Nature Study

Here are a collection of all my Nature Study posts and free downloads ~ Click the titles to read the full post:

Nature study is one of Charlotte Mason’s key components of her educational principals. She encouraged her students to be outdoors daily and to develop the habit of keen interest, observation, detailed comparisons, and an ever-growing knowledge of plants, seasons, living creatures, and geography.  Her approach was natural, gentle and fun!  She encouraged each child  to keep a nature journal ~

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.  Every day’s walk gives him something to enter …” (Vol 1, p.54-55)

Don’t Teach Nature Lessons!

Nature walks should be somewhat spontaneous opportunities for discovery. Learn from my early homeschooling mistakes and DO NOT treat nature study like an outdoor class time — it kills the child’s natural curiosity and delight!  My older children eventually refused to participate in nature study.  Instead, look for ways to include regular weekly or daily outings in nature and provide some simple tools and methods to encourage your children to notice, explore, engage and enjoy nature.

“We are awaking to the use of nature-knowledge, but how we spoil things by teaching them!”

Formation of Character, p. 396

Making time for nature study

This post encourages nature study and includes some really quick, fun nature ideas with free downloads to encourage wonderful nature experiences, some which lead to nature journaling and further study or research. Plan your nature study at least once a week. We used our Theme of the Week.

Make a Bag for Nature Study

Children love to carry all their nature study things in a dedicated nature study bag, conveniently hanging on the back door. We had pencil bags with pencils, paint brushes, a fine liner, a hardcover spiral notebook (which is handy as it offers support when drawing outdoors), watercolour sets and watercolour pencils (they are a easy way to paint outdoors), a magnifying glass, a box or bottle for nature finds and collections . Click here for the step-by-step tutorial how to make the nature study bags.

Starting nature study with The Handbook of Nature Study

Anna Botsford Comstock wrote a very comprehensive Handbook of Nature which homeschoolers and nature lovers use.  Barb at Homeschool Nature Study has has taken this massively thick handbook and broken it in to seasonal and thematic challenges, creating rich and valuable resources bringing Anna’s Handbook of Nature to life.  Her site is filled with family friendly and easy nature study ideas, free downloads and wonderful, comprehensive eBooks to purchase and you can scroll down to subscribe to join Barb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges. I wrote how I organized all our Nature Study Notebook pages.

Here are a few of our Outdoor Hour Challenge posts:

Smash This Nature Journal

I created several fun, adventure outdoors journaling ideas in booklets I call “Smash This Nature Journal”!  There is something wonderfully liberating being instructed to tear, crumple, stain, wet and mess in a nature journal.  This fresh approach will liven any nature walk and appeals to young and old, boys and girls. Be warned ~ you and your Nature Journal may get dirty or wet, but you should have some real creative fun! I have created three Smash This Nature Journals which you can order on my Packages Page.

Nature Study Notice Board

I used a notice board to display Nature Study prompts which included:

  1. Nature Photo of the Week
  2. Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid
  3. Nature Study tray display You can read about the simple joys of having a nature tray

Cultivating Curiosity In Nature Study – John Muir Laws

John Muir Laws encourages folk to keep a nature journal so that they develop sustained, compassionate attention, and as they sketch and make notes, which helps one to really be there, they form deep connections with nature. He believes that the key to developing a closer connection with nature is by deliberately enhancing your powers of observation and wonder.  In the YouTube Nature Connection through Deliberate Attention and Curiosity, he explains how the methods of a field naturalist help you notice more, remember what you discovered, and be actively curious.

Introducing Botanical Artist Lara Gastiger

Her works are finely detailed, beautifully painted and wonderfully intricate.   Her artistic and observation skills allow her to capture all the small details, the tiniest veins and fibres, the uniqueness of each specimen and form amazing complex nature journal pages.

She keeps a perpetual nature journal. A perpetual journal is nature journal that you keep coming back to, year after year, adding new sketches and notes to the same week and month’s pages until you have the most wonderful collection of nature entries spanning all the seasons over several years! I wrote about this in more detail – Perpetual Nature Journal Joys.

Nature Journal InspirationMiddlewood Journal

Helen is a freelance writer and illustrator and a regular contributor to the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. She teaches weekly nature journaling classes and various workshops. Her journal pages are filled with detailed sketches, all painted and labelled accurately, and her notes  and observational recordings frame her pages.  They are works of art and utterly inspiring!

Inspired by Nature ~ Famous Nature Quotes Copywork Pages

These famous nature-inspired quotes are really beautiful.  Following every quote is a lined section and then a writing prompt.  These questions stimulate the child’s personal response to the quote. This post includes FREE nature quotes Copywork pages for younger to middle school children with fairly short and relatively easy to understand quotes as well as slightly longer nature quotes and deeper and more personal writing prompts for older to high school children. About Nature Study, Charlotte Mason said,

“Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.  We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” 

(Vol. 1, p. 61)

John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages

I was struck by John Muir’s real passion and love for nature and the Creator which he expressed so beautifully in his quotes. Read here to my introduction of the famous naturalist John Muir.  I created a collection of his beautiful and inspirational nature quotes for copywork pages.

Mom’s Nature Journal Posts

I love the simple joy of doing a monthly Mom’s Nature Journal entry.  Charlotte Mason calls it “Mother Culture“ and it is a wonderful way of learning and growing along with our children.  It is also an activity that can extend long past these busy homeschooling years to become part of your own personal creative and observational life!

Free Never-ending Card Butterfly Lifecycle

Although the never-ending card seems very complicated, it is essentially made from  2 base cards glued together at the top and bottom corners. The cuts and folds on these base cards allow the card to open horizontally or vertically providing 4 different page templates.  Cut and paste all the images for each layout on to the base cards. Viola!  The never-ending card is ready!

Calendar of Firsts & free downloads

A Calendar of Firsts is a calendar where a child would record the day that they saw any ‘first’ observations seen on their walks to monthly pages, adding to the same page each year.  This way of journaling encourages a child to naturally learn what happens in nature that time of the year. This calendar of firsts would build up year after year, with the child adding their new firsts as they found them.  This is similar to keeping a perpetual nature journal or adding a sketch to a Phenology Wheel. You can find your free downloads in the post.

May these nature study posts and downloads inspire many happy nature study moments and make memories of the beautiful creation we live in.

Blessings, Nadene