I have increasingly felt a need to include some sort of nature study to my home school this year. There is a wide list of reasons behind this but two of the top reasons are to get my children off the electronic dependence they have and to encourage them to see the world around them and marvel at it.
I had no idea how to go about including nature in our studies. I’d heard a lot of Charlotte Mason enthusiasts encourage the use of nature journals, but never having done one, I wasn’t sure how to get started. What do you include in a nature journal? Is there a right way to keep one? How do you ‘do’ a nature journal? Do you categorize your journal? For sounds simple, I felt uncertain about how to do it right. Eventually, I decided to just start one and work it out as I went. After all, my children are young. We have many years to make these discoveries as we go.
So I started one. Simple, right? I left the first page blank and on the second page I wrote down what I saw, where I saw it and drew a (less than stellar) picture of what I saw. I took a picture of it too – since that is my primary form of documenting things in my life. I didn’t make a big deal about what I was doing. I just did it. I didn’t even make a production of having them see that I was doing it. Then an amazing thing happened. My two eldest children asked for nature journals! Not only that, they asked what I’d put in mine and started creating their own versions of what they saw in the world around them! The wild bunny in our backyard. The bird’s nest with baby birds under our deck. The insanely large dandelion seed head we saw at the golf course.
Then another cool thing happened. I decided to sum up my purpose of the journal on the front page by doodling, “Be still and know that I am God.” My children saw that and decided to add it to their books too! Wow, there really is something to this whole setting-the-example-yourself-first concept.
So, we’ve been enjoying watching nature more. Although with our recent heat wave here, I’ll be honest and admit we haven’t gone on any nature walks or picnics of late. Instead, I pulled out this fun little habitat that I found and we’ve been collecting things we find in our yard. Earlier in the week, it was a tiny frog who showed up on our back deck in the early morning hours. Last night it was a giant grasshopper who was on the sliding glass door attracted to kitchen lights in the dark of night. If I you knew me and knew how untypical this behavior is for me, you’d probably giggle at the thought of me on the deck being swarmed by bugs catching a huge grasshopper. I must have been quite a sight. But the enthusiasm from my children this morning when they saw a new creature in the habitat was worth it.
If your children are old enough, or if you have an interest in the subject yourself, I recommend watching two movies. The first I watched and enjoyed was Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stiller. I found it fascinating and wonderful that there are people who are beginning to challenge Darwinism. Maybe there is hope for the children of America to have several options presented and let them make up their own mind. The second movie I saw recently and enjoyed was God of Wonders. It is a decidedly Christian world view – as the title suggests. I intend to share it with my children even at their young ages to see if they get anything out of it. If it helps them to begin to see the amazing way all things in our world work together and were designed to compliment each other, I’m game to share it with them now. I expect it will be over my 6 year old son’s head but I’m going to sit with a bowl of popcorn and try it anyway. Both of these movies are available instantly through your Netflix subscription.