Do you ask yourself how to study nature with children when you know very little about nature yourself? This was a big stumbling block for me. For several years I focused on creating a love for nature by being outside as much as possible. We ate meals outside, had lessons outside, played outside in all weather, spent all afternoon at the park when the weather was beautiful, played in the rain, and took advantage of unexpected opportunities. We went on nature walks where we explored with our senses and drew something in nature journals. I didn’t specify what they were to draw, only that they draw something they found interesting. Doing more intimidated me so we did what we could.
This year I wanted to take nature study to the next level. I finally dived into the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. This is the only book so far that has intimidated me and I did not know how to use it. Thankfully, the Handbook of Nature Study Blog came to the rescue. I joined their site and read through the Getting Started series. Several friends joined me as we began a more formal study of nature. Here are five tips that have helped us move from enjoying and loving nature to studying nature.
Five tips for studying nature with your children:
1. Do it with a group
It’s more fun to do just about everything as a group.
The real benefit of having nature walks scheduled with friends is that they are…scheduled! When you are looking forward to seeing friends and others are counting you to be there you are less likely to cancel the walk.
2. Study alongside your children
Children pick up on our excitement. When they see us trying to learn about a new tree they are more interested in learning also. Work together to figure out what that tree is. Is the bark smooth or rough? Are the leaves smooth or jagged? Does it have fruit? Carry a small field guide to help identify the tree. Keep your own nature journal to record your observations.
3. Make it fun
Go to new parks.
Dig in the yard.
The possibilities are endless!!
4. Include interesting nature journal mediums and magnifying glasses
I talked about what I carry in our nature backpack. This year I added watercolor pencils. These have provided new excitement as they explored this new medium.
We also used magnifying glasses on several occasions which allowed us to see in greater detail and really focus our attention on small details.
5. Include time for socializing
One of our favorite parts of our weekly nature walks is seeing friends. Moms and kids alike look forward to this day. We spend a little time studying nature and the rest of the time playing and talking.