Sharing ideas, teaching tips and resources for the homeschool journey.
"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life." Charlotte Mason
Science lessons when you are homeschooling are so much easier than in the classroom. Why? Our children have more time and freedom, and they can explore. Nature study reinforces two essential components of the scientific process, observation and an enquiring mind. Nature Study also leads to lessons in geology, conservation, habitat, endangered species, land care and more.
Hideki Shirakawa, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000, said that long hours of nature study were critical in his formation as a scientist.
Most of our primary school science revolves around nature study and nature stories. We aim to do one nature study per week and one nature walk per month. I also encourage backyard observation.
Nature journaling is a form of notebooking. Put simply, it is keeping a journal about nature.
Nature journaling has no rules, so you will always get it right. It is a creative, expressive observation of nature.
I was not a nature buff but as our family have observed nature, recorded our findings and made entries into our nature journals we have all become students of nature.
When children first start to nature journal it should be simple. Their skills will grow over time and will be of great benefit in the future.
Many of the positive outcomes of journaling will not be fully realised until adulthood, like the serenity and satisfaction that comes when you remove yourself from the bustle of everyday life and reflect on the beauty of creation.
We started our nature journaling in a simple blank notebook and went into our backyard.
We aimed to make one entry in our nature journal per week.
The Wonderland of Nature was our ‘bread and butter’ resource for nature study when we first started.
We would read the text and then go outside on an expedition in search of our specimen.
We read how aphids are ant cows, so we went looking and found them being ‘milked’ in the mandarin tree.
We read about what clever engineers spiders were and we went outside to examine a spider’s web—with each lesson we discovered something different.
Then we got out our drawing pencils and sketch books to make an entry.
Other times I asked the kids to narrate from a nature book and gave them pictures to sketch or cut out, to help them create their nature pages.
Since the kids have become more aware of their surroundings they also create opportunities. Just recently there was great excitement when one of the kids discovered a praying mantis on the back porch, everyone was called and pictures were taken.
Taking your children to places where they can discover nature is an excellent springboard for a nature journal entry. Take a journal along and make an entry from a treasure you discover. Everyone can have their own journal.
I plan about two nature walks a term and the rest of my nature study is done about once a week using living books, nature stories and backyard observations.
Encouraging children to look at changes that they see in their own environment helps them to tune into their senses and begin to look outside and observe the subtle changes that happen each month of the year.
is a delightful model for nature watching. If you don't know where to start this book will give you some ideas and teach you about Australian nature at the same time.
Some ways you can use A Bush Calendar.
1. Read from the relevant month and then go outside and make your own observations in a nature journal.
Banksia and Bilbies- Seasons of Australia (if you can find it) can also be used as this tells what is happening each week of the year all over Australia.
2.Compare different climates. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden is written only three years prior to A Bush Calendar. Reading these two books in conjunction is a delightful way to study different climates and hemispheres.
3. If you need motivation this book is inspirational. Amy is so excited about what she sees it is infectious.
Here is a free Nature Watch Diary page to use with your nature walks and seasonal observations.
Firsthand experience with nature is wonderful but we all know we can’t see it all. Trips to the zoo to see giraffes and monkeys are a special treat rather than a regular event, so we us living books for learning about the nature’s wonders in other lands and habitats that we cannot directly observe.
Over the years I have collected a number of books that are good for nature study. I also have a number of drawing books that teach my children how to draw different animals.
Here are some nature booklist that may interest you.
We also have a number of free Nature Stories to Download.
The Wonderland of Nature and The Wonderland of Nature Journal
Is an Australian living science book for children. This resource also comes with a nature journal to help you get started.
A Bush Calendar by Amy Mack
An inspiring literary account of nature study in the Australian bush over 100 years ago.
Crowns of Fire
An Australian bushfire story rich in imagery, symbolism and beauty.
Make nature journaling a part of your homeschool! Find out how to nature journal with kids