Nature Walks - Study materials

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
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Nature Walks - Study materials

Unread post by Mercy »

Book to identify nature
mgardenh wrote:We are doing nature walks once a week, but I know nothing about trees, flowers, bugs, ect. Or how to identify these things. I am wondering if there is a good book that helps identify and describe or give a little information.
Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:02 pm

I know of a GREAT resource for nature walks that I highly recommend. Although I haven't purchased it (yet!) I have checked it out from my library & I plan to get it when we can.

It's called:
Handbook of Nature Study
By Anna Botsford Comstock

You are able to read it online for free here: ... e002506mbp

I did a "review" of it on my blog right here: ... -book.html

Hope that helps!
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Unread post by Willow »

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:56 pm

The Handbook of Nature Study may be helpful if you live in the eastern U.S. but may not help you identify local species if you live in other parts of the U.S.

I recommend getting some field guides for your area -- birds, trees, plants, insects, whatever. You should be able to find them at a local bookstore, nature center, Audubon store, or whatever you have in your area. You could check them out from the library first to see which are most helpful to you, and you can decide this way if you prefer color photographs or color drawings. You'll probably end up with several guides; the "all-in-one" guides have a few of each tree, bird, whatever, but are not too comprehensive.
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Unread post by lyntley »

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:38 am

We use handbook as well as various nature guides. Handbook is a wonderful addition to your nature study though (especially if you dont have encyclopedias). It covers so much.
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Nature study made easy with weekly assignments!

Unread post by bethben »

Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:28 am

Here's my latest find. It's a blog that gives you a weekly nature study assignment with notebooking pages. For those of you (like me) who need further nature study direction, here is the place to go!

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Unread post by 4Truth »

Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:11 pm

I'm really enjoying "A Pocketful of Pinecones" by Karen Andreola.
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Review: Pets In A Jar

Unread post by ShanMom »

Just Clay wrote:Does anyone have experience with My Nature Journal by Adrian Olmstead or Pets In a Jar? They sound helpful.
Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 3:27 pm

I have Pets In A Jar. I really like this book, but it would be an "extra" not a must have. This is a book that you might like to have on your shelf, but you probably wouldn't read it straight through or all the time. That being said, I find it well written, with a very nice tone. My five year old and seven year old found this book interesting when I read it aloud to them. There are about 16 different chapters, one for each animal...and how to keep them to study & then how to let them go. Each chapter gives background information for each animal before talking about how to care for it. So, you do learn quite a bit. Any nature loving child who can read would love it. Here is the list of animals included: Hydra's, planarians, pond snails, water bugs, tadpoles, newts, toads, earthworms, ants, crickets, praying mantes, butterflies and moths, brine shrimp, hermit crabs, starfish.

The book emphasizes gentleness and respect for the animals in the care and letting go of them. There are nice pencil sketches throughout.

I believe that you might be able to get Pets In a Jar through the library. I seem to remember realizing that our library had it.
Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN »

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 9:29 pm

When we did nature walks (in ECC), I had my eye on My Nature Journal, as well as many other resources. I was quite panicky about the whole thing & made several posts asking for help on these boards :o) I ended up using a nature journal by the Julichers, as I had used their products before. That had you record some simple information such as weather & location, and used a grid for drawing.

Really, it was just a crutch for me, and after I got over my panic, then just a spiral drawing pad did the trick & actually was ds's preference. It also allowed me to model my own notebooking with him (assisted by some library books on the ECC list). Some stores (Walmart?) have drawing pads with lines on half the page so information can easily be recorded.

My son is not really into drawing & didn't do a ton of it, so I am glad I didn't invest a lot in it. When I looked back on the year, I realized that I was very happy with just spending some time outdoors, improving observation skills, and a bit of exposure to notebooking. If ds showed a real passion for this (or if he ever does in future), I would certainly look at all the interesting materials again.
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What would be a good book?

Unread post by KimberlyND »

Teresa in TX wrote:What would be a good book to buy if wanting to go deeper into nature study? I'm thinking of Pocketful of Pinecones just because I have heard it is so enjoyable. Does anyone have any good suggestions? I've read some of an online book that someone recommended on the archive board. This is just something I'm wanting to go a little deeper with.
Pocketful of Pinecones was delightful. It really helped me understand nature study. She was writing her second book to continue where PoP left off.

Also, Charlotte Mason Companion, by the same author, was helpful to me.

At our annual homeschool convention used booksale I picked up Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. Although the pictures are in black and white it has almost 900 pages stocked full of nature study. I use it alot when I don't know the answers to something.

There are some good websites out there that help you do nature studies. I don't have time to look up the addresses right now but you could google "nature studies".
Kimberly in ND
MFW user since 2007, gone through K, 1st, ADV, ECC, CtG, RtR, Exp. to 1850, & 1850 to Modern Times
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Julie in MN
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Charlotte Mason on nature walks (online)

Unread post by Julie in MN »

In addition to those mentioned, I wondered if you had seen some of Charlotte Mason online? Her explanations of nature walks were such an inspiration to me! Some wonderful folks have typed them up online. This is the chapter on nature studies (typed in 2 parts):

Last edited by Julie in MN on Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Teresa in TX
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Unread post by Teresa in TX »

Yes, Handbook of Nature Study is the one that is online. I have read some. It is a little too overwhelming to read online, though. I'm trying to decide if I should get that or Pocketful of Pinecones first. I am realizing that I just don't know the answers to nature questions, so that may be helpful to me. Thank you for the websites. I want it to become enjoyable to the kids and not a chore. Right now it is something required, though they do enjoy it when they get out there. I'm hoping it becomes a delight.

We own acreage and have lots of trees here, and acres of forest behind our property that is not ours that we could go walking on if we wanted. We have a creek and all kinds of wildlife at our fingertips, so I have lots of guilt for not making the most of it. Sometimes I just walk out there and don't know what to do. Sad!!

I am getting more intrigued by Charlotte Mason as I go along. I used to have her set but it was just too overwhelming to even attempt to read, so I set it aside. I'm identifying more and more with that type of learning as we go along.
Teresa, Mom of 5: 15yo dd, 12yo ds, 7yo ds, 5yo ds, and 1yo ds

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Unread post by my3boys »

There is a blog where they walk you through nature study activities using 'handbook of nature study'. We have been using this as part of our science program this year and it has been great. There are also notebook pages and seasonal kits available here as well, if you want to add handicrafts to your nature study. I don't know if I can post it, but if you google 'handbook of nature study' you will find it near the top.
Mom to 3 busy boys ages 11, 8, and 6
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Unread post by southernshae »

My husband, this past spring, gave us the task of making a nature file on the computer (this will take years:)). He wanted us to go out and take digital pictures and identify all the plants on our property (we live on acreage like you described). We then identify what the plant is and label the plants' picture on the computer. It has been a hit here, and is a good way for my 7th grader to get involved, as he loves doing anything on the computer. We have the pictures sorted by trees, wildflowers, etc. We're going to go out and take fall pictures to add to the file of some of the same things we identified in the spring.

I just wanted to mention a tiny bit about that Comstock book (not to get anything started). I noticed your kids are out in the country. The Handbook of Nature Study book has some derogatory statements towards hunting, if that would bother you . I instead use field guides.

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Unread post by 4Truth »

A Pocketful of Pinecones will give you ideas on how to use the Handbook of Nature Study. The fictional mom in Pinecones uses the Handbook, so I'd start there, alongside A Charlotte Mason Companion. (A CM Companion is a curl-up with a cuppa' tea by the fireside kind of book. You'll want to read it in sections. Pinecones is more "storybook" style.)

Another great resource are the two companion books by Catherine Levison, A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education. These are small books with fairly small chapters which explain subject by subject, in a very practical way, how to implement CM into your home (including nature study).
Donna, with two MFW graduates and the "baby" in 11th grade! %| Using MFW since 2004.
LA in Baltimore
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Nature Study - First Book

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

I'd have to agree that Pocketful of Pinecones is a good place to start.
I loved the book and got a good overview as well as ideas for Nature Study.
If I only could pick one to start with I'd pick Pinecones!

Field Guides have been a much bigger help for our family. This year I added a Golden Book Field Guide for Trees. It makes our nature walks more fun when we can quickly look up what kind of leaf we find as we are walking! :)

The Nature Study Handbook is much heftier and, for me, hard to navigate through. The last few times I have tried to look things up in the Handbook, I haven't been able to locate the answer. :(

A Charlotte Mason Companion is a good one also. It even gives ideas on different geographical situations. (City Nature Study, Neighborhood Nature Study, etc.)

Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
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Science - Nature study materials

Unread post by RBS in OH »

TammyB wrote:I'm hoping someone can recommend to me some resources for nature study. I'm looking for books that identify various trees, flowers, insects, etc. I want resources that are easy to use and light weight enough to carry along on nature walks. Thanks!
Are you interested in birds? We've enjoyed a book called Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds--eastern region (I'm sure there's a western region too). The book is small (about 5 x 7") and is easy to use. I don't think that it was necessarily written for kids, but it sure is simple enough for them to use-even on their own. We also have had lots of fun with a pair of binoculars! Have fun with your nature studies! :-)

ds(14) 8) and dd(14) ;)
We've enjoyed ADV, ECC (2 times), CTG, RTR, EX-1850, 1850-MOD--and now AHL this year!
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Re: Looking for some nature study materials....

Unread post by hsmomof5 »

What are you dc's ages? My dc love Fun with Nature and More Fun with Nature. They are coloring books that make great carry alongs.
ds 19 (college freshman), ds 12, ds 12, and ds 10 (ECC '08) (CTG '09), dd 3 (Preschool)
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Re: Looking for some nature study materials....

Unread post by AKmomto2 »

There is a great company called Nature's Workshop Plus. They offer a wide range of material for all age groups. They also have a magazine geared for 5-14 yr olds. Their website is It is a Christian company so there is never any evolution in any of their material. It is all creation based.

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Re: Looking for some nature study materials....

Unread post by TammyB »

hsmomof5 wrote:What are you dc's ages? My dc love Fun with Nature and More Fun with Nature. They are coloring books that make great carry alongs.
Hey, Kysha! My kids are 9, 6, and 4. :)

We have a few nature related coloring books, and they are good, but what I am specificially looking for are resources that show photos or realistic drawings of various trees, plants, bugs, etc. that will help with identification of species that we encounter on nature walks.

We live in a wooded area, and I cannot identify the majority of trees in the woods around us. How sad is that?! :)

MJ in IL
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Re: Looking for some nature study materials....

Unread post by MJ in IL »

We use several books specifically for our state....Birds of IL (Adventure Publications,) Trees in IL, and a few oolldd(!) Golden guides. They narrow down the numbers of choices and have beautiful pictures. I also really like the Handbook of Nature Studies. It definitely is not a lightweight book to carry around but has great information in it! It had been a shelf sitter, but last year I got it out and we have learned to use it more.
dd14 enjoying AHL; ds12 & ds10 in RtR & dd5 working through K!
have done K (2X), 1 (2X), ECC, CtG, & 1850MT
joyful jean
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Re: Looking for some nature study materials....

Unread post by joyful jean »

I like Stan Tekela (sp?) guides (small & great for the trail) His Amphibian & Reptile guide is excellent with a CD of frog & toad sounds and his Bird guide is great with a CD of bird songs. I also have The Golden Guides they are nice and small also and I think they are on special at Amazon for get 3 books get one free. And they aren't that expensive anyway.

I usually have about 5-7 guides in my backpack....weird I know, but the other day on our hike we seen a snapping turtle and one of the boys said "I wonder what they eat" Well out came the guide and we learned much on Turtles right there and then. It was a fun and memorable moment instead of waiting till we came back home to look it up.
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