Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 days of homeschool tips: Day 4~Nature study

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Today I am going to share some nature study tips. I believe that getting outdoors is so vital for our children today, and taking it a step further, I think it's important to learn about the different things in our world too. I remember as a child wondering about so many things, like cattails for example. I just didn't know why those sticks looked like they had "hot dogs" on them! I would have loved to look at them closer, with more information about what they were, and what that "hot dog" thingy's purpose is.

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You bet we have studied Cattails! And, I finally got to touch one! They are very soft.
Children have such a natural curiosity and love for nature, but how do we get that love focused into a nature study? It's not always easy to have purposeful outdoor time, but it is possible. With a little planning and preparation you can help direct a child's focus on certain things outside.

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A nature journal is one of the best ways to help focus on a certain aspect of nature. You can take it with you out on your nature adventure, or you can record an entry when you get home by taking a picture , or bringing home a specimen of what you want to draw.

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A journal page that I did for pine trees.

Having a challenge or specific thing you are studying can be a great way to do a nature study. There is a great blog with many, many challenges and ideas called Handbook of Nature Study, such a great resource! I have also found recently Nature Explorers from Shining Dawn Books with some focused studies.

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Our outdoor challenge study of Queen Anne's Lace

Hiking or walking with a field guide can be a great way to study nature. We probably get most of our studies this way. Having the children look for certain things during different seasons is a great way to get them to look around, and often times they'll discover more than what they were looking for. For example, if I ask them to find a mushroom, they usually find all kinds of other cool things as they look closely at the decomposing logs.

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A walk at a local nature park is a nice place to go on a little adventure.

Books or internet for an indoor nature study is a great way to go when the weather is yucky, or you cannot find the thing you want to study in your area. You can use them for pictures to try and draw in your nature notebook, and the internet has some great videos that can can be watched for some of the outdoor experience (sights, and sounds). A lot can happen with books, but don't forget to go outside and experience nature if it is possible.

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We had to use books and movies to learn about woodpeckers as they are hard to spot, and the weather wasn't always nice when we were studying them.
Bringing nature indoors can be a fun experience for nature studies. Any pets or animals, raising caterpillars to butterflies, raising baby chicks, leaves, seeds, some plants, and so much more can be brought indoors. We've also done a rock study indoors with our rock collections. So much science is involved with nature studies. Hands on is always more fun.

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We had our butterflies to observe for a few days before we let them go. It was so fun to have them right there while we painted them.

 Local Gardens or Nature centers have a lot of interesting things in one small area. We love to go to our local garden's homeschool day every year, there is always something new to explore. We have also visited many nature centers on our camping trips, or nature walks. They share a lot of information about what is found in an area, and the kids really focus on some important things there. Often they have a ranger working there as well, and those guys are full of some great information too. The kids always like to meet a park ranger. Also, our state camp grounds have a junior ranger program that offers some great nature classes during our campouts. Those are a great source of nature studies as well.

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Exploring the pond station at the Silverton Garden's homeschool day. They spent a lot of time at this station.
Go geocaching or Letterboxing. These are little "treasure-hunts" in forests, parks and cities. You have to use clues or a gps to find your "treasure," and often it takes you through some interesting terrain. We have had some great discoveries while doing these.

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Found our Oregon Coast Quest "treasure". This was a fun hunt.


Field trips can help you experience nature studies that are truly unique. The zoo is obviously one place to experience a lot of nature. The aquarium also. We've also gone to a rock museum, and the humane society. A farm field trip is a great experience too. One of our favorites was a field trip to an elk farm.

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A unique experience getting to see real live elk up close was a very memorable nature study. This was a very interesting field trip, and we learned a lot.

Give a child the camera. It's amazing how closely they will look around at things when given the camera. It's fun to see nature through their eyes too. My teen really likes to have the camera now during our outdoor time which is great because I'm at a point where I don't always want to be looking at everything through a camera. I often times want to just enjoy looking around. It's a win-win, and she gets some great shots. I believe younger children should get the camera too. They will look for things rather than rush around (at least that is the case with my boys), so if they can handle the camera let them give it a try.

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That about wraps up some of my ideas for getting out and studying nature. Now I want to get outside and do something! Maybe we'll go letterboxing tomorrow...

If you want to see some more tips from other great bloggers just click on the image or just start with the links below for a great place to start.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joesette @ Learning Curve

3 comments:

  1. We did a ton of nature study when my kids were younger, and they absolutely loved it!

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  2. We need to do more nature study as I know my kids would love it. They love the outdoors.

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  3. I've never been great at nature study. We do love geocaching, though, and I never really thought about how much nature we were enjoying!

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