In my homeschool planning for the fall, I'm working on including something called "nature studies". I've come across this while reading about Charlotte Mason and her philosophy. She believed that nature studies and time outdoors is important for children. I readily agree! My husband is wonderful at knowing the names of many different birds and pointing out small animals that he sees while we are out driving or walking around. Lucy is already able to name several birds and Julia loves little bugs and things she finds outside. I'd love for my children to grow up with even more of an appreciation for nature and knowledge about God's wonderful creation. The Bible says that nature reveals God to us, what better way to grow closer to Him than by learning about His creation? (Job 12:7-10, Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:19-20) Our Kindergarten curriculum includes notes in the teachers manual encouraging us to go outside and enjoy nature about once a week. I've been gathering resources and brainstorming ideas to make our nature studies time fun and interesting for the girls.
Here are some of the resources we have available in our home and ideas I'm planning to incorporate into our days:
Bug Identification Book - We don't have one yet, but will be purchasing one.
Encyclopedia of Animals - This is a great book, full of pictures and lots of information. Lucy loves to pull this book out and flip through it just looking at all of the animals.
bug boxes, magnifying glasses, nets - The girls got these for their birthdays this summer.
bubbles, chalk, outdoor toys
CLP Nature readers - These are fun little informative nature stories to read aloud. I remember reading them as a child! We have books K and 1 to use this year.
nature collection boxes - I'm planning to use old egg cartons to let the girls make rock collections, leaf collections, etc.
bowl inside for treasures - I want to get a nice wooden bowl to keep on the coffee table or dining room table for treasures that end up following us inside. (big pine cones, extra special rocks, etc.)
journals of some sort - This book is great, but mostly applies to older kids. I'd love to follow the concept on a lower level and have the girls try to draw a tree or something simple while outside. I may make nature journals for them at some point or just take clipboards and paper with us when we go out.
nature walks - Both of my girls love to go for a stroller ride or a short walk through the neighborhood. I've not done so yet, but have heard of putting duct tape bracelets on so that they can stick little flowers, leaves, etc to it as we walk. Another idea I want to try is to bring some plastic baggies with us and categorize things that we find - one bag for special leaves, one for sticks, etc.
nature crafts - Making things like leaf rubbings, pine cone bird feeders, or pressing flowers are always fun.
bird feeder - We have a bird feeder right outside our front window, and plan to put up a few more of them this fall. (Also, see my post about our homemade bird book.)
a nice picnic blanket ready to go at any moment
Our curriculum has science/ nature ideas included in the work that will take us outside as well. Whenever it relates to what we are studying (or even if it doesn't!), we plan to take outdoor trips to the zoo, beach, etc. We also have quite a few nice park areas around our house with walking trails to explore. In fact, my husband took the photos in this post this morning.
This is my list for now, I hope some of it inspires you to think about ways to get your little ones outside and enjoying it! Do you have other resources you enjoy using for "nature studies"? Please share!