Archive for the ‘Charlotte Mason’ Category

Nature Study

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

 nature-study

Have you wondered how to incorporate nature study into your homeschool? A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be a panelist on this very topic, where several homeschool moms shared ideas for how to do nature study with children.

Why is nature study important for homeschooling?

Nature is science–plants, animals, rocks, weather phenomena, etc.–all of this is science. To be educated, you need to understand science. And to know it well, you need to see it and experience it first-hand in the great outdoors.

When can you start nature study?

Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can enjoy nature. Here are some nature activities that small children can enjoy:

High school students and adults can also enjoy nature through nature journals, drawing and labeling intricate details of God’s creation. So all ages can enjoy nature study, especially because you can get fresh air and sunshine on your face while you relax and take it all in. You don’t have to rush when you are doing nature study.

What do you do back inside to follow up on nature studies?

Look inside an insect identification book for the insect you just sketched. Try to identify a tree by its leaves, or look up what kind of rock your son found.

I also like to take out drawing books, especially for younger children who might have trouble drawing straight from nature without seeing a pencil sketch. I describe more about how to do this in my workshop Using Journals to Teach Writing.

How directed should a nature study be? Is mom in charge or do you just let your kids cavort outside?

Most of our nature studies are open-ended, where the kids can decide what they want to write or draw. But if we are studying a specific topic in science, we might look for that topic. For example, if we are studying spiders, we would try to find spiders and spider webs to draw.

Tell us about nature study during the winter months when it’s too cold outside.

You can easily do a winter scavenger hunt, where you find different objects in nature, and snap pictures of them. You can also pay attention to what animals are doing this time of year, and you can study snow and weather. Here are a couple of winter nature activities for you to enjoy:

Also, if you want to set up nature collections during the other seasons, you can continue to study nature from your home. Here is a fabulous workshop that shows you how to bring the outdoors into your home:

Here is the panel of homeschool moms who share what they do for nature studies:

How to Make a Pop Bottle Bird Feeder

Friday, April 12th, 2013

how-to-make-a-pop-bottle-bird-feeder

This is how to make a pop bottle bird feeder. We made one last night to attract more birds to our yard. For some reason we haven’t seen as many birds ever since we got a cat. But this handy-dandy bird feeder will bring back all those birds that came last time we made this popular feeder, when our boys were in Cub Scouts. These are the supplies you will need:

  • empty pop bottle with lid
  • bird seed mix
  • two wooden spoons (from dollar store)
  • sharp knife or razor blade
  • twine
  • large hook
  • funnel
  • drill (optional)

how-to-make-a-pop-bottle-bird-feeder-2Cut a slit for the wooden spoon, barely big enough to slide the spoon through. Cut a slit on the other side of the bottle, so that the spoon can come out the other side. Do the same with the second spoon, placing it at a right angle so that two birds can eat at the same time.

Fill the bottle with bird seed mix. Now make a hole right above the spoon, about 1/2 inch across, so that some seed will come out onto the spoon. Do the same to the other spoon. My husband said cutting the hole works better with the seeds inside the bottle, because the bottle is more sturdy and won’t collapse when you are trying to cut it.

You can drill two holes in the lid and put some twine through it, tying a knot on the inside so it won’t be seen. Or if you don’t have a drill, just tie the twine around the top of the bottle and hang it up on a hook right outside your window.

“How come the birds aren’t coming yet?” asked my daughter the next morning. She didn’t remember the last time we had a bird feeder. The birds fought over the bird seeds like they were starving, with the squirrels eating all the spilled leftovers.

“They need to find the bird feeder. Once they find it, they’ll come,” I said, trying to reassure her.

“Or maybe it’s because the cat is sitting under it,” I thought to myself…

Spring Scavenger Hunt (free PDF)

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

spring-scavenger-huntWhy not celebrate the coming of spring with a Spring Scavenger Hunt? Go on a fun nature hike and see if you can find the following items. Snap a picture of each item as you find it, and add the pictures to your nature journal. You can add descriptions under the photos, or older students can sketch the items into their journals, using the photos as a guide.

  1. bird nestspring-scavenger-hunt-2
  2. buds on tree branches
  3. daffodils
  4. sapling (young tree)
  5. ducks on a pond or river
  6. caterpillar, cocoon, or butterflyspring-scavenger-hunt-3
  7. new cones on evergreen trees
  8. plants pushing up out of soil
  9. cumulus cloud
  10. tulips
  11. new grass
  12. feathers
  13. crocuses
  14. lichen growing on rocks
  15. dandelionsspring-scavenger-hunt-5
  16. squirrel
  17. egg shells
  18. seeds
  19. hyacinths
  20. bees buzzing around flowers

You can print out a copy of this scavenger hunt here:

Winter Nature Hike Scavenger Hunt (free PDF)

Monday, January 21st, 2013

winter-nature-hike

When the snow is falling softly outside and the children are squealing with delight, why not go on a winter nature hike scavenger hunt? Bundle up the kids along with their snow boots, and go to a nearby trail. A beautiful sunny day is ideal, but even overcast days can be delightful, especially if it’s snowing. Let the children enjoy the snow falling onto their faces. Let them listen to the wind blowing through the trees. Then let them find the following items, and snap a picture of them. At home you can make a scrapbook of your nature hike.

If you have older children and they have nature journals, they can sit (they’ll need waterproof snow pants) and sketch the different items on the list. Later they can add color with colored pencils or watercolors.

winter-nature-hike-scavenger-hunt-3Here are some items that your children can look for:

  1. red berries on trees or bushes
  2. bird flying or perched on a branch
  3. pinecone (find several kinds of cones)
  4. winter-nature-hike-scavenger-hunt-4animal tracks (different kinds)
  5. bare branches on deciduous trees
  6. evergreen tree (several kinds)
  7. large rock (or specific rock like granite)
  8. cumulous or stratus clouds
  9. winter-nature-hike-scavenger-hunt-5frozen pond or puddle
  10. squirrel, deer, or other mammal
  11. a good view (climb a hill or mountain for best views)
  12. fallen tree
  13. thorny bush
  14. leaves-in-snowmoving water (stream, waterfall, or melted snow trickling off a rock)
  15. feather (try identifying what bird it belonged to)
  16. moss (collect different kinds)
  17. evidence of insects (look under fallen logs or rocks)
  18. fallen-logweeds
  19. an icicle
  20. fallen leaves or pine needles

 

You can print out a copy of this scavenger hunt here:

 

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