Charlotte Mason,  Homeschool,  Nature Study,  Unit Studies

A Review of ‘100+ Easy and Fun Creative Nature Walks’ and a coupon code just for you!

 

 

 

 

Cindy was very sweet to offer me a coupon code just for you guys –  so, right now until June 15th , use coupon code “NATUREFUN” for 25% off absolutely everything in the shop at Our Journey Westard.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years we have had SO MUCH fun and created so many good memories with the amazing nature study units and resources from Our Journey Westward.  (Click here to see the full review I wrote on NaturExplorers: Coping with the Cold.)

 

Nature Study is one of the most enchanting and lasting ‘subjects’ we engage with in out homeschool.  I’m not very convinced the kids will remember much of the specifics of their home education – but I am absolutely sure they will remember the long, regular romps in nature.  Especially the time we really looked closely at our surroundings and learned about God’s natural world in a way that made sense.  

 

 

After more than 10 years of being a nature nut, it’s really hard to remember way back when I was just starting out with  Charlotte Mason and had very little experience with ‘the out of doors’.   I was quite lost as to how to approach Nature Study, and the NaturExplorers units helped me tremendously to just stop fretting about how to approach something new, and just get outside and explore.  In the process I absolutely fell in love with Nature Study and our whole family embraced a completely different way of living.  I suppose that’s why these units remain dear to my heart and why I will now continue to use them as I bring up two new Charlotte Mason homeschoolers!  

 

 

 

 

“Not only is Cindy one of the nicest people in the homeschool blogging world, she’s amazingly talented at putting together easy to use, interesting, and fun units that bring life to our homeschool…
There is SO much in these amazing nature unit studies – Cindy has packed the pages full of incredible ideas and inspirations to jump start all kinds of nature study as well as notebooking and nature journaling.  The guides are easy to use and very well laid out.   They are also good for quite the age range, with ideas to carry you from preschool to even high school depending on how you use the information and how you direct your student.”

 

What we’re using this Spring/Summer –

a Review of Creative Nature Walks:

 

 

We are in a new season with 3 big kids (middle school/high school) and two very little ones (age 3 and almost 1 year old).  What I love about Nature Study though is that it brings the family together.  We can all participate in fun and simple nature activities, walks (or runs!) through the woods, or a good afternoon of exploring or just delighting in God’s creation.

 

This Spring and Summer we are using 100+ Easy and Fun Nature Walkswith all the kids because the ideas give a great variety in age range, length of time required, prep-time (most require none), and ease.  

The babies are keeping us hopping in this season, so the easier the better for us right now.  This resource is open-and-go in the best way.   It also includes things like graphing, mapping, nature journaling and comparing and contrasting for the older kids.

100+ Easy and Fun Nature Walks is a bit different than the other NaturExplorers units.  (I talk about the components of the other NaturExplorer units extensively below.).   This is just a big huge book full of fun Nature Walk ideas, which is so perfect if you have limited time to plan.  Very little prep necessary beyond opening up the book or pdf and finding a suitable nature walk idea and implementing it the next day (or 10 minutes later…!)

 

To give you an idea, some of the nature walk ideas include:

  • ABC’s of Nature – choose a letter from the alphabet and search for nature items that begin with that letter (for example, D- dandelion, daffodil, daisy, daddy long leg, deer, dove…)
  • Adjectives Abound – describing things in nature using adjectives as you walk, great for developing that attention to detail

  • 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
  • Bring It To Me – Mom stays in one place and sends the children on a mini scavenger hunt.  Suggestions include: rocks, insects, twigs, flowers, grasses, something from the creek or pond that can fit in your palm…
  • Busy as a Beaver – during this walk, you look for signs of animals that have been busy in nature
  • Clean It Up – pick up trash and litter from your local nature areas as you walk

 

100+ Easy and Fun Creative Nature Walks also includes extension activities which would work well for a wide variety of ages.  

 

Here are two examples:

 

Camouflaged – the family goes for a walk and seeks to find examples of God’s defence mechanisms designed to help animals hide from prey.  

Extension Ideas

  1. Cut out one-inch squares of construction paper in brown, green, blue, red, orange, yellow.  Put the squares all over the yard.  Give the kids 20 seconds to collect as many squares as possible.  Count each of the colours they collected and decide (hopefully) why they found more of the brighter coloured squares and fewer of the browns, greens, blues… camouflage!
  2. Design your own camouflaged critter from craft items or recyclables

 

New To Me Walk – your quest on this walk is to find something you’ve never ever seen before and figure out what it is

Extension Ideas-

  1. Take a few minutes to observe the specimen closely.  Sketch it and note your observations in your nature journal.
  2. Look around to see if the same thin is found anywhere else in the vicinity.
  3. If you’re unable to identify the specimen in the field, bring a sample home or take a few pictures to use as reference in your research 

 

We did this one this week –

Creative Nature Walk – 

Those Little Stinkers – Animals use things in nature as food, shelter, and teeth and claw sharpeners…  This means that some things in nature are destroyed because of animals… on this walk you are looking for signs that animals destroyed or damaged plant life.

Extension Ideas-

  1. Take pictures of the damage and research at home to find out which animals likely did the damage and whether the plant will survive or not.
  2. Research food chains and food webs.  Decide if the damage you observed is part of God’s plan for nature’s balance.

 

We took a walk together in a very familiar area by a creek that is only a five minute walk from home.  We observed together MANY fallen trees and damaged tree trunks.  We already knew it was likely beavers who did the damage but we did discuss together what helped solidify our speculations (the way the trees were chewed, the way they fell, the repetitive way they were gnawed…).

We then discussed that the trees would not survive because they were already fallen and dead now.  (This was a bit upsetting for Kyle who is very sensitive!).

We took the time to look at the food chain for beavers.  We chatted about WHY beavers cut down trees and what they use the wood for and then discussed whether we agreed or disagreed that the beaver’s damaging the trees was part of God’s plan for natural balance.

 

ABC’s of Nature…  D is for DANDELION!

 

Another thing I expecially like about this particular resource is that it would be very easy to re-use it over and over.  I mean, how many times can you look for evidence of animals making a mess of nature or find things in nature that begin with various letters of the alphabet, etc… ?  Endless amounts of time, in my opinion.  So, it’s something that is well worth the small investment.  

 

“Honestly, this is one of the best, go-to, easy-peasy Nature Study resources for any family to have on hand!”  

 

Some more details for you about other units available…

 

Cindy is well known for her NaturExplorers Units.  These are quite different from what I’ve reviewed above, so I thought I’d include some information about the NaturExplorer stuff down below here… enjoy!

 

What’s Included in the NaturExplorers Units?

Getting Started – Literature Launch gives a list of recommended children’s literature to inspire and introduce the concepts of the study (love this so much!), Inspiration Point and A Bit of Background offer the ‘teacher’ a chance to gain quick and easy basic understanding of the motivation behind the study and some background knowledge before heading into nature study both in and out of doors.Getting Outside – Nature Walks and Outside Activities (the core of the curriculum) is the section where Cindy has written so many great topic-related ideas for getting outside!  This is exactly what I was looking for since the simple, “Hey let’s go for a walk,” doesn’t always captivate my kids anymore.  

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!

Seriously, these are amazing resources at a bargain price!  You get so much for what you pay – we’ve used these units for months without running out of stuff to talk about or do. 

More suggestions for Spring/Summer: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everchanging Erosion

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
There are also tons of ideas in the Branching Out section, including: experiments to show how water expands when it freezes, simulating ice, water, and wind erosion on a mound of dirt, a Lifesaver rock experiment, observing how sediment settles, a simulation showing how a cave is formed using sugar cubes, a landslide experiment, a water weight experiment, make clay models of various landforms, and many more.
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.  Love it!

 

 

Hard as a Rock

This study introduces us to types of rocks, the rock cycle, and various topics related to rocks and rock types.  Activities include:  keep records of interesting rocks you find and start a collection, compare and contrast different rocks you find, go on a fossil hunt, go on a rock scavenger hunt using a specific notebooking page, walk a dry stream bed in search of interesting rocks and pebbles.


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.

 

 

Incredible Creeks

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.

 

 

Peaceful Ponds

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.  

There are scriptures tied into baptism, creation, and God’s hand in nature.    Poetry includes poems from Matsuo Basho, Alfred Noyes, and Eleanor Ferjeon and suggests a beautiful poetry book that specifically covers Pond Poems.  Picture Study includes Claude Monet, Cezanne, and Rousseau, and Renoir!There are over 25 amazing suggested read-alouds to go with this unit as well as numerous note-booking pages to print-out and use along with the hands-on activities and learning.

 

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