What does our homeschool look like when it comes to nature study?  Probably not what you think.  I don’t lesson plan or come with an agenda.  It’s simply a time to slow down and OBSERVE.

So here is what it looked like for us today.  We went outside before it got too warm.  I did some reading with one child while the youngest ones played, then I called all the kids together for nature study.
I have noticed a lot of random mushrooms popping up in our yard, in our neighbors yards and in the field behind our house.  So, I told the kids – go, notice the mushrooms.  Draw them.  Take a picture. Tell me if they are all the same kind.
That was the only instruction, but the kids surpass my expectations sometimes.  They found some magnifying glasses.  One girl even dressed in science goggles and gloves.  They examined and drew and they started noticing other things too.  They compared a few types of flowers.  They also noticed a residue on our crepe myrtle trees, which we figured out is a fungus.
Within the week, I hope to pull out our Apologia Botany book and look up some about the flowers and mushrooms we saw.
So, here are some ways to approach your Nature Study.
OBSERVE
  • Pick one aspect of nature or creation for your kids to focus on.  This can just be a starting point, though, if they make discoveries.
  • Use some form of art to aid in the observation process.  This causes you to slow down and really observe what is there.  You have to pay attention to detail if you are drawing something or writing notes about it.  HomeSchoolScientist recently had an article about science and art.
RESEARCH
  • Later, look up information about whatever you were observing.
  • You might have the older kids research a topic themselves or maybe everyone reads together a chapter of Apologia.
  • Watch Magic School Bus, Sonlight Discover & Do, or Planet Earth.
 
TIE THINGS TOGETHER
  • Point the kids to things you have already been learning – such as CC Science memory work.
  • Point the kids to Scripture or spiritual concepts.
  • Point out how aspects of creation tie together – insects with plants for example.
PLAN FOR FUTURE OBSERVATIONS/TAKE ACTION
Maybe your study inspired further research or action.  For example, today we noticed the fungus on the tree.  A quick google search told how to make a spray to kill the fungus.  You can then make it one of the kid’s jobs to take care of that tree over the coming weeks.
Other nature studies are also best done over time.  Here are a few examples:
  • Weather charting
  • Gardening
  • Record of season changes
  • Moon chart
  • Shadows and how sun affects the plants
MOM’s OWN STUDY
I think an important part of homeschooling is the parents learning alongside the kids.  Mom doesn’t have to already know everything, but if Mom learns (for example) the CC Science memory work along with the kids, she can easily bring up that information at a teachable moment.  So, when we are looking at flowers this morning, I ask them, “What are the parts of the flower?” We can say them, almost from rote memory. But then, we take the time to identify them on a real plant.  And we never had to open a book.
I have sometimes just read the Apologia books by myself or with only one child.  Later I can bring up the information to the kids without having to read it word for word.  This works better for me in having so many kids or differing ages.
Don’t forget to check out the Days of Nature Conversations!
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