Our Apun Unit Study Experience

 

This wall of snow is in Kotzebue, Alaska, a town situated above the Arctic Circle.

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia — you know, that place that gets ridiculed when the occasional ice and/or snowstorm rolls through the southeast and completely paralyzes life there for several days, and where the grocery stores are sold out of bread and milk at the hint of a snowflake or freezing rain. So, snow has always been rather special; it was a much-celebrated event when it did arrive. But, I didn’t know the first thing about the science behind snow or the ecosystems where snow is frequent. My knowledge of the Arctic was vague and composed of cultural stereotypes.

In 2011 our family had the opportunity to visit Alaska for several weeks. At the time, my kids were still quite young: ages nine, four, and 16 months. My husband was working 12-hour shifts at the hospital there, which left me — a southerner with three brief years of snow experience in upstate New York — to navigate the town’s icy streets. It turned out to be one of the most fun, challenging, and meaningful experiences of my life.

The average high temperature in April is 21 degrees Fahrenheit in Kotzebue, and the average low is five degrees. It was a perfect opportunity to do a weather unit study with my third-grader, so we put up a chart on the apartment wall and tracked the temperature, precipitation, wind direction and speed, barometric pressure, and cloud formations. I had taken along a few lightweight resources, including the charts and crayons, a small poster, a rain/precipitation gauge, and the things we’d need to build a barometer and wind sock. (After our trip we compared the results with our Arizona desert environment.)

I wanted to visit the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center, but it was a little over a mile from our apartment building, and we had no transportation. Cars are used in winter in Kotzebue, but snowmobiles are more useful as they can go over the frozen ice. Some cars and all boats are half-buried in deep snow drifts until late spring/summer. (Gas is very expensive. Kotzebue is supplied by barge before the bay ices over; supplies can only come in by air until the big thaw.) I turned to our apartment neighbor for traveling advice since the wind chill was -27 degrees Fahrenheit. She willingly told me where to buy a plastic sled, then showed me how to set up a box in the back for the bundled baby.

A half-buried boat appears to be cutting through waves of snow.

We proceeded to the Heritage Center at a snail’s pace on the frozen roads, me pulling the sled with the two younger kids on it and my oldest walking behind to retrieve accidentally dropped gloves and mittens from the sled riders. We arrived some 45 minutes later, with frozen tears on the 16-month-old’s face, just as the center closed for lunch. Ack! Thankfully we were re-routed toward the bay, half a mile away, where there were two restaurants to chose from. My kids were able to try a couple of local dishes and unthaw before trekking back to the museum, which proved to be a fantastic learning experience! I even found several great resources for a snow/arctic unit study in their bookstore.

This is the start of the Kobuk 440 dog sled race, a qualifier for the famed Iditarod.

The Kobuk 440, a qualifying dog sled race for the famed Iditarod Race, started and ended in Kotzebue during our time there. My seven-year-old even met John Baker, the Iditarod champion of 2010, who lives in Kotzebue. (The following year we tracked the Iditarod online, choosing a musher and team to follow for the long race of endurance.) We were also able to attend several cultural events that included native Inupiaq dances, handicrafts, clothes, and food. The Inupiaq people were warm and friendly; I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them.

A native Inupiaq demonstrates a dance about hunting walruses.

Though there is so much I could relate about our trip to the Arctic Circle, my point was merely to pique your interest in this subject as a potential unit study, or at least a special project for homeschooling. With the resources I gathered on the trip to Kotzebue, plus a few more I ordered online, we later delved deeper into this topic. The kids love snow anyway! (Apun — in the title of this post — is the Inupiaq word for the Arctic’s snow cover, just in case you were wondering!)

This is the view from our apartment window in Kotzebue at midnight (in April). The days were about 16 hours long at that point. People were out and about until about 2 am. The grocery store is on the right, where all the cars are parked. A carton of ice cream cost $10.

 

Here are some ideas for unit study projects (resource info below):

Handwriting & vocabulary (and art!) from Draw-Write-Now Book Four: The Polar Regions, The Arctic, The Antarctic OR create assignments and pull vocabulary from books on the subject.

YouTube has some great documentaries and “how-to” videos. During your next big snow, you could try building your own igloo! (My neighbors did that one year, and it was great!) Nanook of the North is an older documentary my kids found interesting.

Iditarod Dog Sled Race: You can track the musher teams online and document their times each day during the race, and there are many, many resources for teachers on the official Iditarod website. We made a dog sled out of popsicles (google instructions), followed the Iditarod, learned about the working sled dogs, and read several books on the subject.

Science:

  • The sky is the limit! And the sky is so amazing in the Arctic! We weren’t able to see any northern lights during our visit to Alaska, but we read some books (see below for reference) and watched some videos of the intriguing lights.
  • The Arctic tundra ecosystem — and permafrost. (Permafrost even affects how and where buildings can be constructed in the Arctic, but you can learn about its characteristics and the animals living within it, too.) A weather unit is a great learning opportunity.
  • Whales and their migrations: Whaling is a bad word in our modern vocabulary, but for the Inuit peoples, whales provided absolutely necessary food. (And, nothing goes to waste; they have a use for every part of an animal when it is killed.) In this culture, the breaking up of the sea ice and the return of the whales, along with whale hunting, was very important. These days, there is usually one ceremonial whale hunted, and the community comes together to celebrate as it did in the old days, especially up near Barrow, Alaska. So, studying whales can be a science or a cultural learning project.
  • Other Arctic animals: lemmings, Arctic fox, polar bear, walrus, narwhal, ptarmigan, caribou, beluga and humpback whales, peregrine falcon, seals, musk-ox, wolves, snowy owls, orcas, Arctic hare… Study how they keep warm in winter, their hunting habits or camouflage, diet, hibernation habits, etc. The story of caribou in Alaska involves a bit of Scandinavian history. Tracking in the snow might be a great option if you live up north.
  • Snow: The book, Apun, the Arctic Snow, is a fantastic resource for understanding and teaching about the science of snow. Written by an expert on snow, it is scientifically sound and has an adorable line drawing of a lemming (yes, you’ll want one) and snow crystals, diagrams, and easy-to-understand text. The author weaves in Inuit terms for snow, too. Did you know there are 35 types/categories of snowflake crystals?

    A display at the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center in Kotzebue, Alaska shows what a cross-section of permafrost is made of.

Geography: Identify countries within the Arctic Circle, prominent bodies of water, mountain ranges and peaks, an Alaskan map (larger cities and towns), rivers. You may want to include Antarctica. It’s also an interesting project to learn about the “North Pole” and its various locations.

Literature: I’ve included a few picture books below that our family loved, but your local library probably has some books you can add to this list. Books for older children/high schoolers might include stories of the voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica, books on Inuit culture and life, the story of how caribou/reindeer were herded in Alaska, stories of early travelers and missionaries to the area. There is an interesting story of Maniilaq, who was given visions that some claim meet the Biblical tests for a prophet. He lived and prophesied before Europeans entered Alaska, and he gave a message of one day in seven (the seventh day) being holy to God. There are a couple of books at amazon.com on his life.

Cooking: We picked up a kids’ cookbook in Alaska, but be aware that recipes tend to contain meat. For vegetarians, you might try searching the internet for recipes from Arctic areas, perhaps trying a recipe from a different country weekly. Another option is to make snowball cookies (aka Mexican wedding cookies/Russian tea cookies) and snow cream (1 gallon of snow, 2 cups milk or substitute, 1 cup sugar, 1 T vanilla extract — stir until creamy).

Physical Activity: Try a new sport! Snow skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating, dog mushing…

These are just a few ideas to get started on your snowy journey… Have a great time making tracks! (And, feel free to leave your ideas, resources and/or experiences in the comments below, especially those of you from northern climates!) See below for a few specific resource ideas.

Rabbit tracks can be seen in several inches of snow on our front lawn.

A few of my favorite resources:

Nanook of the North (documentary film, > 1 hour in length, available on YouTube)

How to Build an Igloo (available on YouTube)

Draw-Write-Now: The Polar Regions, The Arctic, The Antarctic (barkercreek.com, early elementary/kindergarten handwriting and drawing book)

iditarod.com (official website for the Iditarod Dog Sled Race, held in Alaska yearly; many resources for teachers under “education” and online games and information for kids under “students”)

Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle (www.walkeryoungreaders.com)

Dashing Through the Snow: The Story of the Jr. Iditarod by Sherry Shahan (The Millbrook Press, Brookfield, Connecticut)

Apun: The Arctic Snow (a book for children; teacher’s guide is available with more detailed scientific information, but does not have activity guides or a teaching plan; truly a resource or a great text for seventh-grade through high school)

The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle (www.walkeryoungreaders.com)

TOGO by Robert J. Blake (illustrated children’s book about one canine hero of the Great Serum Run of 1925, the event commemorated each year with the Iditarod Race in Alaska)

Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints by Millicent E. Selsam, illustrated by Marlene Hill Donnelly (a “Let’s Read” book, science stage 1)

Survival at 40 Below by Debbie S. Miller, illustrated by Jon Van Zyke (beautifully illustrated and a great science resource for elementary)

Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

One Small Square: Arctic Tundra by Donald M. Silver, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne (book about the tundra ecosystem written just for children)

My kids were attempting long-jumping beside rabbit tracks. The rabbit won.

Making Holiday Memories That Last!

I absolutely love this time of year! I have so many fond memories as a child that I find myself sometimes going a little overboard trying to bring that specialness to my own children — so much so, that I can even resemble Griswold from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”! It can be stressful!! So, I began to think back and evaluate what I really remember as a child. Honestly it wasn’t any of the presents I received or all of the holiday parties we went to. It was those simple traditions that we did together as a family. One of those memories that stands out is of us making sugar cookies together. We made them every year and have carried that tradition on with our own children.

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What is it about cookie-making for us? It’s not that they are yummy, or pretty, or messy, or fun….well it’s actually all of that plus more! It’s that we do it together. We get flour on our cheeks and frosting on our fingers. We laugh, talk, create, and eat. Togetherness is what creates the memories that really make an impact on our children’s lives!

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During the month of December, I like to switch up our curriculum and take on a more simplified and holiday-focused theme. We learn compassion through gift giving and random acts of kindness. We learn counting and calendars through our Advent calendar. We read classic Christmas literature and poems and work on math, science, and home skills through baking. We also tie in art and music through special church programs and creative crafts we do. We help feed the homeless, and collect items for those in need. There are so many different subjects you can tie into Christmas-themed projects. But, to really make whatever you do memorable, do it together as a family!

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Just for you, here is my late mother’s tried and true sugar cookie recipe!

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Exploring Methods for the Early Learner | Unit Studies

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Do you and your kids like hands-on projects? Do you like to lose yourself in your studies, immersing yourself and discovering the many facets of a topic? Do you like to weave together math, science, history, language arts, and more? Do you have two or more kids whom you would love to learn as much together as possible? If you answered yes to any of these questions, unit studies might be a great approach for your homeschool.

A Little Bit About Unit Studies

Unit studies are a bit different than the other methods of homeschooling I will be talking about, as they are compatible with most homeschooling theories or methods. Unit studies can be used as part of the Charlotte Mason Method, unschooling, the Moore Formula, and more. They can also be combined as a stand-alone homeschooling strategy.

Unit studies may be small, lasting only a week or two, or large, lasting for a whole quarter or even a semester. By taking a theme, let’s say the “Human Body,” and stretching it across subject areas, you have the opportunity to dive deep and create a unit of study. You may read about the human body in a book, play games about the human body, build models of the body, read books about famous doctors or people who made great discoveries in health. You may work on exercise and healthy meals, do human body science experiments, or write a fictional story about how the immune system works. You can explore vocabulary, and even use math by measuring the length your small intestine would be if you stretched it out and more.

One of the best things about unit studies is that you can include the whole family in much of the activities, slightly tweaking assignments for varying ages. It cuts back on planning and requires less time than covering different topics as separate subjects for each child.

Why Unit Studies

Young children are masters of unit studies. Have you ever watched a preschooler or early elementary child get hung up on something like firefighters? For a time, they are obsessed. They want to dress like firefighters, play with fire trucks, and be a firefighter when they grow up. Any hose-like object becomes a firehose, and no danger is too big to escape their heroism. They want to read about them, watch them, and more. This continues until they are ready to move on to the next new thing to explore — maybe horses.

By surrounding a child with opportunities to learn about something in different ways, often their curiosity is naturally piqued, and they grasp hold of the topic or theme being presented. Children love making connections.

A Day in the Life of a Unit Study Family

As with unschooling, it’s difficult to say what a day in the life of a family following a unit study plan might look like. With this type of homeschooling, the amount of structure varies, and it can be easier to see an overview of a whole unit study, rather than a particular day. For purposes of discussion, I’m packing more in this example day than would actually be feasible. These activities might all be broken up over the course of a week, but I feel it can give you a better picture of what homeschooling might look like.

The family in this example is a family of three, a four-year-old boy (Trent), six year-old girl (Trudy), and seven-year-old boy (Trevor). They are studying about pioneers and the westward expansion.

7:00 a.m. – Everyone is up, working on their chores, and helping to get breakfast rolling.

8:00 – Family worship at the breakfast table, then everyone helps to clean up and get ready for the day.

9:00 – Everyone meets at the table to start the school day with calendar time, math, and any individual lessons. Handwriting might include copying sentences about pioneers. Trevor and Trudy review some vocabulary words from the story they are reading — things like bluffs, spade, foundation, and sprain. Trent joins in mostly for calendar time, but plays with his toys while his older siblings finish up.

9:30 – Everyone gathers around to read The Little House on the Prairie. Today they are reading about building the cabin. Trent plays with his cars while he listens, Judy colors, and Trevor just sits and listens.

10:00 – It’s time to do some brainstorming and planning. Trevor and Trudy are asked to use a mind map to brainstorm how they would build their own log cabin, what materials they would use, etc. Trevor writes a paragraph and illustrates it. Trudy writes a sentence and illustrates it. Trent talks about his cabin with his mom and draws a picture.

10:30 – They all go out and measure out the size of a typical cabin built by pioneers, and do some math from the reading. For example, if Pa built the cabin three logs high all the way around, how many logs did he use in all four sides?

10:45 – The children come inside and start to build log cabins out of Lincoln Logs.

11:15 – It’s time to make lunch together. The family has been cooking recipes out of the Little House on the Prairie cookbook a couple days a week for lunch. Today they read about staples from the country store, and are working together to make hasty pudding to go with the rest of their lunch. While they cook they talk about how it would have been different to cook on the frontier vs in modern kitchens.

12:00 p.m. – Lunch

12:30 – Everyone helps clean up.

1:00 – Quiet time. Everyone picks their own books to read. Mom reads to Trent. There is a basket of books about pioneers that the kids like to pick from to look at and read during this time.

2:00 – The afternoons change. Sometimes they do art, sometimes science experiments, sometimes field trips or music lessons, etc. Today they are going to start a new project. They are going to make plans for their own prairie garden just like Ma had. They will measure and plan, and if they get everything ready on time, they will get to go to the store before supper to pick out everything they need to start their garden.

This would end the “school” day and the day would continue as normal afterward.

Materials, Resources, and Curriculums for Unit Studies

Often people who do unit studies write their own. You can also find several free unit study ideas and curriculums by searching online, and there are several boxed curriculums and resources that make it easier. Please feel free to comment below to suggest other resources and ideas.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies – Some pre-made unit studies of all different lengths: a great and inexpensive option to dive in with unit studies based on your state requirements, your child’s interests, or any timeline you may be following.

Konos – A full unit-study based curriculum that focuses on character traits.

The Weaver Curriculum – A unit-based curriculum from Alpha Omega publishing.

Five in a Row – A literature-based unit study approach that begins with Before Five in a Row for your two- to four-year-olds, and continues with Five in a Row for children up to age eight.

Are Unit Studies Right for Me?

Unit studies can work in a lot of different situations, but just like all schooling styles, the question is, is it a fit for you and your family?

  • If you like the idea of everyone in your family learning together, unit studies are a great way to span different ages.
  • If you enjoy diving deep into a topic and exploring things beyond a textbook, unit studies provide a great opportunity.
  • If you don’t mind taking the time to do in-depth projects and field trips, you might have just found your perfect match.

How About You?

Are you thinking about unit studies, but simply aren’t sure? What are your questions? Thoughts? Reservations? Excitements? Are there other homeschooling styles you are curious about for your preschool, kindergarten, or first- or second-grader? Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below!

Find Out More

  1. “What is a Unit Study?” By Amanda Bennett: http://unitstudy.com/blog/what-is-a-unit-study/
  2. One way to plan a unit study: http://unitstudy.com/blog/what-is-a-unit-study/
  3. Another way to plan a unit study: http://www.dummies.com/education/homeschooling/designing-homeschool-unit-studies/
  4. “The Ultimate List of Unit Study Resources”: http://www.sidetrackedsarah.com/2012/08/the-ultimate-list-of-unit-study-resources/
  5. Free online unit studies: http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/category/unit-study/
  6. More free unit studies: http://eclectic-homeschool.com/free-unit-studies/
  7. Astronaut unit study I put together: https://homeschoolingatjesusfeet.wordpress.com/category/unit-studies/astronauts/
  8. Excellent planning resources and examples from a unit study family: https://www.pepperandpine.com
  9. Unit study resources recommended by SDA Homeschool Families: http://www.sdahomeschools.org/unit-study/

Castles in the Sky

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We have based our homeschooling methods on Ellen G. White’s counsel and the Moores’ principles and research. We delayed formal education with our son, we used life experiences as teaching methods, we helped him with business opportunities, and we read to him all the time. Always, the idea of unit study study approach kept popping up, and finally we decided to give that a try too.

I sat down with my son and explained the concept of unit studies and asked him if that was something he would like to try. When he showed enthusiasm, I asked him to tell me some areas of interest so we could narrow it down for our first unit study. His answer held all the usual interests of most boys: war, pirates, ships, airplanes, etc. The list also included the one we finally decided on — castles.

With excitement, I dove into the preparation. I ordered books from the library, scoured our bookshelves, looked on the internet for places to visit and things to do, the whole deal. I had books on unit studies, and we used a form from one of these to map out our strategy. He was so interested, and this was so fun and exciting. I put all our resources in a plastic file box and we were ready to go.

Now, just so you know, we had already read innumerable books on castles, watched videos on castles, and crafted our own castles. Still, this time it was going to be with learning as the goal. I gave him spelling words related to castles, writing assignments, and art projects, and we read lots of books together. We were really doing this, it was really great…at least for a few days! Then it became old, repetitive, and a little boring, but there were still books to read and materials to be used. We couldn’t quit now, but we did. Right there, in the middle of the unit study, we quit. I knew it was a done deal the day I emptied the box and put everything away, even my good intentions and hopes. I guess the unit study approach wasn’t our thing after all.

Then, amid all those wonderful, fill-up-your-box-and-overwhelm-you, homeschool emails, was one for a free monthly timeline. I looked it over and printed it all out for February, and enthusiasm returned for both my son and me. My idea was to include it in our homeschooling each day and explore a little farther than just what the timeline mentioned. So again, off to the library for resources. I was ready for this, with my file folder marked timeline and a new burst of enthusiasm. Banner paper, tape, scissors, and markers were going to make this happen. The good news is we finished February’s timeline, but not in February — even with the extra leap day! It was actually April when we finally put it to rest, so I hope there aren’t any major historical events in March, because we missed the whole month!

I learned something as I failed at these two approaches to learning. I learned that they weren’t really failures, but stepping stones. I realized that we have probably been using unit studies all along without realizing it. In fact, we probably started when my son was about four (you know, before formal education or homeschooling) when my husband said, “Let’s pick a subject that he’s interested in each month and read books about it.” It continued when we would research and explore things that caught our attention. And, it even happened when we tried the timeline experiment, as we delved further into some of the events or people that were mentioned.

So, I guess we will continue with the Moore philosophy of learning from and for life. We will continue with unit studies, whether it be the traditional approach or our own twist on it. We will keep following where my son’s interests lead, and just hope that it’s not down the path to another castle!

*Special thanks to WriteBonnieRose.com for the wonderful timeline and free materials included with it.

Nature Study and Character Traits

This is a post written by my Aunt Evie in which she shares lessons that she has gleaned by observing birds.  Her article can be used as a mini unit study, encompassing the subjects of character development and science.  Character qualities are shown below in italics and are linked to a description of the character quality being discussed.  Each type of bird discussed is linked to a page that tells shares a picture, habitat, and qualities of the bird.  These can be shared with children and discussed while reading Aunt Evie’s story.  To add language arts to this bird unit study, lists of spelling words can be created from this post and writing assignments given.  To include art, assign sketching or watercolor projects of the birds discussed.  An energetic bird watching hike fits into the subject of physical education. I hope you enjoy her thoughts.
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This post is interactive and is designed to be studied with a child at a computer. Click on the links throughout the story to see a picture of the bird being discussed and to read a description of the character quality discussed. An alternative is to print off pages ahead of time, in which case this story could be read “in the field” as you search for the birds mentioned.
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Just as the Bible uses many chapters, all different so God’s second book also has many chapters, and each one is full of character building lessons for those who look for them.  One of my favorite chapters deals with birds and I would like to share a few of the lessons they have taught me.
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From the common robins I have learned diligence.  Early in the spring while other birds are just flitting about choosing nesting sites and going through their courting antics, the robins are busily building their nests.  They have no time for nonsense!  They are the first ones up in the morning and the last to retire at night.  Their sturdy mud and grass nest is quickly finished.  By the time most of the other birds have settled down to start making their nests, the robin’s babies are almost ready to fly.
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In the killdeer I have observed courage and perseverance.  One hot day in late spring I watched a brave little mother killdeer standing over her eggs which were laid among the rocks on the edge of a sunny parking lot.  There was no need to sit on her eggs to keep them warm.  Instead, she stood beside them to shade them from the burning sun  Cars came and went on the lot but she would not leave her eggs.  Even when I walked up to her nest to look at the eggs, she stayed at her post of duty, though she was obviously upset by my nearness.
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The lovely cedar waxwings have taught me refinement and good taste.  They do not go in for flashy colors like some birds do, but in their quiet way they are as beautiful as any of the more showy birds.  Every feather is always sleek and perfectly groomed and their soft conservative colors look so neat and smart.  Their voices are as gentle and harmonious as their colors, and their family life seems to go on without any scrapping or fussing,  They will sometimes sit side by side on a branch and pass berries to one another.
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From the beautiful yellow warbler, I learned something about the meaning of this text from God’s first book.  “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”  A pair of these sweet singing birds had just nicely finished building their nest when along came a mother cowbird and aid an egg in it.  She expected that her egg would hatch before the yellow warblers eggs did and then her larger baby would crowd the others out and get all the food.  Many little birds are thus forced to raise baby cowbirds which are bigger than themselves, instead of raising their own babies.  But the yellow warblers have found a way to overcome this problem.  I once found a very interesting nest that showed me how they do it.  It seemed to be a very deep nest but when I began to take it apart, I found that it was three stories high and the first and second stories each had a large speckled egg in them.  The cowbird had laid her egg in the first nest and the warblers had simply built another nest over top of the first one, covering the unwanted egg.  Then the persistent cowbird had returned and laid another egg in the second nest.  But the yellow warblers still did not give up.  They built a third nest over the second one and laid their eggs in it.  How often we try to do right only to find that something spoils all our plans  Can be learn from these little birds to keep on trying and “overcome evil with good”?  Next time someone spoils something you were trying to do, see if you can find a way to overcome evil with good.
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Patience was the lesson that an Oregon junco taught me one summer day.  He was just getting ready to take a nice refreshing dip in our bird bath when an old robin hopped in and started splashing around.  Since the pool was not big enough for two, the junco flew to a nearby rock and patiently waited his turn.  The robin took his time, splashing and splashing, then just when at least he seemed to be finished he started all over again.  he took so long that the patient junco finally fell asleep while he was waiting.  Still the robin continued to splash.  At last he flew to a branch to preen himself, but the junco did not notice  he was too sound asleep.  Suddenly, with a start, he woke up and seeing the pool empty at last he hopped in for his long delayed bath.
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western wood pewee once taught me a very striking lesson:  dare to be different.  I watched him taking a bath at the edge of a lovely wooded lake.  But he was not content to just wade into the water and splash around like other birds do.  He had a style all his own.  From the top of a post at the waters edge, he darted at the water, hitting it a glancing blow with his chest, just before he swooped upward again.  Water splashed in every direction as he struck it.  he repeated this several times until he was thoroughly wet, then he settled on the post to preen himself.  Sometimes we need to have the courage to be different, not just for the sake of being different, but because it is the right thing to do.
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Last but not least, I have learned from my pet chickadees.  They have taught me to trust.  Birds generally do not trust anyone.  Especially do they fear the human hand.  It could close on them and take away their freedom and to a wild bird, freedom means  more than any delicacy.  But chickadees can be taught to be more trusting.  As I held out to them my hand, filled with seeds, I thought of how our heavenly Father holds out his hands to us and calls us to come to Him.  But we are so afraid that He might take away our freedom to do what we want to do, that we refuse to trust Him.  But the chickadees learned one winter day that they could trust and eat from my hand and still be free.  In fact, they were more free than ever.  The rich food that I was offering them kept them warmer and better nourished than the meager food that they were finding for themselves and they did not have to work so hard to try to survive in the cold.  So it is with us.  If we will learn to trust our heavenly Father we will find more real freedom and satisfaction than we ever thought possible.
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In an Audubon’s Nature Encyclopedia I found an interesting note about chickadees.  It said that if you want to find birds in the wintertime, listen for chickadees.  They have an air of confidence about them that leads other birds to follow them.  I have found this to be very true.  Wherever there is a band of chickadees, there will usually be other birds close by.
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Those who learn to trust also develop an unconscious air of confidence in God that leads others to follow them.  Would you like to lead others to your heavenly Father?  Then first learn to trust and eat fro His hand, and your life will attract others and you will be able to teach them to trust your God.  “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.  Matthew 4:19.
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