Nature Study — HELP!

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  • 4myboys

    Ok — I have to confess — I am really not a huge fan of the out-doors.  We have snow for five months of the year. I do love to l go for long walks (not hikes in the woods), but I HATE mosquitos, black flies and anything else that bites. I’m not afraid of bugs, or even snakes or frogs or anything else (we have nothing poisonous in our neck of the woods, anyway), it’s more the neighbourhood foxes I’m afraid to run into (one picked off on of the neighbour’s chickens while his son was out playing about 20 feet away on the swing set).  We don’t often have cyotes or bear very close to our home, but they aren’t unheard of, and found more frequently in the vacinity of the river that we like to visit.

    Thing is, we are in a great area for out-door observation, and if I can convince myself to brave the bugs, etc., we could have some very interesting times.  Between rivers, ponds, the ocean, fields and forests, we have no shortage of places to explore.  We used to have all sorts of pheasants running around the yard, and a little ground hog living under the shed, but since the foxes moved into the area, we don’t often see them any more.

    I am a complete dolt when it comes to nature — I’ve never enjoyed science.  I’m lucky I can recognize dandilions and buttercups, and I think the lilac and silver maple are the only trees I can confidently identify in our yard other than which are coniferous or decidulous.   My husband is much more out-doorsy and knowledgable than me, but he works all day.  Providing the boys with any kind of meaningful instruction on my own is not going to cut it.  I will need resources, and  I’m not really sure of the best way to begin.  Any really good suggestions????

    I am hoping to start easing into this over the summer.  We’ll begin our Homeschool adventure in the fall, but I want to try to establish this as routine as I know a lot of people say they have trouble fitting it in to a busy weekly schedule. I also want to keep the boys active in the fresh air as much as possible through the summer. 

    Thanks a bunch!


    Do you have any rangers, nature areas with guides, park areas with guides near you?  Perhaps know someone who is more nature-knowledgeable?  One thing I found I needed (I wasn’t originally an outdoorsy sort of person) was to educate MYSELF some first.  And for that I needed field guides, patience, and good folks to help.  I was lucky as I had access to a county nature park with knowledgeable people working at it.  So I made use of that a LOT at first, growing confidence and learning to use field guides.  Then, even though I don’t KNOW a lot myself still, I feel like I can learn.  So we just get OUT there, ask questions, and try to answer them.  Sometimes I know something about what we see, more often I don’t and we ALL get to learn about it.  Really, just getting OUT there is half the battle.  Could your dh leave you with a scavenger list of things to look for, and then you could show him what you found when he got home and he could either say “Yes, that’s a white pine” or “No, that’s NOT a hawk” or whatever?  Just have your kids draw and describe what they see and then have Dad identify it?  Take photos and ask him?  That kind of thing?  Sometimes you just have to be a little creative and willing to GET OUT THERE and willing to sound stupid until you learn. 


    I have used Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie as a resource to help guide me and the kids.  It is an outdoor workbook.

    I also use to guide us through using Handbook of Nature Study.

    I have also gotten field guides really inexpensively.

    This all gives me a jumping off point and has helped me feel like I have a focus and knowledge.

    Hope that helps.




    I second the blogspot pp mentioned.  They put out a newsletter that basically walks you through nature study each month.  I think you can purchase the notebook pages they make also, but we just read the newsletter and print off the free stuff.  It even tells you which pages in the nature study guide to read.


    Thanks for the tip on the Hnadbook of Nature Study and blog!  I read the first couple of weekly challenges on the blog and I’m actually feeling a little more excited about the whole thing! 

    I’ve already been trying to encourage the boys to notice different flowers, trees and birds during our walks.  We enjoyed watching a woodpecker last week, and a squirel today.  I will have to make a point of spending time talkiing about and looking things up when we come home.  I’m sure the boys will really enjoy it once we get a little more serious about it!

    I know my attitude is going to be a huge part of how successful this adventure will be.  I’m going to have to find a super duper bug repellent!!

    I just downloaded the Outdoor Secrets Companion from SCM this weekend (I already have the book) and I have been reading through it in preparation for our starting. It is a very simple guide but is going to give the kids a great intro to Nature study and notebooks. It also utilizes lots of living books that you can either buy or get from the library to supplement the lessons. I’m excited about these extra books as well as I’m hoping to add some of them to our home library to start building our stash of nature resources.

    Christine Kaiser

    I can absolutely sympathize with you!  I was starting to freak out about Nature Study because I am from Europe and it is only my 4th year living here in AZ with quiet a different Fauna and Flora. After reading through so much material I came to the conculsion that the most important thing is just to get out when ever possible,even if it is your own back yard or a stroll through the neighborhood. As a lot of the other ladies I will use the Oudoor challenges to get ideas and educate myself on nature study with the handbook of nature study. At our last visit at the local Zoo I picked up some booklets about native plants, animals and birds that I can use a field guides.  Bottom line is I am not stressed out about “teaching” Nature Study anymore rather then just get it started and take it week by week. Hope you will find a solution you all will enjoy.:)


    Thanks for the blog information.  I just checked out the newsletter and it looks great!  I’m actually a person who does enjoy the outdoors, but Nature study itself has been difficult for me.  This will help. 

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