Nature Study – How Do We?

I have enjoyed sharing a few thoughts on Nature Study. To wrap it up, I wanted to hit on How We Do Nature Study. I know why we should make nature study a part of our week, I know the basics of what I need to get it done, and I know when and where I want to do nature study. But how do we do this nature study thing once we get out in nature?

Honestly, I have no idea if we are doing it correctly or not. This is what I know: My kiddos and I enjoy it. So perhaps I do not do it as others but that is ok. I refuse to stress.

As we walk, we see and discuss what is around us. We might pick a flower or two, chase a butterfly or just sit and enjoy. I always bring a blanket for us to sit and relax but it is not uncommon to find my children lying right on the grass or sitting in a tree or standing on a stump. I encourage them to just look. Find something that catches their eye. What is interesting to them? What do they find new or different from the last time we were here.

When they are ready, sketch books and pencils come out and they go to work drawing and sketching. So far we have been able to stay out doors and do our sketching. We are enjoying some gorgeous weather!  I know soon it will be hot and humid so we will adjust to sketching indoors if we must.

Is Nature Study happening perfectly? I seriously doubt it. I think we really need to work on identification of trees and plants and such. All that will come in time. The key is to just get started and build from there. So what are you waiting for? Go!

Nature Study – When and Where to Make it Happen

I have already shared a bit on why I think Nature Study is important and what I needed to get started. The next hurdle? When and where were we going to make this beautiful thing called nature study happen?

At first, I had planned on selecting an afternoon that would be set aside each week. Fridays is often selected to be a day of Enrichment Studies so perhaps Friday afternoons? Hmm, why not?  I felt that I would really need to schedule it or it wouldn’t ever actually take place. Friday afternoons make sense, right? The week of work is done. We have checked off all the boxes, the books have been read and discussed, tests have been taken so now for the fun outing.

Well, not exactly. I don’t believe that it is even feasible to think that I will have two days exactly the same with nine children in the house. A little one might not feel well, an older child needs a bit of help with math, or the laundry mountain has gotten out of hand and calls for extreme measures. Or the weather for Friday afternoon turns ugly.

Flexing was the key. I decided that we would plan on Monday being our nature study day. If the weather or just life took an unexpected turn then we could flex and bump to a different day. I can easily do this because we don’t have extra activities to interfere with other days. Monday does not work out? No problem. Hello, Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

But where would we go? We also have only one vehicle so we have to work around dad’s schedule. Thankfully we live in a small town and in a bit of a set back area. We have a  small wood next door that even has a small creek. Not only is it a favorite place for the children to imagine in, we can also study the beauty of nature there.

We happen to live in a neighborhood that was established before clear cutting was a common practice. A simple walk around the neighborhood can be full of many nature encounters. Flowers and trees blooming, birds, grasses offer much to study.   Bats have even been spotted while walking.

Our walks in the neighborhood almost always end up at the park which is right down the road from our home. While it isn’t always ideal for nature study, we can make it work.

I am also researching greenways in our area that we can plan trips to a couple of times a month. A drive up the road about ten miles or so will open up a wealth of possibilities. I am looking forward to our next outing!

When and where do you do Nature Study? I’d love to hear and be inspired. Next time I’ll talk about how we do nature study.

Nature Study – What Did I Need to Make It Happen?

Last week, I shared about Nature Study and why I have made it a priority in our week. By far, the biggest stumbling block to making it happen was my concept of what I needed to make Nature Study happen.

I would read how others were implementing Nature Study and would instantly feel overwhelmed. The supply list they had for a child or two was not feasible for our family size and budget. Here is what I had to remind myself: There is not a mandatory supply list for nature study. There is not a mandatory name brand for sketch books or watercolors. There is not even a mandatory method for Nature Study. All I needed was to decide what *our family* needed and to go outside to explore, see, and learn!

Here is how I made it happen:

On a weekly trip to the store, I purchased seven small sketchbooks. This allowed six of my children and myself to have our own nature study journals. I didn’t want to leave out my five year old and my three year old so they use a clipboard with a piece of sketch paper. I would eventually love to invest in a higher quality sketch book, but what we have is working out beautifully.

For Christmas, we were given a set of Prismacolor coloring pencils. We are absolutely loving these! While we do use them for other sketching, I try to keep these with our nature study items. I also keep a set of Crayola coloring pencils that they younger ones use. With eight children sketching, color availability can be tough! I hope to dabble in watercolors at some point. Again, my goal was to get the basics and to get started!

I grabbed a pencil pouch I had on hand and used that to hold a pencil sharpener, erasers, and a few pencils for sketching.

Since we are sharing sketching supplies, I am keeping sketch books, coloring pencils, etc all in a nice sturdy canvas bag. This allows us to “grab and go” at any time without having to hunt down supplies. Later I would love to get everyone a small nature study bag for individual items but for now this is working well. A few of the children do have their own art supplies and sometimes choose to bring them.

I always grab the camera so we take pictures in case we need to finish sketching indoors. We also happen to be a picture loving family so someone always wants the camera.

There are some items I want to add to our Nature Study Bag: binoculars, field guides, magnifying glass, bags for collecting items. I’ll simply add those as I can. No excuses for not getting out for Nature Study! With just a few basic supplies we are doing Nature Study and having a blast!

Up next – When and Where does Nature Study Happen?