It is officially the New Year and we are back to “school”. One of the things that I wanted to incorporate more in this year was nature study. Given the season, we are starting with a winter nature study! I love nature and the idea of studying it, but honestly, it intimidates me. There is so much to know, and I feel like I know so little of it.
I was really lucky to get my hands on 4 awesome Charlotte Mason style nature study guides (one for each season) during a Currclick special several years ago. (For more information on Charlotte Mason and why you would want to use her teaching methods visit Simply Charlotte Mason.) Since then, they have been sitting, beautifully bound, on a book shelf collecting dust. Well, no more! This is the year we are going to really use them….
I love these guides because they are broken down by season, and then each season into monthly increments. Each month has 3-4 topics that you can focus on with suggestions for readings, activities, and teachings. I appreciate (being a recovering type A mama) that it’s not a check list style of book. I can’t complete the lists because there are none. And I can’t have every resource because I can’t find a lot of them. So I can venture into homeschooling in a way that I’ve wanted to for a long time.
The winter nature study topics for the month of January are Trees, Astronomy, Owls & Nocturnal Animals.
We’re spending the first week of January studying trees in winter. I have some brushing up to do, but luckily I have some great resources at my finger tips to make it easy and keep it simple. For my own reading, I use Apologia’s Exploring Creation series to brush up on my knowledge of science. I want to be able to teach this information through conversation while we are out playing or on a walk. The information in these texts is simple to follow and reads like a story! (I have been known to disappear into a warm tub with these resourceful texts.)
To incorporate our language arts, we are using poetry for learning, copy work and dictation. I purchased Favorite Poems Old and New a while ago and it has come in handy. I highly recommend purchasing any compilation book of poetry wherever you can find one. Our winter nature study guide also provides some poems for each season and topic. There wasn’t a poem on trees though so we delved into our book and selected Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
Izzy really enjoyed this poem – I read it to him and then he read it to me. (You can download this free Trees printable poem for your own home use!) He will spend the next 2 days copying the poem. Then we will spend 2 days using it for dictation. Copy work is wonderful for helping children focus on the details of spelling and punctuation, building muscle memory for writing and developing the eyes ability to track. Dictation, on the other hand, helps develop an ear for the distinct sounds in speech, improves spelling, and exercises short term memory. I believe these skills are invaluable so I have decided to incorporate both teaching methods.
We will be going on a nature walk twice a week – once close to home and once further away so that we can explore our community. During these walks we’ll be taking bark rubbings for tree identification, looking for stumps to count tree rings whilst identifying years of drought and heavy rainfalls, and looking at the different branch patterns of the bare trees. We will also talk about the different types of trees we see (deciduous vs. evergreen), how they are different and why that’s important. The winter nature study guide gives great questions and explanations to help even the most inexperienced of nature guides (present company not excluded).
And finally, we’ll be adding in an art project. We’re going to paint birch trees in the winter, similar to this one… the perfect addition to our winter nature study.
I love Deep Space Sparkle. If you aren’t familiar with this site I highly suggest you check it out. There are quite a few freebies to try. Patty walks you through each step; she includes the supplies needed and how to teach each technique to the kids. Using her lessons makes art projects easy and beautiful. (And this is coming from someone who avoided art class like the plague.)
I would love to know what homeschooling plans you have for the New Year.
Here is Izzy’s completed trees picture!
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