Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ideas For and How to Do a Nature Study

“A love of nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humor...”
~ Charlotte Mason, Victorian Era Educator

With summer on the way (or any time of year for that matter), you may want to do a family project that is both fun and educational. Something that will be a keepsake for years to come and perhaps be a family project every season...  How about doing a RELAXED nature study? I would suggest just a few tools of the trade to get started:

First off, a composition book for each member of the family. This will be the place for you to record your information, sketches, quotes and observations. When finished, this will become a keepsake (don't forget to put the date on the inside cover).   I like using composition books because they are inexpensive (at the back to school sales) but classic and when all is said and done, they look nice and neat on your shelf (or stack neatly in a plastic storage container). I would then paste a pretty label, sticker or handmade picture on the blank space of each cover to give each family member a sense of ownership and style (nature related of course).  Isn't this fun already?

magnifying glass would be a useful tool in order to observe any specimens that are too small to get detail. They can be purchased fairly inexpensively.  Depending on your budget you can keep a "family" one to share on hand or purchase one per "naturalist".
Besides a pencil and glue stick, I would also add a nice set of quality colored pencils (again, if your budget allows, one set can be shared with the whole family of course).  My favorite are the Prismacolor Colored Pencils as they bring such beauty to any page!

At this point you are ready to begin!  If you are anything like me, sometimes you need a little inspiration or perhaps you want to keep up a family read-aloud time in your home in the summer.  If this is the case, I would recommend a book that you can either read together once a day, once a week or whenever you need ideas for your nature study book entries.  We have begun reading The Story Book of Science (Yesterday's Classics) by Jean Henri Fabre.  This is an excellent book about nature written by a French naturalist in the early 1900's and is creation based and rich in vocabulary.  His love of God and creation are pouring through this little gem of a book and I know you will become inspired as you read through these pages together (you will also grow in vocabulary as well).  The author writes about his summer with his nephew and nieces as he educates them about the living world around them in story form which we think is very fun!

For example, the first couple of chapters discuss ants.  After this interesting account you will be inspired to go outside and observe them on your own. Draw and color them, label which type of ant they are (a field guide or internet would be helpful in this area) and include a diagram of an ant by labeling the body parts. When everyone is hot and sweaty, come back into the house and find the Bible verse about ants to include as another nature study book entry (Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard...).  

Maybe it is just too hot outside and you want to do an "indoor"nature study entry. Consider the chapters in The Story Book of Science (Yesterday's Classics) on volcanoes (or any other chapter with a subject that won't be available on your back porch) and do a different type of entry based on the author's information rather than what you are gathering outside.  Draw a volcano and diagram it. Include a list of volcanoes in your notebook (each family member can see if they can come up with one based on what they already know or learned about). Discuss the idea that Sodom and Gomorrah may have been destroyed by a volcano and why obedience to God is important.

Another thing we like to add to our nature journal are lists. We keep adding information as it comes to us and it is very enjoyable. Some of our lists are famous naturalists, bugs we find around our home and types of butterflies we have come across, etc. Feel free to decorate the pages with drawings for a creative outlet.

Another idea is to take your nature journal with you on your family travels.  Include samples of the nature around you such as pasting in photographs of pretty shells you find on the beach (don't forget to find a field guide and label it when you get home!).  Or include tree bark rubbings (cut and paste into nature book once done, find in field guide/online and label tree when you get home)... Include a poem about trees next to your entry... Pressed flowers or leaves you find can be added and pasted in... Include a Bible verse about flowers right next to your entry on flowers, etc.

Or simply go on nature walks and record what you see in your notebooks. Draw the pictures of the birds you see, the trees you like and any other item of interest. Getting fresh air and discovering the little details of nature are all beneficial to the family!

I think you get the idea.  By the time summer is over you will have a treasury of pictures, lists, diagrams, poems and Bible verses all about nature and all recorded inside one volume (not to mention all the quality time spent discussing as a family the various concepts and lessons).  This will be something to review and appreciate in the years to come! Perhaps you will continue the study every summer.  Perhaps you will continue throughout the year. However it works for your family, one thing is for certain, Nature Study Journals would only take about an hour a day but the growth and fellowship will last a life time!

"But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall teach thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee; Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." 
~ Job 12:7-10

This fiction book written to encourage mothers on nature study inspired me toward nature study and was such a pleasant and peaceful read!

Discovering Nature and Science Series

For those of you who love this idea but don't have the time to implement it, I highly recommend these Charlotte Mason style nature studies {Affiliate Link}. The workbooks have prepared everything for the student to do on their own. There is excellent literature and nature study blended together in this curriculum (along with simple arts and crafts, hands-on activities, research, etc.). 


  1. Hi, dear JES,
    I have a friend from church with 4 boys and she will be writing a few posts on raising boys from a home-school perspective. I wanted to include something on nature journals in the first post, and I thought I remembered that you did something on nature journals. Somehow I missed actually reading it. NOW, I am! *smile* I will be linking to you x2 as an example of a nature journal. I love everything you do!! Love you so much, sister in the Lord !

  2. Discovering Nature Series is the best! We've used it for all ages for a few years now. We love it so much! Every one of us!:)

    Thanks for mentioning it-it's beautifully written.

    1. Yes, we love it. Mary's Meadow is a favorite! :)

  3. We are on A Nature Walk with Aunt Bessie for 1 of our children and loving it! The stories and activities are so well written...and already prepared for me! :)

    Love your site as always!

    1. We read that one too and loved it! I was surprised at how interesting it was for ALL of us! Did you get the Queen Homeschool Nature Study version?

  4. I didn't know there was a different version! I only saw the 1. But it IS so interesting for us all-you're absolutely right! I hadn't realized how much I love bugs :) I'm ordering Mary's Meadow for fall and that one looks great too! I REALLY loved the Every Living Herb (all natural living) for our oldest. Fascinating! I found that I actually loved to check his science every day with that one :) I'm about to order every subject from Queens Homeschooling this year I swear! They are the best! Except Geography..we use your genius notebooking idea. Thanks as always :)

    1. I think you will love Mary's Meadow! The story is so sweet and the nature study is wonderful as always! Glad you like Queen Homeschool! They are top notch and my #1 favorite too! And glad you like our Geography Notebooks! That makes my day! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...