Nature Study Resources
What we are currently using in our homeschool nature study.
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Hands-down my favorite part of homeschooling is the incorporation of nature study. It is a hallmark of a Charlotte Mason Education and something we quickly adopted in our homeschooling routine. Within nature study we practice art, memorization, organization, the scientific method, research skills and a general appreciation for the world around us.
Nature study can take many different forms, so your study shouldn’t look just like ours. I wanted to highlight the resources we are loving to inspire your nature study.
The Burgess Book of Birds for Children
The hallmark of any Charlotte Mason Curriculum is a Living Book. We are just finishing up The Burgess Book for Birds for Children. My children adore this book, which presents each bird as a character and highlights how it looks, what its call sounds like and where it nests. I, a little bit, can’t believe how much my kids love this book. We read a chapter together a few times a week as a basis for our nature study.
I’ve already decided to take advantage of being located in Florida and started The Burgess Seashore Book for Children. There are quite a few in the Burgess collection though, so you are sure to find one to fit your family.
Simple Studies Guide
Sometimes, it is just easier to find someone who has done the study before you and follow suit. I love the study guides from CM Simple Studies. The Burgess Birds Guide is the perfect companion book. It includes a chapter-by-chapter guide with activities and lessons, plus a suggested schedule for the year. (A schedule is very helpful if you are just starting out and wondering how to pace yourself.)
CM Simple Studies has many great books covering a range of topics that are worth checking out. I typically use the Homeschool Printing Company to have them printed, bound and mailed to me. It can take a while though, so give yourself time between printing and when you need them.
Ecosystem Card Game
Games make homeschooling so much easier. No one ever puts up a fight when I suggest we break out a game, so I like to make sure games are included in all our lesson plans. Ecosystem is a card drafting game that is perfect for all my kids to play. Each player plans their own ecosystem with the cards they draw, making sure to take care of all the elements that make a healthy system.
Like all good card games, it is fun for adults while being completely playable for kids. The Big Little (8) and Middle Little (6) understand the game and are capable of playing. The Little Little (3) has no idea what is going on but loves picking a card and setting up his grid. Plus, completing the tally at the end of the game is perfect math practice.
Using art to record what we are learning about the birds (and soon sea animals) is a great way to help kids solidify the details. There are a variety of ways to do this but we love using watercolors and spiral bound sketchbooks. I’m no expert at any of this, but practically speaking, the watercolor pen brushes are so convenient with kids and easy to take along anywhere you go.
If you are not sure where to start with nature journaling, we love using YouTube videos to get started. We found this bird tutorial very helpful when starting out with our bird watercolors. There are so many options, so search around to find a good fit.
We have also really been enjoying these fun, free “how to draw” printables from Little Passports. The Littles had a lot of fun mastering their Sloth and Crane drawing skills.
Bingo is such a great teaching tool and always a favorite at our house. Bird Bingo is a great way to practice our bird memorization skills. (There are a variety of nature bingo options to fit your nature study.) The game comes with a giant key you can have available for players to use, but after a few times playing the Littles started recognizing the birds right away. We also bring it up a notch by playing a bird song from the National Zoo directory and see if they remember it and can match it.
My parents purchased the Bird Song: 250 North American Birds in Song book for the Middle Little, who is perhaps the most excited about birds. It is a wonderful addition to our bird study. The book conveniently has a headphone jack, so I don’t have to endure day-long bird serenades.
These lovely books by Julia Rothman are a homeschooling staple. They are filled with beautiful illustrations and identifications. Nature Anatomy is what we are currently using then we will be moving on to Ocean Anatomy.
The Big Little loves workbooks, so I also use the companion guide from Homeschool Giveaways. My Middle Little is more of a free spirit so he tends to explore the Julia Rothman book on his own for quiet reading.
Youth Squad Bird Badge
All of this pairs very well with the Bird Welfare Patch Program from Youth Squad. The program is free, you just follow the guides online, or make up your own, and order the badge. The Littles are very reward-oriented, so I use the badges as an incentive, plus it is a great way to commemorate and remember the work we have done.
I hope you feel inspired to add elements of nature study to your “at home schooling.” It has been a wonderful way to lean into my children’s natural curiosities.
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