Seems like my kids are always discovering things. They have a natural curiosity, a sense of excitement and wonder about the world around them.
And they seem to find critters in the yard, the water, the sky, and just about everywhere we go. Here are a few of their exciting critters they found so far this summer.
A little lizard.
A snapping turtle.
Little crabs in borrowed shells.
Large crab with blue claws.
Crab with rocks in its shell.
Bees in flowers.
Kittens born in a garden.
They always seem to find a variety of birds every where.
Deer in the driveway.
Baby box turtles discovered while mowing the grass.
Spiders in their nests.
Little praying mantis who was very unhappy to have his picture taken.
I just love watching my kids discover everything around them with excitement and wonder.
Watching my kids explore and approach everything around them with a sense of excitement and wonder reminds me of the words of Jesus (Yahusha) who encouraged all of us to set aside our preconceived notions, our traditions, our resentments and disappointments, our need to control, and let go and trust and become like children in our relationship to the Heavenly Father and enter his kingdom.
Jesus (Yahusha) called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16
We are reading through Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! We were sent this wonderful book for review from the By the Way Book Series and it has given my kids and I a great way to start a discussion about the animals and their habitat in this wonderful mountain range of the USA.
This story is about two siblings: a brother named Alex, and his sister named Lexi, who went to spend three days and nights with their Uncle Ted who is a forest ranger in the Smoky Mountains. They decide to hike up the mountain and camp overnight in the wilderness.
It is spring time, and flowers are starting to bloom. As they travel along the hiking trails, they learn about lots of the wildlife that live there. They learn about God too and how he created this environment for the wildlife and people to live and flourish in.
Some of the animals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other fascinating facts kids learn about in this book are:
White tailed deer
Northern short tailed shrew
Snow birds or dark eyed Junco
Mountains and different topography forms: waterfalls, bald,
Forests and different kinds of trees
Different kinds of flowers and plants
Different kinds of mushrooms and fungi
Fireflies and insects
Some other things my kids learned about in this book:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian mountain trail, specific landmarks on the trail like Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, Cherokee Indians, pioneers, Civil War, specific mountains that were named for historic events or famous people and also for ancient legends by the Cherokee Indians, and a mountain musical instrument called a dulcimer.
Video of a dulcimer playing “I’ll Fly Away”.
Another Video of an 1800’s replica of a dulcimer that was a bit more primitive than the ones we usually see played today.
There is also a mini-lesson on Geo Caching (finding clues and a location of “hidden treasure” in a weather proof/ waterproof box for you to find using GPS coordinates). This is a popular hobby but one we have not participated in before. We got out our GPS map on the phone, and also a compass, and a compass/whistle that someone would use on their journey during this activity. We might like to put together a Geo Caching activity in our local area soon.
Reading this book encouraged us to take a closer look at the wildlife around us and the habitat they live in. We used to live in the Appalachian mountains in the Blue Ridge region. We often went for a drive and visited the Smoky Mountain region that was only a few hours from where we lived. But now we live about 2 hours down the mountain and foothills from where we used to live. Now we live at a lower elevation in a forest covered area filled with pine trees, oak trees, maple trees and other hardwoods. We live next to a small pond, lots of woods with several local streams, and a large lake nearby too. So we have a wide variety of wildlife here and some we have in common with the mountain region too. We have seen woodpeckers, hawks, crows, lizards, snapping turtles, frogs, snakes, wild turkeys, fox, coyote, red cardinals, robins, deer, a raccoon, an opossum, worms, red fire ants, termites, beetles, and more. I will post a story about this soon, but here are a few pictures we have taken of the wildlife in our yard and nearby.
This snapping turtle crawled up to the fence in our yard and was trying to enter the gate when we spotted him.
In the book Smoky Mountains Here We Come, there are many real life photos of animals and historical people and places. My favorite photo is a an old time Mill House with a water wheel. We would often seen wonderful old barns and mill houses on our trips to see the mountains. I would love to hang that picture on the wall.
The illustrations on every page in this book are wonderful and kept my kids interested all the way through. This book is like a regional American geography, history, science, and bible study adventure all wrapped up in one.
This book presents God’s amazing creation in the treasure of the Smoky Mountains from a biblical worldview. Along the way, kids are reminded often of God’s handiwork and his amazing creation.
We are stewards of this land. We can either be good stewards and care for it, or we can be reckless and neglectful stewards, the choice is ours. In his word, God instructs man to be good stewards of the land, animals, and resources. Jesus also shared several parables about good shepherds, wise servants, faithful caretakers. It is clear that God wants us to understand the He created all of this and he wants us to take care of it.
The book begins with the verse from Psalm 32:8 inside the front cover:
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou should go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
The book ends with the verse from Psalm 97:6 inside the back cover:
“The heavens declare his righteousness…and all the people see his glory.
The book is loaded with scriptures to connect us to our Heavenly Father and remind kids and parents about our loving creator who made this wonderful bounty of life in so much variety and beauty.
Additional Resources Available
This book series is perfect for using as home school curriculum, family devotions, Sunday schools, clubs, and encouraging extra reading for kids too. You can use the book as a stand alone resource, or you can add to the learning by using maps, puzzles, games, field trips to the region of the country the book discusses or to visit a zoo to see the animals discussed, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos online about things discussed in the book etc. and turn this into an amazing learning journey filled with exploration.
Besides the books, there are additional resources available to further the learning with this wonderful book including: flash cards, activity guides, stuffed animals, and poster packs.
For an additional $2.50 you can purchase the flash cards.
The flash cards are full color and feature eight of the many different creatures we studied in the book. On the front of the cards is full color real life photo to clearly identify each creature. Also listed on the front is an accompanying bible verse that reminds you about God and the beauty he has created. On the back of each card is a long description of the habitat it lives in and it’s behavior characteristics.
For an additional $2.50 you can buy the “Keep On The Path” “Exploring the Smoky Mountains Study Guide” to further the learning.
After reading through the book, I was so impressed to want to learn more that I purchased the activity guides and flash cards for all six of my kids. $2.50 is much cheaper than I can print these myself. It is a really good buy. We are currently waiting for the cards and guides to arrive as I write this review.
There are also poster packs and stuffed animals available on the website that go along with the books too. I didn’t not purchase these but they would be great to use for a classroom where you need larger visual aids and reminders for the classroom. You could use this as part of a vacation bible school summer program too and use the posters to decorate walls, tables, or stations.
I plan to expand our learning we began with this book. My goal is to turn this book learning into a unit study and lapbook this spring. We will use the activity guide pages and flash cards plus the additional ideas I mentioned earlier (maps, puzzles, games, field trips (we live about 4 hours from the Smoky Mountains in TN and 2 hours from the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC also part of the Appalachian trail), visit a zoo, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos, etc) as we re-read the book again.
We will create a colorful lapbook to go along with the unit study and record what the kids have learned. Stay tuned for a follow up story to this review to see what the kids learned and how this adventure turned out. For now, while we wait for those resources to arrive, I found a few coloring pages online about woodland animals (such as the black bear, otter, bobcat, deer,) and a butterfly for the younger children to color while we read through the book. We really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to learn even more.
Besides the additional resources for Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come, I also ordered additional flashcards for the other books in the series too. Some of the animals and insects in other regions are also found in the region we are currently studying and also these cards are so nice that I would like for my kids to have the flash cards from all the regions as a learning resource. They are high gloss full color heavy duty cards loaded with lots of information about creatures from the different regions all over America. These inexpensive cards can be used for science and geography and crossovers with other subjects and are a great resource to have on hand.
By The Way Series
Check out all these great books from By the Way Book Series. We want to read more of them as soon as we can. This is a wonderful way to teach kids about all these amazing animals and creatures and geography that God has created and some history of the people in various regions around the USA.
Be sure to read more about the wonderful author, Joy Budensiek and her desire she expressed for writing these books to help kids and their parents talk about God and draw closer to him. These books are part of a movement to turn our nation and our children back to God. You can read more about “Renewanation” mission here.
Check out By the Way Book Series on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.