Getting Started With Nature Studies

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I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I was really interested in doing nature studies with my children as a part of our homeschool. I love to be outside! There is just something about the beauty of the natural world that brings peace to my heart.

I’ve been reading some of Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock and looking at what other people are doing for nature studies to get a feel for what to do.

Nature Journals

I bought Lily a Nature Journal to do nature drawings in, and she did her first one the other day! I wasn’t really planning to start it yet, but she was really eager to try. So I let her go for it.  I told her that her goal was to find something in nature and draw a picture of it.

Lily's first nature journal entry. #naturestudy #homeschoollife #homeschool

Lily’s first nature journal entry.

At first, she wanted to draw her cat Milo, but he wouldn’t be still. {laughing} I encouraged her to start with something that doesn’t move. So she chose to sketch a leaf, a blade of grass, and another plant in the yard.

We didn’t even look up what they were that first time. (I honestly don’t know where to start! Help, anyone?) I’m just letting her get the feel of drawing what she observes. I think she did a great job for her first try!  I’m also planning to buy myself one so I can do it once a week, too.

Nature Walks

We’ve also enjoyed taking nature walks around our neighborhood. Nothing fancy–they are actually just walks outside. The kids always collect “treasures” to bring back with them. Things like wildflowers, seeds, cones, and leaves–pretty much anything that strikes their fancy.DSCN4122

Yesterday, we went on one such walk during our morning time (instead of the normal morning time routine). I just knew we needed to get outdoors. While the kids were gathering their treasures, I was telling them what I knew about what they were finding.  I began to realize how much I didn’t know!

For example, I knew to explain how the “helicopter” seeds flew down from the trees, the wind carrying them to new places. But I realized in my explanation that I had no idea what tree they came from. I don’t even know the names of most of the trees in the neighborhood.  There is much learning for me to do! I’m looking forward to knowing more about the natural world that is all around me.

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Make an ant farm.

We also got the idea while on our walk yesterday to make an ant farm. So after our walk, we got a mason jar and a small shovel and went back out to scoop up part of an ant bed. Oh, yes. We did. Well, actually I did it while the kids watched. It is so interesting now to see the ants building their little tunnels through the glass jar!

Bird Watching

One of our favorite things to do is watch the birds from our dining room window. We have a bird feeder right outside on the deck, and we watch them all day long. We have seen so many new birds that I have never seen before. The latest additions to our bird family are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Indigo Bunting. I never even knew these birds existed! I get so excited when we see a new one–just like a kid. When we see a new one, we look it up on The Audubon Society’s online field guide (I just found that by doing a Google search). I started a Pinterest board to keep up with all the birds we have seen. You can view it here.

Next Steps

I plan to begin purchasing some good regional field guides as well as a hard copy of Handbook of Nature Study when I buy my homeschooling supplies for next year. That way, we can look up all the information about the things we are finding!

We’re just getting started, but we are enjoying the journey together. It’s amazing to stop and think about all the creativity our God put into the world around us! He truly is amazing.

Our next steps:

  • Continue enjoying nature–the birds, the ants, the flowers, the seeds!
  • Buy Mama a nature journal.
  • Begin creating a collection of Regional Field Guides.
  • Buy a hard copy of Handbook of Nature Study.

Comments?  Advice?  Leave a comment and let’s talk below!

About the author

Tasha

Tasha Medellin is a head-over-heels-in-love wife and not-so-perfect mother of three who loves spending time outdoors, curling up with a good book, and simply basking in the riches of God's glorious grace.

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