We love to get outside together and just enjoy our surroundings, notice the miracles in nature. You can learn so much just by observing! It doesn't matter what season, or what the weather is, you can always find something interesting to look at.
|an interesting fungus and moss that Lauren noticed|
|SHARP points on a thorn apple tree...|
Daddy called them "nature's toothpicks ;)
|deer beds in the snow...we found many of these places on our walk the other day|
The whole concept of "nature study" can be a bit intimidating, can't it? I don't know about you, but I feel like one can get overwhelmed by the "shoulds" and "oughts" around the idea of nature study. You should have a specific focus before you walk out the door, you should have a nature journal, you ought to make sure to sketch so you can add it to your journal, you should look things up and make notes, etc. It becomes more about getting it all down on paper to have proof of what you've done, instead of the true purpose, which is getting out the door and immersing yourself and your kids in the beauty that awaits you out there!
I can admit that I've gotten caught up in all of those "shoulds" and "oughts"...and I know that it can prevent you from getting outdoors at all. It can feel like, what's the point? I don't have time to write it all down...I can't draw for beans...my kids don't like to keep a nature journal, and so on. By letting "nature study" get us frustrated, we miss out on the fun and the glory of it!
I'm absolutely NOT knocking nature journals! Nature journals can be truly lovely ways to record your experiences. We actually have them, both girls and myself...and we do use them...sometimes...we do sketches and we make notes to add to our journals. BUT, I have gotten away from the idea that we must keep them up-to-date. We make entries into them as the fancy strikes us. Taking photos while we are outdoors on a hike/exploration/nature walk fits our personalities better, and we often share them using digital means... this blog, our nature photography blog, or Instagram (I'm learning_247, Jenna is 1purplerabbit, and Lauren is rainbowcreate).
|it's always more fun when Daddy can join us!|
|of course, a tramp through the woods on a sunny winter day is excellent exercise :)|
We do sometimes have a focus to our nature study, as well. A few days ago, on Sunday afternoon, we girls went for a walk through our woods, with the idea of being quiet to see what we could see...and I wanted to look for squirrel nests. We have LOTS of squirrels that visit our bird feeders to steal seeds, and I was on the lookout for where they live. We found likely nests in some tree tops.
We did go on to read some information about squirrels, once we were back inside. I started by reading through the entry about squirrels in Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study. I also checked Barb's most excellent Handbook of Nature Study blog to see what she had available about squirrels :) From here, I found a few more articles online to read aloud about squirrels: a squirrel page at National Geographic and another squirrel facts page. I also found some content about squirrels at Sheppard Software. We didn't make any notes or sketches in our nature journals, but we did get out and observe, and from there we were inspired to look up more information.
So, my message is, don't let formal ideas about what nature study "should" look like prevent you or distract you from engaging in whatever form of studying nature appeals to you and your children :)