Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No Excuses! Incorporating Nature Study Into Your Day

 It's not always easy to get outside and do nature study, is it?  In my homeschool, nature study is very important, and high on my priority list.

But, even though it's "high on my priority list," I find it's really easy to put on the back burner when other fun things come up.

Here are a few tips for getting out there and actually doing nature study, even if you're a reluctant naturalist:

Just get out there!  Make a commitment to get outside and into nature for an hour, at least once per week.  Even if it's very informal, kids will pick up on the joy of the natural environment.  It doesn't take any work on your part for your children to observe the smells that waft through the woods or prairie, to see what happens when they poke at a puddle with a stick, throw rocks into a creek, or look at interesting moss growing on a tree.

You don't have to travel far to get into nature! I live in a downtown area, with a lot of brick and concrete.  To get out into nature has to be an intentional endeavor.  That being said, we can always walk or take a short drive to be at least partially immersed in nature's splendor.  Even a man made city park is full of squirrels to observe, ducks to feed, various types of vegetation, and bugs.  Don't feel like you have to drive great distances to get into the wilderness in order to enjoy nature study.

But, what if I forget my printables?  Don't laugh.  This is a biggie for me.  When I first started coordinating our nature study efforts, I thought I had to have pretty printables with areas for the kids to sketch their findings, and write everything down.  Now I know that while the printables one might find on the internet are super cool, they're not necessary.  If you want, or your child wants to record/sketch while they're "in the field," you can make a simple nature journal out of plain white paper, or buy a spiral bound sketch pad from a craft store, or, you could just do nothing.  The sights, sounds, and smells that your children will observe while out in nature will be permanently ingrained in their memories.

You don't need to be able to identify every plant, bird call, or cloud formation! Really, you don't!  If your child asks a question that you can't answer, use it as an opportunity to learn more about it later.  Here are some good online resources for identifying things you might find in nature:

Rocks                                 Clouds                              Trees
Plants                                 Birds                                 Reptiles

Form a group that meets up on a regular basis. If you need accountability to make sure you're getting out there, form a group!  Get the word out on Facebook, meetup.com, or in your homeschool group.  Plan to meet up weekly (or monthly, or bi-monthly, whatever fits into your schedule), and just do it!

My two favorite resources for nature study are:

Nature Seeker Workbook, by "The Old Naturalist" Lawrence Wade
Handbook of Nature Study website.  This has been our go-to resource for years.  It is clearly a labor of love by the fabulous woman who takes the time to educate about nature, with this resource.

This is a fantastic time of year to get into the nature study habit!
Just get out there, have fun, and make some memories!

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