mason’s programs and philosophy and rooted in books, beauty and Biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at

JULIE – Alright, so you kind of hinted on this in terms of like, nature journals, but what are some tools you would recommend for families that want to get started with nature study?

LYNN – Okay, I would say that a family can get started with nature study right now, today, with nothing at all. Just gather round the window at nighttime, after the children have been bathed, had their story, ready for bed, and just look at the moon. Look for the moon. Where is it in the sky? What shape is it? If you can’t see it, why do you think you can’t see it? And then just say goodnight to the moon and you can make that habit for each night. You’ve got a new habit there. So, you can start straightaway. But for nature walks, what would they need? I would say begin with sensible waterproof… no sensible, weather appropriate bookware and clothing. So, whatever is going to be appropriate for your season, start there. And then I would suggest the next thing to get would be a good local field guide, that you can take along on your walk, so you can look together for any specimens that you don’t know what they are and you want to find out. And then I would say a nature journal and art supplies are really useful, but they don’t have to be anything, again, expensive or complex. Just start slowly and build up. Which would be my advice. And begin keeping a nature journal, as I said earlier, just by writing on the family calendar to begin with. And then when you’ve got that habit, then you can perhaps visit a local art shop, and everybody can choose a journal. You can start keeping a journal. Even just writing on the calendar, imagine looking back.

JULIE – Yeah. And just the habit of going out, right? And not feeling all this pressure to bring all your nature drawing things with you and do stuff outside and… I love what you said about having it… you know, collecting some treasures, and sometimes we take pictures of things cause sometimes we go to parks where they don’t want us to bring things home. But we’ll wait till we get home because again, it’s… the weather, it’s really hot here in the summer. But I do do the same thing you do. We do have… we do it during our teatime and it’s just very relaxing and calming and then I don’t feel this pressure that we’re… we gotta do it right now while we’re sitting in front of this tree. And then my kids, especially, they just wanna be out exploring. And they don’t wanna have to sit when they’re outside. So that makes it challenging, so yeah, I love that idea, just being able to enjoy that time outside with your nature journal time. That’s kind of how we do it too, so that’s neat to hear that that’s how you do it. And I think like you said, it’s building that habit, more importantly than anything else is, we’re outside, we’re appreciating God’s creation, we are spending time together, we’re spending time observing things that are worthy of observing, and just building that little habit. And then building the other… the study of, lichen or whatever it is, or the journals or whatever it is that you’re gonna do with that. Let that come naturally later on once you already have that habit. I think that’s a really great idea. So, for those of us who live in the modern time, do you really need to study nature still? Like, what’s the benefit of all this?

LYNN – Oh we do, we do. So, again…

JULIE – I know we do, but I just… I wanna ask that question cause people ask that.

LYNN – Ms. Mason said it’s the mental training that the child receives and the ability to focus patiently and observe and I think a really key point is the relationships that we build with the natural world around us with our family and, of course, with our Creator. I would say definitely truth and beauty and goodness are as essential now as they were back in Ms. Mason’s time. Most definitely.

JULIE – Have you read… I’m just gonna recommend this book. I don’t know if you’ve read it but I’m just gonna recommend it for people. Last Child in The Woods Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder.

LYNN – Yes. Really good book

JULIE – Yeah, I’m gonna put that one in the show notes. So, it’s… but also… if other people are like, well it’s really funny because once I was talking to one of my friends and she was asking about homeschooling and what we do and I was telling her about Charlotte Mason. And she’s like, Oh, Charlotte Mason, I’ve heard of her. Wasn’t she like a hippy that just said like, children should play outside all day? And I think some people can have that impression, quite honestly, about the Charlotte Mason Method. Like if this is what you’re doing… Oh, your kids just kinda wander around outside all the time and I’m like, oh no, we actually learn a lot of really hard subjects. But she did say that kids should be outdoors quite a lot, so it is that... I get where they’re getting that from, right? But it’s not this unschooling “go do whatever you want and go spend hours outside and if you wanna come in and learn something that’s okay”. It is very much a structured part of our day. But if you have people in your life who are like, why are you all outside all the time, or, you’re not really doing school cause you’re at the park, you know? This Last Child in the Woods really kind of gives you some inspiration but also some statistics to say, oh no, this is actually what kids are learning and doing when they are outside. And of course, Charlotte Mason knew that way before everybody else cause she’s a genius so… WE can just trust what she has to say on all of these things. But, you know, that’s another question I get all the time to is, well how do we spend this much time outside and still get everything else done that we have to do?

LYNN – Yes. Well, Ms. Mason suggested having meals out of doors and just really being out of doors. Having everybody gathering outside. She didn’t want the children sent outside, she wanted mother to go with them. And she would just let them play and she suggested that before the children… when you are actually going for a nature walk, she suggested allowing them to run and play for a good hour to two hours before you even have your walk.

JULIE – Oh that’s really good, yeah, especially for people who are… Well, you said you do something with Lia. You know, if you’re doing some kind of group nature walk or nature activity, one of the things that’s really… is hard, is the kids do wanna play with each other and they wanna talk to each other cause they’re home all the time. So, they’re like, FRIENDS! But then that’s hard to go, okay, now we’re gonna go on this walk and everyone needs to be quiet because… and they’re like wait, wait, what? I wanna play!

LYNN – Yes.

JULIE – So do you guys play before you walk or how does your group structured? Curious.

LYNN – Well with my children we always use to… it was just a part of our family. We would just go for our walk and the children were really used to doing it, so they would run about and play about and what they were in the habit of it. And so, in that play, they would come running up… Oh mom I found such and such thing and they would show me whatever treasure it was. Or they would just ask about something, but most definitely, we didn’t have any kind of group settings, we wouldn’t all meet and then this is where our nature study starts. Definitely. They have to have time to play or it just… it’s like herding cats.

JULIE – Yes! Very much so! What about the mom who says, you know what, this isn’t that important, I just really don’t have time for nature study in our week? I can’t fit this in.

LYNN – Well I would understand it’s hard isn’t it? Where you feel like you’re trying to do everything. We’re doing our school lessons and we’ve got family to care for and the home. But I would just say start small. Ten minutes. Or even a walk around the neighborhood is doable for everyone once a week. But make it part of family time with dad if possible. There’s no need to make a big announcement, we’re going for a nature walk. Just go for a walk. Go for a walk. Take time to literally smell the roses. And encourage the child to collect nature treasure so… a pebble, leaf, whatever, pop it… when you get home, just pop it on a shelf. And then go back to it and look at it during the week. And just about it. What is it? Where does it come from? Why does it look like this? What colors can we see in it? Just talk about it over the upcoming week. Ten, fifteen minutes. Everybody can do once a week, I think.

JULIE – Yeah, that’s a great point. I think we feel like, oh, it needs to be this big huge hike, and all of this stuff and it’s like no, no, no, no. Short lessons. You can make it short and fit it in however you can. But I also like the idea of doing it with dad. Now something that we try to do, on the weekends, is do like a family hike. So, it’s not necessarily part of our school week, you know? But like you said, the things that we are talking about during the week, well, they’re gonna notice that when we’re hiking on the weekend. They’re going to see, oh, well that’s the tree that we learned about. Or we’re talking about frogs, let’s see if there are any frogs in this pond. You know, it just comes naturally at that point, and it’s not this forced, you must go find a seed, you know? They’re gonna find those things that you’ve been talking about naturally, and it’s a good way to kind of fit it in, I feel like, sometimes during the week when our weeks are too full to get that long time out in nature for us to include that on the weekends. For them, you know, to show dad the cool thing that they found too. It’s super fun. And kids… I love what you said about collecting treasures. I mean, I just… well, my kids are older now, but when they were little, I mean, getting them to just pick one thing was impossible. So, it would be like, pockets full of pebbles and pockets full of seeds and I’m like, can we just pick your favorite pebble because these all look exactly the same. Do you have any… talking about treasure… tips on storing treasures? Or keeping them or anything like that?

LYNN – I’m not really the best person to advise on perhaps keeping and storing them. What we always tended to do is, we would come and everything on the nature table. And then it would pile up and pile up and then the following month we would take everything off and clear it all off.

JULIE – Oh I think that’s great.

LYNN – We would keep some things but then we would sort of take quite a bit off. We did store our favorite pebbles and if we ever found… a few times we found bird’s nests that had been blown out of trees… so we kept those in tins in our dresser, and things like that. But I would just try and… because there’s only so much room for wet, moldy leaves…

JULIE – Yeah, my husband would go over like… why are there a pile of sticks on the kitchen table? We should probably clear those off. Yeah, we have, like a big, it’s like a deep rectangle basket and then we keep all of our treasures that I would consider treasures… so the kids have their pebbles and things, and those kind of rotate through. But we have found rocks with fossils in them and horseshoe crab shells and turtle skeletons, you know, things like that, that I’m like okay we’re gonna keep this forever because this is like, way cool. And it’s funny, I bring that basket on the different conferences that I go to sometimes. I’ll set up a tent and I’ll put the little basket in there. So, when the parents are looking through stuff their kids can go and touch, and it’s really interesting to see how different kids respond to the different things that are in there. Especially that aren’t from where I am, you know, because I put shells in there or magnolia seeds, I mean it’s very Southern, that they might never have seen before. And it’s just really neat, because I think they’re use to… some kids are just used to things that make noise, or things that are toys, and give them that... it does the work for them, if that makes sense. And then the kids who are extremely imaginative and they’re pretending that the turtle shell is a bowl and you know, you can see how they kind of… different kids respond to the nature treasures, which is super fun. Yeah, but I think just, you know, you don’t have to have this beautiful display case of little… you know, again, start small. Do what works for you and your family and the most important part is just making it habit and priority. And then you’ll see, you know, that kind of fruit, like you were talking about with your children. I’ve definitely seen that with mine, but that comes through just doing it, really. And not feeling so much pressure to do it right or Charlotte Mason said you have to do it for this many minutes at this many times during the day, and you have to keep this many records of this many things. And we can get so overwhelmed that we do nothing.

LYNN – Yes, definitely.

JULIE – Or, you’re not doing it right if your kids haven’t learned about the Latin names of duh-duh-duh-duh… you know, and it’s like, no, no, no. You… we gotta just sometimes I think take the pressure off and focus on what the… really… her heart behind it. Yeah.

So, in closing, do you have a favorite Charlotte Mason quote? I know you’ve shared a couple already.

LYNN – I do. I think this would be my most favorite Charlotte Mason quote. And I wrote it all down, it’s a paragraph of a quote, I’ve taken the key part and she says “The question is not how much does the youth know when he has finished his education, but how much does he care”.

JULIE – Mmm, yes, I love that. So why did you pick that one?

LYNN – Oh, it just encourages me so, and to know that the goal is for our children is not for them to learn rote facts, but that they wrestle with ideas and they form relationships with the world them. And the natural world with their books, with their lessons, and it’s just beautiful.

JULIE – Yeah, my appetite is so… if I’m thinking of the correct quote, does it keep going in saying, and how large is the room upon which their feet have been set? Yes. So, my daughter, that’s a freshman in college now, used that quote to start her admissions essay.

LYNN – Fabulous.

JULIE – And of course, you know, my Charlotte Mason Mama Heart was just overflowing with joy. I’m like, okay, I might have said that quote to you a lot. So… but, you know, I would always encourage her because weaving wasn’t always her favorite thing to do. And some of the books she had to read weren’t always her favorite. And she had… she was writing this essay on, you know, I think the question was like, why will you be academically successful here, or something like that, and it was… you have such a wide variety of interests. And you have done so many different things. And that makes you so much different than a kid who says, well, I have a 4… I don’t know what your grade system is like there, but like, a perfect grading and a perfect test score, and that’s all they did, right? And they focused so much on getting these high scores and academic marks that they weren’t involved in a lot of different things, you know? And I said, that’s… that was always my goal for you for school was, “can you teach yourself”, which in self education. But I mean, that’s just a skill you can take no matter career you pick, right? But also, that you would just love a variety of different things, so, that’s really cool that you picked that as your favorite quote. And that they care, right? It’s not something that someone is forcing upon them. They care because they’re interested and they’re doing the work for themselves, so.

Thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk to me today about all of this. I know this just will be so helpful. I just feel really encouraged too, even in my own nature study with my kids. Sometimes I can even still have the tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself, so. I so appreciate talking to you, and how can folks, if they’re interested in Exploring Nature with Children or seeing your nature journals and calendar, how can they find out more about that online?

LYNN – If they visit the website Raising Little Shoots, they can find out all about Exploring Nature with Children there. And if they pop over to the blog on the website, they can see nature journals and what have been shared there. I do have, I did have a YouTube. Well, I do have a YouTube channel. I did use to upload to it quite regularly, but I haven’t done for a couple of years now. But it’s still there. You can access it from the website, and that shows, it’s not painting tutorials, but it shows how I would paint different things. So that might be something…

JULIE – Yeah, and then there’s… is it just like an Instagram hashtag for people who are using this, or?

LYNN – Yes.

JULIE – Okay

LYNN – Exploring hashtag, Exploring Nature with children. And you can connect them with lots and lots of other families who are using the curriculum. And we do have a Facebook group if anybody would like to join that. Anyone’s on Facebook, that’s Raising Little Shoots Nature Study. You can find us on Facebook.

JULIE – Alright Lynn, well thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, I really appreciate it.

LYNN – Oh, Julie, it’s been my pleasure, thank you so much.

JULIE - Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason show. I’m your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in 2020. I will be at all seven Great Homeschool Conventions, speaking as part of their Charlotte Mason track. Go to to find one near you.

If you want more information on what was shared into today’s podcast, go to for the show notes. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or Google Play, so you never miss an episode.

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Next PostCM 4 Episode #18 Nature Explorers: Brain Training To Enhance our Children’s Potential with guest Cindy West