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I am wanting some guidance about nature study with my kids. They are 6th, 3rd 1st, 3yo and baby. We have been leading a nature club group for almost 3 years now. We have a solid group of 3-4 families that regularly attend. We have tried using Exploring Nature with Children, Naturexplorers, just taking open ended hikes and journaling. The problem is always that the kids rush through their walk/journaling just doing the minimum necessary to get Mom approval, then run off to play. I feel like I remember seeing that CM said when you first arrive somewhere to let the kids play first before bringing them back to do structured study, but we really only have about 1.5 hours before babies get fussy and people leave to go do errands. The kids would easily play the whole 1.5 hours and it would be hard(er) to reign them back in I think. Is this just a lost cause? Do I need to stick with doing nature study with just my kids rather than in a group setting?
Also, I am wondering whether people split their middle/high schoolers off for nature study as they get older. I am thinking of doing things like planting seeds (Seed Babies book) with my younger ones but I think my 6th grader wouldn’t be into it. He is really into astronomy right now. Can he do his own nature study and journaling? I feel like he already does a lot on his own and don’t want him to feel left out.TristanParticipant
I know lots of people love group nature study with other families. For me it turns out like you have experienced – hurried through so they can go play. We get much better focus on enjoying and studying nature if we do it with just our own large family (10 kids). And sometimes, yes, my older ones prefer to do some nature study without little ones present.
We also try to make room for nature study to be ongoing – such as birdwatching from the windows, or watching specific trees through the seasons. These don’t take a concentrated long time, just moments scattered in everyday life. Lately we have been squirrel watching. We have the first flowers of spring popping their leaves up just now where we’ve planted along the fences.
Another thing we deal with is hiking is very difficult to do without a paved path and not a lot of hills – because our 7 year old uses a wheelchair full time. Even getting out in the back yard grass is very difficult with a wheelchair – and crawling on the ground makes for torn pants and bloody legs because he can’t feel anything from the hips down. So we have learned to make time for nature study in other ways – bringing it inside, visiting places like a zoo or nature center, window nature watching, etc.
Oh, and we have never had consistent nature notebooking. It is just not something that we have had success with. I’ve learned to be okay with it, and to do it myself and offer to share materials every so often as a gentle reminder they are available.totheskydearParticipant
Our nature “study” group has slowly morphed into a play group. I just have my kids pick something to take home and draw. I also keep an eye out for interesting things. In the last few weeks we’ve seen a great blue heron and a mink. 🙂
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