Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weekly Focus on Nature

As a part of our new scheduling plan, I wanted to make sure to incorporate some intentional nature focus once a week, apart from our regularly scheduled nature walk and study. My hope is that my children will find some nature friends to become acquainted with right outside our doors ...some friends they have not met yet (or don't know very well) ...some things they have not noticed before. Additionally this helps ensure we have focused nature time for those weeks where one of the school days may get absorbed into life, such as doctor appointments, grocery shopping trips, visits with friends, etc.

On the first school day of the week (usually Tuesday) I send them out during the morning for half an hour. I have them take their nature journals and colored pencils in case they want to sketch anything they see. However, I do not require it. I want them, at the very least, to observe and to be able to tell me about something after the half hour is up.

Week One :: August 4
Royal sketched some lichen growing on a fallen dead tree trunk.

Alice quickly drew a tumble-weed like grass head. (Not sure what it is)

I did lots of sketching and painting throughout this week. I think I was still on a high from the previous weekend's Hill Country Retreat and Heather's watercolor lessons! :-)

Week Two :: August 11
I made a point to remind them that when they draw, they should be observing the piece of interest at the time...not doing it from memory or what they think it looks like. (This is what Alice had done last week)

Royal said he didn't want to sketch anything; however, I had him take his notebook just in case. Turns out he did find something to draw, and did a mighty find job of it as well! 

Afterwards, I had him tell me about it in order to record his observations alongside the sketch. This is what he said:

I took a bucket and went out in the woods and I turned the bucket over and sat down.
I was looking around when something caught my eye. 
It was an elm tree where the roots had grown out sideways at the base and had formed two dens.
I looked for an animal in the dens, but there was nobody there so I thought that maybe I should draw that.

Alice didn't draw anything today, but she did point out a teeny-tiny spider in its web sitting right next to me that I hadn't noticed.
A Dewdrop Spider

Almanzo came over from his play, after which I went to retrieve our magnifying glass to have a better look at that spider. I showed him, then he wanted to look at some other things. He and Alice wandered around together looking at things then, while I ventured to record a few notes from the morning's observations. This is what I wrote:

Bluebirds in our front yard.
Lots of cardinals, as usual. Many high-pitched chips up in the trees: "ch-ch-ch-ch"
A teeny-tiny spider has spun its web on the yard swing. It has a silvery-white abdomen.
We used a magnifying glass to get a better look. It was so tiny!
Ant lion "traps" are everywhere.

Week Three :: August 19
Another successful morning outside!

Royal related to me the following (no sketch today):

Today I got the closest to a bird that I've ever gotten in my life.
It was literally like a foot away from me. I was just being real still.
It was on the branch beside me. It was a sparrow.
It was light brown all over with a white belly, black and white tail feathers and black around the eyes.

And then the other cool thing was I saw a squirrel in a tree about 20 feet away from me
and then all of a sudden I heard it make sounds. It was kind of a "chip-chip" sound.

Alice drew this that Almanzo brought to her. Apparently it is the same thing she hurriedly sketched from memory in Week One. She just didn't realize it! This time a closer look. (Still don't know what it is though):

And my entry into my sketchbook today:

...which is a rendition of the rouge-plant


So how is Nature Study going over at your place? 


  1. I think my daughter would really enjoy some extra nature study time like this. Her time "playing outside" every morning has gotten stale (she always goes and she always has fun once she's out there, but she doesn't look forward to it), so I may try to incorporate this. She has recently taken a big interest in ants after our readings from The Story-book of Science and has been enjoying watching the anthill in the backyard lately--it is the most excited she has been about playing out there in a long while. I think if I suggest she take her sketchbook along she'll think it a real privilege. ;)

    1. Sounds like that girl needs a purpose added to her play :-)
      I hope she finds some wonderful gems of nature to add to her sketchbook and journal.

  2. Since you ask, nature study is going well over by us! We have become more confident with practice.

    That dew drop spider is amazing!

    1. Glad to hear your studies are progressing and that you are enjoying it.
      It is amazing what little eyes can spy what our adult eyes overlook. I would never have know about that spider otherwise!