Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

I apologize for not getting this feature completed yesterday.  I thought things would calm down when we finished the formal homeschool year, but this week has been a bit crazy.

One of the best parts of summer homeschooling is nature study, in my opinion.  We live in a town in upstate New York that is known for its trails, so we have lots of great places for nature study.  But even your own backyard provides so many opportunities.

Several times a week we walk through a nature path that is located close to our house.  If you have preschoolers and take walks you are familiar with the concept of collections.  Collections can be irritating for the mom who wants a clutter-free house, but are ripe with creative opportunities for exploration and great for working on comparison skills.

One of my favorite homeschooling books is A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.  It is filled with loads of ideas for nature study, among other things.

Nature Study--Charlotte Mason Style is a great blog chock full of ideas.  The great thing about nature study is its simplicity.  It merely involves doing and documenting.  Documenting can take a variety of forms.  Sketching and labeling a variety of leaves, preserving flowers, and taking photos are all great ways to document.  My daughter is five years old, so we do most of our documenting verbally.

Nature study teaches children patience.  We will sit and observe ants as they carry food back and forth.  We must learn quietness and stillness to observe birds in our feeder.  On several occasions we have found multiple deer standing at our pine trees (and we live in a suburban cul-de-sac).  We must learn to celebrate these small miracles of nature.

Charlotte Mason suggests time outdoors everyday between April and October.  I'm not sure that standard is quite realistic with upstate New York weather, but we try to get outside as much as possible.

Donna Young's site has printables in a variety of areas.  Her glimpse into her family's nature journals is very helpful and nature journals are a beautiful way to preserve your documentation.

Nature study is easy to implement because children are so naturally curious.  I think its a great way
to teach them the scientific skills of observation and comparison.  It can also be an excellent integration of art and mathematics.  It teaches patience quite naturally as children are enthralled by observing animals and are willing to sit quietly to watch things happen.

A few more sites:

19 Can Do Nature Walk Variations
Find Trails Close to You
But I Live in the City
Houseplants You Can Grow from your Kitchen
Tree Identification
Insect Idenfication
Bird Identification
Flower Identification

Most of all: enjoy!


Julia M. Reffner

About Me

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.


Contributor at The Writer's Alley:


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