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a49erfangirl@charter.net

Nature Studies

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Today we are starting our weekly nature studies. I am actually really excited as we are doing this with other homeschoolers. We may have to dodge the rain drops today but we are excited. We will be studying the different insects. We will be looking for eggs and caterpillars as well. I know we will stumble across different bugs on the milk week in the prairie side of the trail. On the river side it's enjoying just the different trees and other stuff. The kids will draw in their nature journals. Collect items they find on their way. We will take pictures. We will come back and look some of it up. I think today their hands on craft will be a collage as well as a sculpture of one of the bugs with clay. 

What kind of things do you do in your nature studies? Do you add crafts? Is it just journaling? Child led?

I am interested to know what others do. 

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We are just starting nature studies this year. We are looking at trees right now and working on bark and leaf rubbings. We also have plans of drawing the same tree once every season to see how it changes. I am giving my kids ideas, following their leads from my ideas and if they find something they are really interested in, we will dig deeper and add more as we see fit.

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We do a lot of informal nature study, but we're not good at nature journaling.  They don't like to draw while we're outside and I hate fooling with the supplies, so I think journaling when we come inside might work better.  I'm hoping to work on that more this year.  Sometimes we look up things on my phone as we find it, or read living books about something of interest.  I do keep field guides available.  Occasionally we'll fill out a fun observational worksheet, like for the solar eclipse or when we "dissected" a pumpkin. 

We've done tree studies, leaf and bark rubbings, mushroom spore prints, we look for turtles or frogs or watch tadpoles in the "mud puddle" after excessive rains, observed lots of birds and bugs, my daughter likes pressing flowers, sensory walks and scavenger hunts are fun too.

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I've always loved the idea of intentional nature studies with journaling, sketching, collecting, etc etc but any time I've tried my kids have been really resistant and it seemed the "assignments" took the FUN out of just being in nature (not saying this would be true for everyone just that it is for my kids). So I just take them places with lots of nature and now we live on a small farm so I just kick them outside!! If we find something cool or they ask about something we go deeper as much as they want. My husband loves to take them and look under logs and rocks and use any teachable moment he can find with nature, science etc so they get that but we don't push it anymore because it doesn't work for them.

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This is another one of those things I've wanted to do but never seemed to have time for on a regular basis.  We do go for a lot of walks, and note the changing season, look for cicada shells and that sort of thing, but not really sure we're getting as much out of it as others are, but for now, it's what works.

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3 hours ago, Sabrina S said:

I've always loved the idea of intentional nature studies with journaling, sketching, collecting, etc etc but any time I've tried my kids have been really resistant and it seemed the "assignments" took the FUN out of just being in nature (not saying this would be true for everyone just that it is for my kids). So I just take them places with lots of nature and now we live on a small farm so I just kick them outside!! If we find something cool or they ask about something we go deeper as much as they want. My husband loves to take them and look under logs and rocks and use any teachable moment he can find with nature, science etc so they get that but we don't push it anymore because it doesn't work for them.

Yes, this is exactly how it is for us!  I think this is why we're terrible at keeping a nature journal.  We don't lack the nature experiences - I just need to be content with letting them enjoy the experience instead of trying to "document" everything too.  

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On 9/14/2017 at 2:50 PM, momsheartblog@gmail.com said:

Yes, this is exactly how it is for us!  I think this is why we're terrible at keeping a nature journal.  We don't lack the nature experiences - I just need to be content with letting them enjoy the experience instead of trying to "document" everything too.  

There are certainly benefits of documenting, both for the students and for your homeschool records but I have to remind myself that the experience is more important and just let them experience it in their own way and make gentle suggestions to write, draw, etc, sometimes they actually take those suggestions.

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On September 6, 2017 at 8:32 AM, a49erfangirl@charter.net said:

Today we are starting our weekly nature studies. I am actually really excited as we are doing this with other homeschoolers. We may have to dodge the rain drops today but we are excited. We will be studying the different insects. We will be looking for eggs and caterpillars as well. I know we will stumble across different bugs on the milk week in the prairie side of the trail. On the river side it's enjoying just the different trees and other stuff. The kids will draw in their nature journals. Collect items they find on their way. We will take pictures. We will come back and look some of it up. I think today their hands on craft will be a collage as well as a sculpture of one of the bugs with clay. 

What kind of things do you do in your nature studies? Do you add crafts? Is it just journaling? Child led?

I am interested to know what others do. 

Our nature studies this year are taken from the outline suggested from the 5th grade science course put out by ABeka. Rather than do the science curriculum, we're studying chemistry. Thus, I took the outline from the 5th grade science course - my ten year old's book - and turned it into our nature study lessons. We studied birds; now we're moving into insects and then other areas of focus.

 

Great question!

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On September 13, 2017 at 11:05 AM, momsheartblog@gmail.com said:

We do a lot of informal nature study, but we're not good at nature journaling.  They don't like to draw while we're outside and I hate fooling with the supplies, so I think journaling when we come inside might work better.  I'm hoping to work on that more this year.  Sometimes we look up things on my phone as we find it, or read living books about something of interest.  I do keep field guides available.  Occasionally we'll fill out a fun observational worksheet, like for the solar eclipse or when we "dissected" a pumpkin. 

We've done tree studies, leaf and bark rubbings, mushroom spore prints, we look for turtles or frogs or watch tadpoles in the "mud puddle" after excessive rains, observed lots of birds and bugs, my daughter likes pressing flowers, sensory walks and scavenger hunts are fun too.

I used to have the children journal, but it became a chore and killed their love of learning it. This year we're studying nature but in a more organic manner. I also incorporate other media forms into the focus and not merely journaling. We make models of clay, do cast prints, and more. You've got some great ideas!

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On September 14, 2017 at 9:28 AM, Sabrina S said:

I've always loved the idea of intentional nature studies with journaling, sketching, collecting, etc etc but any time I've tried my kids have been really resistant and it seemed the "assignments" took the FUN out of just being in nature (not saying this would be true for everyone just that it is for my kids). So I just take them places with lots of nature and now we live on a small farm so I just kick them outside!! If we find something cool or they ask about something we go deeper as much as they want. My husband loves to take them and look under logs and rocks and use any teachable moment he can find with nature, science etc so they get that but we don't push it anymore because it doesn't work for them.

Absolutely!

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I really wish I could go on a nature walk/hike with someone who is experienced at "finding things". I see families who come home with bones and other interesting finds. I often wonder how they do this. We're constantly reminded to "STAY ON THE TRAIL!!!", but if we do this how are we supposed to find these treasures? Then, you come across people who want to lecture you for not staying on the trail or picking up finds.

How do you manage this?

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What a great thread!

Because we travel full-time, we are ALWAYS having to look things up--our country (USA) is amazingly diverse, so we're learning about different plants, animals, trees, etc. wherever we are. 

We aren't very religious about our nature journals, but we do a TON of nature observation. When people ask how many pets we have, I tell the kids not to count the worms, caterpillars, or the weevil my daughter keeps in a Tupperware container in a cupholder in our travel trailer. 

This year I'm sending them out more religiously once a week--draw SOMETHING or pick it or press it--whatever. It's not intense. They learn so much already, that I just want them to have the journals to look back on, not necessarily to teach. 

Great conversation!

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On 9/18/2017 at 5:59 AM, cbagasao@gmail.com said:

What a great thread!

Because we travel full-time, we are ALWAYS having to look things up--our country (USA) is amazingly diverse, so we're learning about different plants, animals, trees, etc. wherever we are. 

We aren't very religious about our nature journals, but we do a TON of nature observation. When people ask how many pets we have, I tell the kids not to count the worms, caterpillars, or the weevil my daughter keeps in a Tupperware container in a cupholder in our travel trailer. 

This year I'm sending them out more religiously once a week--draw SOMETHING or pick it or press it--whatever. It's not intense. They learn so much already, that I just want them to have the journals to look back on, not necessarily to teach. 

Great conversation!

Love this, "draw, press, whatever SOMETHING." Relaxed but still documenting! I am going to get them bug catchers and containers in the spring. I meant to order tagging kits for monarchs but they are here now and I forgot so it is on my calendar to get kids in august next year to be ready for their September migration through our area. 

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We do the journaling at the end. Sometimes it's while we are outside and sometimes it is inside. She loves to draw so I have her draw one thing that she saw and then I have her write a sentence about it. We make a point to get together with a friend every week. We might have a focus we might now. My daughter is always exploring no matter if we are just out on a walk or not. Next week we will hopefully really get into more studies but sometimes it is just as fun to let them led what they are learning. I found a bug hotel in the basement. One that my daughter can build. One that she can put her bugs in. Will have to dig that out this weekend. The leaves are starting to change here so it's been really fun going out on walks and noticing the colors. It hasn't peeked yet thankfully. 

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We use a year long program, Exploring Nature with Children.  We use daily observation in our garden to do drawings, narration and note taking.  We also track the moon and weather patterns along with bird observation.  Nature is so healing for my little guy.

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I just realized that our nature studies usually are filled with going into beehives and catching bugs for my daughter who is in 4-H Entomology. It that counts!

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One great way to have them do some recording without all the art supplies sis to let them snap a photograph, either with a camera, or on your phone, of something they find on your nature walks. Then they cans how it to Dad or Grandma and tell them about it later. Our oldest still loves spending time in nature, thanks in part to all those hours spent observing when she was little.

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20 hours ago, carolemmert14@gmail.com said:

One great way to have them do some recording without all the art supplies sis to let them snap a photograph, either with a camera, or on your phone, of something they find on your nature walks. Then they cans how it to Dad or Grandma and tell them about it later. Our oldest still loves spending time in nature, thanks in part to all those hours spent observing when she was little.

I actually keep my cell phone on me because we're often outside around the time husband is leaving for work, and because they're always wanting me to look up something or take a picture of their most recent creature-find.  I like the idea of using a picture to "narrate" what they learned later.  

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I have on my phone on me as well. My daughter is always wanting to take a picture of something she finds. So we look at the pictures later. We look things up as well when we are out. She tells her Dad all about it when he gets home or we get home.  Last week we went to the fishery. The chinook salmon are swimming back up stream to spawn. We watched them jump the ladders. I could watch them all day. They are so determined. We spent a while there. Next week we are going to tour the fishery and of course check out the ladders and viewing area to see how many are in now. Then we did a little reading on them and some nature journaling and drawing. I love this time of year when the salmon and at the trout are swimming up stream. 

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On 9/16/2017 at 1:12 PM, Cristina@ahomeschoolmom.com said:

I really wish I could go on a nature walk/hike with someone who is experienced at "finding things". I see families who come home with bones and other interesting finds. I often wonder how they do this. We're constantly reminded to "STAY ON THE TRAIL!!!", but if we do this how are we supposed to find these treasures? Then, you come across people who want to lecture you for not staying on the trail or picking up finds.

How do you manage this?

We go in the middle of a weekday morning when hardly anyone else is around...

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On December 16, 2017 at 7:42 AM, carolemmert14@gmail.com said:

We go in the middle of a weekday morning when hardly anyone else is around...

Do you ever find anything? I've always wondered how families spot those little tiny bones - and then know exactly which kind of bones they are - and other things like that. We never come across things of that nature. Plants, mushrooms, lichen and such; but no bones or snakes skins, etc.

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This is a topic that I really struggle on. As a child I was outside all the time. My parents lived on eight acres near much more farm land and woods. But something happened as I grew older and I just don't get outside a lot. It's either too cold, too hot, mosquitoes, or the mole holes grab ankles to twist them. I want to get better at it though. I want my kiddos to have some more outside. 

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On 1/7/2018 at 2:56 PM, Cristina@ahomeschoolmom.com said:

Do you ever find anything? I've always wondered how families spot those little tiny bones - and then know exactly which kind of bones they are - and other things like that. We never come across things of that nature. Plants, mushrooms, lichen and such; but no bones or snakes skins, etc.

Have you ever looked at The Handbook of Nature Studies by Anna Botsford Comstock? It might help you get an idea of what to look for, and where. Also, we used a lot of children's field guides to look up things we didn't know. Our state park does guided hikes several times a year - sometimes with a park naturalist, and sometime guided by a local botanist or someone from the Audubon club or Sierra Club.

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8 hours ago, carolemmert14@gmail.com said:

Have you ever looked at The Handbook of Nature Studies by Anna Botsford Comstock? It might help you get an idea of what to look for, and where. Also, we used a lot of children's field guides to look up things we didn't know. Our state park does guided hikes several times a year - sometimes with a park naturalist, and sometime guided by a local botanist or someone from the Audubon club or Sierra Club.

Yes; we own a copy. We have a lot of incredible resources, but rarely find anything here in Cali. Of course, perhaps this is because we are too busy look at the trees and not the ground? LOL

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