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  1. #1
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    Default Homeschooling with Mother Nature

    Homeschooling with Mother Nature
    Our family has always been passionate about the great outdoors. Mostly because we live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is about as pretty a place as you can possibly imagine (if you have to imagine it, then please do come visit this area, ‘cause it’s worth the trip!!) But also because our sons love getting outside. Even in their deepest stages of internet-attachment, they’ve craved a way to expend some of their pent up energies. Our boys grew up hiking multiple times weekly, and we live in a fairly small size city, as well, so when they wanted to go somewhere, they walked!

    I hate speaking for our other SHS Admin, aandwsmom, but I’m pretty sure she’ll tell you herself (she’ll be chiming in for the discussion part) that the natural world has always been deeply ingrained into their family as well. I love it when she lists all the animals they currently house on their city-dweller property. It’s boggling to the mind!
    Aandwsmom here to add, I grew up on a mountain for the first 18 years of my life. Very few neighbors, living off the land(it WAS the '70's!!) and getting to be a kid. I didn't live in a city until I was 19, though I did go daily for school(it was a long, LONG bus ride!).

    So, she and I decided with Earth Day approaching, we’d love to kick off a discussion about homeschooling with Mother Nature. We’ll let you peeps kind of direct the conversation, but I can tell you some of the expertise we have personally in this area, if you have specific questions for either of us:

    Topsy - - nature journaling, focusing on science in the summer vs year round so we could do it outdoors, blending indoor (online) and outdoor learning, geocaching, nature unit studies, nature related field trips, teens and nature projects, nature-themed homeschooling and special needs,

    aandwsmom - - creating animal habitats in any size or type of home, gardening with kids, nature science, getting preschoolers interested in nature, indoor and outdoor nature projects, art with nature items



    And to kick off the discussion, I wonder if you could follow up and share how you currently feel about how much your family is utilizing the great outdoors for homeschooling and why. If you aren’t completely happy with how much time you’ve spent in nature lately, what is keeping you from it, and do you have any thoughts on how to address it?
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    Last edited by Aandwsmom; 04-11-2016 at 12:52 PM. Reason: aandwsmom adding info


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  3. #2
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    love this idea so much! My son is an indoors kinda kid which I am working on and he doesn't do well with science/math...but if we did something like this over the summer I think it would be so great to get him into it! Im keeping an eye on this thread for sure

  4. #3
    Senior Member Arrived Avalon's Avatar
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    I always think that we're pretty outdoorsy people, but then I meet/hear from the truly outdoorsy and realize that we're not. My husband is a basement-dweller who prefers the glow of his computer monitor to the bright glare of sunshine. He doesn't like heat or bugs or much physical labour, and our kids are a lot like him.

    I have managed to incorporate a healthy amount of fresh air and nature into our lives. We walk the dog daily. The kids help me with the gardening, so they know how vegetables grow. We have a ravine nearby and go for "nature walks" in there fairly often. We love winter, so skiing and sledding are popular here. We go camping (with our trailer) several times a year.

    We aren't quite as outdoorsy as I would like, but I think we've done okay.

  5. #4
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    Love it! Can't wait to read more

    We have been wagon-ing around parks and our yard going on ABC Nature Walks. DS loves it, though we don't usually get past g or h, haha. We've found a cricket and a gecko, tons of ants, and too many bees! DS won't let me go out of order!

    I've been so frustrated trying to find resources for our type of climate. We are in South Florida. My kids have never seen snow, spring is in the 80s, and summer is the time to stay indoors.

    Reading and learning about the seasons is tough when they've never experienced a day below 60 degrees (Florida problems, lol). Even a simple book on the seasons requires a lot of explanation: "Our trees don't lose their leaves. Or change color." "That thing is called a scarf. No you don't have one." "Well, it won't start to cool down here until January." Our winter is 4 weeks long...

    If anyone knows of some good resources for seasons in tropical climates, I'd love to hear them.

    The great thing we have is very diverse wildlife. Alligators and snakes alongside the squirrels and bluejays. Your bluejays are down here now, lol. And tons of butterflies and dragonflies. That's the fun part.

    If only I could convince DH to go camping. I'm almost tempted to start hoarding camping supplies. He's afraid of mosquitos. And the heat.
    I'm a work-at-home mom to three, homeschool enthusiast, and avid planner fueled by lattes and Florida sunshine. My oldest is 6 and is a fircond grader (that's somewhere between first and second, naturally), my preschooler just told me she wants to learn how to read, and my toddler is a force of nature.

    I gather all kinds of secular homeschool resources and share them at TheHomeschoolResourceRoom.com.

  6. #5

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    Great topic!!!

    I have two boys that definitely NEED the outside activity. I also think that being in touch with nature/animals is being in touch with reality....life, death, reproduction, the effect that we humans have on our environment. Nowadays it's so easy to become self-centered.....and I think if it becomes easy to be out of touch with nature, then it is easy to lose compassion for people as well. My boys (and myself) have benefited so much from being outside and observing nature, gardening, and raising animals. So much to learn Yea Earth Day!

    Last Child in the Woods is a wonderful book, too.

    Love to post more, but gotta get tomato plants into the greenhouse today
    Homeschooling two sons (14 and 16) from day one. Atheist.
    Eclectic, Slackschooler covering 8th and 10th grades this year.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avalon View Post
    I always think that we're pretty outdoorsy people, but then I meet/hear from the truly outdoorsy and realize that we're not. My husband is a basement-dweller who prefers the glow of his computer monitor to the bright glare of sunshine. He doesn't like heat or bugs or much physical labour, and our kids are a lot like him.
    This is so much my husband as well, although we dont have a basement.

    My bringing the outdoors to our life is consisting of my effort at a little garden this year. Im shocked at how little DH or the boys understand about food they eat. I told hubby we had 3 cucumber plants (I love cucumbers), and he asked if they grew underground.
    Oh man, Im such the expert at this in our house - because I knew that answer!

    Im going to launch a worm-raiding party soon - if I could just figure out where they live. But Im pretty sure its outdoors - somewhere.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  8. #7

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    We do some outdoorsy things, but we aren't specifically outdoorsy people. Todsy, DS chased a bunch of chickens around our yard, and is busy piling up rocks in a corner of the chicken pen, (no idea why, it was something he wanted to do). We play at the park once or twice a week, and he gets to run around in the trees and grass, and collect rocks. I have some vague plans of gardening, and I think we will make some birdhouses this spring. DS likes watching the hummingbirds at the feeders. He wants to learn to fish, and we said once he learns to swim, he can go on the boat with daddy and start fishing. There is a hiking group that meets once a week, and we might start going to some of their hikes.

    I don't have specific plans to incorporate nature studies, though. We talk about natural things as we experience them, like why bees are important, or how plants use the CO2 we exhale and we use the oxygen they produce. I am trying to show DS that nature and the outdoors isn't a "theme", that it is everyday, that it *IS* life, not just a 2 week unit study that is set aside and forgotten, (not a dig at anyone that does unit studies! They just don't work for us at this point in time. Maybe one day!)
    Last edited by MissLemon; 04-12-2016 at 05:29 PM.

  9. #8

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    We do as much outdoors as possible. I grew up in the country and have such great memories from my childhood. We live on the outer edges of a city now, so DD isn't quite so surrounded by nature as I was, but I want her to experience as much of it as possible. We have a patio garden where we're currently watching our first strawberry plant bear fruit. I introduced her to bird watching, which she has completely fallen in love with. We hike on a regular basis and she recently started a nature box where she keeps the little treasures she finds on our hikes. We went on an impromptu toad hunt at the park after sunset last summer when they began popping out of the timbers surrounding the playground. We also went searching for frogs and salamanders at a local sink hole last spring, where she found 2 salamanders. She now examines every puddle for signs of tadpoles. We take an inexpensive child-size butterfly net from the dollar store to nearby streams and creeks and use it to examine what can be found there. This past fall she discovered puffball fungi and had fun watching the way the dry ones emit spores like puffs of dust. Not only does she learn new things every time we're in the outdoors, she reminds me of how fun it was to be a kid and explore there, myself.
    Last edited by irishlasstn; 04-12-2016 at 07:10 PM.
    Homeschooling DD (7), my cat-loving, imaginative nature girl.

  10. #9
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    Default We are from the city and live in the country now!

    We have always had lots of animals, but no land. We now love in a 150yo farmhouse on 49 acres. Only about 5 acres are cleared. The rest is woodlands and protected wetlands. Moving here has been life changing.

    We have a pond filled with frogs, tadpoles, and lots of interesting bugs. We have rabbits, butterflies, deer, flocks of wild turkey. We have a maternal colony of bats in our eaves. We're planning on building a proper bat house on our property, so that we can encourage them to move out of our house, but stay on the property. We have an above-ground pool; from there we bird, butterfly, and rabbit watch all summer. We ride 4-wheelers into the woods, follow tracks and learn about the animals that live with us.

    Most of our property is untamed, native vegetation. We've begun identifying and studying the trees and plants around us. Our plan is to create a book of drawings that helps map the property. We're learning which plants are edible, have health applications, and which to avoid.

    Inside we have 9 cats, 3 large dogs, 2 bearded dragons (from different regions of Australia), a ball python, and a chinchilla. I really want a goat or two and some chickens, but we're not there yet.

    We also heat exclusively with wood, which we cut down and split ourselves. It has instilled responsibility in the kids (my youngest is almost 14). They help haul and stack wood; they check the fire in shifts to ensure the temperature remains relatively constant.

    Of course, we have one child who prefers the city, but the other three have flourished. I don't ever want to leave. The house needs tons of work and so does the property, but I've fallen in love with it. It's a fabulous place to homeschool.

  11. #10
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    We definitely have not been doing much with nature in many months. We're definitely lacking! The winter here was too harsh and now the spring air quality is so poor that we can't be outside very long. We do live in the middle of a city in a high rise apartment. It's been really tough on my kids because our previous place had us living backed up to woods. Now they're crying to go outside, but we can't even open a window without respiratory issues! We're not really the most outdoorsy people ever normally, but this situation is a bit much even for us.

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