Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Day of Nature Study

A Day of Nature Study: Charlotte Mason Style

I want to share with you a bit about what a day of Nature Study looks like at our house.  I pattern my homeschool after the Charlotte Mason style of education.  If you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason you should get familiar with her, especially if you are a home educator.  I love her gentle methods of educating.  Instead of doing a set science curriculum, we do nature study.  All of my children are of the age that I believe they need to be taking in the magnificence of God's creation. We observe flowers, trees, bodies of water, insects, weather patterns, animals and anything dealing with nature. As they each get older we will take on the more serious subjects of science such as biology and chemistry but, for now we observe what's going on in the world around us.

Today's post is what a day of nature study looked like for us last week.  We are on summer break, but when you learn for the sake of learning it doesn't matter if school is in or out of session.  We started our day with a walk on the county road that we live on.  The 2 oldest road their bikes and I pushed the littles in the double stroller.  We noticed the wild flowers were blooming abundantly.  As we walked to our halfway point and turned to come back, Lane stopped to pick and sample some honeysuckle.  We all enjoyed some of the tasty goodness!  Then the children began picking white daisies.  They picked and picked and picked.  Lucky for me, my stroller has a big basket.  Across from the daisy patch was a field of yellow flowering weeds.  We decided they would make a nice addition to our bouquets.  After all the picking was done, we headed back to the house.  The children played outside while I arranged the flowers and placed them all over our home. Then I prepared lunch and we ate it in the shade out back.  I had placed one big bouquet on our lunch table.  During lunch, we decided we should get to know the white daisy. In order to do that I referred to the Anna Comstock-Handbook of Nature Study. This is a fabulous resource for nature study.  I was blessed to have a friend give me an extra copy she had but you can find it on Amazon.  I think there may even be a free e-book version available.  I found a black and white picture and a description of the white daisy in the handbook. The children and I discussed the parts of the flower, the growing season, the germination cycle and etc.  Simply.... we are eating and chatting about the flowers the children had picked that are sitting in the middle of the table. 

Before I cleared the table, I asked the children if they would like to sketch the flowers in there nature notebook.  They both asked if they could paint.  So we moved to our larger picnic table.  I brought out sketch pads and paints and away they went. A nature notebook is simply a sketch pad where your child draws what he or she has seen in nature. This is the first time my kids have used paint and we were very careful to make sure it dried before they closed there books.  Lilli labels and dates her pages on her own. If she wants to write descriptions or poetry alongside her work she is welcome to do so.  I usually date Lane's pages, but we don't write much on his pages yet. This is a book that is never graded.  It's a place where the children have the freedom to do nature art work without fear of "doing it wrong." This is also a book they will be able to look back on a year from now and see how much they have improved in their sketching and also have a picture to remind them of what they have learned in relationship to nature.  

That evening they showed there sketch book to their dad and told him about picking the daisies and some of the things they learned about the flower.  This is a typical nature study lesson for the Hodges family.

Lijah wanted to paint too. So I brought out water colors for him.

Lilli first sketched with a pencil and then added paint.

Lane likes to mix colors to get the shades he wants.  You can see his paint tray before he started mixing...a shield is there too. Just in case he needs to defend himself. :)

This is the cover of our reference book.  The book is really thick. 859 pages thick.

White Daisies!~

If nature study is a new concept to you I would love to answer an questions you may have.  If you are an old pro at this  type of thing leave me a comment and tell me about one of your favorite nature lessons or a way that you do nature study that I might like to add into my bag of tricks. :)

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