Creative Nature Study: A Book Review.
Anyone who’s been around the block with me probably knows how I feel about nature and the great outdoors.
(Hint: LOVE/ADORE/UTTER FASCINATION)
Strangely enough, my two girls aren’t the biggest nature fans. Why? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll have to chock that one up to inherent traits they were born with, because it surely is not for lack of exposure and encouragement on my part.
This week I was given the chance to review a book from The Old School House Magazine entitled Creative Nature Study: Ideas to Jump-Start or Invigorate Nature Study in Your Homeschool.
I was excited to review this book because I’m always on the look out for new ideas. Since I love nature it’s easy for me to run straight out the door and have a blast exploring, but my girls tend to spin in circles and flap their arms while screaming, then they move on to complaining about the hot/cold/wet/dry/breezy conditions. New ideas to encourage the more nature-reluctant among us to dive in and explore are helpful and welcome!
The first thing I noticed about this book was that it’s quite long. This e-book has 100 pages. That would be nearly a hundred pages of ideas, information, and suggestions for how to get yourselves outside to explore nature.
The second thing I noticed about the book was that it’s not just written by one author. At first I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out. Would it feel inconsistent? But no–that wasn’t the case! As I read through the book I really enjoyed the different perspectives. Each chapter is made up of multiple articles on one topic, and every article is written by a different homeschooling parent. This format gives the book a nice conversational tone rather than just a boring text book feel. That means it was pretty easy to read and enjoy, which is great for my tired mama brain. Almost like a big, fat nature study idea magazine…
Having spent plenty of time outside I wasn’t certain what more I could learn about doing nature studies, but the book did give me new ideas. Surprise!
Some of my favorite ideas from Creative Nature Study were the scavenger hunt suggestions. Why have I never thought of that before?? Some of them were excellent ideas. A hunt for only things you can pick up with tweezers? I really wanted to try that this week in our homeschool, but sadly it was pouring rain all week long. The next sunny day we have, this is at the top of the list of activities!
There are details for nature notebooking, which we already do in the form of Charlotte Mason’s dry brush water color notebooks. Love me some nature notebooking. I also found some new notebooking perspectives in the articles, which gives me something to think about. Maybe we’ll mix it up a little bit and try something new.
Oh, you know what? You guys I must not be the only parent who does things on a whim without planning ahead, only to be in the middle of something and realize we forgot crucial items like a pencil or…water to drink. Honestly the best aspect of this entire book are the lists of what to bring for the various suggested nature activities. Logical check lists! Some of us (ahem) enjoy flying by the seat of our pants, but dang it I do sometimes wish I had someone whispering in my ear on the way out the door reminding me of those easily forgettable essentials. My kids will thank you, dear book authors!
The book even has a section on nature study ideas for the allergy-challenged. Rosie has asthma caused by grass, so we usually have to keep this in mind if we’re going to be traipsing through a field. Not being able to breathe is a pretty good way to ruin a fun afternoon outdoors!
Since we had such miserable weather this week we opted to try out some observations of intruders to the warm, dry household. The idea came from the chapter Hands-on Nature Study in the book.
I have to admit something here: I am weird. (Shush!) When bugs appear in our house I save them. I have a cabinet full of dead bugs.
There. I confessed.
You never know when you’ll need a quality dead bug, ok?
This rainy, gross week I pulled out a couple of dead bugs for us to study. (It was sort of like I planned ahead here!)
This lovely moth died in my bathroom window this past spring.
Today we spent some time examining the features. Feather-like antennae tell whether the moth was male or female. The moth’s wings had false eyes to scare away predators by tricking them. We could see the large anime-like eyes, and the tiny feet, and the dust on the wings. For just a second my nature shunning girls were as fascinated as I was by this marvelous creation.
They were so interested we decided to pull out a second bug from the cabinet. A cicada. This poor thing somehow got trapped in our kitchen lights during the summer and caused all five kids to run away screaming during breakfast time due to the frantic buzzing and thocking noises it made.
The wings on this alien-like creature are beautiful. Shiny, almost sparkling. Ada, who is four, decided they looked like fairy wings.
Dead bugs–they seem gross, but they give nervous children a prime opportunity to examine these amazing creatures without having to be afraid.
Overall, Creative Nature Study was full of great ideas and we will enjoy implementing them in our homeschool days. If you have children in the preschool through elementary school range and you need new nature study inspiration this would be an excellent book to read.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book to review for The Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is my honest opinion of this book, and I was given no further compensation for the review.
I’m pretty sure Henry is thinking, “Mama, please. I’ll eat your dead bugs. What now?”