Have you heard of nature study before? Maybe you’re unfamiliar but it sounds interesting? Nature study is teaching a living science by observing nature. True nature study is sending your children outside to immerse themselves in the out of doors so that they can explore, discover, and observe nature. Nature study is the highest form of multi-sensory learning. Instead of reading facts out of a book one is forming their thoughts and making connections by first hand experience. Since nature study engages all of the senses it caters to each learning style to adequately teach science.
Now I grew up on seven deeply wooded acres. We had a pond naturally stocked with whatever the birds brought in. I played all spring, chasing tadpoles in the pond and observed the progression of changes as it developed into a frog. From there I was hooked on the subject of frogs, their habits, what they ate, and all the different types. My mother took pleasure in my interest and supported it by giving me a poster of the different types of frogs. She pinned it up in our kitchen area so I could always refer to it. It was in this way that I first learned the life cycle of the frog and the various types that lived in my backyard.
This is nature study, would you like to teach natural science this way to your own children?
I did, I knew how well it worked for me as a child and I wanted the same for my own children.
As a homeschool mom I easily provide this by getting outside several hours a day. I often use our local nature preserve but nature study is something you can do straight from your own backyard. I recall our first butterfly nature study, we raised painted ladies and my daughter (then 4) was enthralled. Just by observing and asking questions, she learned the life cycle of the butterfly. She is now 6 and has since progressed through gentle nature study to learn 5 other types of butterflies, butterfly anatomy, what they eat, and habitat requirements.
Sounds great right?
Now say you’re already there. Your children spend tons of time outside or this is something you’re now working towards. You’re also interested in using nature to teach a living science but would like a clear cut plan on how to implement it? Welcome to Nature Worth Observing, based off of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education. Charlotte’s philosophy relies on nature study to teach science and provides critical insight on what is worth observing in nature. Nature Worth Observing blends ‘the what” is worth observing in nature from Charlotte with the “how to” observe nature with nature observational prompts derived from Ann Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.
“An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing.” Charlotte Mason
A section on what to do using a quote by Charlotte as source of reference.
Followed by Nature Observation Prompts.
Then a living book reading selection that is separated by age PLUS a related poem for recitation or copy work. A section is provided for nature journaling for each nature study lesson.
Now say you’re not ready to be out in nature all the time. Maybe your children are not old enough to go out by themselves or your area is not set up for it? While you can do all of the lessons within this nature study curriculum by easily going outside. There is an optional supply list that simplifies nature study.
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I know you don’t see colorful worksheets for your children to fill in the blanks on but I want you to consider something. While it is true an already painted butterfly, with lines leading to body anatomy for your children to write in the terms, is visually appealing. When it comes to nature journaling your child is the one creating the worksheet. Think about the mental work that is involved in doing this; the attention to detail and the skill of developing careful observation. How much more do you think your children will learn and how well do you think they will retain that information if they sketch or watercolor paint it themselves?
What do you think of nature study? Do you use it to teach a living science? Want to give Nature Worth Observing a try?