During the past few weeks we have been sharing that there is more to nature study than just spending time outside. We’ve looked at Charlotte Mason’s ideas about
- why to do nature study,
- when to do nature study,
- what nature study looks like, and
- how to keep a nature notebook.
And most recently we’ve been discussing how Charlotte supplemented nature study with living science books and object lessons in their natural settings. Today let’s look at one more way to supplement nature study: nature projects.
Charlotte described at least five great nature projects that you and your children can do together to learn more about God’s creation.
Charlotte described how to make a glass container to hold the ant farm in Volume 1, pages 57 and 58. These days you can also order ready-made ant farms in the traditional style or the new cool gel type that costs a bit more but is easier to care for.
Caterpillar to Butterfly
Watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly is a wonderful experience that every child should have the privilege of observing. Charlotte talked about this nature project in Volume 1, pages 60 and 61. You can do this nature project with something as simple as a glass jar or as elaborate as a Butterfly Pavilion.
Pressing Wild Flowers
Collecting and pressing wild flowers is another great nature project that you and your children can do together, whether you use heavy books or an authentic Hiker’s Plant Press. See Charlotte’s comments in Volume 1, pages 63 and 64.
Tadpoles to Frogs
As Charlotte mentioned in Volume 1, page 56, you can scoop up tadpoles in a nearby lake or pond and watch them turn into frogs. If you don’t live near a pond, Frog Hatchery Kits are available, complete with tadpoles.
“Bird ‘stalking,’ to adapt a name, is a great deal more exciting and delightful than bird’s-nesting, and we get our joy at no cost of pain to other living things. All the skill of a good scout comes into play. Think, how exciting to creep noiselessly as shadows behind river-side bushes on hands and knees without disturbing a twig or a pebble till you get within a yard of a pair of sandpipers, and then, lying low, to watch their dainty little runs, pretty tricks of head and tail, and to hear the music of their call. And here comes in the real joy of bird-stalking. If in the winter months the children have become fairly familiar with the notes of our resident birds, they will be able in the early summer to ‘stalk’ to some purpose. The notes and songs in June are bewildering, but the plan is to single out those you are quite sure of, and then follow up the others. The key to a knowledge of birds is knowledge of their notes, and the only way to get this is to follow any note of which you are not sure. The joy of tracking a song or note to its source is the joy of a ‘find,’ a possession for life” (Vol. 1, pp. 89–92).
What nature projects have you and your children been able to experience together? Leave a comment about it on this post.