Many of my blog posts over these last few months have revolved around our explorations and adventures as we’ve studied nature, so I’m ending this particular series with a short post outlining some of the resources we use. It goes neatly alongside a podcast Helen and I recorded a week ago, so do pop over and have a listen as we share about the approaches we and others have taken to nature study.
Nature study doesn’t seem to have a set place in current school curriculum, but my deep love of the outdoors, alongside two high energy boys meant it developed very organically as a part of our day. One of my favourite authors is Miss Read, who has written many books, including the “Fairacre” Series, chronicling the life of a school teacher in a small rural village school in the 1950’s. Village School is the first of these, and I was definitely inspired by her teaching, including the frequent nature walks. So, armed with Miss Read as my role model, a deep longing to be outdoors, some beautiful countryside around us and a few spotter guides, our journey began.
I share how we have developed this in the podcast, but suffice to say, I was delighted when I started digging into some education philosophies and found many included the study of nature. Indeed, Charlotte Mason, to whom I along with many others have found a deep affinity , recommended hours outside each week. So finally I could feel confident in the approach I was taking.
Back to resources….for anyone starting out, I’d highly recommend Exploring nature with children. It’s a wonderful, comprehensive curriculum which leads us through the year, with a different topic to delve into each week. We tend to dip in and out, using it as a springboard, but it has enough depth to be used as a full weekly curriculum. I’d even recommend it to families with children at school, as a gorgeous way spend time with them, building your relationships and nurturing a love of our natural world.
We begin with nature study on a Monday morning, reading extracts from a variety of books.
We then take many walks and rambles throughout the week, and try to remember to look up anything we don’t know when we get back. This quite often gets forgotten, but even the occasional dive into a spotter guide will increase our knowledge.
In addition, I sometimes take a year to read through a book which correlates with the seasons. This year we are reading The Country Child by Alison Uttley. The Little Gardeners has been much loved, but I’m sure is out of print. The My side of the mountain trilogy by Jean Craighead George is set in the Catskill mountains and the boys and I really enjoyed it as a bed time story. Books are a great way of developing a love of the great outdoors within our children and ourselves. For some more book suggestions see the one I put together here
As I come to land on this subject for a while, I hope you may have been encouraged not only to explore nature with your children, but to discover its restorative value for yourself. Most of all, I pray that in a world where nature has often been promoted to a god – like status, that as we study and wonder at the incredible design of our created world, we will be led to its Creator, and pour out our worship to Him.