And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Get Into Nature

I usually choose home school materials that have lessons all laid out including a worksheet or practice box, but my kids (read "all kids") tend to prefer fun, exciting studies with lots of opportunity to learn outside the box. I am *TRYING* to lean to their preferences so I jumped at the chance to review the Creative Nature Study from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. This 100 page e-book isn't a unit study but a guide for parents, home educators, and co-op groups to follow as they give their children living lessons in nature. Each of the 8 chapters addresses a specific way to study nature. The topics include everything from packing a nature bag to gardening to bird watching. There are ideas for creating a nature notebook, journaling, keeping a perpetual calendar, and more. I appreciate how the contributing authors compiled this useful information into a collection to aid in studying nature with my kids in a relaxed, uncontrolled way.

This semester I've had the children spend about 30 minutes outside each morning. Some days they race out to ride their bicycles or play with the dog but other days they seem to have trouble finding a way to pass the time. I'm excited to take some of the tips from this book to encourage them in undercover learning activities. One chapter of this book discusses nature scavenger hunts. Yesterday morning I encouraged the kids to find as many different types of leaves and rocks as they could. When their time was up they had a fun pile of nature findings. They enjoyed it so much that I can't wait to use more of the ideas in the Creative Nature Study from The Old Schoolhouse for future hunts.

Scavenger hunt finds. Sticks are always included in outdoor time.
I have failed at teaching my kids NOT to play with sticks.

Today after our seat work was finished, we took a short nature walk. There are so many ideas for unique nature walks included in the book. I felt my creative juices flowing and I had the kids do nature acrostics of their names. Apple and Speedy both loved this simple writing exercise! Personally I was thrilled that they did it with no complaints at all and they were creative in the process! The book includes 16 printables for journaling and studying various aspects of nature. I'm glad to have those available for the days I'm not feeling so creative. (I'm rarely creative.)

Speedy is searching for bugs. 

Apple writing out her acrostic.

The Creative Nature Study has encouraged me to explore more learning opportunities like these for my kids. I am excited that there are ideas in the book for every season. We are looking forward to utilizing more of the ideas included in the book into our school time.  I appreciate that this book encourages seeing the handiwork of God's creation while learning about science, writing, counting, sorting, and more. This makes it the perfect handbook for parents teaching multiple ages and grade levels. This guide doesn't have specific lessons all laid out, but all the unique ideas included in it make learning about nature while in nature easy and comfortable even for an inside the box mom like me! 

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