Hey Y'all! I'm Christine, the blog manager here at Nature Supply Co! I am also a homeschooling momma of 5! I am really passionate about education and nature, two things that we here at Nature Supply hold in high regard. With kiddos headed back to school across North America this month we thought we'd share how we incorporate nature into our homes, in hopes that you might use these ideas in your homeschool, classroom or play time!
How to Create a Nature Led Study
One of my favorite ways to start a new study is with something we've found on a nature walk. In this case it was a Queen butterfly, a common Monarch look-a-like, which we did indeed mistake for a monarch! So much can be gained from the study of this one tiny creature. I have a 7 month, 2, 8, 11 and 13 year old...so let me break down exactly what we studied with our Monarch and Queen butterfly study! For the younger ones we studied the butterfly with our magnifying glass, talking about the color and texture, then we colored those colors in his notebook. My older kids drew and documented the shape, colors and measurements of the butterfly. We read about their habitat, migratory patterns, and went outside to water our milkweed we planted earlier in the year and to look for eggs. We had some read-a-loud poetry and literature time about butterflies and monarchs and my eldest researched and wrote a paper about the physics of how butterfly wings operate. All. From. A. Dead. Bug.
At least 3-4 times a week we try to do a study based off of a new discovery from nature in this manner. It could be a leaf from a tree, an animal track, the clouds in the sky, or in this case an insect. We often bring things home with us, but sometimes only take pictures, which I allow the kids to take, to study later at home. I try to take what we've discovered and spend a day or two researching it myself before we introduce it as a study.
Things To Consider As You Plan Your Nature Study
How would you quantify and describe your subject. Can you draw it? Paint it? Weigh it? Measure it with a ruler? Hand's down my kids' favorite part of their nature studies are documenting them in their nature journals.
What is the science and history behind your subject? Who first discovered it? Where are it's origins? How does it work? Are there any books or classical works of literature that you could read aloud or assign as readings?
Can you turn it into a craft? Some of our favorite crafts are "catching" the sun with cyanotype paper, creating weather in recycled cartons and jugs, making plaster molds of leaves, animal tracks and flowers, and making ALL the things from twigs and other treasures...tiny rafts, kites, picture frames, necklaces.
Can you observe it long term? How will your subject change over time? A day? A week? A year? Will it grow? Decompose? Become something new in the case of a seed, egg or caterpillar? If you can't watch it change could you discuss what circumstances would cause change?
A Few of Our Favorite Items To Gather
We have some nature studies that we return to every year, they are just that fun. Seeds, especially ones that change dramatically like a sunflower or acorn are favorites. Anything living is always a hit. Tadpoles, frogs, butterflies, caterpillars and other insects. Use caution anytime you are handling critters and handle with kindness for you and them! We also really love to study trees. The bark, leaves, root systems, they are majestic and ever-changing!
Our favorite tools to have on hand are a carrying bag for each child, a camera, some homemade soft play dough to make impressions, comfortable boots, bug-spray and water. We also carry a container and spoon for items that are cool...but not cool enough to touch. At home our favorite tools include recycled jars and jugs, nature journals and colored pencils or crayons, labeling stickers, a microscope, magnifying glass and an area to keep your treasures safe such as a cabinet, box or chest.
We'd love to hear how YOU incorporate nature into your home and children's education on our instagram page! Stay tuned tomorrow for the release of our new school-related designs! There is a *hint* in this post!