Nature Study

Nature Study has been the single most enjoyable addition to our homeschool days. I used to approach the teaching of science much the same way I approached math: a textbook. Without confidence in my own ability to "teach" science I thought the only way to present it would be from a textbook. Wrong. Since implementing weekly Nature Walks our FAMILY has learned so much about our Creator's creation!

I was put-off at first by the idea of learning scientific facts this way. But the more I thought about it - and prayed about it - the more the Lord began to open my eyes to the fact that all of science is nothing more than the details of God's creation! In any feild of science we find our Creator God and the work of His hands. To study science with this in mind, we are in essence studying the Lord. And so for our family, Nature Study begats Bible Study which begats Nature Study. It is so wonderful to see Jesus' handiwork; our world; in this light.

Sometimes Nature Study for us consists of searching through our feild guides for an intesting bird or mammal. On rainy days this is ALWAYS what we do. On a good day this is how we do Nature Study:

We go outside for a walk. Sometimes we stay in our own backyard, most times we draw from a list of parks within 15 minutes of our home to walk through. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful nature & hiking trails so close by. Generally we do not take sketching materials with us. At this stage in the game (10yrs. and under) and with 3 of the 4 kids being boys, well...let's just say we like to enjoy our Wild Days! I challenge them to find something that interests them. They always do and mostly without my prodding. They look at it for a looooong time, talk about it (narrate) with me, then stick it in the backpack if it's unattached and non-living.

Once we get back home we sit down with paper and pencil, colors, markers, watercolors, whatever, and draw our chosen subject. If it is an animal or insect (something we couldn't bring home) we look it up in the feild guide and sketch from there.

After our sketches are done we use the feild guide for copywork and then do narration. Each of the kids keep a 3-ring binder with page protectors inside for their completed pages. On each page we include a sketch, copywork from the feild guide, and a narration of the day. Austin (10) now writes his own narrations and then reads it aloud for us. The younger ones dictate to me and I write it on their page. Even our 4yo does copywork: usually just the name of the subject (ie: ladybug, Queen Ann's lace, etc.) but sometimes the size and location as well.

Nature Study always turns into an all-day unit study of sorts covering every subject except Spanish. Well...that's not quite true. We do sometimes look up the Spanish word for our subjects. At any rate, not much else gets done on Nature Study days. We do math before leaving the house, and silent reading (history etc.) during our rest time in the afternoon when we are finished. I used to try to cram the whole thing into a couple of hours so we could get to the rest of our "subjects". Not anymore. The kids learn so much more this way and it's not work! THEY THINK WE HAVE TAKEN THE DAY OFF OF SCHOOL ! ! Whatever you do - do NOT allow yourself to be confined in your pursuit of Nature Study. Make it fit your family and stop to smell the roses. That's what you're out there for!

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