Autumn is my little family’s favorite time of the year. My daughters and I try to make the most of it with outings, crafts, baking, learning, and lots of celebrating. As a child led homeschooling mama, I find the changing of the seasons are a great guide to creating yearly flow, learning opportunities, and happy little traditions.
Emergent learning is all about letting the curiosities about the environment take the lead in prompting learning! Seeing pumpkins, leaves falling, apples on trees, and all the fun fall themed environmental changes can be a great prompt for your child’s learning. Children learn better and more effectively when when the learning process is hand on and interest based!
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
Fred Donaldson, Ph.D., play researcher
We love to integrate supplemental curriculum in our fall activities to learn more while having fun! Carving a pumpkin? Learn about the pumpkin lifecycle and parts of a pumpkin!
[Not an affiliate for this craft guide, just love it!]
I do my best to not make celebrations all about consumerism, so the gifts I choose are second hand or something the girls need or can learn with. For Autumn equinox, I am gifting my little ones organic fall pajamas and lovely fall books I want to read with them this season. You can also find lots of fun fall themed gifts at your local thrift or toy stores! [click the image to purchase]
Comment and let me know what fun activities you’re doing this fall!
Enjoy the free fall memory matching game and the fall scavenger hunt!
As the leaves start to turn vibrant shades of red and gold, and a crisp breeze fills the air, it’s time to celebrate the magic of fall with your kids. This season offers a multitude of opportunities for both fun and learning. So, grab your scarves and boots, and let’s dive into some fantastic fall…
Unschooling, a term coined by educator John Holt, is a unique approach to education that places children at the center of their learning journey. It encourages them to explore their interests, passions, and curiosities, fostering a love for learning that extends far beyond traditional classroom settings. To inspire you on this unconventional path to education,…
As an unschooling mom of two, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the flexibility and creativity that unschooling allows when it comes to education. One of the joys of unschooling, child led homeschooling, is the ability to tailor our learning experiences to match our family’s interests and values. With Latiné Heritage Month approaching, I wanted to…
In a world where the narrative often dictates that mothers must be self-sacrificing with porous boundaries to be deemed “good,” it’s no wonder many of us find ourselves exhausted and unable to fully embrace the mothers we aspire to be. But it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time to reclaim our power, set healthy…
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Hi, I’m Birdie. I’m a mother of two, a farmer, and dedicated to natural and sustainable living. Join me and my family in our journey of organic farming and homeschooling.
Vertical gardening is an aesthetic way to create more space to grow food, herbs, or beautiful foliage. Instead of growing spread across the ground or in garden beds, plants are grown on top of each other. It’s an effective solution for those of us trying to save some time and space in our gardening endeavours.
Vertical Gardening Benefits:
More Sunlight: Each plant on a vertical bed gets exposure to sunlight without being crowded out by its neighbors.
More Space: Vertical gardening allows for more space in your garden or indoor grow area by utilizing space above. This can be great for growing herbs and flowers on balconies and windowsills.
Easier to Care For: Instead of crouching down to care for everything in the garden bed, you can tend to all your plant-babies much easier. Also, there will be way less weeds- if any at all.
Aesthetics: Vertical gardens are popular in office spaces and hotels for making a plain wall a lush, green garden. A vertical garden of flowers or succulents can liven up your backyard. It’s one of the most decorative ways to grow!
Please note plants with lots of bulk like melons and squashes may be more challenging to grow vertically however almost everything else is on the table! A vertical garden is also effective for a medicinal herb or tea garden!
Vertical Gardening Ideas:
The trellice, commonly used for bean stalks and grape vines, is the most common example of vertical gardening, but there are a lot of effective and aesthetic ways to utilize vertical gardening!
Tiered Garden Planters: These tiered planters from Greenstalk allow you to grow way more plants in a much smaller amount of space. We love how convenient it is to water and care for our garden this way!
Hanging Baskets:Hanging baskets like these are a great choice for using your garden as a decoration for an outdoor space. Usually, hanging baskets are used for things like flowers, but they work great for things like tomatoes and herbs. I prefer these baskets because they self-water and come with a water level indicator. But if you have some of your own baskets baskets and thin, sturdy rope, you can make your own unique hanging baskets as well.
Leaning Ladder: Stabilize an old wooden ladder and fasten planters onto each rung of the ladder and plant whatever you can think of!
Grow a Green Wall: If you’ve been in any hotels or office buildings recently, you may have noticed a new trend of a “green walls” that bring life and fresh air to indoor and outdoor spaces. A simple DIY way to do a green wall is to get a vertical hanging planter bag with pockets. Leafy plants in each pocket grow outward until they cover the space behind them and become one wall of lush green!
Interested in vertical gardening? Share and inspire with what you’ve done or are planning to try!
Chamomile has been used since ancient times by Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for its medicinal properties. It’s been used to treat the symptoms of flus, colds, digestive issues, and hormonal imbalances. When concentrated into a balm or tincture, many use it to treat irritated skin. Chamomile is most well known as a tea for a flowery taste and a calming, relaxing effect that soothes stress and anxiety. This is why it’s often one of the main ingredients in “sleepytime” teas.
Lavender is lovely plant to grow that adds great color to any garden. This flower, full of anti-oxidants, is also said to reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and improve your sleep. It brews a very flowery cup of tea with the same powerful flavors of its smell.
Dried lavender buds can also be used to make lavender syrup, lemonade, and herbal seasonings as well!
Calendula, part of the marigold family, is a beautiful flower and the perfect addition to a tea garden. Calendula extract is actually still used in many creams sold in stores today! High in anti-oxidants, calendula boosts the immune system and supports the healing of damaged skin. It’s the perfect herb to mix with chamomile for a healing, pre-bed tea.
As a tea, it can ease the symptoms of ulcers, IBD, and GERD. The same skin-healing properties treat irritation of the stomach. It has a sweet aroma with a spicy, earthy taste. Many recommend throwing fresh calendula petals into a salad for extra flavor.
Mint leaves can relieve indigestion, improve brain function, and boost your immune system. As a tea, the menthol and hot steam can relieve tension and clear out your sinuses. This is especially soothing when you’re having a cold or allergies.
Mint leaves also make a great addition to salads and beverages. You can also make Peppermint oil extract to use to relax muscles and as a bug repellent like stink bugs, spiders, and ants.
Bee balm is a plant with bright and beautiful flowers that attract pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies into your garden. It’s actually part of the mint family, so it has a minty spice but smells more of citrus. Bee balm is often made into a salve to treat skin infections of wounds. As the name suggests, it can be very useful for bee stings in particular.
Bee balm tea can relieve digestive issues and nausea, and many claims it even helps with gingivitus, fever, and PMS.
Roses have many great uses! Not only a medicinal and tasty tea, they are also great for attracting pollinators and making dried bouquets. They also can make a great garnish for many dishes.
Rose tea has a tangy flavor and a pretty pink hue. It is said to help specifically with menstrual pain and general hormone balance. Both the petals and rosehips are used in preparation for the tea, with rosehips having the highest vitamin C content of all fruits and vegetables.
Rose tea can be made with just about any rose, but least bitter and most flavorful for tea and cooking is the pink “Damask Rose.”
Holy basil contains the compounds eugenol, camphene, cineole, and camphor. You might recognize cineole and camphor from Vick’s Vapor Rub for soothing a bad cough. Holy basil tea can also reduce inflammation and stress.
Holy basil is also a nice addition when cooking or simply eaten raw for its medicinal properties.
Echinacea, like other herbs, is also effective at reducing inflammation and symptoms from respiratory infections. The Blackfoot Native Americans chewed on echinacea as a painkiller to treat toothaches.
They have a beautiful cone-shaped flower and produce a very strong, floral flavor of tea.
Elderberry has tons of researched benefits coming from its polyphenols- a kind of antioxidant. It’s been found to lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, improve the immune system, and even reduce risk of cancer.
Remember, elderberry is not safe to eat raw! If you’re making tea, boil the dried elderberries in water and allow them to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Elderberry tea is sweet and tart, with slightly bitter undertones. Many suggest throwing a few cinnamon sticks into the tea while brewing as well.
There are also lots of fun recipes with elderberries like jams, jellies, and syrups.
How to Harvest & Preserve Your Tea Herbs
While fresh herbs are fantastic for tea, drying herbs is a way to utilize the bounty of the summer garden! All herbs, once dried, should be stored in non-plastic containers that are well-sealed and out of the direct sunlight. There’s nothing more beautiful to liven up a pantry or counter than storing your dried tea herbs in mason jars.
Chamomile: Chamomile is ready to harvest whenever the flowers are at full bloom. Their medicinal properties are really only in the flower- so no need to keep the the stems or leaves. Just pluck them right off at the base of the flower. You can shake any debris or dirt off, or gently rinse your chamomile blossoms under some water and dry carefully. To dry, just spread them out on a dry rack and leave them some where very warm, dry, and dark for a week or two until dried.
With a dehydrator, set it to the lowest settings and let the chamomile blossoms sit for 12-18 hours until dry.
Lavender: The best time to harvest lavender is in its early bloom. Although the more mature buds are brighter and more full-bodied, its medicinal and aromatic properties are less strong. (Fully-open lavender flowers are better for preserving bouquets, however, just not for brewing strong tea!) Find the lavender flowers you want to cut and follow the stem all the way down to the “junction,” where it branches off from other stems and leaves. Cutting the stem at the junction helps the plant grow more blossoms to replace the one you’ve cut.
To air-dry, make small bouquets of the lavender by tying the stems together. Make sure you tie enough to keep them held snug, but not so tight you’re damaging the stems. Hang them upside down in a warm, dark, and dry place until they are fully dry. This could be anywhere from one week to a month, but it’s worth the wait. You can also use a dry rack!
For the dehydrator, use the same lowest settings for the chamomile. Lay flat in a single layer and let dry for 24-48 hours. To make sure they’re dry, try crumbling a large bud and make sure the interior doesn’t have any moisture.
Calendula: Calendula can be harvested like chamomile, picking the heads off of the stem. Pick calendula blossoms before they enter in to full maturity, while the petals are still “half-open.” Make sure to pick them early in the morning when they’re dry of dew but not too warm from the sun.
Lay the blossoms flat on a single layer on a drying rack and let them dry for a week somewhere dark, warm, and dry. Make sure the green flower heads at the bottom of the blossoms are dry as well (the will lose color).
In a dehydrator, lay the blossoms flat in a single layer and dehydrate for 14-18 hours on the lowest settings. Check the moisture around 14 hours and leave longer if parts of the plant are still soft.
Mint: Mint leaves should be harvested just before the plant begins to flower while they have their strong smell. If you only want a few leaves, just pick off as much as you’d like. If you want to prune the whole plant and get a big harvest, cut the entire plant off just above the first or second set of leaves at the bottom.
Wrap the stems of mint together the same way as described for lavender and let them hang 1-2 weeks in a warm, dry place.
To dehydrate, spread mint leaves in single layer and dehydrate for 2-5 hours on the lowest settings. Since the time can vary, check your mint at 2 hours. If it’s not crumbly to the touch, then keep checking every 15 minutes to make sure the mint doesn’t over-dehydrate and then brown.
BeeBalm: Harvest bee balm by clipping at the base of the stalk. You can either dry it the same way you would with stalks of lavender, or by plucking the leaves and petals off and drying them out like you would with chamomile or calendula.
If using a dehydrator, lay the leaves and petals out in a flat layer and dehydrate at the lowest settings. Check every 30 minutes to see if they’re done.
Rose Petals: When harvesting rose petals, make sure to put the petals on a single layer and not put them in a bag. Rose petals can heat up and bruise very easily. Dry the rose petals in shade, since the sun can fade the pretty colors. Rose petals are very delicate. If you choose to dry them like chamomile on a dry rack, make sure you lay something directly on top so they don’t blow away in any breeze.
If using a dehydrator, set to the lowest settings and check every 30 minutes until done. You can also bake the rose petals in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until they are dried but not burnt. This should only take 10-20 minutes.
Rose Hips: Pick rose hips off the bush then wash clean and dry. There’s two types of rose hips: Rosa Rugosa, which are very large, long, and associated with “wild”roses, and Rosa Canina (Dog Rose) which are smaller. For the rugosa variety, cut your rose hip in half and scoop out the seeds. For the rosa canina, just snip the bottom and top of the hip off.
Put in dehydrator at lowest settings and check regularly until they are hard and a dark color.
Holy Basil: Cut holy basil above the bottom two or three sets of leaves. Pick off any leaves that look yellow or discolored. Wash the stalks, dry them, then bunch them together and hang to dry like you would with lavender. Dried holy basil will lose its smell and flavor after one year, so use it up!
With a dehydrator, put it on the lowest setting and check at 6 hours. It could take up to 24 hours if you live somewhere more humid, so check periodically after 6!
Echinacea: Cut above the lowest set of leaves of the plant. Check all the leaves and petals for discoloration. Lightly rinse the petals off in water and pat dry. When drying, either bunch the stalks together like lavender, or dry the petals and leaves on a drying rack until brittle and dry.
If using a dehydrator, follow the same method for calendula, checking periodically.
Elderberry: Just to reiterate- elderberry should not be eaten raw! Make sure you cook down your elderberries before enjoying them!
Harvest elderberry by cutting off the entire clusters. Wash the elderberries, dry, then pick them off of the stems. Lay them in a flat layer on the drying rack and let them dry in a warm and dry place for 4-5 days. This can be done in direct sunlight if you live somewhere dry, but if your climate is more humid, make sure to do this indoors somewhere dry.
To use a dehydrator, lay the clean and dried berries in a flat layer in the dehydrator at the lowest settings. Check around 10 hours to see the progress.
Best Herbal Tea Combinations:
A dash of honey or a stick of cinnamon will elevate any of these tea herbs when brewed. Here are some of the tastiest combinations of the different tea garden herbs as well to inspire you to get creative:
“Benefits of planned home birth include lower rates of maternal morbidity, such as postpartum hemorrhage, and perineal lacerations, and lower rates of interventions such as episiotomy, instrumental vaginal birth, and cesarean birth.”
Although you don’t need much more than your body to give birth, it’s helpful to have plenty of supplies to create a comforting and relaxing environment that can address any issues should they arise.
The birth supplies you’ll need will depend on whether you’re having a midwife or an unassisted birth. If you’re getting a midwife, you’ll want to ask what they will supply, otherwise you’ll need to get most items yourself.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliate, I may receive a small stipend for any purchases made on links with no additional cost to you.
Quotes are a wonderful and quick way to express a larger idea and get to the center of a thought. As a more natural minded mama, I use quotes all the time to express the importance of child lead learning and natural exploration as well as to motivate me to stick to getting out and letting my little one learn her own way. I’ve collected some of my favorite quotes for world schooling and child lead learning to share with those looking to share these wonderful core ideas and get inspired or inspire others!
As an affiliate, I may receive a small stipend for any purchases made on links with no additional cost to you. I only recommend items I love and use. Thanks for supporting a work at home mom!
Quotes For Child Lead Natural Learning
“The ultimate gift we can give the world is to grow our tiny humans into adult humans who are independent thinkers, compassionate doers, conscious questioners, radical innovators, and passionate peacemakers. Our world doesn’t need more adults who blindly serve the powerful because they’ve been trained to obey authority without question. Our world needs more adults who question and challenge and hold the powerful accountable.”
~ L.R. Knost
“By the time your school understands the importance of green time, your kids may have children of their own. So, today let the homework lay untouched, in favour of outdoor play and real-world learning.”
“Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don’t learn those things in school.”
“Without continuous hands-on experience, it is impossible for children to acquire a deep intuitive understanding of the natural world that is the foundation of sustainable development. ….A critical aspect of the present-day crisis in education is that children are becoming separated from daily experience of the natural world, especially in larger cities.”
“They’re not just playing in nature, they are: Learning, creating, sensing, believing, relaxing, exploring, observing, wondering, connecting, discovering, appreciating, understanding, experimenting…”
“To develop a complete mind: study the science of art; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
~Leonardo da Vinci
“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. “
“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”
“Don’t just tell your children about the world, show them.”
“The best education does not happen at a desk, but rather engaged in everyday living – hands on, exploring, in active relationship with life.”
“An environmental-based education movement—at all levels of education—will help students realize that school isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration but a portal to the wider world.”
“Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places they could not imagine.”
“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”
“As children observe, reflect, record, and share nature’s patterns and rhythms, they are participating in a process that promotes scientific and ecological awareness, problem solving, and creativity.”
~Deb Matthews Hensley
“If we want our children to move mountains, we first have to let them get out of their chairs.”
“Close observation of children at play suggests that they find out about the world in the same way as scientists find out about new phenonoma and test new ideas…during this exploration, all the senses are used to observe and draw conclusions about objects and events through simple, scientific investigations.”
“Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.”
~Robin C. Moore and Herb H Wong
“Children are born naturalists. They explore the world with all of their senses, experiment in the environment, and communicate their discoveries to those around them.”
As an affiliate, I may receive a small stipend for any purchases made on links with no additional cost to you. I only recommend items I love and use. Thanks for supporting a work at home mom!
Effective & Healthy Prenatal Vitamin
The prenatal vitamin you use during pregnancy is extremely important. Depending on the vitamins’ contents, it can either promote or hinder your baby’s growth and development. A plant based vitamin is necessary for the best absorbtion. Synthetic versions are much less readily absorbed. It’s also important to use an organic vitamin. Pesticides, used on non-organic food, have been linked to irregular brain development and autism. My favorite plant based vitamin is the Organic Garden of Life.
Comfortable Maternity Clothes
You’ll be pregnant for nine months and for at least four of those, not fit your usual clothes. For both of my pregnancies I’ve been in maternity clothes by three months since my belly pops so early! A few of my Amazon favorites are below and
Peppermint Tea helps with heartburn, nausea, lowers stress, headaches, sinuses, and energy, so pretty much everything you need help with during pregnancy! I had a cup of peppermint tea almost every morning of my pregnancy and it instantly would soothe any nausea or heartburn I had and gave me a little boost of energy!
A water filter is a necessity because a leading cause of miscarriage is chlorine in tap water (learn more here). I use the Berkey filter which is one of the most effective filter systems you can get and also offers an optional fluoride filter.
1. Make a Detailed List Of The Parent You Want To Be
Include at least 10 characteristics of what an ideal parent is to you. For example, you could say you want to be calm, kind, and affectionate. There is a free handout to help at the bottom of this article! Read more about setting expectations as a parent.
2. Write 3 Things You Want To Change About Your Parenting
Get specific and write out all the details. I would even suggest writing a story down of an example of the parenting characteristics or actions you want to change. This will help you clarify the issues and pinpoint what you want to change and how you may be able to do so.
3. Make An Action Plan
Write a detailed plan for the new behaviors you are going to use to replace your old unwanted behaviors. GET SPECIFIC. For example, instead of telling when my kids aren’t listening I will calmly give them two choices. Write yourself an example to make it real: “You can get your shoes on by yourself or I can help you.”
4. Make a List of 3 Ways You Will Bond With Your Child(ren)
Choose specific activities that you will both enjoy and can do regularly. Also try to choose activities that allow you to chat and focus on each other. For example, if your child is sporty, instead of playing laser tag or something with a lot of distractions, try putt-putt golf so there’s lots of time to chat. Some ideas for bonding with younger children is art activities, going on a walk, or some of these easy activities. Whatever you choose, schedule it in at least twice monthly. Get a calendar or planner, write it down, and stick to it. The consistency of your efforts will mean the world to your child (whether their old enough to express it or not).
5. Reflect and Improve
Although reflection requires a lot of effort, it will by far make the biggest difference in your parenting. Take time at least weekly to check in on your parenting goals and see if you’re meeting them. If not, where can you make little adjustments to make the goals more obtainable. What new examples can you write down to help remember and put into action the way you want to parent? With each reflection, you’ll be able to better embody your parenting goals.
My Favorite Resources To Visualize A Positive Birth
Having the birth experience you want requires planning, education, and understanding. It’s important to know all the whys behind different approaches to birth and navigate what will be best for you and your baby. If you approach birth without knowledge, your birth experience will be whatever your medical professional would like it to be rather than your own preferred experience because unless you give direction, others will take the lead. There are endless resources to understanding and learning all about birth. In order to align with the birth you want, it’s important to dive into that experience. Here are a few of my favorite resources to help learn more about birth and decipher your own ideal birth.
As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a small stipend for any purchases made. Thanks for supporting a work at home mom!
The Birth Hour Podcast
“The Birth Hour Podcast” is one of my favorite and one of the most accessible resources. I listen on Spotify, but it’s available on a myriad of platforms. It’s important to be aware though that it shares ALL types of stories, including the more negative or more medical focused experiences, but it’s a great place to start in figuring out what you may or may not want. This resource is all about the birth stories and not so much the educational side of things or hearing research behind birth although it does come up occasionally. It’s a great place to start when forming ideas about your ideal birth because you’ll begin forming a vocabulary around birth and hear about all the different things that can come up and the approaches to birth. I think it may be ideal to lay off this resource or be more selective with episodes once you do have a set birth plan to make sure you’re not filling yourself with fear or giving yourself different visions of birth than you would like.
The Empowered Birth Project was one of the first birth resources I was exposed to outside of my formal education and I was immediately obsessed. I had never seen birth framed as a beautiful and empowering experience before and that’s what the Instagram page is all about. This page shares real stories along with photos and videos, and emphasizes birth education and awareness.
Ok so this one is probably a no brainer, but I think Pinterest a great resource for planning a birth because you can find stories, research, and inspiration for any birth you may desire. I have a Natural Birth Inspiration board you can check out here. It provides a myriad of resources from research to things like affirmations for birth.
Books can be an amazing resource as they go into depth about topics allowing you to gain more understanding and possibly even more skills to prepare you for the birth you want. This is a quick list of a few of my favorites, but I will probably write a separate article shortly to go into more depth about all of my favorite birth books.
Some of the most important resources you will use are those in your community. I personally suggest using a midwife group or hiring a doula (or both). They’re a great resource for natural and empowered birth options. You can also check into local Le Lethe League meetups which is a great moms’ support group for breastfeeding. I also suggest looking into local birth classes, pregnancy support groups, baby-wearers clubs, prenatal yoga, chiropractic, and acupuncture. All are amazing resources to ensure your body and mind are healthy and prepared for natural and/or an empowered birth. You’ll also find the transition to motherhood much easier if you already have a like minded mama tribe through different prenatal groups.