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How do you schedule Nature Study into your science curriculum?


NaturalMomma
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I have been trying to figure out the best way to do our normal science curriculum, as well as our nature study. We are currently doing Physics, so this has me a bit stumped. I was thinking to focus one day out of the week, on nature study and dedicate the other days to Physics. I am just curious how others do it. Please do share.

 

Thanks!

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We took nature walks and hikes when we wanted to--not really scheduled. If we were to schedule it, I think your system of one day a week would work, tho we usually have afternoons free, so nature study just sort of happened around here in the time we weren't using for other schooling.

 

Dd kept a nature notebook. She used a regular, 3 ring binder, and used watercolor paper, regular copy paper, and sometimes photos, to record her discoveries. We also pressed flowers, dried leaves, and did rubbings of tree bark. We slipped each page into a page protector and then put it in the notebook. She also wrote small narrations on some of the pages, or just put the name of the object--sometimes she didn't even do that. She liked the page protectors because she could slip feathers in there, too.

There are some examples, if you are interested, of her first grade/second grade book, on my (now not used) blog, http://www.twilightandsunrise.blogspot.com

You have to go back practically to the beginning to find them.

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We have no set day. We just notice stuff when we are outside just working or walking/driving/biking and bring it in and/or look it up later. The kids catch on really quick and are constantly noticing things. I've showed them where the animals/bugs can often be...under rocks and such. We watch birds from our front window. Stopping for road kill is great fun. Especially, if it something you would rarely see otherwise like a coyote. You can also sanitize the bones and make a skeleton if your real adventurous. :D We have saved quills from a porcupine corpse that daddy found on the road and brought home for us to observe and put them in our nature notebooks. :lol: I do always have set things we do seasonally, like observe fall leaves and discuss the weather/changes. We have "Fall firsts" and "Spring firsts", etc that we are all on the look out for and mark on our calendar. First snow, changing leaf, fallen leaf, frost, and flower, tree bud, fly, frog croak, scraped knee, etc. We always discuss the weather changes and keep track of any astronomy happenings. Just a few ideas for you!

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We joined a Friday hike group that met after school hours every week--I think that we were involved in this for two school years. Often one of the moms would bring a short lesson about some native plant or seasonal change. Sometimes the group would organize a major field trip to a natural history museum of some sort. This was awesome--we went pretty much rain or shine, and I got to know a bunch of local natural spots that I had been unfamiliar with. This was during 4th and 5th grades.

 

Then for 6th and 7th grades DD took a half semester wild plants class in 6th grade, we scheduled a bunch of local field trips, and we scheduled visits to local science museums that included geology exhibits. During 7th and 8th grades DD was in a one day per week local nature awareness/immersion program that follows the Coyote Guide, similar to the Wilderness Awareness program in the Pacific Northwest. That was a wonderful group, but I had to step back from the out of doors for that because parents were not really encouraged to attend. After all of this experience, we have developed an increased nature and geology focus when we go on vacation, and that has enhanced our learning and also has been a lot of fun. I appreciate God's creation a lot more because of this. It's been one of my main goals for homeschooling to be able to have the time to focus on this with my DD, and I'm deeply grateful that she has internalized it so well.

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Guest mrsjamiesouth

We set aside Wednesdays for Nature Study because it seems we all need to be outdoors more in the middle of the week. I follow this blog:

http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com/

 

If you scroll down the right side you will see where the Challenges are numbered you can start and follow the numbers or you can pick from her seasonal topics.

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Once a week we do nature study except when we're focusing on the hard sciences in BFSU and it's too hot to go outside. We do topical study part-time and BFSU the rest of the time. Right now we're on Wildflowers and went out picking blue and purple wildflowers. We had fun, and it was educational as well. We came back in, identified and sketched and colored in the flowers. We know now we need to press them as soon as we get them :)

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Guest TheBugsMom

We do nature studies twice a week. Usually I let nature take us on our study or let dd lead the way. An example of our nature study, two weeks ago a turtle came into our yard so we took a picture of it, examined it, touched its legs and shell, noted how its head retracted and so on. Then we came in and while everything was fresh in her mind I asked leading questions and wrote her responses down about the turtle. We then looked it up online to see what kind it was. The next nature day, we got books about turtles in general and looked at pictures and read one. We also read about the turtle we found. Wrote up another note-booking page about turtles in general and dd drew a picture of a turtle. She also made a play-dough turtle which I took a picture of and she labeled the turtle parts, giving us another notebook page. This one event gave us two weeks of nature study work. Another recent nature study is tree identification. Dd found a pretty leaf and looked in our tree book for the type of tree it came from (this was all self directed), she came and told me about the leaf and the tree in our yard it was from, so I decided we should lable our trees. The last week we have been collecting leaves from each of our trees, making leaf rubbings and then looking in the tree book to identify the tree they are from. This is giving us some notebook pages. We are aslo making plastic labels for the trees and attaching them so all out trees will be identified. I am taking a picture of the tree and she is pasting it next to the leaf rubbing and labeling the pictures.

 

We also do nature walks and look for one specific thing ( look for different wildflowers) or let the walk dictate what we are looking for/at (at the beginning of one walk we saw a mushroom, so we hunted for different kinds during the walk). Sometimes we take our nature journals and supplies and find a nice place to sit at the park and draw what we see then write about it. Other times we record the weather for the week, or moon phases for the month.

 

I had the hardest time instigating the nature walk/journal. It felt so forced or the kids would just run wild and not focus on our walk. I actually gave up for a while. Then I decided to not force it. I started looking more closely at what was happening around our yard and what dd was doing and Voila tons of nature study for us to enjoy.

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they regularly go to our neighborhood nature area and bring back treasures ;)...the most recent was a javelina skull...and various skeletal remains!!! They bring home fossils, plants, leaves, etc. They often, but not always, sketch things for their nature journals, press flowers and leaves and look up scientific names and label them. My dd takes wonderful pictures, so those often go in instead of a specimen. We do not schedule nature study; they just do it. The only scheduled nature study type thing we do is when we go the botanic gardens, aquarium, zoo, etc.

 

Mine are ds13 and dd17...they've been doing this together for several years now...

 

It also helps nurture their friendship to share in this type of activity. And, fortunately, homeschooling has allowed them to still be awed and impressed by nature rather than moving so fast they don't notice all the wondrous things around them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use Nancy Larson Science, and each program has at least one Life unit that is perfect for Nature Study. Science 1 is all Life Science, so obviously there's lots of Nature (that's us, too) to Study.

My problem with most Nature Study (before NL Science) was the "kids running", or "instant flash" thing. Outside, the boys just want to run, run, push, run. Girls and I would look under rocks, boys would run to "see" then be off again.

One thing that helped me understand the purpose of a Nature Study was from a geologist and a zoo director who each talked about slowing down and taking time to really observe, watch and learn from nature.

My DH likes deer hunting in the Midwest. Mainly it's about sitting up in a tree for hours, barely moving, smelling the new dawn on the dew, listening for crunching leaves under tiny hooves, remaining motionless while a squirrel cracks an acorn on a nearby limb...nature all around and being an observer. That's what real scientists do. Think of Jane Goodall, for instance.

This happens with my DC when there are specific questions to answer. I tie these to their NL Science lessons. If it's forces and gravity, we look for examples of rocks that have moved and hypothesize about what force caused the movement. We tie the nature study into a Nancy Larson lesson and it strengthens the learning (and lessens the running) for everything.

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