I am not an outdoors type of person. Sure, I like being outside (specifically the BEACH), but I'm not a camper, hiker, or sportswoman.
In five years of homeschooling, however, I have seen that nature study is one of the best time investments you can make in your homeschool.
Not only does it foster a love and appreciation for God's creation, but it also is a wonderful way for a family to spend time together. No matter what kind of day we are having, a nature walk seems to make it all better.
And guess what? I'm becoming more of an outdoorsy type of mom.
There is nothing that is hard about nature walks/nature study - just get outside and GO. Let your children make discoveries. Wonder. Forget about your phone and your watch. Just enjoy nature.
Don't think you have to be the ultimate Charlotte Mason homeschooler to do nature walks, either. We are classical homeschoolers and always make time for nature study!
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Early on in our homeschool days a friend recommended I purchase a book to keep in the car - a book that would help me identify every tree, bug, grass, etc... we would encounter on our walks. This book has been one of the single best purchases for our homeschool.
Nature Study Tips
Keep the Handbook of Nature Study with you when you are out and about (whether it is for a scheduled nature walk or not) - it can help you identify most anything in nature!
Other helpful things to keep in a box or bag in your car include:
- magnifying glass
- wet wipes
- digital camera
- nature notebook
- colored pencils
- bottled water and snacks
- zip top bags (for interesting discoveries)
Another great tip: Don't forget to look UP - sometimes we get so focused on the path or the trail that we forget to look up at the sky and everything above the treeline.
Sometimes a nature walk can be in your own back yard. Last week my son discovered some branches from downed Pine Trees in the woods behind our home. They had beautiful designs chisseled into them... a friend of mine told me these designs were made by Engraver Beetles.
What an awesome discovery, and what an amazing display of God's perfection in nature. (Did you see their handiwork in the first image of this post?)
We spent at least three hours outside truding through the woods - in search of more unique discoveries. I so needed this time, away from school books, just talking with my children. There's something very special about just getting out on a nature walk - either alone or with your children.
And, it is necessary for our children (especially our boys) to have time to play in the woods, beach, or wherever you live.
Unfortunately, so many children in our society today don't appreciate nature in this way. They are too busy to stop and WONDER - too busy to stop and BE IN AWE of God's creation. We should never get that busy. Shame on us as homeschooling parents if we don't incorporate nature studies into our children's educations.
Favorite Animal/Nature Books We Have Read
I have many good memories of taking a living book along on a nature walk with us. We find a place to sit down and just READ. The kids can sketch, have a snack, or just rest and listen. It's amazing to me how much more this learning STICKS than the "book learning"
Favorite books of ours include:
- James Herriot's Treasury for Children - delightful animal stories that cultivate a love of God's creation
- The Burgess Animal Book for Children -- free for Kindle and there are many other Burgess books that are equally as good!
- A Nest for Celeste - great for a study of Audubon!
- A Pocketful of Pinecones (this book is for the moms -- well worth your time to read!)
- Crinkleroot's Guide to Walking in Wild Places (or any other Crinkleroot book - they are all great!)
What's stopping you? The weather (at least where we live) is warming up a bit and lends itself for nature study (although we did have some GREAT nature study time during a recent ice storm and thaw!). Get outside and enjoy those children God has given you!
I hope you've found these little nature tips helpful. They are a part of the Homeschool Tips and Tricks series here each Monday at Homegrown Learners! Last week's tips was about Map Tracing -- check it out if you missed that one!
How often do you go on Nature Walks? Do you have other helpful tips for us?