Benefits of Nature Study: Building Skills and Knowledge

“A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humor.”

~ Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, pg. 71)

We have been keeping Nature Journals since we started homeschooling  – it seemed easy enough to do: go outside, observe something closely in nature and draw it. What I didn’t realize is how much the kids would actually enjoy it and look forward to our nature walks. I should have – Miss Mason didn’t build her philosophy and methods on things that she hadn’t tried and proven many times over – I now see that 7 years down the road of this journey.

It is a joy to take my youngest child on a nature walk. She is so full of enthusiasm and interest. She loves to point out things that she notices. Her seat in the car has a storage space next to it for drinks and stuff. It is always full of the treasures she wants to save, explore, draw and enjoy. 

“We must rid ourselves of the notion that to learn the 3 R’s or the Latin grammar well, a child should learn these and nothing else. It is as true for children as for ourselves that, the wider the range of interests, the more intelligent is the apprehension of each.”

~ Charlotte Mason (Vol. 3, pg. 209)

Nature Study and the subsequent journaling are natural invitations to explore the world – to see it up close and personal. I have written several posts before about nature study – how to do it and why. But recently I realized that I have noticed some things in my kids that made me want to re-dedicate myself to this so-simple-it-is-too-easy-to-work practice.

“The nature note books which originated in the P.U.S. [Charlotte Mason’s Parents’ Union School] have recommended themselves pretty widely as traveling companions and life records wherein the ‘finds’ of every season, bird or flower, fungus or moss, is sketched and described…. The nature note book is very catholic [universal] and finds room for the stars in their courses and for, say, the fossil anemone on the beach at Whitby. Certainly these notebooks do a great deal to bring science within the range of common thought and experience; we are anxious not to make science a utilitarian subject.”

~ Charlotte Mason (Vol. 6, p. 223)

Some of the benefits of skills and knowledge that I have noticed include (but aren’t limited to):

  • increased appreciation of the beauty found in everyday nature
  • the ability to creatively express themselves in various media forms: written and drawn, even photography.
  • better technical drawing
  • increased perception of world around them and ability to question and wonder
  • ability to connect science reading and knowledge with real life experiences
  • increased self-confidence and self-awareness
  • better physical coordination and abilities
  • willingness to “be” in the moment – to slow down and see
  • shared family culture through enjoying experiences together

What are the benefits you have seen from your Nature Study?

P.S. – Some previous posts that you might enjoy:



Need Quick Subject Guide to a Charlotte Mason Education?

Did I ever tell you one of my favorite things about Simply Charlotte Mason? I haven’t in detail, I am sure, so I thought I would mention it today: their subject handbooks. Who knew? 😉

When I am reading Charlotte Mason’s original volumes, I often wish I had all her quotes on certain subjects together and I often daydream about having time to color code each subject for easy reference. But I then think that sounds overwhelming and I don’t do it. 😉  Today I picked up a book that has been on my shelf for literally years – and one that I read cover to cover and I realized that someone has taken the time to do that!  Yea!! And I realized that that book is the reason so many of her words are familiar as I read the Original Homeschooling Series. {Cue embarrassed smile}

Sonya Shafer, Karen Smith, and Richele Babarina have spent countless hours reading and gathering the ideas and words that Miss Mason wrote about various subjects and collecting them into cohesive comprehensible handbooks designed with both the newbie and the seasoned CM homeschool parent in mind. Each handbook includes:

  • extensive CM quotes on the subject with references
  • a sideline for you to record thoughts and notes
  • definition of unknown or less familiar words
  • explanations of unknown people or places referenced in the quotes
  • thought provoking questions to ponder, and
  • practical ideas for implementation.

These guides are invaluable to a busy person trying to educate themselves on Miss Mason’s philosophy and methods while actually in the trenches of teaching the children. They give you solid ground to build on as you work your way into the original volumes – the whys and hows are so important to help prevent burnout and build that solid foundation as you live out Miss Mason’s idea that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”  I highly recommend them. There are 6 of them available through Simply Charlotte Mason.

The Early Years: A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook (DVD also available)

Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook  (also available Laying Down the Rails for Children and Laying Down the Rails for Yourself)

Hours in the Out-of-Doors:  A Charlotte Mason Nature Study Handbook

Hearing and Reading, Writing and Telling: A Charlotte Mason Language Arts Handbook

Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching (DVD also available)

And, for extra clarification on narration (since that is the keystone of a CM Education),

Your Questions Answered: Narration

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for my thoughts on the handbooks. I find them helpful and wanted to share. 


Random Nature Study Moments

I find often the best nature study moments are the unplanned, spontaneous times that we are truly engaged and interested in the subject – because it’s neat and it’s not “school”. =) Here are some of the fun, random moments from this summer.  Continue reading

On Self-Pity and Murmuring…

A dear friend of mine called the other day. She was having a really hard day and needed to vent. I had some pent up emotions and energy (read stress) from my latest doctor’s appointment. So, naturally, we let go with all the frustrations. I felt a bit bad when I thought about the conversation. I don’t think that I was very encouraging for her and that is what I would rather be. Later that week, she sent me a screen shot of a quote that really helped me to think of ways I could improve, and I thought I would share it with you all:

“Murmuring can also be noisy enough that it drowns out the various spiritual signals to us, signals which tell us in some cases to quit soaking ourselves indulgently in the hot tubs of self-pity. Murmuring over the weight of our crosses not only takes energy otherwise needed to carry them but might cause another to put down his cross altogether. Besides, brothers and sisters, if we were not carrying so much else, our crosses would be much lighter. The heaviest load we feel is often from the weight of our unkept promises and our unresolved sins, which press down relentlessly upon us. In any genuine surrendering to God, one says, “I will give away all my sins to know Thee.” (Alma 22:18) To whom should we give our sins? Only Jesus is both willing and able to take them!”

~ Elder Neal A. Maxwell

It’s Been A Long Year…


It has been a long year…I haven’t posted since February when I started having some health concerns diagnosed after many years of often excruciating pain when those took over my “spare” time. (hahaha!!) I have had one surgery, am scheduled for another one, and possibly need another one and feel that I see my doctors way too often, but I am so thankful for modern medicine and the abilities we have to not suffer needlessly – when we take care of it. What a blessing that is for us! And there have been many tender mercies of the Lord along the way. I am grateful for the ability to recognize those mercies. I am also grateful for a loving family who have put up with taking care of my share of the responsibilities as I recover.

Maybe soon I can be more like I was…I hope. 🙂 I say that because the younger girls have been obsessed with looking at the pictures on my computer and I realized that we used to do a lot more things. I suppose that those started tapering off about the time I started having these issues 8 years ago, which means my younger kids haven’t had nearly as many cool adventures as I would like. So my goal next year (after recovering from all my surgeries) is to make time for that again…a day at the lake, a day hiking a new trail, exploring a new place on a day trip, going to the zoo and spending time enjoying it, visiting the art museum, history museums, and all the historical places within a couple of hours from here. I think it would be fun to just go pain free for once. 😉

So, all this to say that I actually have a few pictures from things we’ve done this year as well as more book reviews for my classic book challenge, so look for those in the next few weeks as I try to get back on top of things.

The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King by T.H. White is a book listed to be read on the Ambleside Online Year 7 curriculum list. Since I had never read it and wanted to learn more about King Arthur, I decided to read the book for our family’s Back to the Classics Challenge.

The Once and Future King cover

photo via Amazon

It contains 4 stories – The Sword in the Stone (Disney’s movie is based on this one), The Queen of Air and Darkness (about the Orkney Clan – Sirs Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, Gareth, and Mordred) , The Ill-Made Knight (about Lancelot), and The Candle in the Wind.  The stories each deal with an important part of Arthur’s life from beginning to the end.

At first, I really enjoyed it – the scenes with the Wart were fun for the most part, although I was glad when his education was over. I did not enjoy the second book nearly as much, so it took me much longer to read it. It was a relief to start Lancelot’s story. I still struggled to get to the end, but I persevered for two reasons: 1 – I said I’d read it for the challenge and I didn’t want to wimp out on my second book, and 2 – I really was determined to understand more about the different people that have been mentioned in other books that I didn’t really know about. Sir Gawaine and Sir Garath for example.  And it didn’t fully satisfy my curiosity, so I am going to read Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight now. And then the end. What can I say? I cried. Several times. Even though I was sitting in the hospital with my mom while my dad had a procedure done. Embarrassing.

So obviously, the book is set in England – we are even introduced to Robin Hood. The struggle of the people is obvious, and it is with relief that we catch Arthur’s vision for reforming the evils done to people simply because they could. Then, we watch him grapple with what to do with knights who are bored once they accomplished the goal to rid the land of the evil land owners who abused so many people. As he learns and evolves in his understanding of the human condition, he decides that fighting might with might is not always the right way, either. So he sends his Knights of the Round Table on a Quest for the Holy Grail.  That didn’t go exactly like he had hoped either, but he decided that law was the answer. All men could be equal and accountable before written law. As he works to get the laws figured out, nasty intrigue and bitter pettiness start to engulf his Court. I could feel the pathos of the situation for so many of the characters. And, at the end, I cried.

As I thought about this book, I was reminded of the scripture in Esther 4:14 where Esther has the saving of her people on her shoulders and she is asked “…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Many people have done hard things when faced with that question – and fictional or historical, Arthur was presented with his own version of saving his people.

Still not sure if I would read it again, but I am glad that I finished. How’s that for a recommendation?