Do you ever feel frazzled faced with all the many little details of a busy homeschool day? Some days can be disquieting, I know. This is one reason I wanted to encourage you in your homeschooling endeavors by way of a story a quieting story. Although it is fiction it is based on my own experience. It seemed most natural to write it in the form of a diary.
Carol is the main character. In her diary, Carol pours out her secret hopes, joys, and disappointments. Does she get frazzled? Yes. She is on her feet a lot, caring for the needs of her family. Her heart is full of service, so it is no surprise that come nightfall she is frequently fatigued. How does she manage? Carol feeds her soul by reading in snatches. Her sister-in-law sends her a copy of Miss Mason's Home Education and she decides to put Miss Mason's principles to the test. On her new homeschooling adventure not everything works out smoothly, yet she is happy her children find their new books interesting. She also takes joy in the simple things she considers to be God's blessings. She goes on nature walks with her children each Wednesday afternoon. Together they observe God's marvelous creation and record their findings into their Nature Notebooks.
Meanwhile, Carol copes with the late hours her husband, Michael, must keep at his workplace. Difficult choices must be made. Although it is her inclination to worry Carol is admonished by Michael to trust God with their circumstances. And because I am too fond of my characters to let anything really terrible happen to them the story has a happy ending.
Pinecones is not just a story. It is a teacher's resource filled with practical ideas. The story will gradually introduce you to ideas for all four seasons. Sprinkled throughout are nature poems and verses, and Latin names for the over 200 living things observed by the characters. One or two study questions are at the end of most chapters. Some my favorite passages by Charlotte Mason are referenced. These are the same ones that standout in her Carol's reading of Home Education. The back of the book is a discriminate list of our some of our favorite nature reading. The last words of Pinecones are candid look at of our family's own experience with nature in the various neighborhoods where we have lived - in city, town, suburb and the woods of Maine.
I wrote Carol's diary with chapters short enough to minister to the busy mother who, like myself, has only snatches of time in which to nourish her soul. May those who read Pinecones receive much encouragement to keep serving the ones they love.
272 pages with over 75 pencil illustrations. Softcover.
Unsolicited review by Jane Claire & Becky Jane Lambert, best-selling authors of Five in a Row series, Used by permission, reprinted from "FiveinARow.com"
I was refreshed this week. I was delighted. I was touched by a book I'd kept hearing about- Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. Written in a story form, Karen demonstrates in nearly every sentence, wonderful ways to teach, enjoy and nurture your children. But, the book is more than that. Failing the words to adequately describe how deeply this book touched my heart, I'm grateful to include my daughter's synopsis of Pocketful of Pinecones. Becky Jane writes: "A unique, surprising and utterly delightful book recently found it's way into my hands. Authored by Karen Andreola, Pocketful of Pinecones is a book unlike any other. I truly cannot think of single book I've read that holds as much passion, instruction and inspiration as this unassuming paperback.
Intended to be a guided nature study, Pocketful of Pinecones is organized into fifty-eight short chapters. But that is where its similarity to any other study ends. Instead of being an objective, point-by-point instruction manual Pocketful of Pinecones leads by example. It is written as a heartwarming fictional story of Carol - a sincere, hardworking mother who is new to the world of homeschooling. Set in the 1930s, the story of Carol and her journey as teacher and mother provides a sweet and encouraging path to follow. We can relate to her, laugh with her and share her insecurities and triumphs.
With methodology grounded firmly on the works of Charlotte Mason, and Anna Comstock author of the Nature Handbook, the nature lessons Andreola shares are gentle and hands-on in their approach. As you read, you become greatly informed but you are also inspired! Each chapter is short and a pleasure to read, and you find yourself learning along with the characters. The techniques of studying nature (collecting specimens, sketching plants and animals, planning nature walks, studying animals' habitats, incorporating literature and music in your scientific studies, keeping a journal) are easy to understand because you are like a little mouse in the corner, watching everything unfold so naturally within Carol's family.
I have never read anything that so encouraged and motivated me to share God's intricate and beautiful creation with my children. As I read each chapter, I could feel my heart expanding and filling with wonder and awe! But Pocketful of Pinecones teaches far more than how best to conduct a nature study. It is a warm, earthy and beautiful picture of how to relate to our children...how to connect with them...how to "safeguard their sense of wonder"...and how best lead them to discover any subject they are interested in exploring. Hand in hand and heart to heart, you and your children are in for a rare and special journey together!"
Pinecones in the Van
"Thank you so much for writing Pocketful of Pinecones. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found myself reading it every chance I had, even keeping it with me in the van so if I had to wait at a railroad crossing I could devour a page or two. . . . It has given me a fresh vision for beginning our 19th year of home education."
- Cyndi L., IL
A Second Read
"I just finished your new book for the second time and had to tell you how divine it is. I just loved the story. I know I wasn't supposed to read it through so quickly but I honestly couldn't put it down. It was very soothing reading. God has blessed you with such a wonderful gift.
[Pinecones] has inspired me to give a talk on Nature Study at our last Charlotte Mason meeting tomorrow evening. I am sure to recommend the book to all.
Also as a result we've started a Nature Notebook a task I must admit being intimidated by. But it's all coming along beautifully."
- Suzanne C., MA
A Lovely Book
"Just finished reading Pocketful of Pinecones. What a perfectly lovely book chock full of gems of wisdom.
I fondly remember the years of Parents' Review and often refer to them. When loaned out, I keep close tabs to ensure I get them back. A sprinkling of notes from you during those years are in my scrapbook. Your words have greatly benefited us."
- Merri L., TX
Your Characters Come Alive
How you could possibly discipline yourself to write such an inspiring, well-researched, beautifully worded story while attending to a myriad of other duties will never cease to amaze me. Will Pocketful of Pinecones be an encouragement to other mothers? While I haven't read it all yet (how gracious of you to keep the chapters short to accommodate our constant interrupted moments of Mother Culture), I can assure you that your objective has been reached. You have included just the right amount of savory details to make all your characters come alive, and just enough botanical and zoological information to create a feast for the mind. What a wonderful example of sharing knowledge and wonder simultaneously. No doubt thousands of mothers will gain a renewed appreciation for nature's beauty and acquire much wisdom from leafing through your 58 chapters. Not to mention your great appendices, including a "suggested reading" section that will help families pursue their exploration of rich, fascinating, living books. I will always feel much indebted to you for pointing me in that direction years ago through the Parents' Review.
Your heroine, Carol, does have much in common with you. She is such a generous, prayerful soul. I am pleased that you chose to have her live with no car, no television, no computer. I like the winter chapters in which she goes out to the country to help her brother's wife Dora after the birth of their baby. Like you, she has this rare and precious capacity of acting as a true friend, remaining humbly in the background while bravely doing what needs to be done to assist her sister in Christ. Faith and good works go hand in hand.
And so I say: BRAVO, Karen! Your work as a writer has once again been a labor of love, like everything else you do.
- Armelle S. Maine
A Cure for Burnout
"I finished reading Pocketful of Pinecones, and I just had to write you to let you know how I enjoyed your book.
First of all, your book has dramatically changed the way I am homeschooling this year. At the end of last year, I was ready to give up, and decided that I was not "cut out" for such a daunting task. We have two delightful girls, age seven and almost four. I was constantly disappointed with my own abilities to get through books, all the while my three year old was making a mess all over the house and doing her best to interrupt everything we were doing. Carol has taught me that a very small portion of my daughter's studies should be down sitting down in front of workbooks. Instead, I should be taking them on walks, appreciating nature with my younger one, as she will be able to run and jump and play, while I teach the older about nature.
Secondly, I would like to tell you how much I was touched by Carol's difficulties at her parents' graves. My father died six months ago, very suddenly. I, too, never got to say goodbye, and I have had some restless nights over this. I found myself wishing I had had an Emma in my life, while reading the book. I was greatly comforted in reading the chapter, entitled "Weeding." Thank you so much for that.
There is so much more I could say there is just so much to appreciate about this book. I hope you will write the next book about Carol and Michael and their growing family I find myself missing these characters now that I have finished the book. They became friends to me, so dear was the story. Throughout the pages of your book, you gave me permission to slow down and "smell the roses." Every other book I have read about homeschooling has made me feel guilty, and like I didn't measure up. There is more curriculum every time I look at a new catalog how refreshing it is to read something that encourages a simpler way of schooling. Your book is a cure for burnout- if readers get to it soon enough, there will be a lot less burnout.
I am also grateful for the book suggestions. We have already read a few living books this school year, and we have been blessed by them. They were so memorable I know we have learned a great deal through them.
I shall close this letter with a heartfelt thank you to you for showing me a better way a more nurturing way to teach my children. I am enjoying all the Parent's Reviews I ordered. They are chock full of good ideas. I am confident that this year will be better.
- Holly G., MN
Fruit of Our Labor
"A quick note to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your book. It was just what I needed. It was enjoyable, relaxing and inspiring.This is our fourth year of home schooling and we have studied nature every year. It has taken us until this year to actually see the fruit of our labor. In the past the children would reluctant take their journals with them and half heatedly make an entry. Now my six-year-old is the one to point out with amazement everything she sees and they all are eager to make attempts to capture the specimen in a sketch. Even my three-year-old son runs for his binoculars and points to the bird in our years. My persistence has finally paid off.
After I read your book I felt such a peace and confirmation in my spirit that this is what we were supposed to be doing. I had intended to use Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study as my main text but quite frankly I was overwhelmed by its size and unsure how I could implement the study using this book with the younger children. (My children are ages 12,10,6,3, and 1 years old). Pocketful of Pinecones affirmed the direction I was planning to go in and helped to organize my thoughts. I have been taking notes and making lists and laying out the final lessons plans based upon your book.
Thank you for the assistance your book provided in demonstrating a practical and enjoyable approach to nature study.
- Denise S., NY
Living in "beautiful southern California" with all the hustle and bustle, all-seasons Pincones was like a retreat. It is not often that I get the chance to read a casual, fun book - usually [it is] the how-tos or the what-tos. Pinecones offered this and gave me a relaxing attitude by gently reminding me of how my home school should be. The characters were real and lovable.
- Jamie C., CA