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Nature Study

I’ve always wanted my children to do nature study.

They spend a lot of time outside; are familiar with flowers, trees, and weeds; know about different kinds of butterflies and birds; watch clouds and even predict the weather; and notice all sorts of things in woods and streams.

But it never seems like real nature study.  I’m not using some kind of book—except guidebooks—to teach them.  I’m not following a curriculum, directing anything, suggesting anything, or doing anything other than enjoying nature with them.

Recently it occurred to me that what we’re doing really is nature study.  Sure, a more formal approach might teach the children more facts, but just watching the world around them teaches them a lot, too.  This method aligns closely with our goal for nature study:  to be aware of and enjoy God’s world, and to praise Him for it.

Now I’ve decided that we each are going to make some sort of nature notebook, to record what we’ve seen, done, or enjoyed.  My record of interesting species  and of our walks are on this blog; we’ll see what the children do.  Whatever they do, we’ll all be absorbed in responding to the things we’ve experienced, and recording our discoveries.

Praise God for His wonderful world!

Thanks to Mr. 15 for the photos.


  1. Great pictures! Sounds like a good plan!


  2. Tina says:

    Annie Kate your teen did a fabulous job on the photos! They are stunning ( even the dear rodent). We do the study of nature very much the same. I love that I do not have to go looking for it or know every thing there is to know. If we come home with a question or several, we look it up and learn as we go.God indeed put a most fabulous class room right outside our door.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      I love your statement: “God put a most fabulous classroom right outside our door!” That is so true!

      Thank you for your insight.

      Annie Kate

  3. Dana says:

    Sounds like a great plan! We do more formal nature studies once in awhile, but I think what got them the most excited was setting aside a section of the barn for them to store their “treasures” in. Next, I hope to give them a notebook to keep track of them, as well. They call it their museum. 🙂

  4. Annie Kate says:

    Yes, you need a museum! Ours is on a little ledge halfway up the stairs, and it contains rocks, fossils, nests, beaver chips and more.

    1. We have a spot on top of a book shelf for our nature “treasures!”

  5. Rachael says:

    Hi Annie Kate,
    I finally got into your blog today! What beautiful photos! That is definitely the best way to do nature study – go out and observe and identify with the use of guides. That’s what it’s all about.

  6. dusti says:

    thanks for the great thoughts. our nature study consists of mostly of walks and gardening anything they learn in those spaces – great. i agree that ultimately the goal is to enjoy creation.

  7. Carletta says:

    Great photos! I agree that enjoying the outdoors really IS nature study. Sometimes when we try to make things too structured or formal, it becomes too stressful, reduces our children’s curiosity and ruins the fun!

  8. Nancy says:

    Annie Kate,
    Lovely photos. Of course what you do is nature study! It’s a wonderful thing – but, so is more “formal” nature study – which we do at least twice a month with our notebooks. The natural learning via CM’s methods continues the awe, wonder and growing in knowledge while laying a strong foundation for science studies. I look forward to reading about your family’s journey in this area!
    Merry Christmas,

  9. Eve says:

    Oh, my! That photo of the mouse was so lifelike, I almost said “EEk!” I sighed in relief–your family’s approach to nature study is so similar to ours–we have nature notebooks and occasionally record/draw in them when we are out and about. Photography is popular here, too, but most of all, it is the “being” that means so much. Perhaps as my children build more experiences and grow older, they will desire to record it more. I enjoyed reading, thanks.

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