With all the "stuff" to learn in school, why take the time to study nature? Albert Einstein said, "Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better." In this post, I hope to inspire you to implement some nature study into your homeschool week and give you some practical ways to do it!
Beginning a Nature Study in your homeschool is simple and easy to integrate with other subjects. Studying nature requires observation, focus, writing, illustrating pictures and diagrams, reading and comprehending, comparing and contrasting, drawing conclusions, exploring life cycles, collecting and classifying, exercising and more!
A few things you may need to begin your nature study are:
- Nature books: Check out amazon or Nature Pal Exchange.com
- A sketch book and coloring media of your choice
-National Park Passes
Step 1: Observation - Start by observing Nature in the same spot frequently throughout the month. Even your back yard in most cases will do. Visit your local nature center and parks. Get outside together. This is a great thing to do with the whole family.
Observation is part of the scientific process and it teaches children to focus on details, compare and contrast. In observing nature, they will observe the cycles of life. Observation is not quick.
It is not rushed or hurried. It requires us to sit and be. Keep reading for another tip on beginnning a nature study.
Step 2: Record and Illustrate- Begin recording what you observe. We use a simple sketch notebook from a craft store and some colored pencils. This can even be done with a preschool age child! I illustrate sometimes for her, but let her tell me what she wants to draw. She tells me what to write. Sometimes, she prefers to draw.
We illustrate (and write) about what we see outside and other days, we illustrate and write about nature we collected while outside. You can teach your children to work on writing skills by labeling diagrams of what they draw and by writing a brief description or fact about what they're observing. This may lead to research in books or online in they're very interested!
Step 3: Collect and Classify - Collecting pieces of nature such as rocks or shells, nuts or leaves can become an excellent way to explore and classify. Classify pieces of nature by sorting them according to a like characteristic. This is actually a scientific skill. You can sort rocks by hardness, smooth to touch, color, lines, fossils found in the rocks, etc.
You can read steps 4-7 in Beginning a Nature Study, Part 2.
Besides the many learning benefits of studying nature, you and your children will begin to experience the way nature "resets" our bodies and provides a sort of healing balm. Anne Frank said in The Diary of Anne Frank,
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Focusing on nature, writing about nature, illustrating nature, reading about nature, getting out in nature is a great start to a nature study in your homeschool.
Want to know what methods, curriculum and resources we use?
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