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Story Time: The Giving Tree

Story Time: The Giving Tree - Crafts, activities, and free printables to go with the picture book

Earth Day is this Friday, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it than to do a Story Time on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  We are huge Silverstein fans in this house.  His poetry is one of the myriad ways I introduced the Littles to verse.  This particular book… It is the consummate environmental children’s book.  It is so lovely, the idea that a tree could love a boy so much she would give him everything.  When you think of all the things trees do for us–provide us with warmth, with our very homes, give us shade and fruit, even supply the very paper you might print my freebies out on–when you consider all that, you have to also remember that there isn’t an unlimited supply of trees on the planet and we should do our level best to replace what we use.

Why?  Well, I believe Silverstein would tell you trees have feelings, too.  And I would have to agree.

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Free Garden Planning Pages

This time of year provides us homeschooling mamas and dadas with a great opportunity to teach our littles about life and biology and botany and how connected we are (or should be) with our planet.  Getting into the garden or the greenhouse is one of my favorite ways to teach.

morning garden 4

You can study life cycles in the garden, simply by growing a plant from seed and watching it for an entire season.  Keeping a diary or calendar of the plant’s growth can help your little understand scientific observation.  Planning a garden helps your little learn about how things grow together.  If you’re planting flowers, you can add an ongoing color lesson for art studies.  If you’re planting vegetables your little can learn about where food comes from and what is good for his body.  Littles can learn how plants need water, soil, and sunlight.  If you’re starting in a greenhouse, they can learn about how different seeds need different temperatures to sprout.

morning garden 1

There is so much a little can learn about life from gardening, but one of the most important lessons they can take away from gardening is that hard work pays off.  Gardening takes some work–you have to baby those seedlings, make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water, keep weeds from stealing the necessary nutrients, and harvest at the right time.  My Littles have been helping with the gardens since they were old enough to walk, and they groan when the weeding or hoeing needs done, but they realize that all that work is going to result in lots of fresh food and beautiful flowers to enjoy from the patio.  So they do it.  I love that it keeps them physical all summer, beyond jumping on the trampoline or swimming in the pool.  It makes them work those growing muscles in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.

morning garden 2

We always grow one special thing for each of the boys in our veggie/fruit garden.  For Littlest it’s watermelon.  For Middle, it’s our grape arbor.  This year we bought some new seeds that are supposed to grow giant watermelons, so Littlest better have his grubby hands ready to get sticky.  We’ve walked out to the orchard and looked at how our fledgling apple trees are covered in blooms this year, promising an actual crop of fresh apples for the first time.  Even the pear trees are producing this year, though not quite as much as the apples.

morning garden 3

Every year the things we grow provide fresh insight and lessons into science and nature.  I want the whole world to enjoy that connection.  I’ve made up a couple of freebies for you, and you don’t even have to subscribe to get them.  Though it’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Here’s a set of Garden Planning Pages to get you and your littles started:


garden planning pages


And here is a set of Garden Diary/Calendar pages to help your littles learn all season:

my plant diary


Print these out and get outside with your littles and enjoy glorious spring.  Learn while you’re having fun?  Yeah yeah.

That’s the stuff.

Love wins,


25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 12 Plants

pc9jqWe love doing plant studies. We witness the plant’s life cycle every year on the farm.  When we start plants from seed, we get to watch every part of the process, from birth to fruit to death.  It’s important for all littles to understand all life.  It’s important to understand them in order to grasp the turnings of our wondrous planet’s seasons.  There are so many wonderful different ways to study plants and so many different types of plants, and there is tons of literature to enrich your studies, so here are few.



Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson

This gorgeously illustrated book tells of the 200-year life of a saguaro cactus, including the desert animals who both utilize the cactus and help it live.  The simple text is easy to understand yet poetic and it is great for teaching about the desert, about cacti, and about symbiotic relationships.  Your littles will read this one again and again.


Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh

I picked this particular version of Johnny Appleseed because of the magnificent illustrations by Kathy Jakobsen.  They remind me of the art of Pieter Bruegel, which you already know I love.  The folk-artsy pictures fit perfectly with the poetic telling of the story.  Johnny Appleseed, no matter which version you use, is a great story about one of America’s favorite trees and can be turned into many crafts and activities to supplement your plant study.


Oh Say Can You Seed?  by Bonnie Worth

I love Cat in the Hat books.  This one is no less awesome than the others.  In true Dr. Seuss fashion, Ms. Worth tells your littles all about plants–how they grow, how they are used by humans, all about photosynthesis and seed dispersal.  This book is Full Of Information and the poetry of it makes it fun and engaging.


No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young

This brilliant book teaches about the symbiotic relationships of the rainforests and—even better–where chocolate comes from.  The two bookworms who crack jokes on every page will have your littles laughing even as they learn about the amazing plants of the rainforest, especially the cocoa tree.  The cool part is it’s told kind of like “The House that Jack Built,” so your littles are building on their knowledge with each page.


Squashed by Joan Bauer

This lovely story set in rural Iowa tells of 16-year-old Ellie and her battle with weight (she’d like to lose 20 pounds and she’d like her prize pumpkin to gain about 200).  If only she could lose her excess and grow her pumpkin huge by the time of the Rock River Pumpkin Weigh-In, maybe the new boy at school would like her and her life would be perfect.  Ellie’s cynical attitude is great for real belly laughs and Bauer’s brilliant writing will leave your littles wanting more.


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

No other book can touch this one for teaching about gardening and appreciating life.  If you haven’t already read it with your littles, use your plant study as a good excuse.  There is nothing more glorious than Mary’s magical friendships with Dickon and Colin, and all the wondrous lessons they learn from each other and from their garden.

On a side note, don’t forget that this week is Perseid Shower week.  Get outside in the wee hours on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday morning and see up to 50 shooting stars per hour.  How can that not rock?

Love wins,


Day One: Donkeys    Day Two: Summer    Day three: Water   Day Four: Insects    Day Five: Owls

Day Six: Bears    Day Seven: Winter     Day Eight: Poetry     Day Nine: Squirrels & Rabbits   Day Ten: Moon

Day Eleven: Autumn