View Full Version : Does anyone Nature Study?

06-01-2010, 02:19 PM
I have been thinking about using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0801493846?tag=harmonyfine01-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0801493846&adid=0TBA1CHFRETXFEQZA851&) and this blog (http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com/) for part of our science curriculum next year. DS (12) seems to like the idea, but I am still a little unsure. Has anyone done a nature study with a child in middle school? I just want to make sure it is challenging enough for him.

We are also going to be doing some of the experiments/projects from Home Science Tools (http://www.hometrainingtools.com/science-projects/c/1072/). He loves these, so I figured one or two a week depending on which one(s) he chooses.

So what do y'all think?

06-01-2010, 02:27 PM
I have the Handbook of Nature Study and used it for years with the older kids, through highschool. I plan to do the same with the little ones, although we haven't really started yet. With littles it is mostly just observing and discussion, with olders it is photographing or sketching and keeping a journal.

( BEWARE : if you buy the book at amazon or other place, there is a new 2010 version out with incorrect review statements. I bought it to check it out. But it is basically the same one you can get online free from the blog, or the older 2 editions. The 2010 edition is approx. $40, the older editions are approx. $20. Let my mistake be your savings LOL. )

ETA: some reviews say it is full of color photos, it is not ! The cover change is the only thing I see. Although I haven't read the whole thing, I did skim through it.)

06-01-2010, 02:29 PM
It looks like an interesting book. I look forward to others' replies to this post , since my kids are about the same age as Hunter and I could be interested in doing something like this.

06-01-2010, 03:19 PM
We've been doing nature studies similar to the Charlotte Mason method since we began. For this coming year dd 10 asked for a 'nature class', so we are going to give the Kamana program (http://www.outdoor-nature-child.com/kamana-for-kids.html) a try. It looks really interesting and can't wait to start it in full this Fall.


06-01-2010, 04:29 PM
Thanks for those links, Callie. I've been thinking for some time about how to incorporate Max's enjoyment of our nearby park (http://cincyparks.com/parks-events/central-region/burnet-woods/). Given his druthers, he'd spend half his time hunting tadpoles. My thoughts are to team up with the park naturalist and do some sort of amphibian study over the year, possibly a count, and combine it into a larger study - a virtual dissection, reading about ecological niches, and so forth.

06-01-2010, 04:51 PM
Ok Callie, When hubby hollers at me later, I am sending him here !! Now I want the Home Science Tools -, Nature backpack kit, and the Guides.:D

06-02-2010, 01:48 AM
Thanks for those links, Callie. I've been thinking for some time about how to incorporate Max's enjoyment of our nearby park (http://cincyparks.com/parks-events/central-region/burnet-woods/). Given his druthers, he'd spend half his time hunting tadpoles. My thoughts are to team up with the park naturalist and do some sort of amphibian study over the year, possibly a count, and combine it into a larger study - a virtual dissection, reading about ecological niches, and so forth.
If you have state parks or national parks nearby, check out the Junior Ranger program. I think it's free (first come, first served) and usually on Saturday mornings from what I've heard although YMMV. Also, I think it's for kids up to the age of 12. Check this link (http://www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.cfm)for more info on the National Parks program, but I know some state parks do it too. Here's the link for the Ohio State Parks site (http://www.ohiodnr.com/Default.aspx?alias=www.ohiodnr.com/parks).

06-02-2010, 06:50 AM
My son has completed 2 Junior Ranger programs in nearby (US) national parks and he loved them. They are usually offered for 2 age groups: under 8 (or 9?) and above that age (to about 12). Usually they are free or very low cost (I think at Acadia National Park it might have been $5 or $7 for the workbook), although I remember the one in Boston was a bit more pricey (though very in depth and requiring more time than we had). They are great if you live nearby (esp. for a city like Boston or DC) or even just visiting, depending on the program. He completed the one in Acadia during a camping trip and another at a national historical site in downeast Maine in an afternoon. He took so much information back with him, it helped open his eyes to the details of what we were seeing and gave him so much historical and geological background to what we were exploring.

Lots of state parks or even metro parks offer free classes and programs too. In central Ohio, where we used to live, the metro parks had programs every week offered both for preschoolers (which my son was at that time) and older kids, as well as specifically for homeschoolers. Maybe your parks offer something like that too, Ben? Your amphibian study plan sounds awesome!

06-02-2010, 10:22 AM
Nathalie, I do like the Junior Ranger program! I regret that we're too far from most of the state and national parks to do them on a regular basis, although we do have good camping at the local state parks. I know that when we were in Virginia Max got the Junior Ranger badges at Yorktown and Jamestown, as well as the ones from Saint Augustine and the Wright Brothers / Outer Banks. The activities to get the badges were all self-directed, although there were some Saturday programs for the kids which made it more interactive.

Hockeymom, we're fortunate to have wonderful city parks here, with many opportunities to get involved - although I'm worried how budget cuts will affect them. The boys are doing summer camp at the nearest park (2 blocks away) for one week this summer, and there are a number of fun weekend programs. I've gotten to know the naturalist who works at the nature center located in the park (and buttered him up a bit by picking up trash on a semi-regular basis), so I'm hoping that I'll be able to use him as a resource for my amphibian ideas this coming year. They also have homeschooling activities during the school year, which I always thought sounded fun and now will finally have the opportunity to do!

One neat homeschooling group activity that I noticed in the archives of a local co-op was doing river health monitoring. They took a day to set up and use various stations to look for certain markers of the health of the river (number of certain kinds of invertebrates or larvae, testing for coliform bacteria, pH, phospates, and so forth.) I loved the way they put together something that was hands-on, educational, and useful to the community.

06-07-2010, 11:25 AM
Thanks for the replies. Hunter loves to draw so his notebook will probably be more art than writing, but that is okay since I will be making him write more in other subjects. If I decide to buy the book I will probably get a used version from AbeBooks.com (http://www.abebooks.com/). They usually have used ones for cheaper than Amazon, and I prefer to have a book than read online. It is good to know that you have used it through high school, that helps with a lot of the doubts that I have.

Thanks again

06-07-2010, 12:34 PM
We used the Handbook of Nature Study two years ago for my oldest son who was in 8th grade at the time. He kept quite an in-depth nature journal and he sketched a LOT. I think he learned an incredible amount about science just by "noticing" things that year. I think it would make a wonderful course!!

06-07-2010, 02:07 PM
Just an FYI, the book had very little relevant information for the area I live in (So. CA). It may be a good East Coast guide, and there was some information I found useful, but I got really sick of looking things up only to not have them covered. I got rid of it in favor of more local guidebooks.

06-07-2010, 08:17 PM
It's funny because I was just having this discussion with myself about what science to teach. My husband bought the Kamana program for me for the holidays this year and I just have not gotten to it... something about fining the 30 min a day to sit in the wild (that would be the arroyo here) and observe nature could never quite happen with me and my then 2 year old. It occurred to me that this fall (after all the snakes have hatched and are sleeping) that my kids and I could do it together. I have a feeling that i am going to have to buy the nature guides for our area though, because kamana is based out of the pacific northwest. Which is a far cry from the Chihuahua desert. There is also a small desert park/nature center that I want to try.

My kids also LOVE the junior ranger programs and we just did the one in Tuscon at the saguaro national monument there. It was fabulous. I love that I learn as much as they do.