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Using Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year

A number of months ago, I had a poll on my website which some homeschoolers graciously filled out and requested more information in various areas of using Charlotte Mason methods in their home schools. The number one top request was more information on using nature study and nature journaling.

This ebook is a year long study of nature divided into seasons and months and the natural events that occur during those seasons. Through a natural introduction into science through nature, this study introduces children into different areas of biology, physics, and chemistry.

For an overview of what you will find in Using Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year, I invite you to view a slideshow I created to help explain my ebook:

 Using Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year ebook slideshow

Would you like to give nature study a try but don’t know how you will find the time or fit it into your schedule and still feel like you are covering everything you really feel the need to cover for science?

I’ve been there. That is why I have written a book that takes the time for nature study but still covers different areas of biology, chemistry, and physics as an extended study of what you observe in nature. These topics can be covered generally or more in depth. It all depends on you, your child, and the time and interest you have for each topic.

This 215 page study includes the following sections that you can print off a few at a time depending on the topic of your study and the time of year:

  • Each Season has 3 months
  • Each Month has poetry and quotes that have to do with that month or topics within that month
  • There are different topics and a different number of topics depending on the natural events during that season or month.

    For example, under Winter, you will find December, January, and February. Within January, you will find the topics of Trees in Winter, Astronomy, Owls,and Nocturnal Animals.

    Within each topic you will find:

  • Pertinent poetry and quotes
  • Suggested Living Book list
  • Nature Walk and Post-walk Activities
  • Questions with which to engage your children in conversation about the topic of study during the walk
  • Scientific Connections that naturally draw your child into an extended study of biology, physics, or chemistry that is connected to your nature study topic

    For example, a topic study in July is Weather – Thunder, Lightning, Rain, and Rainbows. After observing this in nature and studying it, a Scientific Connection offers suggestions in which to extend that study into a study of Electricity, Sound Waves and Vibrations, Color, Light, or Acid Rain.

             Each Scientific Connection has

  • Suggested Living Books list (if books are available on the topic)
  • Suggested Activities and Experiments
    Some of these are described in the book, others are websites or books of experiments.
  • The Next Major Section of the book is Nature Journaling
    Here you will find Recommended Nature Journal and Drawing book suggestions and websites. You will also find Suggested Sources for Nature Journaling pages and Sample Nature Journal pages within this book to get you started right away.
  • The Last Section is the Poetry section.
    Here you will find Suggestions in which to integrate Poetry into your nature study through Writing and Studying Literary Devices commonly found in Poetry.

 So, you can see that you CAN do a weekly nature study and still tie it into a more formal study of the traditional scientific areas and have the best of both worlds.

You can purchase the Using Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year ebook here with Paypal:

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Please let us know how you like the ebook after your purchase. We are eager to hear your thoughts! If you know anyone else that may be interested please share our post. Thanks!

Read Reviews of this book here:

Our Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year book is now available in ebook form and in a printed edition. It has been receiving resounding positive reviews. Please click on the links below to read what other homeschool users have to say.

Here is what one homeschool mom from Australia who blogs on her “Aussie Pumpkin Patch” has to say:

“The book is awesome!…The book not only has fantastic ideas for nature walks and study but also ideas on questions you could ask before, during, or after the walks. … I really can’t wait to take some of these ideas out and use them with the kids.”

more from Kendra at Aussie Pumpkin Patch

Here is another review from a reviewer for Currclick.com. Scroll down the page after the description of our book and you will find a written review from a member of the Heart of the Matter Team. Here’s a little of what she had to say:

“WOW! That was my first impression! For $14.95, “Using Nature Study, Nature Journal and Nature Through the Year” is a great purchase. It is massive in size (over 200 pages) and deep in scope.”

Click here to read more of this review.

Christen commented on this blog:

A fellow homeschooler recommended your 2012 Election notebook and I was absolutely thrilled to find these unit studies that you’ve written as well.

They are RIGHT on the nose, exactly what I’ve been looking for, for almost a year! I teach in our homeschool coop and although my children are 4 and 2 I love that I can use these even now with them and not just in the coop! A lot of the questions while on a nature walk are the same as what I do naturally. I am looking forward to getting more in depth and embracing both of my children’s curiosity and having the perfect tool to help me stay focused and organized in my teaching about the seasons.

Thank you also for making them so affordable! We don’t have a lot of wiggle room at all so it’s nice to have the option of purchasing individual seasons, but it’s SO cost effective to get it all at once and I was shocked at how affordable it was. Thank you so much!

We’re excited homeschoolers have found our book so enjoyable and useful in your science and nature study! Now is the time to get outside and bring your learning back to nature!

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Celebrate Pi Day!

If this is the first time visiting our site, please read our Welcome page to get an idea of what you can find throughout this website and enjoy our other offerings while you are here.

Celebrate Pi Day with these Activities

(For resources used with our study units, click on the Resources tab above.)

pi day picture

March 14 is coming quickly! Make your plans now to celebrate math with Pi Day using some of these neat resources, books, and ideas. We have links to tons of websites with activity suggestions for all grades. We also have a list of books that you can read and follow up with notebooking pages or lapbooks.

We have started out our day with headbands. On the front of the headband we attached a triangle resembling a slice of pizza pie or a circle resembling a whole pie. The kids colored in their favorite pizza or pie. Then wrote the word “Pi”, underneath that “3.14”, then “(the pi symbol).” We wore our headbands for the rest of the day, so that whenever we looked at one another, the “visual” learners had a reminder of Pi throughout the day.

We read a variety of stories involving the use of measuring a circle and all its measurements. At the same time, we happened to be studying ancient Egypt, so that we were reading a book about Archimedes at the time. Here is a list of books that relate to the study of Pi:

  • Sir Cumference and Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander
  • Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (diameter of a circle) by Cindy Neuschwander
  • Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (circles) by Cindy Neuschwander
  • Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone (cone’s dimensions) by Cindy Neuschwander

Here are some resources to use with some of these books – http://www.homeschoolshare.com/sir_cumference.php

  • Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick (the chapters near the end of the book look at Archimedes’ mathematical studies)
  • Piece of Pi: Wit-sharpening, Brain-bruising, Number-Crunching Activities with Pi by Naila Bokhari (activity book)
  • The Joy of Pi by David Blatner (middle to high school range)
  • A History of Pi by Petr Beckmann (high school) (reference to million years old earth on first page)

Part of our day we read books, writing a notebook page summarizing what we learned about Pi on the bottom half of a notebook page and on the top half, drawing diagrams and examples of using Pi in a formula. My younger son had a worksheet with a table to fill in as he measured the circumference, diameter, and radius of objects around the house. My older son had a similar table to complete, but had an extra column where he had to use Pi to calculate the different dimensions of various circular objects around the house. Some Pi activity worksheets can be found at http://search.enchantedlearning.com/cgi-bin/uncgi/search?key=pi and edhelper.com.

To obtain different notebooking pages to write your findings of Pi, go to http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=free-lined-paper-pages.

Other Pi activities can be found at the following websites:






If you want to have your kids do a Pi lapbook, join Live and Learn Press’s Yahoo group and receive a free wonderful lapbook at liveandlearnpress.com.

You can end your Pi Day celebration like we did, by making a pizza (or ordering one) and taking its measurements using the formula. Enjoy your day making memories no one will forget!

If you would like to be notified of newly posted study units, please subscribe to Katie’s Homeschool Cottage newsletter (link found in the top left corner of this page.)  If you enjoyed these ideas, please share with friends! Thanks.
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Using Charlotte Mason Methods

If you are looking for a way to homeschool a number of children of various age ranges, enjoy reading books with them, want to enhance their writing skills, delve into stories of historical figures and events, and minimize the use of textbooks, using Charlotte Mason’s methods may be just the right path for you to follow.

Charlotte Mason was an educator in England in the 19th century. She wanted children to learn from “living books” not textbooks. She felt children should go outside and experience nature, make observations, and record them in a nature journal. She advocated that children learned and retained information best when they listened to or read good literature and had the opportunity to narrate orally what they remembered from the reading. Their writing skills developed from reading good literature, studying it, and copying it into copy work journals, and writing down dictation. This is a simplified summary of her philosophy, but it gives you a starting point of her basic ideas. To fully understand and implement her methods you can read her original works or books that have been written summarizing her methods. These can be found at http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/toc.html.

Using Charlotte Mason’s methods, you would teach history chronologically, and can include Bible instruction if you wish. Lessons are kept short so that the child does not dawdle and includes foreign language and art and music appreciation. There are suggested curriculums you can follow at the following websites: http://amblesideonline.org/ and http://simplycharlottemason.com/.

Some homeschooling families combine the use of Charlotte Mason methods with unit study topics. They use notebooking pages to write their narrations, copy work, and dictation to document what they have learned about the theme they are studying. For example, if your family is studying the Middle Ages, you would read living books about the Middle Ages or stories set in the Middle Ages, provide copy work for your child from the book or written work from that time period, and tie in a science topic like disease (black plague) or any scientists’ biographies from that time. You would also include art and music appreciation of artists and musicians from that era. You can find ideas using a combination of Charlotte Mason’s ideas and unit study methods in our Charlotte Mason Ideas section.

This is just an introduction to the wonderful homeschooling experience you and your children can enjoy when implementing Charlotte Mason methods in your daily routine. For further information, read any of the following books: A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola; A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison; and When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper, Eve Anderson, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, and Jack Beckman.

For free practical ideas in using Charlotte Mason methods, combining these with unit topics of study, and links to many educational resources, please journey around this website.

So, How Are You Supposed to Teach Math Using Living Books?

When you think of Charlotte Mason you think of using living books as the foundation of your studies. So, how are you supposed to use living books that you read to help your child understand and learn mathetical concepts? This is a very common question amongst homeschoolers using Charlotte Mason methods. Usually, parents find a math program that suits their child’s individual learning style, which is a major goal in homeschooling. But, what can you use to add variety and spice things up abit, or to connect what you are learning in history, science, and literature with your mathematics? That’s right, living books!

You can read fictional stories involving the use of math concepts, non-fictional books putting math concepts in real settings and examples, and biographies of mathematicians and scientists who developed or used certain math concepts. Depending upon what you are studying in math, history, or science will determine what concepts you will read and what people you will study. Tying these real books in with the study of math or history makes math come alive, making it personally significant and significant to what you are studying in other subjects.

Some examples of fictional books using a story to explain and utilize math concepts are –

Books by Mitsumasa Anno and David Adler


  • Math Start
  • Step into Reading + Math
  • Rookie Readers – Math

Some examples of non-fiction books setting math concepts in real life situations and examining real examples are found in the following series:

Math Works!
Math for the Real World
Math All Around Me

When studying mathematicians or scientists in history or science, it’s fun to include a biography of the person. The children enjoy knowing what the person was like and what made them so interested in the concepts they discovered or helped to develop. My kids definitely enjoyed the stories of Archimedes and his adventures in the bathtub! These are the stories that stick and in turn help make the concepts associated with these entertaining personalities stick in our memories too!

Here are some suggested biographical resources for some famous mathematicians:

Math and Mathematicians: the history of math discoveries around the world by Leonard C. Bruno

Archimedes: Mathematical Genius of the Ancient World by Mary Gow

The Life and Times of Pythagoras by Susan and William Harkins

The Thirteen Books of Euclid’s Elements

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky

Some examples of activities you might want to include when reading any of these books might include narration at the conclusion of a chapter of a short book or at the end of a longer one, then writing a narration on a notebooking page. Your notebook page might include an explanation of the concept, formula if there is one, an example of the concept (including a math problem if that is how you use the concept), and a story example using the concept in a real life situation that your child can pull from their own experience.

You can also write a narration from one of the biographies using a biography notebooking page or a specific mathematician notebooking page, such as the one at this website http://www.homeschoolwithindexcards.com/Notebooking_Forms/MathematicianBiographySheet.pdf.

If you wish, you can incorporate the use of copywork from some of these biographies or quotes from mathematicians and then have your children do dictation from this copywork.

We have done a number of these types of books and notebooking pages. You can go further, if you come across a fun idea like our family did when we were studying Archimedes during our ancient history studies. We found out that he developed the concept of Pi that we use today. We also found out that National Pi Day was on March 14th, so we held Pi Day at our house! We read, wrote, played some problem-solving games and activities using Pi (while wearing Pi headbands). At the end of the day, we had to calculate the dimensions of our pizza pie using the formula for Pi before we could all eat our dinner.

To start your planning for Pi day, March 14th, try out this website www.exploratorium.edu/pi. To add some more fun to Pi day with a book, try reading Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander.

Here are some other websites that focus on math concepts and mathematicians for the older students:

http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/BiogIndex.html (an index for biographies of mathematicians and math topics)



We’ll be having more ideas soon for using these books, activities, and more in unit study formats soon! Remember to click on our link in the top left hand corner to subscribe to our newsletter for more ideas just like these in the future! Have fun using real books in your math study!
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Abraham Lincoln Mini Unit Study

Primary Ages

Read Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner – your child can read to you or you can read aloud.
Meet Abe Lincoln by Barbara Cary
As your child narrates to you the events of the story, you can write it for him/her on a notebooking page to place in a notebook. (See notebooking page links you can choose from below.)

You can have your younger child listen to some of the reading suggestions listed below for the older child and have them narrate to you events from these stories as well, while the older children write their own narrations.

Make a hat and have the child put notes in it and wear it just like Abe Lincoln. Make a donut shape out of black posterboard that fits over the child’s head, roll th top part of the hat and tape it and attach to the inside of the donut shape to stick up like Lincoln’s hat. Then cut a circle out to tape to cover the hole at the top of the hat.

Your child can also make a log cabin like the one Abe lived in when he was a boy. Cut out of a cereal box or light weight cardboard the sides and pointed roof of the cabin and tape together in the shape of a cabin. Cut out a door or any windows you wish to add, and glue craft sticks to the cardboard cabin to completely cover the cardboard. When the glue is dry, paint the craft sticks with brown paint.

If you would like some worksheets and more information to read with some unit study activities, click on the following link from School Express http://schoolexpress.com/ishop/software/lincoln_dg86.pdf

Intermediate and Junior High and High School Ages

Read any of the following living books:

Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legendby Justine and Ron Fontes (younger readers)
Abraham Lincolnby Ingri and Edgar Parin d’ Aulaire
Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty
Abraham Lincoln’s World by Genevieve Foster (this gives you a world view of Lincoln’s time)
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln by Jean Fritz
Abraham Lincoln the Writer: a treasury of his greatest speeches and letters by Harold Haolzer (for older students, a great resource for primary documents for study, copywork, dictation, memorization, and analysis)

After reading any of these living books, have your students narrate the events from chapters as you read them together aloud as a family or individually and then have them write their narration on any of the notebooking page options listed below.

You can copy nicely worded or key sentences from the books for copywork for the children to write on any notebooking pages. After they have studied these sentences and copied them, you can dictate any sentences to them at the end of the week while they write them down.

When there are key events mentioned in the books from his life or from events occurring around the world, put these into a timeline. (an example of a timeline notebook page can be found here http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=Free-History-Notebooking-Pages )

Copywork can also include lines or the entire text from the Emancipation Proclamation or the Gettysburg Address. You can find these online or from the collected works mentioned in the book above.

A unit study for Abraham Lincoln for elementary age students can be found here in lapbook form http://www.homeschoolshare.com/abraham_lincoln_boy_who_loved_books.php

For more activity ideas, read Abraham Lincoln For Kids: his life and times with 21 activities by Janis Herbert

Have your older and high school students write an essay or prepare a persuasive speech for debate about Lincoln’s actions and reasons for instituting the Emancipation Proclamation. Did he do it for the slaves or save the union? Look at this link to analyze and prepare for this discussion and write your position. http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/pdf/liberty_and_justice_for_all.pdf

Notebooking links to choose from

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/docs54367/AbrahamLincolnNtbkpgs.pdf (this one is written to work with the
d’ Aulaire book)

http://homeschool.consumerhelpweb.com/basics/notebooking-pages.htm (you can use the blank biography notebooking page or the 1/2 inch Abraham Lincoln page)

http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=Free-Biography-Notebooking-Pages (a variety of blank biography notebooking pages to choose from)

Middle Ages and Human Body E-Books!

Well, we’ve been very busy! We have a number of projects in the works right now and have finished two of the smaller ones at the moment!

Have you been looking for a fun, creative, and effective way to research or review what you have learned about the middle ages or the human body? We have the solution for your family!

ABC books are not just for little kids anymore! We have created two books that have 5 different kinds of notebooking pages for each letter of the alphabet with various letter fonts, borders, and line spacing. Young and old alike can make their own books and have a portfolio of their learning and work when they are finished.

You can illuminate the book about the middle ages just like the monks in the monasteries or style your human body book after the classic Grey’s Anatomy or write in rhyming verse like Dr. Seuss or prose like Ogden Nash. Each book supplies you with some ideas of using the alphabet pages and an extensive list of topics for each letter from which to choose to write your alphabet pages for each theme.

Make Your Own ABC Book About… the Middle Ages

Introductory Price $1.99

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Make Your Own ABC Book About… The Human Body

Introductory Price $1.99

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Spice up your studies and written narrations, notes, or research with these notebooking pages that will help your child become an author of their own book in no time! We did and this was my kids’ favorite activity for the year!

Recalling Information Proves Most Effective in Learning

The New York Times published an article stating test-taking (a means of retrieving information about recently learned material) has proven to be the most effective means in long-term memory retention. I find the article interesting, not because of the test-taking, but by the results from different experiments that were conducted using various popular learning methods, including the popular mind-mapping idea.

From my standpoint and own experience in our homeschool, and stated in the research, the test-taking or practice of retrieving information can also take the form of oral and written narration, including writing notebooking pages on the topic recently stated. It is the practice of retrieving the information on your own (without looking at a reference) that appears to transfer it from short term memory to long term memory.

Here is the link to the article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/science/21memory.html?src=me&ref=general

This scientific study hasn’t told me anything I haven’t seen in our own homeschooling experience using oral and written narration and our notebooking methods! It did confirm for me and reassure me that we are on that right track!

Learning about Charlotte Mason

For those of you considering using Charlotte Mason’s methods in your homeschool, you might be interested in reading this short biography of her life and her intent in developing her methods. I found it written in a different slant than others I have read before and enjoyed it very much. Perhaps you will too. It is written by a homeschool mom who has homeschooled through high school and has offered workshops sharing ways in which you can use Ms. Mason’s with your children.  Here’s the link to receive your own pdf file of this biography. Get your own copy of “Meet Charlotte Mason” here

If you are interested in an easy course where you receive weekly tips and practical advice in how you can incorporate Charlotte Mason’s methods in your days, you may want to check out a new online course. Charlotte Mason Made Easy E-Course

Well, that’s the latest from here for the moment. Just thought I’d share these new resources with you! Happy Homeschooling! And, Happy New Homeschool Year!

New Autumn Nature Study and More

Well, some of you asked for smaller units for nature studies and we did it! This is not just a nature study though. Just like our Nature Study Through the Year book, this nature study uses nature to introduce more formal scientific study topics and areas. So to use an old saying, “You can have your cake (Charlotte Mason style nature study) and eat it too (study more traditional science topics).

If you’re like me, you like the idea of bringing your kids out into nature, enjoying the current season and appreciating the little things in your surroundings. However, you might be concerned about covering science as an academic subject.

The new Autumn Nature Study and More has been taken out of our year long study and made into its own ebook for those of you who want to pick and choose which season you want to study at a time and wish to purchase something at a lower cost to you than our Nature Study Through the Year ebook.

This nature study has you observing the autumn season during the months of September, October, and November. There are several suggested topics to observe each month. Just like our larger ebook, this ebook includes:

  • suggested nature study books to use alongside our practical nature study suggestions
  • poetry about the topics of nature study
  • living book lists for each topic for each month
  • suggested activities to do during your nature walk or after the walk
  • questions to ask during the walk to help your child focus or discuss their observations about a topic you want to  study on your walk
  • scientific connections: topics of formal science subject areas – includes living book lists and activity or experiment ideas to extend your scientific study
  • nature journal pages to print and use to keep a nature journal
  • suggested book list for keeping nature journals and drawing from nature

For example, this nature study will ask you to observe, read about, discuss, and explore migration habits of birds and animals. That is your nature study topic for one month. (There are others to choose from as well, if you wish to do something different or do more than one topic for each month.) From the idea of migrating birds and animals, you extend your nature study into a formal scientific study into physical science with a study of the earth’s magnetic fields, then magnets and magnetism.

This nature study supplies you with what you need if you want to use the poetry for copywork (you can use the included nature journal pages and include the copywork in your nature journal), read about topics in nature, bunny trail ideas into formal scientific study, and links and suggestions for more research, activities, and experiments into topics in the fields of biology, physical science, and chemistry.

autumn nature study cover

Autumn Nature Study and More

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We hope you will enjoy this nature and science study as much as we do! I am enjoying the crisp feel to the air and can’t wait for the rest of the fall season.

We have other nature studies that we have taken out of our year long study for the Winter season and the Spring season if you wish to purchase either of those now as well in our Cottage Store. They have everything the Autumn season nature study has, but different topics appropriate to each season.

Please let us know what you think! We are eager for feedback and want to hear what you would find helpful!

Happy Fall! 

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Using Nature Study to Study all Areas of Science

I love the idea of nature study and bringing my kids outdoors and exploring science in a natural way. But how do you turn it into something where you know your kids have learned some of those scientific concepts you want to teach?

Sure, I like Charlotte Mason’s ideas of attention to detail and creating a picture in one’s mind of what you are looking at. I also like the idea of getting outside in the fresh air and experiencing science and nature first hand. But, I guess I’m a little too up tight to just leave it at that without turning it into some kind of lesson on a concept.

One way that Charlotte Mason and homeschoolers do this is by keeping a nature journal of what they are observing in nature. Through the use of observation and reading field guides, children can narrate onto journal notebook pages what they have observed in nature, what they read in the field guides, any other information about their nature walk, and maybe a drawing.

If you want to put this narration and drawing in a bound book, you can find these in book stores or school supply catalogs with lined or blank pieces of paper. Some may have fancy fabric covers; some may be plain white or with a simple outline sketch on the outside. We have used all of these variations and have enjoyed them all.

Now that is an effective way of teaching about what you see directly in nature. But, how do you teach areas within biology, physics, and chemistry from there? Well that’s where you build a bridge or connection between what the child experiences first hand in nature and has a personal connection with a concept of science that can be extended from the child’s first hand knowledge.

Let’s say you are studying weather where it is common to experience thunderstorms and lightning during that month. After you observe this weather, maybe making charts of what the weather has been or making predictions, and researching what causes thunderstorms and lightning, you want to extend your study into other areas of science. From thunderstorms, you  begin to read and do science experiments with sound waves and vibrations or examine the water cycle. Or, you look at acid rain and focus on some chemistry experiments looking at the effects of acid rain, which can extend into a study of acids and bases and ph.

Maybe you want to move from there and look at lightning and what causes that and do experiments with static electricity and electrical circuits and conductors and insulators. Or, after rain, sometimes you can see a rainbow. After looking at the causes of a rainbow, you look at the color spectrum and perform experiments with white light and prisms and color absorption.

As you can see one study in weather, can lead you into more detailed studies encompassing areas of physical sciences and chemistry. Any studies with different classes of animals and plants can build into anatomy and physiology, and botany studies.

So, don’t be afraid to let go of that textbook, at least for a little while. After exploring where your nature studies lead you, you may find you are enjoying and learning so much more science than you imagined that you will forget to return to your textbook.

If you are interested in more ways to teach science this way like integrating geology and crystals, buoyancy, density, volume, magnetism, and gravity and so on check out Using Nature Study, Nature Journals, and Poetry Through the Year.

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