Works for Me Wednesday: Nature Study

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In gearing up for school next year, I’m trying to line up my nature study resources. Last year, and in previous years, I had good intentions for a nature study, but that was the first thing to fall by the wayside. I really want to make a weekly nature study happen for several reasons:

1) Because it seems like a peaceful, relaxing enjoyable way to learn more about the world God has given us.

2) Because I don’t want the kids to grow up like me and not have a clue what anything is other than dandelions and pine trees. (Oh! And sunflowers. I love sunflowers.)

3) Because I love what Jimmie has to say about nature study being the duty of a Christian homeschooler. Good stuff.

So, this year, I’m taking some steps to ensure that nature study doesn’t fall by the wayside. Our first roadblock seems to be that we live in a subdivision on a relatively small lot with nothing of great interest to study. Now, I know that there is something to be found everywhere, but, really, if we’re not interested, we’re not going to stick with it. So, I am getting us a membership at a local nature park. The membership fee is inexpensive and the park is just down the road from where Josh and Megan take their music classes. We have two hours between their classes this year. That’s plenty of time to eat and take a nature walk.

I was also incredibly blessed to find Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study for only $10 at a used book sale this year. With that, we are going to follow the Outdoor Hour Challenges from the wonderful Handbook of Nature Study blog. Barb, the blog owner, offers weekly challenges designed to get the whole family involved in nature study. She even has notebooking pages that you can print off to use. Maybe nobody will notice us linking up again, for the second year in a row, on the first few challenges.

I also plan to incorporate some of the wonderful ideas that Kimberly shared in her blog post, teaching with nature journals. They also use the Handbook of Nature Study book, so we should be set.

I plan to keep a backpack loaded in the car with all our supplies: sketchbooks, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, field guides and magnifying glass. Can you think of anything else we might need? I’ll probably carry along a camera, but I won’t keep it packed in the car.

So, those are my general plans for nature study this year. I hope they work for me. Maybe they’ll work for me. They will work for me!

Visit Kristin at We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I'm always so interested when I read about nature studies, but like you, I let it fall to the wayside pretty much immediately last school year. I'll need to think about how to add it again.

  2. Great plan! I can't wait to check out the Outdoor Hour Challenge. My daughter loves outdoors and nature and we should make a nature study plan as well!

  3. What you're planning sounds really achievable, Kris!! Barb's blog rocks eh!

    As CM homeschoolers we place a heap of emphasis on nature study, but find it all fizzles out if it gets too hard. The nature park sounds wonderful, and those music lessons are the perfect time apart. Yay!

  4. Last year, I taught a co-op class on nature study, so that I knew I would do it, only one of my own kids was in the class, but the others had to come along when I was preparing.

    This year I'm going to add a certain number to our check off list, so we'll do it!

    At least I hope we do it. something is better than nothing.
    -Christine in Massachusetts

  5. I've always wanted to join in this meme, and this week I did! (Yay me!)

    I love the idea of nature studies. Biggest loves nature, but for some reason I've always let nature study go. I think, especially as Littlest grows, I will be sure to do better incorporating it!

  6. It's so good to know I'm not the only one who has attempted the challenges more than once. My children, just in the last two weeks, have started to inspire me to start again. This week's "crop plant" is clover. We have tons of that! It was really fun to go exploring. We may not have gotten a journal entry, and I may not post about it, but nature study is all about being outside and appreciating God's creation. And that we did.
    Many Blessings,

  7. Um. yeah. Me too. Nature Study has not been something I've been able to stick with. Your idea of going to a park in between music lessons is great. That way you'll have a set time and place.

  8. I'm putting it in my schedule this year, too, or else it won't happen! I just bought some watercolor pencils specifically for our nature journals. Can't wait to use them! And maybe add binoculars to your kit?

  9. Nature study is pretty big in our home school, only because we use the plants for medicines and soaps etc…but I wanted to tell you that is an AWESOME blog to read for nature study! I am linked up and she posts frequently and always has lovely posts about nature study! check her out if you get the chance!

  10. This might sound silly but what exactly does nature study mean? I keep seeing this and it interests me, but I'm not sure how you go about it.

  11. Thank you for your great post. I think we are on the same wavelength. I have always wanted to do nature study with my children and it just never came to fruition. I am hoping that this will be the school year for nature study! The Outdoor Challenges are very inspiring!

  12. @ Beth – an IRL friend mentioned binoculars to me today, too. I'll definitely add those.

    @ Chubbycheeks – I am so NOT an expert on nature study, since it's one of the things that has fallen by the wayside each year we've attempted it, but the links I provided (Handbook of Nature Study blog, Kimberly @ Raising Olives and Jimmie @ Jimmie's Collage) really explain well how to implement a nature study. Much better than I could.

  13. Kudos to you! Looking forward to seeing this work for you. Accountability is such a great thing, it works!

    You might want to consider drawing pencils, a kneaded eraser, water colors and water color paper, a clip board to write on . . . just a few things that come to mind that may enhance you experience. 🙂

    Have fun!

  14. Right out of college, I worked as a Naturalist at a nature center. School groups and homeschoolers would come for guided hikes geared for their age groups. For the little ones, we would give them each a paint chip strip and tell them it was their job to find that color on the trail. (This was also fun for older kids sometimes, too.) We took clear glass jars to catch whatever might be lurking under logs and leaves. We didn't take them out the the woods, but the glass allowed us to look at the entire creature without fear.

  15. @Marci – I love the paint chip idea! That might be something fun (along with a scavenger hunt) to mix things up from time to time. Thanks for the suggestions!

    We definitely need to add a little plastic bug box to our kit.

  16. 🙂
    It's been so hot that we've done little nature study lately. Does swimming in a pool full of kids count? LOL!
    I applaud your efforts, and I know that the Creator will reward your observing what He made for you!

  17. Did you take that picture? It is gorgeous (and looks mighty nice with it's border). 😉

    You idea of a nature backpack is awesome. I really have to work in more of this. I'm like you: good intentions that go by the wayside without making an effort.

    Maybe this year will be a little easier. I'm adding a kindergartner, but I just graduated a senior.

    I'm heading off now to check out your links…

  18. To me it's a struggle to fit in everything. I find that when we do nature study we enjoy it. Starting is the hard part.

  19. We LOVE Barb's Outdoor Challenges. They really changed how we think of nature study when we started them. Fun, fun, fun! And NOT hard!

  20. Barb's blog is awesome . . . she has done a wonderful job of guiding people through the Comstock book, which had–I say HAD–been collecting dust for years.

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