When I homeschooled my oldest son for preschool through 6th grade, nature study and nature walks were a weekly occurrence for us. Thanks to several parks and wildlife refuges in our area just outside of Philly, we could study different habits so easily.
Nature study can be done with any age. Toddlers will delight in finding simple items. Elementary kids can learn about habitats and the seasons. High school students can go in depth on topics like the effect of changing climates on animal behavior.
Nature Study Resources
I have two favorite resources that I keep on my shelf, though neither hasn’t been touched much recently, due to lack of time. The first is Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study. Written in 1911, it is a wonderfully thick reference for those taking nature walks on the East Coast.
The second is Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Claire Walker Leslie. Not only does it give a nice overview of how to draw, it gives ideas of what to look for in each season. I would love for my own nature journals to be as full of life as Leslie’s!
Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set
A newer resource that I came across recently are the animal stories written by Thornton W. Burgess. It’s not the kind of book to bring along on a walk, but by reading the delightful stories ahead of time, one has much to think about and look for when out on a walk. I have to say that I almost started using Burgess’ narrative style when my children and I encountered a squirrel on one of our walks and my second son started asking questions about what the squirrel was doing. It seemed to easy to spin a narrative about a squirrel collecting nuts and preparing for winter!
Today I ran across another resource, one that pulls an overwhelming number of Charlotte Mason-style resources together in one place – Nature Study – Charlotte Mason Style. One fun looking document talks about using items from the kitchen to create house plants!
Nature Walks in the Delaware Valley
- Hildacy Farm Preserve, Media
- Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College
- Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill
- Summer at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square
- Christmas at Longwood Gardens
- Fall Foliage at Longwood Gardens
- Orchids at Longwood Gardens
- Summer 2013 at Longwood Gardens
- Audubon in Millgrove, PA