We laugh a lot over this line in our home because of the argument over this question in the movie Over the Hedge. But in reality, it under scores what many of us homeschooling moms stress over A LOT! If we are not trained naturalists, how can we possibly take our children out in the “wilds” and teach them about nature??
This is the same question we ask about Latin or Math or Grammar – and our answer is so simple. Do a little research, ask a few questions and get some handy little field books and you’re off on a new adventure.
As you begin the Nature Study excursions, your kids will revel for the first little while in getting outside for Nature Study and won’t notice that you don’t know if the bug is an ant or a beetle. They will be too busy looking for their own stuff to see and explore. But as you consistently visit the same few trails or places, there will come a day when they will ask “what is it?” How excitedly you can reply “I’m not sure – let’s look it up!” as you pull out your little field book. There is no shame in this – it teaches your children several things – and allows you to learn alongside your children. As we know from that Latin, Math, and Grammar, that is half the fun of this journey we are on.
As Charlotte Mason said:
“The real use of naturalists’ books at this stage is to give the child delightful glimpses into the world of wonders he lives in, to reveal the sorts of things to be seen by curious eyes, and fill him with desire to make discoveries for himself.”
There are so many fabulous books to use for both beginner and more experienced Nature Enthusiast. Some really fun and easy books we’ve used to get us started confidently on our Nature Study journey include:
http://www.amazon.com/Take-Backyard-Bird-Walk/dp/0970975406 She has written a delightful series designed to help your child learn to identify and record a journal about the various topics in the series. We really like these.
We just got several more books and I was quite impressed with this one as it seems to be exactly the kind that Charlotte says inspires a child to know and do more:
It is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Notes-Judy-Burris/dp/1607554771
We also use others like these things from the Missouri Department of Conservation:
http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature (website database)
http://www.mdcnatureshop.com/home.php?cat=134 (reference books – we have the trees, birds, plants)
http://www.mdcnatureshop.com/search.php?mode=search&page=1 (educational dvds)
I visited a local conservation office and they LOADED me up with armfuls of free posters, pamphlets, booklets, and flashcards, plus phone numbers and a k-2 science curriculum. We take nature study seriously in Missouri, lol.
A fun way to introduce your family to the great outdoors is by reading Thorton W. Burgess’ series titled “The Adventures of ….” There are dozens of these easily read and understood living books – I hear my girls every week tell me something they noticed that they read in these wonderful books. Here is a link to the Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Thornton-W.-Burgess/e/B001HCS0SE
Best advice I can give:
Get some guides and go outside for regular nature study! The rest will come.
See the other posts in this series: