taking our learning outdoors (aka "nature study")

Mornings around here are spent in this room.  (I'm so thankful for the way the sunlight pours through these windows.  I need natural light.)

After we have a time of worship (singing along with youtube worship videos like these), I read from the Bible, read some from this book and this one and this one.  Then the boys work their way through the more difficult paper and pencil subjects first (as in math, copywork, writing) using our file folder system.  


Mommy reads aloud at some point...living books that bring history and science to life.

But the best part of our learning day happens when we head outside to take a closer look at God's creation (the fancy way to say that is "nature study").

nature journaling

Last week we studied cattails (an easy choice because they're right in our backyard) referring to the Handbook of Nature Study blog (which has tons of great info and ideas), using their cattail notebooking page to journal on, and getting some fun ideas from this blog (like dipping the cattail in oil and lighting it on fire to create a torch, which the boys, of course, really wanted to do but we never got around to it...maybe next week).  We also read this lovely book.

cattail journaling


cattail journaling

goldenrod gall fly parasite

We studied goldenrod in the backyard one day referring to the Handbook of Nature Study blog (again),  journaling about it on their notebooking page, reading these old poems about goldenrod here (pages 193-195)and perusing all this great goldenrod info here.  In the photo above, Eli is pointing to the larvae of the Goldenrod Gall Fly.  So interesting....the fly lays it's eggs into the stem of the goldenrod and the larvae eat from inside the stem of the goldenrod. The saliva of the larvae has a chemical in it which causes the plant to grow abnormally, creating a ball-shaped "gall" that the larvae live in for a whole year!  Their bodies make a chemical that acts like anti-freeze to keep them from freezing over the winter!  God's creativity is so amazing!  If you're so inclined to read more about these galls, you can do so here.

pollen gathering

spider finger

This big beautiful spider (haven't been able to exactly identify it) gave us a thrill.  Just look at the patterns!

fat beautiful spider

Another time we searched for interesting rocks across the street in the freshly (sadly) excavated lot and were amazed by all the different colorful ones.

pretty rock

red conglomerate? rock

different inside

crown making

Making time to do things like creating leaf crowns.....

leaf crown making

leaf crowns

goldenrod crown


always keeping our eyes out for the tiniest of creatures....


and heading to our favorite park to climb trees, wade in the creek, discover interesting berries and bugs and plants and just soak in His beautiful sunshine and fresh air.

In my humble opinion, all of this is just as valuable and critical in the kid's education as math is.


climb sun


froggie hop

Having climbed WAY up a beech tree, the boys were giddy to discover this adorable tree frog perched up there.  We were sad to leave him behind.

mr. tree froggers

hungry gathering

Milkweed bugs in varying life stages all huddled.  They were on every milkweed plant we saw.


Oops, Eli almost tasted one of these pokeweed berries which I later found out are poisonous.  This plant has an interesting story.

beech nuts and bunny fur

Oliver gathered some beechnut seed pods and bunny fur.  We had read this little story about beech trees (pages 7-9) the week earlier.

Almost forgot, we started reading "Among the Forest People" at the park and the kids loved it...can't wait to open it again.  Mommy is thoroughly entranced, too.  :)

(By the way, here is a compiled list of free, archived vintage nature reader books that I think are SOO great!  Tons to explore!)


Maybe I've inspired you to take your learning outdoors tomorrow?
That's where we'll be!

One of my favorite passages praising our Creator God....

Psalm 104 (The Message)

    "O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are!
      beautifully, gloriously robed,
   Dressed up in sunshine,
      and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
   You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
      made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
   You commandeered winds as messengers,
      appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
   You set earth on a firm foundation
      so that nothing can shake it, ever.
   You blanketed earth with ocean,
      covered the mountains with deep waters;
   Then you roared and the water ran away—
      your thunder crash put it to flight.
   Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
      in the places you assigned them.
   You set boundaries between earth and sea;
      never again will earth be flooded.
   You started the springs and rivers,
      sent them flowing among the hills.
   All the wild animals now drink their fill,
      wild donkeys quench their thirst.
   Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
      ravens make their voices heard.
   You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
      earth is supplied with plenty of water.
   You make grass grow for the livestock,
      hay for the animals that plow the ground.

 14-23 Oh yes, God brings grain from the land,
      wine to make people happy,
   Their faces glowing with health,
      a people well-fed and hearty.
   God's trees are well-watered—
      the Lebanon cedars he planted.
   Birds build their nests in those trees;
      look—the stork at home in the treetop.
   Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
      badgers burrow among the rocks.
   The moon keeps track of the seasons,
      the sun is in charge of each day.
   When it's dark and night takes over,
      all the forest creatures come out.
   The young lions roar for their prey,
      clamoring to God for their supper.
   When the sun comes up, they vanish,
      lazily stretched out in their dens.
   Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
      busy at their jobs until evening.

 24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
      You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
      made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
   Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
      brimming with fish past counting,
      sardines and sharks and salmon.
   Ships plow those waters,
      and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
   All the creatures look expectantly to you
      to give them their meals on time.
   You come, and they gather around;
      you open your hand and they eat from it.
   If you turned your back,
      they'd die in a minute—
   Take back your Spirit and they die,
      revert to original mud;
   Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
      the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

 31-32 The glory of God—let it last forever!
      Let God enjoy his creation!
   He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
      points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.

 33-35 Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
      sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
   Oh, let my song please him;
      I'm so pleased to be singing to God.
   But clear the ground of sinners—
      no more godless men and women!   O my soul, bless God!"
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Megan,
    Love this post! As a newbie to the CM philosophy of education, and beginning our first of Ambleside Online in September, Nature study is one of my children's favorite "subjects". And I agree with you - it is every bit as important in their education as math is.
    I'm your newest subscriber and look forward to reading your future posts. :)
    Many blessings,


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