Since last summer we’ve been quietly working through a nature study guide. We haven’t really shared much about it, simply because I wanted to work through a good portion before sharing it with you all.
We get questions about Nature Study all the time. Most of them from moms that have no idea what to do once they get outside. They slather on the sunscreen, coat themselves with bug spray, plop sunhats on everyones heads and march outside and sit out in the sun waiting for something to happen. Or from moms in those middling years when you want to do more than take a nature walk but your not quite sure how. If you are not an outdoorsy person, where do you begin? And once you do begin, is it really worth it? Can you really get anything out of it?
If you are using My Father’s World, you know that every week you will open your manual and see the scheduled “Nature Walk.” If you are feeling stuck when you reach this point in your week or if you are using another curriculum entirely and need something to give you direction when it come stop nature study and nature hikes, then please read on!
Holly Giles is the charming and relatable boy mom force behind “Blazing New Trails: Purposeful Nature Learning.” A multi-age, unit based guide for what the heck to do with yourselves when you finally get everyone outside.
Guys, if you read this blog with any frequency than you know I have no problem deciding what to do once I am outside.
I benefited greatly from this guide.
I still love open ended play and interest led discovery outdoors, but goodness gracious is it ever nice to have a plan for the day or a focus for the month. There are 12 chapters in this guide, the last one directed to Florida residents, and over 150 pages of guidance. Huzzah!
We began with the study of birds. Not our first rodeo with ornithology and we still gleaned a lot from this study. Drawing flight patters, learning new poems, conducting field studies, working with measurements, recording observations, and the building of one very sad looking bird feeder that I treasure with all my heart!
One of our favorite chapters was on raising chickens. Since we already have chickens, I figured this one would be easy peasy lemon squeezy. (If you don’t have chickens you can do this study at a local farm. If you are feeling plucky you can incubate eggs for a farmer!) The embryology study was FASCINATING to my boys. They loved it.
On our second go around with the boys (Yes, we will be redoing chapters next year!) we plan on maximizing on the unit’s wonderful ideas on advertising, design, and business skills. This will be wonderful for my budding entrepreneur.
Study state and local parks, beaches, butterflies, turtles, birds. Have adventures at U pick farms, farmer’s markets and the country fair. Hand the guide over to your kids and let THEM PLAN IT ALL. There is something very empowering for children when they get to be the teacher and run the show. My eldest boys loved the times when I handed them the guide and asked them, “Can you please plan our day for tomorrow? Pick your favorite portions, questions, ideas between pages __ and __ . Then make a schedule for us leaving time for lunch and bathroom breaks. I can’t wait to see what you come up with tomorrow!” How those little chests puff up with confidence and excitement.
The boys had so many things to chose from within each unit. I love that this guide introduces several “subjects” and combines them all together. History, math, art, literature, etc. all dwell in within these pages! I enjoyed geeking out over the combinations of study and how well the boys did with all of it.
There are pieces we really went crazy with and other portions we held off on for another year. All my boys ages 9-4 were able to participate with each chapter in some way. You can read through the chapters and organize it however your hearts desires, or if you need a daily plan, there is a schedule in the back all ready to go. While you can use this book in any state, Holly gives special attention to all the nooks and crannies her home state of Florida has to offer. I have a very long list of all these wonderful places to visit now that the weather has finally cooled down.
Now I have to share that this guide also gave us all so many great bonding experiences and memories. Watching my little guys shriek and giggle as they worked out the flight pattern of the red tailed hawk that always visits our backyard, visiting the turtle rescue with our cousins, hatching all those fuzzy baby chicks and marveling over their development inside those eggs, adding depth to our nature study, taking new trails, bonding over new books, memorizing poems, walking outside with a plan that turns into sweet memory, those are the things I have valued most about using this guide. Visit The Giles Frontier and check them out!
Review Policy: Farmhouse Schoolhouse received these materials with the opportunity for review. Our policy states that we do not review products, resources, books, media or curriculums that do not fit in with our methodology/homeschool life.