Australian Nature Resources



As a nature-loving homeschooling Mama, the lack of beautiful Australian resources I could share with my children soon became apparent. Especially when my six-year-old daughter started her own ‘animal club’ and wanted to share her learning with her friends, but the resources I found were mainly from America or the United Kingdom. 

So, I am putting my fine arts degree to use and researching, drawing and working on creating a collection of native nature resources, starting with butterflies.

Watch this space! xx

Keeping a Store Cupboard

1. Labelling jars, 2. snoozing cat, 3. unusual nature find, 4. native flowers from the garden, 5. Emmy's growing horse collection.

My kitchen and store cupboard have been benefiting from my renewed energy after our holiday. I'd been feeling rather blah about the whole monotony of grocery shopping and cooking and I was turning to take away and prepackaged food more often than I was comfortable with. The country general store in the small town we stayed in inspired and challenged me with it's fewer number of items, and the higher proportion of organic, homemade and fresh produce. 

Once the holiday bags were unpacked I went to the shop with renewed purpose and brought fresh fish and vegetables for dinner. As I unloaded them I decided to completely empty and sort the pantry too. I wiped it clean, checked used by dates, refilled jars and relabelled them. As we don't have a lot of storage space in our kitchen, we also have a store cupboard in the laundry. Here I stockpile everyday items we use regularly, such as canned goods, rice, oil, toiletries, alfoil and sauces, which I buy whenever they are on sale. It's a trick I learnt from Rhonda at Down to Earth blog. It saves a considerable amount of money over time to purchase the things you use before you need them, while they are on sale, and never run out of anything because you always have a spare in your store cupboard.

When I am building up my store cupboard, each time I pop to the shops to pick up one or two things, I will walk up and down each aisle looking for the sale tags. There are always sale tags, usually 10 - 50% off, or two for the price of one. I don't buy anything I wouldn't usually buy. It's not a bargain if it is just going to sit in the cupboard. I also buy in bulk. So when 5kg of rice or 3L of olive oil is half price I am saving money and stocking up. Then I just decant what I need into recycled jars and bottles and store the rest. Buying when things are on sale means I can buy more expensive items than I would usually purchase too - like choosing Australian made, organic, fair trade.

I've read that many chefs don't have much food in their own fridges, as they buy fresh what they need. I really like this idea. I used to try to just go to the shops once a week because I thought it would save money. But I just ended up with wilted veggies. Now I pop to the shops every day or two, though I still keep meat and veg in the freezer so there are always ingredients to cook with if I can't make it to the shop.

Reinvigorating my pantry and topping up my store cupboard inspires me to cook more from scratch, leave the processed items on the shelf, and make the most of the ingredients I am growing in my garden. All of which gives me a sense of satisfaction to be shopping and cooking in a more positive and sustainable way.

Do you keep a store cupboard? 

Running Away to the Country


When I joked with my husband that he may not recognise us, as his business has been so busy and his hours so long, he suggested we take a break away with the children. After barely surviving my last camping trip with them I agreed so long as we stayed in a house. I managed to find the perfect one over the border in Crabbes Creek.

An old home on a cattle farm, Casa Ciani. I decided on the very first day that I never wanted to leave. The view out the kitchen window of cows grazing was so calming, the grass so lush, the creeks so interesting to explore and everywhere I looked another idyllic view. I quickly made myself at home and spent hours each day walking, exploring, taking photos and reading. I collected nature treasures and sketched in my nature journal. It was bliss.

It made my Mama heart sing to see my little ones connecting with nature. They overcame their fear of cows by spending time with them. The cows were more of afraid of them and would run in the opposite direction if the children got too close. They tested themselves in nature, climbing and rock hopping and feeling proud of their accomplishments. They splashed in puddles, ran around in the rain and sat in the creek fully clothed! They watched the sunset, watched a storm roll in and lightning light up the heavy grey clouds. They delighted over the rainbow that appeared. They named the cows, swung on the tree swing, fed the chickens, and Emmy drew in her nature journal. The littlest two shared a bed. The littlest one still climbed into our bed in the middle of the night, and the other two joined him in the morning for snuggle time.

I was sad to pull the door closed behind me for the last time, but I came home feeling like I had refilled my cup and was reenergised to shift my focus towards home.

Reporting and Planning when Homeschooling


Recently, I submitted my first homeschooling reports for my children to the Home Education Unit in Queensland. This is my legal requirement in order to homeschool. It is legal in Australia to educate at home, but you must prove that you are able to provide a high-quality education. Each year homeschoolers submit a report on the year before with six samples (two for English, two for Maths and two for another subject of your choice) as well as a plan for the coming year. It's a time-consuming process, but a really rewarding one as well. 

I wanted to share some of my report for Emerson here, aged 6, who cried every single morning of Prep (first year of compulsory school in Queensland) and some of her journey since leaving school. For those that are curious and for those that need inspiration, I can honestly advocate for homeschooling and unschooling in particular. 

I also wanted to thank all those home educators that came before me and fought for the rights of parents to find the best ways for their children to learn. And to those from the homeschooling community who have offered me advice and support and those online who spend their time sharing their experiences with others. xx

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In sitting down to write this report I first looked back over the albums I created to document our homeschooling journey and it made my heart sing. I read back through my Natural Learning Journal and I was reminded of so many rich conversations and lightbulbs moments experienced by both Emerson and myself this past twelve months. What a wonderful year of growth, connection and learning it has been. Our move to homeschooling has not only benefited Emerson, but our entire family. We are more connected, our parenting is gentler, our children have more autonomy, more time, and the love and support to experience so many new things and follow those that take their interest.

My goal to have Emerson reading independently by the end of the first year was rather lofty, or so I realised in hindsight. I hadn’t considered that she may shut out anything educational in the months after leaving school and refuse to engage. Any notions that I had about schooling at home in a traditional sense needed to be reconsidered in the wake of her refusal to read or write. Instead, I read widely and deeply on all aspects of homeschooling, education styles and curriculums. I listened to podcasts with educators discussing the way the brain works, and different styles of learning. I embraced the idea of ‘deschooling’ and took away the expectation and structure I had implemented from my own schooling experience and worked hard to find the right path for Emerson. It took a lot of time and trust, but in the end, Emerson decided that the goal to read was her goal, not mine. With this intrinsic motivation, we have been able to work together to help her move closer to achieving this goal.  

I wrote the plan based on a natural learning style and took a child lead approach to Emerson’s learning because I felt this was what she needed. This was difficult for me, as it would have been much easier to have her sit at a table for set times of the week and ‘learn’ what I presented her with, but this method just led to tears for both of us.

At times, when fear overcame me that perhaps I wasn’t doing the right thing and she wasn’t learning I tried introducing more structured elements. This always had the opposite effect than I was hoping for. After a lot of reading, talking, and podcast listening I embraced an unschooling philosophy to meet Emerson’s needs. There were many small steps in letting go which allowed me to recognise how much Emerson was learning by being free to follow her own interests. 

Where to begin with the many highlights?! For Emerson it would probably be the pet quails and puppy we adopted this year, her chicken egg business, her horse riding lessons, the many new friends she has made in the homeschooling groups we frequent. It would be the many excursions we are able to take during the week to art galleries, museums, historical villages, nature walks, farm tours, zoos and library sessions. No doubt the many holidays and camping trips we have taken this year as well too, as a family and with other homeschoolers, to places like Gympie, Yamba, Sydney, Canberra, and Dubbo.

For me, it has been seeing the anxiety slowly melt away from Emerson. Seeing the silences, anger and tears being replaced by a curious, courageous and kind six year old. It is stress-free mornings and bedtime reading rituals where all three children hop in the big bed for stories. It’s surprising them with new craft supplies, books, puzzles, board games and experiments. It’s seeing Emerson’s face light up when she learns something new. It is being there to answer each question and seeing the connections between each rabbit hole she dives into. And it’s the trust, overcoming my fears and trusting in her innate curiosity and knowing that she has the tools and support to learn anything she wants, now and in the future.

Despite not being able to read independently, as I had written in our plan, I still feel Emerson achieved the most success in English this year. In the related areas of reading and writing, she has grown from a child that refused to participate in either activity to one who uses writing daily, enjoys her new reading abilities and is actively engaged in increasing her skill level. 

In print


This delightful magazine arrived on my Australian doorstep all the way from America this week. The first issue of Secular Homeschooler magazine. I had been anticipating its arrival, as it is the first time my words and drawings have been featured in an International print magazine. I couldn't believe it when I opened the cover and my leaf painting was the front page! Emerson and I are both feeling a little bit famous. I love the layout and I can't wait to read the rest of the magazine. Keep an eye out for my quarterly contributions in upcoming issues! 

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Order a print or digital copy of the magazine over here.