By Heidi Mosher, Crosswalk.com
Nature...Outside or In: Simple, Fresh Ideas for Nurturing a Wonder for Creation
A thunderstorm rumbled through my morning solitude and sent our child scrambling from her sleep to the comfort of my arms. It was a cozy start to our day—with a tremendous view of the storm from our couch. We didn't talk; we didn't have to because she knew what I would say. She's been hearing it all her life, as have her sister and brothers. "Who is the only one powerful enough to make thunder and lightning?" I've asked dozens of times during storms. They know the answer: God. They know that our God who has power to form a storm certainly has power over the little things of life. They've marveled with me over the apple's hidden "star of seeds." They pause to admire the frolicking of small rabbits. They search for wildflowers along hiking paths. They gaze at stars with their dad when they should be asleep. And they know that all this—all nature—points to their amazing Creator. Every bit of nature communicates what is important to Him and how creative and thoughtful He is. Nature tells of His power, care, and so much more. Nature study is a worthy subject for any child because it reveals the Creator, just as artwork provides hints about the artist. Nature study can be as simple as intentionally cultivating an attitude of awe and gives abundant opportunities to praise the Lord. Time in nature is an integral part of the Charlotte Mason Method. Why not start today? Study nature outside—or even in!
Scavenger Hunt Hikes
- Walk to listen. Hear the birds' songs, the crumple of dried leaves underfoot, and the buzz of insects.
- Search for just one thing per hike: birds, trees, moss or lichen, spring flowers, nests, colors, etc.
- Hand your child a camera for a nature photo scavenger hunt.
- Let your child design his own nature scavenger hunt.
- Simply hike, and follow your child's lead, letting her enjoy making the discoveries herself.
More Outdoor Nature Studies
- Visit a familiar beach or trail in an off-season and notice how different it is from summer.
- Investigate which animal made those tracks in the mud, sand, or snow.
- Pick whatever fruit is in season.
- Visit a greenhouse.
- Make art outdoors with leaves or twigs.
- Paint rocks. Use them to play Tic Tac Toe.
- Gather wildflowers.
- Draw chalk shadows to learn about the sun.
- Raise tadpoles.
- Catch frogs or toads.
- Start a "stream team" and discover the treasures hiding in a creek.
- Observe bats at dusk.
- Learn about clouds by keeping a cloud journal.
- Take school outdoors for a day.
- Help in a garden; start your own; or plant seeds in a single container.
- Incorporate the outdoors into whatever your child is currently learning. Count trees or rocks; sort or order leaves. Form letters with twigs.
- Chart the moon; learn constellations; or camp to watch a meteor shower.
- Spread a blanket and read outdoors.
- Keep a sketchbook and pencils in the car, and sketch nature anywhere.
- Gather leaves or feathers or shells on a nice day. Use them inside later for artwork.
Indoor Nature Studies
- Raise ants or butterflies.
- Force a bulb or grow a kitchen herb.
- Make a rain gauge or snow-measuring stick.
- Learn basic outdoor survival skills.
- Investigate field guides of tracks, trees, wildflowers, birds, etc.
- Draw your outdoor view from the same window monthly to observe seasons.
- Chart deer, rabbits, or squirrels, and track their habits.
- Meet your backyard birds. Keep a field guide by the window and start a list.
- Record weather with stickers or simple drawings on a calendar.
- Supply a posterboard for drawings of all the living things seen through your window.
Poetry and Music
Memorize or use for copywork—or simply enjoy!
- "The Barefoot Boy" by Whittier
- "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Frost
- "The Planting of the Apple Tree" and "To a Waterfowl" by Bryant
- Learn This is My Father's World, For the Beauty of the Earth, or All Things Bright and Beautiful indoors, and hum them on a hike!
Be amazed as you start noticing Scripture references to nature.
- Learn about creation, constellations, dawn, weather, and animals; Job 38 and 39.
- Be inspired by the ants in Proverbs 6:6–8.
- Read about the raven in Genesis 8:7, 1 Kings 17:4, 6, Psalm 147:9, and Luke 12:24.
- Consider the lilies with Matthew 6:28 and Luke 12:27.
- Find out about earthquakes in Matthew 27:54, 28:2, and Acts 16:26.
- And marvel at His power over storms in Matthew 8:24–27.
- Use a concordance to find even more and keep pointing your children to the Creator!
Copyright 2021, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.
Heidi Mosher can be found hunting beauty on Michigan trails and collecting memories with her kids of their quick years at home. She wishes she’d been homeschooled and has taught her four from the start. Heidi and her husband, Chad, have a 2021 homeschool graduate (congratulations, Kendra!), and Heidi continues to homeschool Evan, Grant, and Cassandra.