Some our best memories and greatest learning opportunities have come from our time spent outdoors together. I was first introduced to the idea of nature study after reading, For the Children's Sake, Foundation of Education for Home and School. A Charlotte Mason Companion also has a few helpful chapters on the subject. Our nature explorations are always focused on seeing, experiencing, touching, sparking interest and creating a foundation on which to pursue further study.
"Let them at once get into touch with nature, and a habit is formed with will be a source of delight through life. We are all meant to be naturalists, each to his own degree..."
Aside from spending time in nature itself together as a family we have found these additional activities well worth the extra effort.
- Make a Plan - We are lucky enough to live close enough to a wooded area for the kids to explore on their own and a set of trails that lead by a creek. But I'm always happy when we plan ahead and seek out new locations and meet up with a friend, especially those passionate about nature study.
- Join a Nature Group - We are incredibly grateful to have found a local group and always enjoy meeting new families and exploring new areas. If that isn't an option, there are also online options, such as The Wild Explorers Club.
- Seek out a Master Naturalist - Our local library makes this incredibly easy and offers several free classes. But if thats not the case, it might be worth the extra time and effort to arrange on your own, especially if there are a particular areas of interests. The Virginia Wild Life Association happened to offer a live animal presentation at a local event and I was so impressed with everything the children soaked up from those 30 mins. I deeply believe we learn and absorb more from those who are passionate and deeply connected to their subject of instruction.
- Plan Field Trips - I never regret the time spent exploring botanical gardens, cave systems, water falls, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and most recently camping trips. I think we all enjoy a change in pace from our normal local nature spots.
Along the way we have collected a few resources that have helped to support and deepen our nature studies.
- The Handbook of Nature Study and The Curious Nature Guide - Two great books we enjoy referencing.
- Nature Notebooks - For sketching their finds and recording descriptions.
- Binoculars - the kids really enjoy having their own "grown up" pair.
- Microscope - This is by far our favorite purchase! We are huge fans fan of this model with its forward-mounted binocular viewing head that make it much easier for the kids to use.
- Field Guides - The library is always our go to for these type of reference books.
- Backpacks - To be filled with field guides, notebooks, pencils, a simple first aid kit, snacks, water, binoculars, magnifying glasses, and a plastic plastic bag or containers for collecting specimens. I love that these Fjallraven backpacks for kids are made from dirt-resistant and water-resistant fabric that can be wiped clean and are on the TOP of our Amazon wish list!
- I really resonate with what Jodi Mockabee shares on 'Nature Notebooking' and 'Nurturing Through Nature' in her beautifully curated work, Whole Families.