Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Keep a Naturalist's Journal and Tin Cups & Tinders plans


Bugle Boy working on his field bag

We are beginning a new "rabbit trail" here and I thought I'd share my plans with you, dear readers.  Being a nature notebooking dunderhead, I purchased for myself the book  How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook (see links below).  I already had Tin Cups & Tinder, but had not used it yet, so I combined these two resources into a unit on nature notebooking.  The plans I have are below.  Please know I have only just begun this unit, so I might find ways to improve these plans as I go.  I will make changes as I see they are necessary to this plan.  Have fun and happy Easter!

How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook   and Tin Cups & Tinder  Lesson Plans

(I'll keep on adding pictures and info as we progress)

1.   In How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook (HKNN), read pp. 1-4, through section on “Field Bag”

2.   Following  directions on p. 69ff in Tin Cups & Tinder (TCT), make a haversack. 

                        Materials needed:
                                    Old, baggy men’s  jeans
                                    Two buttons
                                    Needles, thread, scissors

Bugle Boy with finished nature bag!
We decided to add an extra pocket to the inside of the haversack.  You could also put this on the outside of the front flap.  Just cut out one of the back pockets on the jeans, allowing about 1/2" of extra fabric around all the edges.  You can zigzag around it, or sew it by hand.  I turned the top flap backwards (away from the pocket opening) and sewed it down by machine.

3.    Following directions on p. 89ff in TCT, make a few small field notebooks.  You can also just buy one if you prefer, but it is fun for the children to make one as well.

Work in process...
            Materials needed:
                  Plain paper
                  Needle, waxed dental floss
                  4 clothes pins or clips
                  Thumb tack and craft glue
                  Labels in book

The finished product!

Another use for duct tape!
4.   Read pp. 4-7 through Pencil Case or Box in HKNN.  Decide what you want to keep in your field bag in the way of pencils, erasers, etc. and collect those items.

Our list of "essentials":  mechanical pencil, waterproof black pen, white soft eraser, watercolor pencils (Prismacolor and Crayola are two brands I have already on hand), and a waterbrush.  I hope we can come up with a pocket on our pencil case for the eraser!
       We decided to make a two-color duct tape pencil case.  You will need to click on the link up near the top right-hand side to get instruction on how to make "duct tape fabric", if you don't already know how.  I'm linking here so I don't lose this link! Will post photos when we finish this project!

Mad Muncher and his flames!
This was a fun project!  Only my 10 yr old could really do his fairly independently, but the younger children helped assemble and made design decisions.  I found I didn't quite follow the directions correctly the first time, but duct tape is very forgiving! I abandoned the idea for an outside pocket because I felt the eraser would just keep falling out.  We ended up putting the eraser inside with the pencils and brushes.

Bugle Boy's Camo Case

5.  Read pp. 7-13 in HKNN together with your student.  Decide on whether you want a compass, hand lens, or binoculars.  If using binoculars,  turn to pp. 20-22 for detailed instructions on how to use and focus them.

6.  Read pp. 13-19 in HKNN.  Add the Beaufort Scale and measuring scale to one of your field books.  Add a pocket in the front for sketch frames.  Make/collect sketch frame rectangles.

7.At this point, we are making a few “extra” items for our field bags from TCT:
                        Tenner, p. 82, see directions for sacrifice beads at
                                     I like these because it is easy to keep your place if you are interrupted.
                                     Links for supplies:
                                             Miraculous Medals ($0.45 each)
                                             Bronze Rosary Crucifix from Holy Land ($1.93 each)
                        First Aid Kit, p. 83
                        Sewing Kit, p.61

8.  Read  pp. 23-29 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 29.

9  Read pp. 29-33 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 31.

10.  Take a nature walk and practice sketching.  Take a camera on the walk to photograph birds and squirrels that you can try to sketch later at home.  Use what you learned in the two sketching exercises to sketch.

11.  Read pp. 34- 36 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 36.

12.  Make granola and bag from TCT (pp. 41 and p.79) for your next nature outing.

13.  Read pp. 36-45 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 45. 

14.  Optional:  Build a bird feeder.  I like the information and easy milk carton bird feeder on this
       You could also order a nice wooden kit (which is probably what we will do).  Here's an
       inexpensive choice: Wooden Bird Feeder

15.  Take another nature walk, eating your granola and using what you have learned about sketching

16.  Read pp. 47-51 in HKNN.  Do Watercolor pencil exercises on pp. 50-51.

17.  Read pp. 52-55 in HKNN.  Do exercise on p. 53.

18.  Read about layout pp. 55-64 in HKNN.  Discuss the sample notebook pages.  View the video  Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, which contains information about the Golden Square and Fibonacci sequence.

19.  The rest of the sketching information in HKNN will be used depending upon the age/ability of your children.  I have one artist with whom I will cover the perspective drawing section and other tips for drawing in the field,  the other children will just not do this material for a few years yet.

20.  Make the plant press in TCT, p. 95ff to add to your field bag.

21.  Read HKNN pp. 97-102 (through section on System of Taxonomic Classification).  Memorize the mnemonic “Kings play chess on fancy glass sets” to help you remember the order : Kingdom, Phyla, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

22.  Read HKNN pp. 102-108.  Copy the wildflowers identification charts on pp. 117-118 and add to your field book, reduce in size if necessary.

23.  Select a few small field guides for your field bag.  We focus on one kind of thing at a time so the bag doesn’t get too heavy with lots of books.  So one week we’ll focus on flowers, another on trees, etc.

I like to take along a few Folding Guides.  They are very light weight and portable, have good pictures of common fauna and flora, and are waterproof.  Each guide costs $7.95.  Full-length guide books have tons more information, but are pretty heavy to carry along on a walk.

24.  Take another walk.  Try to identify some wildflowers.

25.  Read HKNN about bird identification pp. 108-113.  You might want to copy the list of identifying marks on p. 112 for you field book.

26.  Read HKNN pp. 113-116 to complete the information on bird identification.

27.  The last chapter of HKNN is good to use for children who are interested in adding more written notes to their field books.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Know you not that they that run in the race,
all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize ?
 So run that you may obtain. 
                            I Cor 9:24

Kim has won the giveaway!  Congratulations, Kim!  I'll send your book right out to you if you can email me your address.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Awake the Dawn

My heart is ready, O God,
my heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul,
awake, lyre and harp,
I will awake the dawn.
                                                                                              Psalm 57

The dawn stretched her rosy-colored fingers softly upward, diffusing across the eastern sky.  The newly budded forest unfolded its tiny spring leaves against her pale light.  My heart sang with praise.  The world is the temple of God.  He enters it in glory as He once entered the Temple from the east, as the sun pierces the eastern sky every morning.  He is faithful, He is present.  All life and goodness flow forth from Him.  The Holy Spirit hovers daily over the world, filling it with life and grace as the swooping, darting birds fill the cool air of the morning forest with their songs.  

 He came to His own home, 
and His own people received Him not.
But to all who received Him,
who believed in His name,
He gave power to become the children of God.
                                     John 1:11-12 

Dear readers, I will not be posting any further studies until after the octave of Easter has passed, so that I may better prepare my heart to receive and praise Him, my Creator, Savior, and Redeemer. Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter Week! 

Next post the week of  May 1st. 

Monday, April 11, 2011



     In honor of my 100th post, I am sponsoring a giveaway here at my blog.  Leave a comment below to enter or email me with your information.  Be sure I have contact info for you so I can contact you if you win!  I'd especially appreciate it if you have read any of the posts and could leave me feedback on how they might be improved to meet your needs/wants.  I am giving away a copy of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Genesis.  This fantastic resource will really help you go into Genesis in more depth!

The contest will be open until midnight, April 23rd.  I will announce the winner on Wednesday, April 27th.  Hope it's you! 

The Pentateuch, Day 5: Creation of Man

A modern icon of the Creation of Man (Russian Orthodox)

The Creation of Adam and Eve
We could spend weeks, months, even years on the first chapter of Genesis, but we have decided that this is an "overview" and so we must move forward.  Before we discuss the account of the creation of man, let's take a moment to put man's creation in its ordered place within the entire breadth of God's works.

One way to think about God's work of creation is to divide it into three stages.  Initially,  God creates formless matter in a formless void.  Then,  during the first three days, this totally formless void was partitioned in three, creating the vastness of space, the firm land of the earth, and the depths of the sea.  During the last three days, God "adorned" His creation.  First, He created the sun, moon, and stars for the heavens,  secondly, birds for the air and fish for the sea, and thirdly, animals and man for the land.

St. Thomas Aquinas
     ...three things are recorded as created, namely, the heaven, the water, and the earth; and these three received their form from the three days' work of distinction, so that heaven was formed on the first day, on the second day the water were separated, and on the third, the earth was divided into sea and dry land.  So also is it in the work of adornment:  on the first day of this work, which is the fourth of creation, are produced the lights, to adorn the heaven by their movements; on the second day, which is the fifth, birds and fishes are called into being, to make beautiful the intermediate element for they move in air and water, which are here taken as one; while on the third day, which is the sixth, animals are brought forth, to move upon the earth and adorn it.--Summa Theologica, I, Q.70, Art. I

Creation of the World, Giusto de Menabuoi
Thus, St. Thomas helps us to place man in his proper role as the climax and final adornment of all of God's natural, visible creation.  Man is, as Venerable John Paul II has said, "the crown of creation...the creature made in [God's] own image" (Dies Domini, 11).

The Image and Likeness of God
Scripture recounts two different versions of the creation of man.  We will not consider here why there might be different accounts, but it is good to notice that each account has a slightly different focus.  The first account, in Genesis 1, gives a brief statement of man's creation which highlights man's relationship to God and to the rest of the natural world.  It also focuses light on the common humanity of man and woman, revealing them to be both the same kind of being.  Unlike the surrounding cultures which thought male and female to be different and even opposed, here we see that both are fully human, both are created "in God's own image."

Guetenberg Bible
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it,  and have dominion over the birds of the air, over every living thing that moves upon the earth.--Genesis 1:27-28 

The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
 In what way is man created in the "image and likeness" of God?  This expression highlights for us the uniqueness of man.   He is not an animal; there is a definite distinction between Adam and the animals:

Of all the visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his creator."  He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake," and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life.  It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity:
St. Catherine of Siena
What made you establish man in so great a dignity?  Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself!  You are taken with love for her;  for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.--Dialogue 4, 13 "On Divine Providence" --CCC 356

Adam and Eve are created by God as a father creates his son.  We read in Genesis 5:3 this use of "image":  

Gutenberg Bible
When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

So we see the words "image" and "likeness" here associated with the notion of sonship--Adam is God's son; his relationship to God shall be as the loving, mutually self-giving relationship of a father to his son.  Because he is the son of God, Adam is given a sort of royal dominion over creation.  Man's unique relationship to God gives him a dignity which can not be defaced and is the basis of the Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life.  

Male and Female He Created Them

Garden of Eden, Jacob de Baker
In the second account of the creation of man,  we are given much more detail about the creation of woman and the relationship of man and woman.  In this account, the inspired author uses many symbols to convey the holiness of man's original state of blessedness.  Man is given an elevated relationship with God which places him in the role of mediator between the earth and its creatures and God.  Adam is, in essence, the first High Priest of the human race.

"The setting is the garden of Eden, which represents the state of grace.  Man, who is created outside the garden, is placed there by God (2:8) to show that he is raised to a level of divine blessedness that is above his natural state (CCC 374-78).  The sacredness of this original situation is underscored by indications that Genesis imagines paradise as a primeval sanctuary.  Like the Tabernacle and Temple of later times, the garden is (1) entered from the east (3:24;  Ex. 27:13; Exek 47:1), (2) home to angelic guardians called cherubim (3:24; I Kings 6:23-28, (3) adorned with trees (2:9; Josh 24:26; 1 Kings 6:29-32), (4) the source of sacred waters (2:10; Ezek 47:1-12; Joel 3:18), and (5) the place where God dwells with his people on the earth (3:8; Lev 26:12; 2 Sam 7:6)"--Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Genesis, p. 20

In this second account, we see not only the relationship of Adam to God and to creation, but also the relationship of Eve, mother of all living, to Adam:

Gutenberg Bible
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." ...So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said,
     "This at last is bone of my bones,
          and flesh of my flesh;
       she shall be called Woman,
          because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.--Genesis 2:18, 21-25

 In this account, we have the foundations of the sacrament of marriage. Next lesson will discuss in more depth the sacrament of matrimony and the holy Truths it images, but perhaps this week we might just read this wonderful quote by Venerable John Paul II:

By reflecting on the whole account found in Gen 2:18-25, and by interpreting it in light of the truth about the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27), we can understand even more fully what constitutes the personal character of the human being, thanks to which both man and woman are like God. For every individual is made in the image of God, insofar as he or she is a rational and free creature capable of knowing God and loving him. Moreover, we read that man cannot exist "alone" (cf. Gen 2:18); he can exist only as a "unity of the two", and therefore in relation to another human person. It is a question here of a mutual relationship: man to woman and woman to man. Being a person in the image and likeness of God thus also involves existing in a relationship, in relation to the other "I". This is a prelude to the definitive self-revelation of the Triune God: a living unity in the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.--Mulieris Dignitatem, 7

What We Must Believe

The Church teaches several important points with regard to this account of the creation of man.  These are the dogmas we must hold to be true:

1. Human beings are a special creation of God; God breathed a human soul into Adam.

The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual.  The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Gen. 2:7)  Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.--CCC 362

2.  Woman is formed from the body of man; from his very self.

[Among the fundamental Christian teachings which must be believed by Catholics are]...the creation of all things which was accomplished by God at the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from man; the unity of the human race; the original happiness of our first parents in a state of justice, integrity, and immortality... Pontifical Biblical Commission, 1909, emphasis added.
3.  All humanity is descended from Adam and Eve (there are not multiple progenitors of the human race).

Pope Pius XII
For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own--Humani Generis 37 

Pope Benedict XVI
The unity of the whole human race becomes immediately apparent...We are all one humanity, formed from God's one earth.  It is precisely this thought that is at the very heart of the creation account and of the whole Bible.  In the face of all human division and human arrogance, whereby one person sets himself or herself over and against another, humanity is declared to be one creation of God from his one earth....The Bible says a decisive "no" to all racism and every human division.--In the Beginning, p. 43-44.
4.  Adam and Eve were created without sin.

The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed ony by the glory of the new creation in Christ. The Church...teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original "state of holiness and justice."  This grace of original holiness was "to share in ...divine life."--CCC 374-375

(Source of these dogmas:  Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott)

Main lesson:  God created man and woman in a state of original innocence as bearers of His image and likeness to enter into relationship with Him.

Your Assignment

1.  Read Ephesians 5:21-33.  In what ways does marriage symbolize the relationship of Christ to His Church?
2.  Why is marriage considered a covenant?  What is a covenant?
3.  Reading John Paul II's words above, how do you think marriage represents the Blessed Trinity?  In what ways are marriage and the union of the Three Divine Persons analogous?

Next lesson:  The Sacrament of Marriage 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Pentateuch, Day 4: Myth or Science?

Garden of Eden, Jan Brueghel the Elder

Two Ways

     When modern people consider the account of creation narrated in the Book of Genesis, they usually look at it in one of two ways.

1.  It's a myth. 
     A myth is a story created by man, often to explain some phenomena he has observed which are otherwise inexplicable to him.   Myths create gods, and then attribute to these imaginary gods the  creation of the world out of some already-existing matter. Events in the world that are not understood by the people of the time are also attributed to the gods. Essentially, a myth is man's effort to understand the world by determining the causes of objects and events in that world.  Many people today would consider Genesis no more than a myth, based on ancient Sumerian myths and no more a source of truth than such myths.  
     The Catholic Church does agree that ancient mythological images were called upon by the writer(s) of Genesis, but this does not undermine the inspired nature of the account.  The image of a primordial "sea" and the idea of a garden of paradise are two elements borrowed from pagan mythology.  However, these are used as commonly-understood symbols or metaphors to convey an inspired truth in ways that the people of that time could understand. 

Pope Pius XII
...the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes: the same simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people.  If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents--Humani Generis, 18

2.  It's science.

      On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who consider the Genesis account to be as technically detailed and precise as a modern-day scientific report.  Each detail is scrutinized for its possible scientific relevance, and each statement is interpreted in an absolutely literal way.  This approach, often seen as "old-fashioned" or "fundamentalist" is in a way very up-to-date.  The scientific thinking that influences a reader to want the Genesis account to be scientifically accurate is a completely modern phenomenon.  In our time, science has become man's effort to understand the world by determining the causes of objects and events in that world.  In other words, it has replaced myth as our way of explaining the world to ourselves.
     The sacred writers, however, were not composing a science textbook. The Church maintains that

...the biblical creation narratives represent another way of speaking about reality than that with which we are familiar from physics and biology.  They do not depict the process of becoming or the mathematical structure of matter; instead, they say in different ways that there is only one God and that the universe is not the scene of a struggle among dark forces but rather the creation of his Word...[The biblical accounts] express the truth--in another way, to be sure, than is the case in physics or biology.  They represent truth in the way that symbols do--just as, for example, a Gothic window gives us a deep insight into reality, thanks to the effect of light that it produces and to the figures that it portrays.--In the Beginning, p. 25-26

Rose Window, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

A Third Way

Neither fish...
...nor fowl
     If Genesis isn't myth or science, neither fish nor fowl, then what is it?  The Catholic Church does not consider Genesis to be either myth or science.  Genesis is not the product of  man's effort to understand the world by determining the causes of objects and events in that world, instead it is God's effort to reveal Himself to man.

 The truth about creation is so important for all of human life that God in his tenderness wanted to reveal to his People everything that is salutary to know on the subject.--CCC 287

So, the Church teaches that the Genesis account is revelation, neither an unfounded, man-made myth nor a detailed, analytical report.   Theological truths necessary for salvation are presented symbolically, and are embedded in the cultural images common in the ancient world.

 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity, and order.  Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine "work," concluded by the "rest" of the seventh day.  On the subject of creation , the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation...--CCC 337

What have we learned so far about God and creation?   We have learned:

1.  One all-powerful God created the world out of nothing (ex nihilo)
2.  The world, as created by God, was good.
3.  God upholds and sustains His creation at every moment.
4.  God guides creation toward its final destiny--union with and in Him.
5.  Six days of creation followed by a seventh day of rest point to the duty of man to worship God, honor Him, and enter into relationship with Him. 

Main Idea:  The Genesis account is neither myth nor science, but the divine Revelation of God which teaches us fundamental doctrines we need to understand for our salvation.

  Your assignment

1.  Compare the creation account in Genesis 1 and with the account in Genesis 2.  How do they differ?  How are they the same?
2.  Read Ps. 104, which recounts the glory of God in His creation and tells of the providential care of God for His creatures.
3.  Read Romans 1:18.  What can be known about God by observing His creation?  Can you think of some things that can not be known through that observation?

Next lesson:  The Framework of Creation