Jump Start Your Nature Studies

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.

nature study with binoculars
A pair of binoculars can awaken a child’s interest in nature.

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.

paints for nature drawing
Is your child artistic? Let him/her express their nature learning with art.

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.

You can find more nature study inspiration under our blog’s nature study category.

Sabbath Playlist ~ Taking a Nature Walk with Young Children? Nature Scavenger Hunt Printables

Something a little more active for this week’s Sabbath Playlist!   If you have plans this weekend to take a nature walk with young children, how about some fun free nature scavenger hunt ideas and printables? Teachstarter.com offers 16 nature walk ideas and activities will especially appeal to young children.  I especially like the free checklist printable because it encourages children to engage all of their senses as the enjoy nature.



Get the Most out of Your Local Library

Our local children’s librarian has again requested that I submit a list of suggested books for future library purchases.  Books that homeschooling families would find valuable.   Last year I asked them to add more simple biographies to the children’s collection and they did!  What an opportunity!  I’m looking through what we plan to study next year to make a nice long list of suggested titles, especially those ‘nice to have’ books that are beyond our budget.  The librarian’s request reminded me of this past blog post, so I thought I’d share it again.  Every time you visit the library, leave suggestions for books or other media.   Make maximum use of your library! 

 15 Ways to Make the Most of the Public Library

The local public library can be a homeschooling family’s best resource. Are you making maximum use of the libraries near you? Here are some ideas for utilizing the libraries in your area:

1.Don’t just go to your nearest library, make an effort to visit all of the libraries available to you in your area. Different amenities may be available at each location. Get cards from multiple libraries if necessary.

2.Call and inquire if the colleges and universities in your area will allow you to check out materials. Colleges with teacher education programs often have excellent educational materials . Even if you cannot have borrowing privileges, you can still stop by and use the resources in-house.

3.Contact your local school district about borrowing privileges in the school libraries.

4.Be sure to pick up fliers listing the resources and activities available at each library. What classes, story times, lecture series and tutoring programs are available?

5.Take time to meet the children’s librarian as well as the reference librarian. These librarians are excellent resources for unit study ideas and research projects. They can alert you to resources that you may not know about. Share what you are planning to study for the year, and give the librarians a copy of the textbooks and literature selections you would like to use. Many times children’s and reference librarians are looking for ideas on new books to order, and your curriculum plans may help.

6.Take note of library book sales. Savvy homeschool moms will be there when the doors open to purchase books for mere pennies.

7.Check to see if your library offers inter-library loans for books and videos.

8.Do you have an e-book reader? Be sure to share your e-book requests with the librarians as well.

9.What online resources does your library offer? Online catalogs are very helpful for searching from the comfort of home. Can you renew your library books online? Does your library give out passwords for special online collections and sites? Many libraries have subscriptions to reference resources online. Be sure to ask for a list of those subscriptions.

10.If your library does not give receipts for books checked out, make it a habit to have your children complete a library book log to keep track of how many books to return. Assign a child to mark the due date on a calendar as soon as you return home.

11.Are there conference or meeting rooms available for you to reserve to work on a research project? A conference room may be a more comfortable space to work in if you are also bringing younger children along.

12.the library have display space available for larger homeschool projects? Perhaps your library may allow your child to display his science project for a week or two.

13.Are there special library privileges for teachers that you can also use, such as longer check-out dates, or sets of themed materials. It never hurts to ask!

14.Genealogical resource rooms are full of inspiration for great local and state history study. Be sure to go in and browse.

15.Are there library-related service projects available for your child to participate in? Creating a themed bulletin board, sorting books for a book sale, organizing display cases, etc.

Stack of Library Books

Nature Study Meets Citizen Scientist

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.

Beyond Your Four Walls: Ideas to Expand Learning Opportunities for your Children

Looking to move beyond worksheets at your kitchen table? Perhaps there is no homeschool co-op in your area or the co-op does not meet your needs. On the hunt for interesting and different learning opportunities for your children but can’t think of anything? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Use this list to help you search for what is available in your local area.

Zoos/Animal Preserves
-Zoology classes/tours
-Day/Summer camps
-Volunteer opportunities/Internships

Cultural Associations
-Language/culture classes
– Cooking lessons/demonstrations

Sewing/Crafting classes
– Sewing /quilting stores
– Craft stores

Orchestras/Symphonies/Music Associations
-Music lessons
-Job Shadowing/Internships

-Building supply stores
-Building trade association internships/shadowing

Jr. Master Gardener classes
-Community gardens
-Botany classes
-Beekeeping classes
-Wild edible plant classes

Jr. Master Naturalist classes
-Nature preservation projects
-Hiking clubs

National or State Parks/ Nature Preserves
-Outdoor skills
-Lecture series
-Canoeing/Boating tours/courses
-Bird watching trips
-Jr. Ranger program

4-H Club
-Everything from sewing to livestock showing to Lego robotics

Interest Club Activities
-Astronomy club sky watching outings
-Science shows/demonstrations
-Kite flying outings
-Photography groups
-Blacksmithing lessons
-Engineering clubs
-Running/5K clubs

Living History
-Reenactment groups
-Living history days at museums/historic sites

Science or Art Museums
-Day camps
-STEM classes
-Maker spaces

Local Libraries
-Craft days
-Book/Author talks
-Volunteer opportunities

Local Trade Associations
-Job Shadowing

Community/Jr. Colleges
-Dual enrollment
-Certificate courses
-Summer day camps
-Exercise classes/Open Swim
-Language classes
-Cooking classes
-Music or Art classes

Hospitals/Medical Centers
-Volunteer opportunities
-Job Shadowing
-Training courses

Seashore Adventures Science Camp – For Homeschoolers In/Near California

Seashore Home School Camp at Albion Marine Station in Northern California is coming up June 5-10, 2016. They do have a few cabins left. This could be a once in a lifetime experience for some kids, as they don’t offer it very often. We’ll be tide-pooling in the mornings and there are classes are for all ages from 3-18.


“Announcing the 55th Home School Science Camp and Outdoor Education Week.  Come join us at the Albion Field Station for an unforgettable experience exploring God’s world at the edge of the sea . Come away from the library, from inside the house, and learn more about God’s Creation while you’re right out in it!  Meet some other home schoolers who intend to have some serious fun, tidepooling and learning about the creatures that live between the tides.  Schedule includes worship, early morning tidepooling, class instruction, and outdoor nature study activities. Camp Orchestra: If you play an orchestra instrument, we are going to have a camp ORCHESTRA for this camp to play for the song services and to do a special number for the program. Be sure to sign up for this if you want to participate so you can get the music ahead of time to practice AND so we can plan on you.”

The link to the application http://www.riverlight.org/creationadventures/Seashore_Application_2016.pdf.