What Are Your Summer Nature Study Plans?


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  • kellywright006

    Hi Everyone:
    I am curious what everyone has planned for making nature study this summer? We live in MI, so this is the most enjoyable time to be outdoors and I am hoping to make the best of it. Hoping to make it more of a routine instead of a chore……and second guessing myself on what we REALLY should be doing outdoors. As in, what’s the end goal? Do we focus on just one aspect of nature for a month, trees or birds or rocks? OR do we just go outdoors, come in and draw what we see? Do we need to be coordinating living books w what we are studying outdoors? I know there are lots of different ways to slice the cake, or whatever the saying is……so, looking to you for your thought out ideas.  Thanks!




    We go for a walk, and I feel like I should be *nature studying something* and end up not even enjoying it bc I feel like we should be doing something. I know this isn’t right…..I am reading Out of Doors now, but could use some practical forum suggestions too! Thanks

    Sarah Himbaugh

    I’m very new at this so I feel kind of funny answering.  🙂 Have you looked at the Outdoor Hour Challenges on handbookofnaturestudy.com ? There seems to be a lot of really good tips/advice on there.  Good luck and I hope some more people chime in.

    Kelly Bond

    You are not alone! I have so many nature study resources and the desire to do it, but I have had a hard time putting anything into practice. I was an indoor kid growing up so it has been hard to share with my children something I never had.

    This spring I decided to just do something every week, even if it is small! My boys and I each picked one tree and one bird to study. One week, we go and study “our” tree: what has changed since the last time, what do we see now, etc. We take notes, and eventually we will draw. One of my boys picked a plum tree which will be fun to watch all summer; my other son chose a deciduous tree which will have fewer changes; I chose an evergreen tree which I have already learned much about!

    The next week we take notes about the one bird we chose: my boys picked the Baltimore Oriole and I chose the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. We just take simple notes about their behaviors. I’m sure we will also try a drawing eventually, too.

    This is not as involved as other nature study I have seen, but it has given me enjoyment as well as satisfaction knowing we are doing something every week. This takes the pressure off nature walks; we can just ramble and enjoy without my having a set plan.

    We live in Wisconsin, so I appreciate your wish to get out and enjoy! I also hope to carry this throughout the winter, though, as I think it will be very doable.

    Best wishes to you!


    We are about 1/3 of the way into the Pond and Stream study.  My kids, especially my K and 1st grader, are really enjoying it.


    Have you seen the new Nature Study Journal SCM just put out? It looks fantastic!! Can’t wait to put it to use!

    That may at least give you some ideas… 🙂



    Have you read the recent SCM blog articles on nature study?  There were several of them, but “Making New Acquaintances” and “Have a Purpose in Mind” were especially helpful to me!

    Awhile back someone on here recommended the book Natural Science Through the Seasons.  It has activities for each month on a variety of topics.  I like to get ideas from there.

    This summer we are so behind on everything that I haven’t put much thought on nature study!  We moved this year and have almost an entire term to complete.  We have been outside gardening and have had impromptu lessons on several animals/plants/trees/bugs/etc. as we see them or notice things about them.  We are also up north (in WI) so I like them to be outside as often as possible while the weather is good!

    I want to be a bit more intentional with our nature study for next year, so I’ve been studying a bit on three different areas this summer: trees, stars, and birds.  Currently, I’m working through some library books on the topics, but I’m hoping to flip through the Handbook of Nature Study on those topics as well.  Originally my plan was to focus on one area each term, but then I decided it would be nice to see how they change throughout the year.  Some of our nature study times will have to be at night and I’m excited about that!  It will be fun to hear the different insects and birds at night while we are looking at the stars!


    Nature Study season is coming to an end for us. It is so hot that if we don’t get out first thing in the morning we don’t go.

    My kids are 6, 4, 18m and we go out and just walk and observe. I don’t force it. If we see a new flower or bug or animal I take pictures with my phone and we look them up when we get home. The kids drawings for the next couple days usually involve whatever new thing we learned about. We will start journaling when we start back up in a month with the 6 year old.

    Oh! Sometimes we bring crayons and paper and do lead etchings and the kids love that!


    We have been using ideas from Barb Harmony’s blog once a week.  I purposely use her ideas and printables for our study, or it wouldn’t get done 🙁 We have been enjoying nature study so much that I plan to continue through the summer. My nature journal is finally being filled! Yeah! I thought about using one of the new studies from SCM but I think I may save them for next school year, which I’m very excited about.

    The thing I love about nature study these days is, there are no grade levels/age levels attached to it but we are all learning something and enjoying our time together, which is the goal for my family.  I plan to continue with Barb’s ideas and add in zoo trips, as well.


    Summer is also prime Nature Study time for us here in Colorado. My kids are young (6, 4, 18mo) so we keep it pretty light and fun. Most of the time we go out for a hike and something naturally rises to the surface as a “theme” for the day. For example, we recently walked around a lake and heard red-winged blackbirds as soon as we got out of the car so we walked around observing them.

    I love taking photos so I usually spend the time taking pictures and the kids tell me, “Mom! Take a picture of this!”

    The next day we look at the photos and the kids draw pictures of what we observed. I usually read a page or two out of our field guide collection about the theme and then my DS6 narrates about the hike as I write it in our journal. We just have one journal for our family that we all use together.

    Here are some individual studies we did this year if you are interested:


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