Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nature Study Tools for Littles

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

Nature study is a completely natural thing for a child to do. Children are naturally curious and want to explore and learn about the world around them. With just a bit of guidance, children have the ability to learn so much from the natural world on their own.

When I first began reading Charlotte Mason's works and the things that she expected a child of six to know I was intimidated because they were things that I didn't know about the world that we live in. She believes that time in nature forms the foundation of a child's ability to form connections with other aspects of their education and with science. But, in just a year of paying attention to the world around us, I'm excited by how many creatures and plants that we see in the world around us that we can now identify.

We have invested in, and received as gifts, several tools for exploring nature. Meghan absolutely loves time in nature and exploring the world that she lives in. Even in our suburban setting, our children see a variety of plants and animals that they can learn to identify!

Here are some of the tools we have been using that have been helping us in our nature study:

Child Binoculars 
It took her a while to completely understand how these works, but Meghan is now a pro at using her binoculars! When I tell them we are going on a stroller ride, she runs to grab these before shoes! She also comes to grab them whenever she hears lots of birds outside our front door. (Can I just say? It's adorable!)

Bug Catcher 
This is a fun place for her to put bugs she has found or for me to put things I find when she is in roomtime or bed for her to see when she's able. It's been a handy tool - and as the girls get older I see it getting even more use!

Gardening Gloves 
These are helpful for handling bugs and for helping Mama in the garden.

Watering Cans 
Each girl has one of these watering cans. These don't really help with studying nature, but they sure are helpful for helping Mama water plants. And while we do we talk about what we see - plants & bugs!

Magnifying Glass 
Katie loves to eat this thing! But, there's more! It's helpful for looking for things on the ground. This one also has a little stand that can be used to stabilize the magnification.

Kansas Field Guides (Wildlife, Birds, Trees & Wildflowers, Butterlies & Moths)
I actually cut these in half and put them in our "family science book". When we go for nature walks, we observe and take pictures and then come home to look through the field guides to label what we saw. These are often just browsed through by Miss Meghan just for fun.

Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards
These cards are beautiful and super helpful for learning to identify birds in our area. I laminated the cards of birds that are known to live in our area. Then, whenever we see a new bird, I add it's card to the ring of hole punched cards. The cards hang on a shelving unit in our dining area near several big windows so Meghan can easily grab them to identify birds she sees. It's pretty impressive to me how quickly she, Cole, and I have learned to identify the birds that frequent our backyard!

We also have some nature study books that we enjoy looking at and will be using more and more over the next several years; these are Nature Anatomy (we also love Farm Anatomy), Fun with Nature, and More Fun with Nature.


Pocket Full of Pinecones 
I love this book for Mamas. It tells the story of a mother doing Charlotte Mason homeschool, and particularly nature study, while they live in town. It's an enjoyable story for fiction reading while at the same time giving tons of great ideas for doing study with young children.

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