Are you just starting out with nature study or trying to revive flagging interest? Here are a few ideas to jump start nature study activities with your family:
1. Set out a bird feeder. It is winter in North America and this is a perfect time to set out a feeder and attract hungry birds. If you place your bird feeder in view of a window, you can enjoy your new feathered friends from the comfort of indoors. Don’t forget to also pick up a bird identification book at the library.
2. Start a collection. Leaves, rocks, seeds, pressed flowers, shells, the list is endless. Young children especially love to fill an empty egg carton with their treasures.
3. Get new lenses. A sturdy magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars will entice your children to observe the world around them more closely. How about an inexpensive camera to give you insight into how your children view the world around them?
4. Add to your library. New field guides and nature themed books with bright photos and colorful illustrations are sure to catch the attention of your children. Our family loves the Smithsonian Handbooks series.
5. Appeal to the arts. If your children are artistic, a new pad of paper and a set of paints or watercolor pencils will delight them as they capture the line on a leaf or the wing of a bird.
Jesus, the greatest teacher the world ever knew, drew the most valuable illustrations of truth from scenes in nature. Parents, imitate His example, and use the things that delight the senses to impress important truths upon the minds of your children. Take them out in the morning, and let them hear the birds caroling forth their songs of praise. Teach them that we too should return thanks to the bountiful Giver of all for the blessings we daily receive. Teach them that it is not dress that makes the man or the woman, but that it is true goodness of heart.
The Great Backyard Bird Count starts tomorrow! Are you interested in participating with your children but you don’t know anything about birdwatching? This great four-video series from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a perfect place to start. Appropriate for all ages, the videos guide you through the basics of bird identification. The skills taught in these four interesting videos will help you improve your general nature study observation skills as well.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming soon! This is a very popular activity for many AHE families. For those that may not be familiar with this event, this is a fun way to incorporate nature study into your program and make a contribution to science at the same time.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of what the bird population around the world looks like. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. Don’t worry if you know next to nothing about birds, the Great Backyard Bird Count website is full of resources to help you learn bird ID skills and what birds to look for in your area. It takes as little as 15 minutes on any or all of the days of the event. Log on to your free online bird checklist account and your numbers will be added to the worldwide tally.
Click on the image to head over to the GBBC website where you can learn more about the count, download activity pages and tally sheets and learn more about birds in preparation for the count.
Are STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) subjects are a favorite in your homeschool? Do your children truly enjoy nature study? Is a child showing an interest in deeper STEM study? If so, then you are likely looking for science tools and resources that go beyond the cheap plastic chemistry sets and play bug nets available at most toy stores.
Every homeschool family that wants to expand or extend any branch of STEM study should be on the mailing list for the following science resource catalogs listed below.
We love to get all four of these catalogs in the mail! My children love to mark the pages with kits or equipment that looks exciting to them. I’ll readily admit that I’ve marked up these science catalogs as well, with all the science curriculum kits, materials and supplements that I’d like to use. I have ordered curriculum materials, lab equipment, microscope slides, dissections sets, etc. from these companies and have been nothing but satisfied.
The links take you to the catalog request portion of each site, but these companies also have online catalogs as well for immediate browsing.
Both Nasco and Carolina also offer specialty catalogs for specific subject areas such as chemistry, agriculture or early learning.
Do you know of another science resource catalog that would benefit homeschool families? Please tell us about it in the comments below.