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Nature study is a key piece of a Charlotte Mason education. And we often learn by observing nature that is around us. But midwest winters or other circumstances can make it a bit challenging. I’ve put together a list of our favorite nature study items to help supplement for rainy days or as an additional resource.
These simple resources have become favorites of my children. And I love them too!
This post has been updated from its original publish date of July 14, 2021 to provide additional helpful information.
What is Nature Study?
In a nutshell, nature study is making observations and learning about the world around us. It lays the foundation for our science lessons.
Depending on the weather and other circumstances, we strive to make it a daily habit to get out of doors to spend time in nature.
We are very fortunate and blessed to be surrounded by nature on the ranch. But no matter where you live, you can make this a regular part of your routine. It just may take a bit more creativity.
Charlotte Mason nature study can be summed up as observing the natural world. Taking pause to watch the habits of insects in the yard. Or animal behaviors and weather patterns.
We often walk to a nearby creek and make observations of the animal life and various plants and their changes.
It is as simple as taking regular nature walks and allowing the children to make their own observations. It is not a structured or guided science lesson. There are other times for that within school lesson time.
Allow the child to ask questions and learn from nature during these walks. Spending a lot of time outside is important too.
Nature Study Resources
There aren’t many things necessary for nature study. But a simple notebook for journaling is nice to teach additional writing and comprehension skills.
As my children have grown, we’ve moved on to these moleskin journals to use as nature notebooks. The pages are thick and makes it great for watercolor narrations of our nature observations. These pocket water color sets are also great for on the go.
While out observing nature, we like to take an inexpensive pair of binoculars. Ya know, because they will get dropped (often)…so keeping it cheap is what we do.
A pocket microscope is really nice and handy for observations of so many things in nature. It is really nice that it is small and portable to take with us on our nature walks.
Favorite nature study books
I love finding fun books that help supplement our lessons and are inspirational too. A big part of a Charlotte Mason education is creating an atmosphere of learning. And so I like having books readily available for the children to enjoy at their leisure.
While nature study is often best to be out of doors and observing nature first hand, sometimes weather or other life circumstances don’t make it an option.
When these occurrences happen, we often will find nature activities to do in the classroom.
Here are a few nature study books that have become favorites in our homeschool:
- Play the Forrest School Way – there are a lot of really great nature themed activities, games, and crafts in this book!
- One Small Square Series – great nature series! There are a ton of options too. Some of our favorites are the backyard series, woods, and Arctic Tundra. But there are so many options and the pictures are also really beautiful too.
- Crinkleroot Series – these books are really a lot of fun and have a bit of humor that the children enjoy. A few of our favorites are the Nature Almanac, the Guide to Knowing Animal Habitats, and the Book of Animal Tracking. But they are all well done!
- Nature Anatomy – filled with beautiful imagery and sketch work throughout this book. It has many interesting nature factoids.
- Nature Anatomy Activities for Kids – this book is filled with a lot of really fun hands on activities. The pictures are really beautiful too!
These books I use as a teacher’s reference and guide for nature study:
One last favorite resource that I want to share with you are these bird songs books. They are extremely well done and helps us with identifying a variety of bird songs. It is really nice and has good quality sounds.
Here’s where you can find them:
Nature Study on the Go
Once a week, we take a nature walk and make observations and sit for a picnic out of doors. Of course this is done seasonally as we live in Nebraska!
We live in the country on a cattle ranch with plenty of opportunities for nature study. And sometimes we even visit the river, state parks, or other fun locations for our nature outings.
Here are a few of the things we pack up and take with us when we’re on the go. Some of these items were recommendations of the CMEC, which we use in our homeschool. And they’ve become our favorites too!
- picnic basket
- canvas bags for carrying our nature study art supplies
- pocket watercolors
- water brushes – these are great because you fill them with water and so you won’t have to carry a cup of water for watercoloring.
- Moleskin notebooks – these fit perfectly inside of the canvas bags mentioned above.