Nature studies and nature journaling has been a part of our homeschool curriculum since the very beginning. When we first began our homeschool journey, it was the Charlotte Mason lifestyle that so appealed to me particularly because of the emphasis Miss Mason placed on allowing the child’s interest in the natural world to take lead.
When the opportunity to review Exploring Nature with Children: A complete, year-long curriculum by Lynn Seddon I was delighted. This was the perfect fit for my family.
Exploring Nature with Children is Well Organized
Exploring Nature with Children is an excellent guide for families desiring to integrate nature study into their lives – whether they homeschool or their children attend public or private school.
There are four weekly themed nature study lessons for each month. A page for each season provides a list of the materials you’ll want to gather for each of the weekly nature outings.
Additionally, for those desiring to go more in-depth, each week Seddon references the material applicable in The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock Bradford. She also lists a variety of other books that relate to the topic each week – books you’ll be able to request from your local library or may find you already own.
Essentially, Seddon’s book provides you with an outline or guide for the entire year; a complete year-long curriculum. The Comstock book serves as optional reference material and the booklist provide ideas for enriching the child’s experience.
That’s not all! Exploring Nature with Children also includes a poem, a piece of art, and suggested extension activities for each week. This complete study thereby integrates language arts and art study, additional components of the Charlotte Mason philosophy.
“It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar–the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.”
~ Charlotte Mason
Exploring Nature with Children is Easy to Implement
Recently, we were at at bus stop awaiting for the shuttle driver from the auto mechanic to pick us up so we could return for our vehicle. The kids were getting a little antsy and frustrated with one another and soon their antics were beginning to get on my nerve.
I knew I had to get them engaged in something to distract their attention. Seddon’s seed study, 0ne of the activities outlined for autumn, immediately came to mind. This activity was perfect for our situation because it requires no special tools or equipment.
While this wasn’t the most ideal location, there were a variety of trees and shrubs surrounding the bus stop. I thereby challenged each of them to find as many seeds as possible before the driver arrived. While they only had about 10 minutes to collect and a limited area, I was surprised at the diversity of seeds we were able to collect (see photograph above).
Exploring Nature with Children is Adaptable
The plan outlined by Seddon in Exploring Nature with Children provides for a lesson on nesting birds in the winter. She provides a great narrative of how birds are adapted to the cold in winter due to layers of feathers, reserving body fat, and the ability to constrict blood flow in their legs and feet.
Parents can feel comfortable shuffling the activities when opportunities arise. When my daughter observed an Oriole recently, she watched it for a long while. As I stated above, Seddon provides key reference pages to other materials with which we were easily able to complement her lesson on nesting birds.
“Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of
delight and habit through life.”
~ Charlotte Mason
I encourage you to make a deliberate habit of studying nature together as a family. Simple studies, right in your own backyard or even at the bus stop, will enrich your lives more than you know.