Nature study structure

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  • Jonessa16

    Hi there!

    I am starting nature study this coming year with my grade 2 son, but I am not sure where to start or how to structure our study. I have The Handbook of Nature Study to use as a reference, but feel like I need some kind of framework, even a loose one. Ambleside Online recommends three study areas per year, moving through the various subject areas in a cyclical manner over the years. Has anyone followed those recommendations?

    Other resources I am considering are NaturExplorers unit studies (maybe do 3 or 4 of those per year), Exploring Nature with Children, and an online video series of Mystery of Science. Does anyone have experience with any of those?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


    I have enjoyed Exploring Nature with Children.  It has suggested studies for each week, including additional reading suggestions, an activity, and occasionally a poem.  September, for example, has lessons for these four things:

    Week 1 – Seeds
    Week 2 – Minibeast Hunt
    Week 3 – The Harvest Moon
    Week 4 – The Autumnal Equinox

    It’s a resource that you can use more than once  – as your kids grow and can study things at a deeper level.


    I may not be 100% correct, but Charlotte recommended starting with a daily nature walk around your home, then expanding to neighborhood/parks/etc.
    This way the children note the changes and things like that in their nature journals.
    You would also read Nature Lore books with it and once a week the study would be just like Monica said.

    I believe the three studies per year were for Form II (4th grade) and up, so it does depend on the ages. I did not know that last year!
    A Delectable Education has a good podcast on science and nature studies.

    I personally would not do an “online” study for anything nature related. Charlotte literally meant for the children to go out of doors and look at the natural world and draw it, get dirty in it, get wet in puddles etc.


    I think the easiest ways to go about it are either 1) pick something to look for and then make a drawing of it. For example: today we are going to look for caterpillars. Or 2) don’t have any kind of formal plan and just go out for a walk and see what you see. If you see anything interesting or extraordinary, you can go back and look up information about that particular thing if you want.

    I have used Exploring Nature with Children and, while I liked it, it is geared toward people who live in warmer climates. I live in Canada so some things like finding earthworms in February isn’t happening because the ground is frozen until April. This may not be a problem for most people, but I had to substitute quite a few topics.


    Thanks everyone for your responses!

    I live in Canada too, so that’s definitely a factor! I’m glad to know that tidbit about Exploring Nature with Children.

    The online program is definitely more general science, rather than purely nature – for example, forces and motion is one of the topics. But you can pick and choose which modules you want to use, so it’s flexible that way.

    So if we do a weekly nature walk, looking deeper into whatever interesting things we find, and then read some living books (such as the Burgess books, Arabella Buckley’s books, etc) alongside, is that enough?

    What are some of your favourite nature reference books that you like to have in the home?


    I think that is enough until 4th grade.  We really liked Among the Pond People series.  There are more ideas at this blog post:

    Nature books by Judy Burris are good nonfiction references.  We liked the books with the SCM Outdoor Secrets study, too, like My Favorite Tree.

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