Episode 156: Lessons from Nature and Great Books to Read Along the Way

In this episode we talk about the lessons from nature all children should learn and some wonderful books to read as we go out for walks in nature with our children. Come check out the fun! 

Show Notes and Links:

(00:00): Welcome
(00:10): Key Verses–Deuteronomy 6:5-9
(01:13): Lessons from nature
(03:42): Nature Walk Devotionals (order by emailing contact@terriehellardbrown.com
(04:27): nature journals
(05:05): the importance of observation
(07:02): The Hike
(08:01): Because of an Acorn
(08:34): The Oak Inside the Acorn
(09:15): Oh, The Seeds You Can Sow: A Tale of Growing Kindness
(09:39): We Are the Gardeners
(10:09): God Right Here: Meeting God in the Changing Seasons
(10:31): A Little More Beautiful: The Story of a Garden
Miss Rumphius
(11:16): scriptures about nature
(12:36): Your turn: What are your favorite nature books for your children?
(13:06): MOMCON in September
(15:31): Closing

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Show Transcript:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship, every day sparking important conversations with our children.

The key verses that guide this ministry and what we do on this podcast and just to everything I write, is really starting from the verses in Deuteronomy 6:5-9, and I’ve shared this before, but today I want to especially talk about part of these verses. The verses say, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength, and you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children, talk about them when you are at home and when you’re on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you’re getting up, tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders, write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” What I want to talk about today is, on the way as we’re going through our day, as we’re going out into the world, and I want to especially focus on nature and if we have our children out this summer, and as the fall begins to change the leaves around us and everything, what we can do to help teach some lessons from nature.

And I was thinking about what are the things we want to teach our children about God as we’re in nature? And so I wrote down a few ideas, and of course you may have a lot more, but it would kind of guide us as we go out together looking at trees, looking at leaves, looking at bugs and everything to think about what we want to convey to our children. What do we want them to understand? So the first thing I think of is that God created everything, that God is the creator and that God created us and then we are to care for the earth, and there’s a whole lot we can teach there as we’re going along the way of how to take care of our world and to be good stewards of our world, and even with being kind to others and how we treat each other, there’s a whole lot we can teach about planting seeds, and of course there’s practical lessons we can learn and teach about gardening and taking care of the earth that way and helping produce more plants, more food for people, but also the power of a seed that is planted and what can grow from it, and there’s several books I want to share about that today. And then everything has a purpose, even bugs, and I think that’s a really important lesson to teach our children even at a young age that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives and that He’s at work in and through them always. God made every creation unique and we are unique people. Each bug, each bird, even though they may look similar, are unique. God cares for the world and for us. I love the verses in Matthew 6 that says, consider the lilies or look at the flowers, look at the birds and see how God takes care of them. Therefore, we don’t need to worry, God is going to take care of us as well. God is always with us, wherever we go out in the world, God is with us, and then the last one is a little more for the older children, but to help them understand that God is not part of His creation. He made creation and we see His fingerprints in creation. We see that there was a creator because of creation, and in Romans it tells us that we have no excuse for saying there is no God, because we can see evidence of Him in nature everywhere. He has revealed Himself, but He is not part of nature, He is not part of his creation in that way, and that’s where we get into pantheism and panentheism and all those theologies that we’ve talked a little bit about in the past.

These are just a few of the things we can teach as we are out in the world of nature and talking with our children about God and what we want to teach them, and as I mentioned on a previous podcast, we do have a little devotional set of cards for when you’re out in nature that you can do a devotional with your children. There are eight devotions in the cards, then they also have activities and nature journal prompts and stuff like that for you to start this process of talking about things out in nature with your children, but there are some wonderful picture books to help us in this process as well, and so I want to share a few of those with you. I also want to encourage you to check out some of the websites that talk about nature journals.

A nature journal is just simply helping children to observe the world and then to talk about it in a journal. So if they are very young children, even five year olds, four year olds that aren’t reading a whole lot, they can still draw pictures of what they saw and then you can help them learn the names of different trees, the names of different birds, and with the wonderful apps we have today, you can point at a leaf and it will tell you what kind of tree that is, and so it’s a lot easier for us. I remember the days of searching through books and looking for what type of bird it was and what type of tree it was. It was fun, but this is really quick and easy.

Nature journals are a great way to help our children start to really observe their surroundings, be aware of their surroundings, which is a wonderful skill, and it also helps with anxiety because with anxiety, what happens, my understanding of it is that our brains kind of run away with us and we lose touch with where we are being anxious for what might be or whatever has triggered our anxiety, and so with our children struggling with that so much today, I think to help them be in nature and to be aware of what’s actually happening around them can be a helpful thing. I know one of my friends who struggles with anxiety, she thinks of five things that she can see or touch right then in her situation to help calm down those anxious feelings. I don’t struggle with that, so I am not an expert on it and I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I have known many people in my family and in my friends who have dealt with anxiety, and supposedly this is very helpful, so that’s another thing to think about when we’re teaching our children to observe their surroundings, be aware of what’s going on around them, that also can help them to be safer as children, to be aware of their surroundings. So we’re teaching observation, and that is also the beginning of real science, is observing what’s around us, and so if we’re homeschooling, this can be a big part of what we’re doing with our children in homeschool, in our science lessons to help them to observe nature and to keep a journal of what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced. One of the journals that we kept as children was we had some mice. We watched the babies develop from day one from the day they were born till they were full grown mice, and just observing the changes each day. You can do that with plants as well, noticing the changes each day in a plant. So these kinds of observations are very helpful for children as they’re learning science and growing.

Now let’s look at a few really good books I want to talk about. First of all, there’s a really cute book and it’s got a lot in it, but it really helps to emphasize what it means to do a nature journal. This is called The Hike by Alison Farrell. It’s a very cute little book and it says it’s for preschoolers and kindergartners, but it really should be for someone a little older I think, because there’s so much in the story, it’s not one that’s going to captivate a very young child with the plot of the story, but for an older child who can read and see all of the things that are labeled in the pictures and all the words, there’s big words, there’s constellations, there’s names of trees, names of plants, and it’s about these three girls who go on a hike. They are keeping nature journals, so it shows the Nature Journal in there, and it’s just a really cute book. I think it’s really good and that it would be great when you start talking to your children about keeping a nature journal to start with this book.

And then with seeds, there’s a few books I’d like to share. A picture book is Because of an Acorn, and this book is by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. This is a really cute book that just has very few words in it. It’s a true picture book with very few words, and it talks about because of an acorn, there is a tree because of the tree it goes on with, you know, there’s birds and it goes through the whole process and just really nice, really cute book.

And another one I just love about acorns is by Max Lucado, The Oak Inside the Acorn, and this has some really good spiritual lessons for children, and it is one of my favorite books. And I love acorns, and I know some people think acorns are good luck, I don’t know where that came from, but I just love acorns as a kid. I loved them, and I actually make necklaces with acorns on them because I just love that to remind us that from a seed, great things can grow and God can bring from the smallest person great things if we will put ourselves in His hands. And so it’s a reminder of spiritual truths as well as just nature truths.

And then, Oh, The Seeds You Can Sow: A Tale of Growing Kindness written by Jessica Lisk and illustrated by Gabby Correia, and this is a really cute book about intentionally choosing to be kind, and they use the analogy of planting seeds, and these children live on a farm where they have an apple orchard and they help their dad with it, and so that one also reiterates this whole lesson.

And then Joanna Gaines and her children wrote a book called We Are the Gardeners. This book talks about them when they first started gardening and what they learned about gardening, and so it’s a very practical book as well as a very sweet book, and it is illustrated by Julianna Swaney. I just love this book. So these books are all about seeds, about gardening. You can bring in the spiritual truths along with the practical, everyday planting, truths of gardening and knowing how to raise plants.

One book too that is just beautiful and it’s about God’s presence with us wherever we are and that we can see God’s hand in nature is God Right Here: Meeting God in the Changing Seasons, and this is written by Kara Lawler and illustrated by Jennie Poh, and it’s just the sweetest book, and I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it really is a beautiful little book.

And then if you know who Sarah Mackenzie is, she also has a podcast– she’s had a podcast for quite a while called Read Aloud Revival. She has a zillion resources for homeschoolers and speaks at homeschool conventions, and she knows her stuff about literature and helping our children learn, but she started her own publishing company called Waxwing Books, and this is one of their first books they published. It’s called A Little More Beautiful: The Story of a Garden, and it is written by Sarah Mackenzie and illustrated by Breezy Brookshire, and if you like Miss Rumphius, which is another wonderful book by Barbara Cooney, this one reminds me of that one, but this is a really pretty book, really nicely done and brand new from a brand new publisher, so that’s kind of cool too.

So those are a few books that I think are really good to start with when you’re talking about nature, and then also of course, bringing in scripture, Matthew 6, Psalm 8, There’s several psalms that deal with nature, but Psalm 8 is, “Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth?” Of course, Psalm 1:39 talks about us, how we are wonderfully made and how God knit us together in our mother’s wombs. We can’t go away from His presence. Wherever we go, He is there. And of course you have the story of creation in Genesis, but there are many scriptures that deal with nature, seasons and seeds. There’s the sower in Mark 4, you also have where Paul talks about some plant, some water, but God brings the harvest. I think that’s such a good lesson for children to learn, especially when we’re talking about going on a mission trip or something like that, that we can understand that some people may plant a seed, other people are going to water that seed. And as people are seeking God and drawing closer to Him, then we can see God working in their lives and drawing them to Himself, and that’s a really important thing to realize, because every time we share the gospel with someone, it’s a good thing; it’s planting a seed, it’s helping to hopefully, if we do it with the leading of the Holy Spirit and in the right way, we’re helping to draw them to God and being partners with God and what He’s doing.

So these are wonderful lessons we need our children to learn that we need to remind ourselves of as we are walking with God. What is your favorite nature book you read with your children? There are so many wonderful books about nature because children love nature and it’s an important part of life. What are some of your favorites? Put them in the comments below the show notes, we would love to hear from you and we would love for you to share some of the books that you’ve found that are really meaningful to your children.

Remember that I’m going to be at MOMCON in September in Chicago, and if you are on my mailing list and I met you last year, please come by my booth because I will have a special gift for you. If you have not joined my mailing list yet, go to my website TerrieHellardBrown.com and you can join there and that way you get our newsletter. We do about once a month, we usually skip July, which we did again this year, and we sometimes skip one other month in the year, but we have about 10 newsletters a year in there. We have our book club, we have encouragement for you and your walk with God, and we also let you know about different books and what’s going on with the podcast and everything else, all the announcements where I’m speaking, where I’m going to have booths to share my books and things, that’s all in the newsletter. When you join the mailing list, you also get a lot of freebies, so don’t forget to look at those, and you can download those from the link you get in one of the emails after you sign up that includes a book of phone names for your kids that you can print out and go have laminated and bound together or do whatever you want with them, make them flashcards or whatever, but that’s just a freebie for you guys and you get a lot of others too. The main thing you get is a list of over 100 books that we’ve vetted and read and have said, do not contradict a Christian worldview, or support a Christian worldview, so there’s a lot of great books in there and it’s more than a hundred. I started out trying to make a list of a hundred and we just kept going, so we have board books and picture books on there. Anyway, those are all free to you if you sign up for my mailing list, and we’d love to have you along for the ride. And if you decide it’s not what you want, you can unsubscribe at any time. It’s very easy, one click… maybe two clicks, but anyway, it’s very easy to unsubscribe if it’s not what you wanted, but you’re welcome to join us and to join our Facebook group if you’d like to get in on the conversation. Well, thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we’re here, we truly appreciate that, and again, if you’d like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list at TerrieHellardBrown.com and we love to hear from you, so please feel free to put comments down below the show notes, questions, we respond to everyone.

We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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