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Nature Study, part 4: Beyond the Backyard/Tips and Resources

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on January 25, 2010

       Now it’s time to move to beyond the backyard!  Here are some final tips, ideas, and links:

 -Plan field trips just to enjoy nature—trips without any specific purpose or lesson plan. 

 -Plan field trips with specific studies in mind, such as a specific habitat, or specific plant or animal

 -Follow the Boy Scout’s motto and “be prepared”, especially if you are going on a longer explore/hikes.  Bring along sunscreen, water, snacks, hats, GPS or compass, cell phone, etc.  Be sure to wear proper shoes and clothes, and tell some one where you will be, and when you will be back.

 -Help your child feel like a real explorer.  Invest in some basic TOOLS: Magnifiers; binoculars, field guides; journals and colored pencils; bug jars; butterfly nets, etc.)

 -Tools for the serious explorer:  Flower presses, materials for pinning insects; collection boxes; microscopes; buckets and pond nets; etc. 

 -The website http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com has a series of lessons and challenges using the book, A Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock.  You can even read this book for free online on Google Books:  http://books.google.com/books?id=2nN5UIFicfsC&pg=PA1&dq=nature+study&hl=En#v=onepage&q=&f=false  (wonderful resource!)

 -Search for “nature study” on Google Books and you will find many old texts on nature study.  Many show that humanist emphasis, but others do contain some good sample lessons (skip over the teacher’s introductions, or read them with caution.)  Here is an example:


 Last Tips:

 Schedule a regular time for nature studies. 

 Find a balance between pointing things in nature out to your kids, and letting them discover nature for themselves.

 -Don’t be afraid to teach a formal lesson if you want to. 

 -Be available to answer science/nature questions, and observe nature whenever your children show interest.  Allow enough time for discussion.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest about it…then look up the answer with your child.

 -Nature study is only one part of teaching science.  Try to balance nature study—in the out of doors—with hands on work (lab work) and book learning (living books.)  Both formal and informal lessons have merit. 

 -Use your senses.  Learn to identify the sounds and smells of nature, as well as the things we can see with our eyes.

 -Remember that your interest and enthusiasm sets the example for your children. Be especially careful not to show your dislike for something that interests your child—in other words, try not to be squeamish about worms, frogs, snails and worse-—I draw the line at snakes.  

 -Play it by ear:  Sometimes your children will lose interest more quickly than you expect; other times, they won’t want to leave.  Try to allow yourself enough time to be flexible.

-Invest in books/literature to go along with your nature studies.  Some of our favorites include an out of print series from National Geographic–“Books for World Explorers” (many titles.)  Others we like:    Animals Born Alive and Well, Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones, Reason For A Flower  by Ruth Heller

Lets-Read-And-Find-Out Science books, by various authors  (Ducks Don’t Get Wet, Gregg’s Microscope, What Happens To a Hamburger)

Mousekin Takes A Trip, and other “Mousekin” books by Edna Miller 

One Small Square series, by Donald M. Silver and Patricia Wynne (Cactus Desert, Cave, Seashore, Woods, The Night Sky, Pond, and others.)

Pagoo, Minn of the Mississippi, and Seabird, by Holling C. Hollings 6+

Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

 Thorton Burgess’Animal Book, Thorton Burgess Bird Book, and many others by Thorton Burgess

   -Have fun!

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.   


One Response to “Nature Study, part 4: Beyond the Backyard/Tips and Resources”

  1. Kathy said

    Hi! Susan,
    Your blog is shaping up nicely! I am enjoying reading your nature study posts!

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