Ijams Nature Center

ijams nature center

We are blessed in our area to have a fabulous nature center fairly close by! Last weekend David and I took the kids there…it’s FREE and it’s gorgeous! If you are headed to East TN anytime soon and looking for something FREE and EDUCATIONAL, I have just the spot for you. 🙂 It’s called Ijams Nature Center and it’s in Knoxville.

The indoor section is great, especially if you are a nature lover like myself! There are hands on things for the kids and a few animals in glass cages to take a peek at! We saw a snake in a cage, a snapping turtle, several fish and other turtles.



Every Saturday at 2pm they have a Creature Feature time where one of the Ijams workers shares a creature with visitors! When we were there, we got to see a 25 year old black rat snake that was between 6-7ft long! We listened to lots of details and learned a lot about this helpful snake.



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There are also several trails to hike and walk that are beautiful! We chose the trail that went down by the river.






If you’re traveling to East Tennessee sometime, you should definitely take a stop at Ijams Nature Center! Fun, free AND educational!

Read more of my East Tennessee fun trip ideas here.

Brainfood Learning {DVD review}

brainfood learning company

We were so excited to review The Fascinating World of Birds from the BrainFood Learning company! As you may know, if you’ve been reading my blog for long, we are big nature study fans, especially learning more about birds in our own backyard! This DVD was perfect for any family wishing to learn more about birds. I am a huge fan of nature study with children and feel that it is so important. This is just one small way to tie in the outdoor nature study with multimedia learning!

brainfood learning reviewIn the collage above you will see several shots (from my phone) of the various types of things shown in this DVD. We learned about people who study birds (ornithologists,) as well as types of birds, unique facts about birds and much more! Because we have learned a lot about birds before, I felt like this dvd was a great review for my kids and really helped cement some of the facts we’ve learned in years past!

There were also some review questions at the end pertaining to each section in the DVD. My most competitive child especially loved this part! 🙂

This DVD was very well done and we enjoyed watching it together. My kids are 11, 10 and 8, so this dvd definitely isn’t just for smaller children.  I think for smaller children, this would be a great way to introduce them to some new vocabulary. But for older children, it’s a great way to review if you’ve done lots of nature study in your home before. There are also DVDs in this same series on insects and mammals!

This particular DVD sells for $14.99 on the BrainFood Learning website.  And they also have a few previews on youtube if you would like to take a peek before you purchase! Also, the company has recently released lesson plans to download for free that go along with these DVDs! Check them out here!

If you’d like to read what other families think about these DVDs, please check out the TOS crew blog!


Deciduous Trees {Nature Study}

Trees by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

One day my youngest child began asking a lot of questions about the trees in our yard.

What kind of tree is that?
Why does the trunk look like that?
Why does that tree have helicopters and the other one doesn’t?

So…I looked to my friends over at Shining Dawn Books and purchased the nature study called Delightful Deciduous Trees!! I love their nature studies, they are really full-blown unit studies centered around one topic in nature.

This was so simple to implement, we just read a book or two each day that we learned about trees. We spent a few minutes outside with our nature journals from time to time, we picked trees to observe and draw, we taped leaves in our journals, colored bark, read poetry about trees and memorized a poem about trees as well. We spent a few weeks – with just a little bit of time every other day – learning about trees.  Nothing hard about it.

I took the unit study from Shining Dawn, printed it and actually read parts of it aloud to my kids when we were learning about specific parts of the tree or if they had a question that was answered there. I also love the printable notebooking or journaling pages provided with the nature study.

We were able to learn a little bit more about 2 specific kinds of trees in our yard: black oak and white maple.

A Few Books We Enjoyed

Tell Me, Tree: All About Trees for Kids
A Tree Is Nice
Tree For All Seasons
Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art

Now, I could have spent a lot longer with trees, but now my kids are obsessed with ROCKS. We have quite the rock collection going on in our home. So…I’m going to follow their lead and look at this unit from homeschool share and possibly another nature study from Shining Dawn…called Hard as a Rock.

New Nature Studies!

I am pleased to share with you a new and wonderful resource for nature studies! My 2 blogging friends, Cindy and Melissa, have started Shining Dawn Books where they have created and are selling NaturExplorers nature unit studies!


I was priveleged enough to get a copy of the Wonderful Wildflowers to “review” for their grand opening! I shared with Cindy and Melissa that I was very impressed from the moment I opened up the unit study! For one, I am a total unit study gal…as well as a lover of nature study with my kids…so putting these 2 things together for me ~ with all the work done for me ~ is a GREAT product!!

These unit studies, which are all based on a different nature topic, are full of books to read, hands-on ideas, websites to check out, nature journaling pages and much more! I was pleasantly surprised as I read through the Wonderful Wildflowers to learn many new things myself. And the nature journaling pages that you can print off are really great!

Some of the other nature studies available from Shining Dawn Books are: animal signs, beautiful birds, captivating clouds, creatures of the night, delightful deciduous trees, everchanging erosion, frogs and toads, fungus among us, hard as a rock, peaceful ponds, and spectacular spiders.

So, don’t take my word for it, head on over to Shining Dawn Books where they also have a blog that will be updated with articles and nature study tips! Also, both Cindy and Melissa are having give-aways of these nature studies on their blogs…so head on over and check it out!