Monday, November 17, 2014

Creative Nature Study

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and reviewing, “Creative Nature Study: Ideas to Jump-Start or Invigorate Nature Study in Your Homeschool” for the Schoolhouse Review CrewAs homeschoolers we have a very unique opportunity to guide our children’s education in the way we feel will best prepare them for life. This book does an amazing job at giving the tools needed to bring God’s creation into our everyday learning. If you want to ignite desire, curiosity, and the love for learning but just don’t know where to start, look no further. This book is the collaborative effort of various homeschool moms just like you who are passionate about bringing nature into learning. You can find this book and many other great books and resources through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. God’s creation is a gift, and we need to not keep it packaged up.

I am delighted to see that the curriculum starts with the basics in Chapter 1: “What is Nature Study and Why Do It?” This chapter will ignite the child’s desire to experience creation without feeling overwhelmed. Chapter 2 gives the reader ideas and suggestions for packing a backpack that contains useful tools in the nature quest. My children loved the section on “Nature Study in Unlikely Places.” This section challenges the child to mark off a 1' x 1' square section on which to focus. Inventive imaginations can observe a small area and glean much information. My children were amazed at the amount of things that they were able to observe in such a small area.

Moving on, Chapter 3 tells about Creative Walks such as “I See God.” The assignment is to find God in nature. We put our own little twist on this during our walk and used the word "spy" instead of "see". My 3rd grader said, “I Spy God in when the wind blows and the leaves come spiraling down.” Chapter 4 discusses Projects. Nature studies do not have to end with simply identifying something unfamiliar, rather you can take a more in-depth look into something intriguing by researching. Chapter 5, “Creative Writing,” strengthens and challenges a child to develop essential writing skills without the child even knowing that they are doing so. Writing about fun ideas like a story about the life of a rock allows the child to use his or her imagination. My children had so much fun searching for just the right rock to write a story about. Since my first grader is just beginning the dictation stage of writing with simple sentences I opted to have her tell me a story about her rock and then she illustrate her story in picture form. This activity gives the parent great insight as to what the child needs in the way of developing grammar and writing skills.

Next, Chapter 6 gives nature notebook ideas that will be true keepsakes. Since winter is upon us I have decided to let my children gather their notebooking materials, decorate their notebooks, and then we will tuck them away until Spring. Chapter 7 covers scavenger hunts. This chapter also helps the parent understand how to make learning fun. Children love playing educational games and need not always think that they are “in school.” The chapter includes scavenger hunt printouts to make your hunt complete. I was very happy that these printouts were included. Chapter 8 covers the basics for those that deal with allergies and asthma. I really appreciated this chapter because our whole family suffers from seasonal allergies and asthma and during peak times being outdoors is difficult. 

You also get the opportunity to learn about the contributors and have the ability to sift through the extensive list of resources found in the appendix. This book will never be truly “completed” because as your children grow their thoughts, ideas and perspectives are continually developing as they mature in the Lord as well as in their studies. I appreciate that so many others subjects can be integrated into the daily lessons. I can see that this curriculum teaches life skills that will benefit the child years later. I highly recommend this eBook to all homeschool families. 

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