We are year-round homeschoolers. I find this method works best in our family. We keep going through June, then for July and August we typically switch to full-time Nature Studies with hands-on Literary Studies that accompany the Nature work.
This year, I am really excited to be usingIncredible Creeksfor our Summer Nature Study. Our family absolutely LOVES the NaturExplorers units from Our Journey Westward. I have a whole pile of them and plan to work my way through every one of them! Over the Winter we learned so much and truly enjoyed our time working through Coping with the Cold.
Many Moms have asked me lately about how to easily and affectively implement Nature Study into their homeschool. I say, start with the Spring/Summer months! This is the best season (especially for us in Southern Ontario and similar climates) to really soak in every warm day we can. We often do our ‘book’ work on the deck outside and spend the afternoons outdoors accomplishing parts of our Nature Studies as best we can. Not every day is perfect, but we aim for lots and lots of outdoor time, and when the studies are based around that outside time – it is much more likely to happen!
I thought I would link below to several NaturExplorer unitsthat I have and love. These are BY FAR my favourite Nature Study units available on the ‘homeschool’ market, so to speak. They are very reasonable, easy to acquire (ebooks, you download them right away!), and so rich in content. Well worth the small investment – Cindy has made them so reasonable!
The NaturExplorers units from Our Journey Westward are some of my absolute favourite Charlotte Mason-friendly Nature Study resources.
Branching Out– This section goes more in depth and, well, branches out on the topic of study. There are many ideas for hands-on science experiments and activities, vocabulary and scientific concepts (this one includes a look at Allen’s Rule, Bergmann’s Rule, The Egg Rule, and Gloger’s rule, along with discussions and activities for the concepts of adaptation, camouflage, how to make your yard animal and bird friends, and much more.)
In the Branching Out section, you will also find a ton (really!) of ideas for research, study and creative writing. The ideas are so many and so varied that I mentioned to my husband that I would surely keep these units for years to come and pull them out during the applicable seasons to use as a launching pad for Nature Study over and over again. Cindy gives hundreds of ideas that could serve as a very engaging springboard for all ages.
Bible, Poetry, Art, Music…
I love the Bible Lessons from His Creation section. This highlights multiple verses and chunks of scripture that relate to the topic of study. We used Matthew 6:28-30 as our copywork in our Nature Journals.
Poetry Place includes several titles of theme-related poems and suggested books of poetry. For this unit, we printed off all the poems and read them aloud. We used Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field as a nature journal page and learned more about the Canada Geese from Handbook of Nature Study. when we used Coping with the Cold this winter.
I was so excited to discover the Artist and Picture Study References included as well. What a wonderful addition to any Nature Study! Cindy gives great suggestions for kid-friendly picture study with artists and artwork related to the topic. We really gravitated towards studying works by
Robert Bateman for our Coping with the Cold unit and it was wonderful.
Composer and Music References offers some lovely ideas for music study related to the specific theme of the given Nature Study unit.
There are also many notebooking pages to use within your home and homeschool for each unit – so many I couldn’t list them all! Each page pairs easily with the content within the unit study and can be printed off as needed!
My suggestions for Summer Nature Studies –
Some of the ideas in the Getting Outside section include:
- Go on an Erosion and Scavenger Hunt (and use the notebooking page to go along)
- Draw an Erosion site that you visit and/or draw a small area map
- Find examples of wind erosion
- Look specifically for signs of erosion along a creek with a focus on bends in the creek bed (use the notebooking page that goes along with this)
- After a heavy rain, observe a body of moving water for signs of erosion happening quickly because of the fast moving water, use the After the Rain notebooking page
- At the beach, build a sand castle near the low tide – observe stages of the castle’s erosion
Branching Out activities include: find the absorbency and volume of rocks, make sedimentary/metamorphic/igneous rocks to eat, create your own fossils from plaster, grow rock candy, build a rock wall around a flower bed, and many, many more ideas for looking under rocks as well.
As with all the NaturExplorers units, on top of all this there are also suggestions for writing and research projects, poetry, music study, art and picture study, lots of notebooking pages, and ideas for including very young children as well as teens.
Here are just some of the ideas from Captivating Clouds: learn to identify different types of clouds, observe and journal clouds on a nature walk using an identification chart, keep a log of the cloud types you see every day, use a compass to identify the direction clouds are moving, learn about water vapour, identify shapes in clouds, observe and journal about colours found in clouds, write Haiku, sculpt clouds using clay, learn the five main cloud components, learn about condensation, evaporation, and precipitation, make ‘fruit in a cloud’ for a snack, and so much more!
For writing ideas, suggestions include: make a chart showing cloud levels and altitudes, create an accordion book about fog types, research, illustrate, and write a paragraph about Interesting Cloud Names, and several more engaging writing topics.
Multiple biblical references and readings are provided along with poetry suggestions. Art and Picture Study includes Van Gogh, Monet and Norman Rockwell, among others. Also has composer suggestions and numerous suggested fiction and non-fiction titles to work with the study of clouds.
We used this unit over the Summer last year and still have TONS left that we can do. It is full of great ideas for studying not only creeks, but streams, rivers, lakes, you name it. This would work well in the Autumn, as it is often recommended to study creeks and watershed areas in Autumn!
Incredible Creeks includes: looking at the Water Cycle, completing detailed observations on both a large and small scale plus accompanying Notebooking pages, Wading Scavenger Hunt, observing rocks and collecting pebbles, finding and exploring waterfalls, discussing the various parts of watershed areas, looking at tree roots, identifying and journaling about Wild Flowers, looking for signs of a Healthy Creek, looking at amphibians, monitoring and charting creek temperatures, and tons more.
There are also ideas for making a model of a creek, drawing a cross-section mural of a creek, and several really interesting science experience to help understand watersheds, erosion, and creek habitats. Writing ideas include things like creating lyric poems, researching and writing about a famous gold rush, and learning and writing about dams.
There are multiple scriptures included in the unit that relate to life, water, and God’s care and provision for His children as well as songs.
Some of the hands-on ideas in the Peaceful Ponds unit includes: Creating an underwater sampler, using a strainer to find live creatures in a pond, identifying specific pond plants and sketching and labelling parts in your Nature Journal, identifying and note booking the four main zones where pond plants grow, creating a map of your pond and surrounding areas, watching for birds/insects and create stories about their adventures, dissecting a pond plant, looking at pond water under a microscope, and looking at various pond animals.
This is such a great resource! Who couldn’t use 100+ ‘easy and fun’ Nature Walk ideas on hand to pull from? I have used this at the drop of a hat, literally as we’re walking out the door. The ideas a varied in age range, length of time require, prep-time (most require none), and ease.
Adjectives Abound – describing things in nature using adjectives, Below My Knees- noticing and journal things found below ‘knee’ level, Collect and Create – collect things that are no longer living on your walk, bring them home, and get creative, Fly By- noticing and identifying things found in air, and on and on it goes! Honestly, this is an amazing Nature Study resource for any family to have on hand!