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The Homeschool Mom’s Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study Guide

Our Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study Guide is perfect for this time of year.

Are you dreaming of summer yet? Soon we will be winding down our homeschools and taking advantage of the warm summer days ahead of us. Weeks of picnics and walks, weeks of sunshine and warmth. Lovely!

Closing the doors to our schoolrooms brings a time of rest for all of us, and of consolidation. The break from regular studies seems to help the children’s brains to consolidate what they have learnt and cement tricky concepts that they struggled with, for I often found that when we returned to studies in the autumn, they can tackle these things with ease.

Let's tuck into an array of learning opportunities with this homeschool mom's Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study Guide.

But as we know, learning does not stop in the school room. For life and the great outdoors remains the best classroom. Summer is a time that I like to really focus on my children’s education in a different way.

Opportunities For Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study

I like to place before them a smorgasbord of opportunities. Things like visiting galleries, museums, camping, and spending as much time outdoors and visiting as many different ecosystem’s as possible.

“On fine days when it is warm enough to sit out with wraps, why not take tea and breakfast, everything but a hot dinner, be served out of doors? For we are an overwrought generation, running to nerves as a cabbage runs to seed; and every hour spend in the open is a clear gain, tending to the increase of brain power and bodily vigor, and to the lengthening of life itself. They who know what it is to have fevered skin and throbbing brain deliciously soothed by the cool touch of the air are inclined to make a new rule of life, Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.

Charlotte Mason – The Original Homeschool Series.

I found it rather interesting from the quote above that Charlotte Mason spoke of the symptoms of stress being so prevalent in her own Victorian society. She speaks of them being an ‘overwrought generation’, just as are we today. She knew the remedy for overwrought nerves.

It’s a secret that many of us share but perhaps you don’t yet know it. Well I’ll let you in on the secret…its spending time outdoors. Nature has a calming and healing affect on our mental well being.

And so this summer, let us make it a practice of giving ourselves and our children plenty of purposeful time outdoors

The Charlotte Mason Approach: Where to Begin

Charlotte Mason says that a good starting place is for meals to be taken al fresco. Why? Because they are joyous and there is “nothing like gladness for converting meat and drink into healthy blood and tissue“.

Imagine every meal being one that is joyous and an event to be stored up in our childrens’ memories. I love Charlotte Mason’s sentiment on alfresco eating:

The Charlotte Mason approach: where to begin

Now that seems to me to be as good as reason as any for making this summer one to strive to have as many meals al fresco as possible. I love the thought that decisions I take today will stand my children in good stead far into the future.

Picture Painting

Some of my most precious, vivid, and lasting memories of my happy childhood shared with my parents and siblings, are of times we spent outdoors together. I clearly remember one particular day hiking out in the mountains. We found a natural pool in a clearing surrounded by trees. The sun was beating down, we were hot from our walk.

We decided to take a swim in the cool, clear water. Afterwards I lay down on a large warm rock at the side of the pool to dry. I remember closing my eyes and being overwhelmed by the peace and tranquility of my surroundings. The warm sunshine, the sound of the birds and my family talking and laughing. The feel of the gentle breeze drying the cold water droplets from my skin. When I opened my eyes, the sight of trees stretching up into the blue sky that was littered with fluffy white clouds slowly moving across the skyscape.

Charlotte Mason picture painting

The impact of that day and its lasting memory had a profound affect on me. So much so, that my lovely mother bought a poster of the mountains and forests with a scripture verse, so that I could hang it in my room as a wonderful reminder.

The truth is, I didn’t need a poster to recall each and every detail my surroundings because I had taken in every feature and detail of that landscape that I could narrate it perfectly to you today had we the time and space for me to do so rather than a short post to write about it.

Charlotte Mason calls this ‘picture painting’. Here is how it is done:

  • Get the children to look well at a patch of landscape, then shut their eyes and narrate the picture before them (are seeing a correlation here to picture study?)
  • If any part of it is blurred, they need to look again.
  • When they have a perfect image before their eyes, let them narrate what they see in great detail.

When we engage all our senses: Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, coupled with a joyous atmosphere and yes, good wholesome food, we are doing more for our children’s education than any expensive textbook ever can.

Heading Outdoors

Are you beginning to see how we can continue our summer nature studies Charlotte Mason style? So this summer we are going to do much ‘sight-seeing’, ‘picture painting’ and ‘al fresco’ dining as we can. Try and include as many different ecosystems as possible.

I recommend getting out into the country in the meadows and farm-lands, a visit to the beach, a river, the mountains and a woodland. I’ll give you ideas for each setting but first, lets get our field haversack/backpack’s prepped for our summer studies.

Pack Up Your Haversack

When you go out on field work you will need to take your collecting apparatus with you.

  • A haversack/backpack for each child
  • pond net
  • trowel
  • collecting jar (to collect insect and water creatures)
  • basket (to collect plant specimens)
  • scissors
  • field note book and pencil

In addition to this field kit, your little naturalists will most certainly appreciate a lovely picnic, plenty of water and of course, sun hats and sun screen. Read this Outdoor Hour Challenge (OHC) post on planning your picnic.

Let's tuck into an array of learning opportunities with this homeschool mom's Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study Guide.

Now that we have covered all the basics, lets focus our summer exploration and nature studies and walks.

I have collated a collection of posts from my own blog as well as from the archives that will hopefully inspire you to just get outdoors this summer and explore these different habitats and biomes. You may find that one day you are simply enjoying being outdoors together and other days may lend themselves for a more in depth exploration/study.

If you are planning on traveling at all this summer then be sure to read our Nature Study and Summer Travel post from the archives for some great tips on how to prepare.

Whatever you decide to do, above all, please just enjoy creating memories of long summer days spent outdoors.

A Seaside Walk: Perfect for Summer Nature Study

Have you ever looked down into the sea on a clear, still day from the side of a boat – as you cross over the rocks below? Imagine yourself looking down into this watery picture. You might see anemones opened up with their tentacle-like petals waving as waves rush in over the rocks.

Or perhaps you will see a starfish or a sea-urchin crawling along the bottom of the rock pool, or a crab rush under a rock the moment it sees your shadow.

There is no end to the delights that the seashore can offer up. It may be a bit of a drive for some but if you can, plan for a fun beach day-trip to explore this amazing habitat.

Charlotte Mason Summer Guide to Exploring the Seashore

Be inspired by these posts from the archives.

Summertime Stroll in the Meadows and Fields

In early summer-time there is more sunshine and we see that the grass is growing long in the fields. Let us lie in the grass of a field and keep very quite. What happens in this grassy jungle?

We shall see many different kinds of grasses and many common wildflowers and weeds. Insects and other little creatures often make their homes here.

Do you see any patches of bubbly white stuff which sticks to grass stalks? We call them “cuckoo spit” but it’s not made by the cuckoo bird. Have look at a post from our archives to find out just what it is!

Exploring the meadows and fields Charlotte Mason nature study guide

Be inspired by these posts from the archives.

A Wander Through the Woodland

Who can resist a woodland walk! Woodlands always seem so magical don’t they? To be surrounded by great towering trees, to explore the delicate mosses and lichens, some of which look like pixie caps on stalks.

What plants can you find? What creatures can you spot. Can you hear the woodpecker drilling?

Or wouldn’t it be fun to collect pinecones and acorns from the woodland floor to make fir-cone birds and people? Or perhaps collect different leaves and make leaf-prints.

The woodland has so much to offer that it would certainly make for a lovely afternoon out.

Exploring the woodlands in your homeschool Charlotte Mason style

Be inspired by these posts from the archives.

Summertime Walk by the Pond, River, or Lake

When last did you wade into a shallow stream and turn up some of the stones on the stream bed? If you do so, you may find some interesting creatures on or under them.

You may find caddis worms, which are not really worms at all. They are larvae of the caddis fly and the build little homes for themselves out of tiny stones or little sticks or hollow stems. The river or pond will provide hours of exploration fun for children.

Make sure you go armed with a net and some collection jars for this visit!

Exploring rivers, ponds and lakes Charlotte Mason nature study guide

Be inspired by these posts from the archives.

Outdoor Hour Challenges Are Perfect For Charlotte Mason Summer Nature Study

Rather than give you formalized Outdoor Hour Challenges, we hope that guide provides you with an inspired springboard of ideas for your own summer nature adventures that Charlotte Mason would have approved of.

Be Inspired, Be Encouraged and Get Outdoors!

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The Outdoor Mom Series – New Feature for Homeschool Moms

This month we start a new Outdoor Mom series focused on the Outdoor Hour Mom. Yes, this is all about you! As homeschool moms we give…A LOT, which is why it is so important that we carve out a little time to nurture our own well-being.

This month we start a new Outdoor Mom series focused on the Outdoor Hour Mom. Yes, this is all about you! As homeschool moms we give…A LOT, which is why it is so important that we carve out a little time to nurture our own well-being.

This does not have to be finding swathes of time to do something extravagant. Most of us don’t have that time.

But it is important to develop a heart for the simple joys that come from the most ordinary of tasks and the most fleeting of moments. For it is these things that help us create moments of calm throughout our day and it is in these unhurried moments that we can see and hear the voice of our Saviour and experience His peace.

Our vision for the Outdoor Mom series is to inspire you to slow down, find beauty in the ordinary, in celebrating your home, in ordinary everyday tasks; your hobbies, interests and of course, nature journaling, nature and the seasons.
This is Shirley Vels in her garden!

What Is The Outdoor Mom Series?

Our vision for the Outdoor Mom series is to inspire you to slow down, find beauty in the ordinary, in celebrating your home, in ordinary everyday tasks; your hobbies, interests and of course, nature journaling, nature and the seasons.

Join Homeschool Nature Study membership to enjoy the NEW Outdoor Mom series – with nature journal prompts – by your Outdoor Hour hostess, Shirley Vels.

Annual Members: Find the NEW Outdoor Mom posts in the Outdoor Mom course.

We Invite You To Participate!

Not a member? We invite you to us!

You can also participate with the prompts below:

How Do You Join?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a post on Instagram – and tag us at @outdoorhourchallenge! You can also answer in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on our blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this week we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am  dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

Whether your family spends a few minutes a week outside or hours at a time, share what is going on in your world.

Outdoor Mom’s Journal

Here is an entry by Barbara McCoy!

The most inspiring thing we experienced was.….traveling to two national parks, Zion and Grand Canyon! My husband and I spent three days at each park and put a lot of miles on the old pedometer as we hiked and hiked and hiked.

zion national park nature journal

I added nature journal pages about.….both Zion and Grand Canyon. I created “twin” sorts of entries for each park. I am in the process of finishing off my pages but here is a sneak peek.

Please join us! Share something that you have done lately. We are looking forward to reading your entries and comments!

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

Shirley and her family have used the Handbook of Nature Study and Barb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges from the beginning of their homeschooling. Having begun their homeschool journey in Cape Town South Africa and finished it in the UK, the challenges and the Handbook of Nature Study have proved to be adaptable and relevant across continents. Shirley lives in Chester, England and blogs at Building A Household of Faith where she writes about homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way, nature study and encouraging homeschooling moms in their great charter as Christian wives, mothers and keepers of the home. She also hand-dyes yarn in her home studio Under An English Sky, which is inspired by the English countryside and of the great living books she and her family enjoyed over their homeschooling journey.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Weed Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Weed Nature Study

Winter weeds are a quick and easy nature study topic that you can complete in your yard or neighborhood, or at a local park or alongside a road (be watchful of traffic). Spend a few minutes this week to take notice of any weeds you may have, searching for seeds or signs of animals feeding nearby.

Beloved by homeschool families worldwide, this study focuses on the Handbook of Nature Study and winter weeds this week.

Easy And Engaging Homeschool Nature Study

You can use these links for some specific Winter Homeschool Nature Study ideas:

Beloved by homeschool families worldwide, this study focuses on the Handbook of Nature Study and winter weeds this week.

Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool Nature Study


Download your free copy of our Getting Started ebook and complete challenge #6. You may wish to make a list of weeds you observed in winter and then check the list during the summer to see if you can add some more entries.   

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Support All Year Long

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

This week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge is from the Winter Wednesday Course and Curriculum.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes Homeschool Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes

This week we are going to be on the lookout for interesting tree silhouettes in our own yard and neighbourhood. Here is the link to the previous challenge: Winter Wednesday – Tree Silhouettes

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

In this challenge, be sure to look for the list of four ideas to use when completing this challenge with your children. You can also work on your Winter Tree Study and your Four Seasons Tree Study.

Homeschool Nature Study: Outdoor Hour Challenge

Special Activity: My Tree is a Living World
This may be a great week to revisit this activity:
My Tree is a Living World

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

You might also like to see how Tricia’s family enjoyed this winter tree silhouettes challenge. They did a blind contour drawing. They also noticed how paying attention to winter tree silhouettes made them notice the backyard birds!

Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4. Use the ideas in the challenge to start a focused study of trees with your children. Use the accompanying notebook page to record your outdoor time and your focus area.   

It is simple to get started. We will show you how. Grab this free Homeschool Nature Study Guide and discover the joys of nature study in your homeschool.

If you do not own the Getting Started in the Outdoor Hour Challenges guide then hop on over to our shop and grab your free copy! We would love to have you join our membership for full access to the new year’s nature study plans as well as access to the curriculum with detailed lesson plans for each weekly challenge.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership - Bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool

Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Helpful Tips Year Round

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

In addition to this winter tree silhouette challenge, our nature study homeschool members enjoy so much more! Membership includes three sets of Winter Handbook of Nature Study curriculum, additional nature study resources and ideas plus a calendar FULL of easy, daily nature study prompts. This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge comes from:

Handbook of Nature Study - An Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum - Winter Wednesdays
Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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This Festive Homeschool Nature Study Challenge Is Perfect For Christmas Time

Are you up for a wintery festive homeschool nature study challenge?

Christmas time is so busy and it is easy to get distracted by all the hurry of the season. Sometimes it is just nice to get outdoors with the children and leave the pressures behind.

How about a festive homeschool nature study this winter? Now is the perfect time to include some themed nature crafts and studies in your homeschool.

How Can I Make Our Homeschool Nature Study Festive?

I’m glad you asked! Our winter series of curriculum ebooks and courses have so many wonderful winter challenges to inspire your homeschool nature studies and because we are known for our challenges only taking about an hour (or longer if you prefer). It does not have to be an onerous task during this busy season.

A festive homeschool nature study can be as simple as wrapping up warmly and going on a lovely winter walk to find some winter colors. Challenge 1 in our Winter Wednesday book does just this. You can read about Barb’s hunt for red and green on a wintery walk she took a few years back. You can also read her World of Winter post which fits in nicely with our wintery festive homeschool nature study theme.

I always find that you can add a little fun into your nature studies by including a few nature crafts and a festive nature study is the perfect time to do just that!

Read my Winter Nature Crafts Post and my Snow Nature Study & Winter Stars Post for some ideas on crafting some festive fun activities into this months nature studies.

How about a festive homeschool nature study this winter? Now is the perfect time to include some themed nature crafts and studies in your homeschool.

Challenges from our Winter Wednesday Outdoor Hour Challenge Book

Our Winter Wednesday ebook and accompanying course has lots of other wintery nature topics to explore in your homeschool:

  • Challenge 2 – Snow
  • Challenge 3 – Winter Star Constellations – this would tie in beautifully with the story of the wise men from the east as they followed the star to find Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem!
  • Challenge 4 – Trees: Silhouettes
  • Challenge 5 – Trees: Cones
  • Challenge 6 – Winter Weeds
  • Challenge 7 – Winter Insects
  • Challenge 8 – Birds
  • Challenge 9 – Mammals
How about a festive homeschool nature study this winter? Now is the perfect time to include some themed nature crafts and studies in your homeschool.
Please be sure to share photos of your nature time with us! Use the hashtag #OutdoorHourChallenge when sharing so we won’t miss your photos!

A Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Helpful Tips Year Round!

Our members’ Outdoor Hour Challenges for January will come from the Winter Wednesday ebook and course. If you would like to join our nature study membership then please visit the link below to join – we would love to have you along.

Members also now have a printable plan for the upcoming year for guided nature study – January 2022 to August 2022. We will be following highlighted challenges from the Winter Wednesday, Spring, Summer and the Garden books and courses.

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

Outdoor Hour Hostess Shirley lives in Chester, England and blogs at Building A Household of Faith where she writes about homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way, nature study and encouraging homeschooling moms in their great charter as Christian wives, mothers and keepers of the home. She also hand-dyes yarn in her home studio Under An English Sky, which is inspired by the English countryside and of the great living books she and her family enjoyed over their homeschooling journey. No doubt you will be sure to recognise some of the names of her yarn from literary childhood favourites!

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7 Top Tips For Using The Handbook Of Nature Study In Your Homeschool

Have you ever wondered how to use The Handbook of Nature Study? Does one look at it have you feeling completely overwhelmed? Here are 7 top tips to help you use The Handbook Of Nature Study In Your Homeschool.

The Handbook Of Nature Study: Perfect For Your Homeschool

This is a BIG book and can be a little intimidating!

Don’t worry, I felt the same way which is why I want to share how The Handbook of Nature Study might be helpful in your homeschool.

Don't be put off using the Handbook of Nature Study, read our top tips on how to use the handbook of nature study in your homeschool.

The Pros And Cons Of Using The Handbook Of Nature Study As A Guide In your Homeschool

What made me not want to use this book before:

  • 1. Size-over 800 pages doesn’t transport well in my backpack
  • 2. Black and white photos
  • 3. I was trying to use it as a field guide.
  • 4. I wanted to just start at the front and work my way to the back like a “regular” book.
  • 5. I thought it would take too much time to use this book in our nature study because of the size and the sheer volume of information.

The Benefits Of Using The Handbook Of Nature Study As A Resource In Your Homeschool

Here are some thoughts that I have now that I took the plunge and started using this wonderful book:

  • 1. Read the pages at the beginning of the book that talks generally about nature study.
  • 2. Pick a topic to focus on and read the introductory pages for that section only. We are focusing on insects this term but you can pick anything that seems appropriate for your family. You could change your focus each season if you wanted to. 3. Take the time after your nature walk to look up things that you saw on that nature walk. I turn to the table of contents and just scan down the list and see if I can find what I want to research. For instance, you might have seen a honeybee and it is very easy to skim down and find honeybee and turn right to those few pages.
  • 4. Read the small section (usually 1 or 2 pages) that pertain to that object or creature.
  • 5. Write in the book……gasp. Yes, write in the book as you go along to highlight the little bits of information that you want to share with your children.
  • 6. If you don’t have time after your nature walk to look something up and share it right then, research it in the Handbook before your next nature study session and then share it the next time.
  • 7. Realize that nature study is a lifelong project, or at least I think it should be. You don’t need to cover every aspect of everything you find.
Tips for Using the Handbook of Nature Study

Making Homeschool Nature Study Easy And Effective

Anna Botsford Comstock suggests that nature study be only 10 minutes to half an hour in length. (page 6) I am finding this is a wonderful way to spend a few minutes outside with my boys each day….yes we are committing to 10-60 minutes outside per day. We all feel so much more refreshed and it has actually helped us be more focused when we are doing our indoor homeschooling.

If you’re not a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study yet, please consider joining to gain the benefit of having a nature study library at your fingertips. There are numerous resources available for you to help create the habit of nature study within your family.

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Helpful Tips For Incorporating The Handbook of Nature Study Into Your Homeschool

So you have The Handbook of Nature Study on your bookshelf. Are you wondering how to use it? Having used it for a number of years in my homeschool I have a few tips to share with you to help put this fantastic resource to good use!

Tips for using the handbook of nature study

Disclosure: Affiliate links in some blog posts. If you click through and make a purchase, the owner earns a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

The Value Of Nature Study In Our Homeschools

There are the obvious benefits of adding time in nature to our homeschool days (think kids outdoors and burning off all that extra energy!). But more than just getting some fresh air and taking an outdoor break, there is significant educational value in the study of nature.

It’s a wonderful way to study science, develop attention to detail, and encourage exploration and self-directed learning.

One of the best resources I have found to help guide and cultivate our homeschool nature study is this guide!


Helpful tips for using The Handbook of Nature Study

  • Don’t carry it on your nature hikes. It isn’t a field guide so you will more than likely not pull it out anyway.
  • When you come indoors from your nature time, pull it out and turn to the index to see if something you saw that day is covered in the book.
  • Quickly skim the information in the book that talks about the subject you observed.
  • Share a few points with your children.

Try those steps as a good place to start until you get more familiar with the book. Are you ready for more?

Tips for using the handbook of nature study

Additional Tips For Using The Handbook Of Nature Study

  • If you find a subject that your interested in covering with your children, read the introduction to yourself. Make pencil notes of anything you want to share.
  • Take a few minutes and share those points and then help your child make a nature journal entry using those points.
  • If you want to make a more in depth study, turn to the end of the section and use the suggested activities or just pick out one or two items to try.

Purchase Your Copy of The Handbook of Nature Study

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The Handbook of Nature Study: Friend or Foe In Your Homeschool

There it is… The Handbook of Nature Study, sitting on your bookshelf. Now what? It can be intimidating to say the least. Is The Handbook Of Nature Study a friend or foe in your homeschool?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, the owner earns a small commission at no extra cost to yourself. Please see our Disclosure Policy

The Handbook of Nature Study can Seem Daunting at First

My own copy of the Handbook of Nature Study sat on my shelf for a couple of years and I finally sold it on eBay. Yes, you heard me right. I got tired of dusting it and feeling as if I should be doing something with it when I couldn’t figure it out at all.

I absolutely saw it as a bit of a foe in our homeschool.

You must be wondering what happened to bring me around to where I am now? Simply put, I stopped fighting it!

The Advantages Of Using The Handbook Of Nature Study For Your Homeschool Nature Lessons

I decided to check it out from the library and took some time to page through it. I read blogs where families actually used the book, encouraging me to give it a real try this time.

We already had a love of nature in our family but we really wanted to have a better way of studying things in nature in a little more systematic way. Maybe it was not the book that was the problem for us.

Since I trusted Ambleside Online’s ideas for many subjects already, it was a natural fit to try their system for nature study. I went to their nature study page and read the whole thing, then I read the information in the Charlotte Mason volumes about outdoor time and nature study.

Finally, I read other blogs that used the Handbook of Nature Study. In other words, I did a little bit of homework and came up with a plan for our family.

Tips on Using The Handbook of Nature Study In Your Homeschool

  • Pick three sections of the book to cover in your school year….four if you want to cover one over the summer too. Try to think of things you will actually be able to observe in your course of everyday life. If you have a birdfeeder you could learn about which birds visit your garden. Perhaps you have a budding meteorologist who enjoyes Keeping track of the weather. It could be as simple as beginning with your families pet. Pick something of interet.
  • Start with something you will enjoy.
  • As the parent/guide, read the introduction to the section you are going to study a few times over. I have found that just reading these few pages opens your eyes to a lot of ideas for further study on the topic chosen. Use the information and suggested activities as a place to start your study of a particular animal or aspect of nature.
  • Make notes in the book or in a notebook with ideas for your study.
  • Go through your personal library and check for any reference items you may have on the subject of your study. I was surprised when I did this to find that I already owned quite a few books to go along with our fall study of insects. Check your library for books and field guides too.
  • Our family enjoys identifying things we find on our nature outings. This means we need to have a basic field guide to go along with our study since the Handbook of Nature Study is NOT a field guide.

Yes, I finally purchased the Handbook of Nature Study for the second time! I am happy to report that this time around it is getting used weekly. I had tried to use the online version by printing out only the pages I needed but that was too much work. Having my own copy at my fingertips has been a blessing this past term. Our nature study has taken on a new level of interest.

The Handbook Of Nature Study has truly become a friend in our homeschool.

Get Your Own Copy of The Handbook of Nature Study

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Getting Started with Nature Journaling in Your Homeschool

Are you new to nature study, the Charlotte Mason philosophy and getting started with nature journaling in your homeschool?

Getting Started with Nature Journaling in your homeschool.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy.

How to Get Started With Nature Journaling

Every student of Charlotte Mason’s was encouraged to keep a nature notebook or nature diary. I had the privilege of visiting the Armitt Museum in Ambleside a few years ago and having a look at some of Charlotte’s student’s nature journals.

Have a look through some of Charlotte Mason’s Students Nature Journals

If you would like to have a look yourself you can have a look at the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives HERE and HERE.

Students nature journals were inscribed with poetry, observations and seasonal notes. The paintings are of course beautiful and I think this is where we can get a little tough on ourselves and not want to produce anything that looks less than perfect.

The Importance of Keeping a Nature Journal

At the beginning of our homeschooling journey in keeping with Charlotte’s way, I began keeping a nature journal myself and led my children to do the same. Bit by bit over the years we have each created treasured keepsakes and we can see the progress we have made from our rudimentary first entries. We have also grown in our knowledge and understanding by observing nature in our Outdoor Hour Challenges.

The field notebook is a veritable gold mine for the nature-study teacher to work in securing voluntary and happy observations from the pupils concerning their out-of-door interests. It is a friendly gate which admits the teacher to a knowledge of what the child sees and cares for.

Anna Botsford Comstock ~ The Handbook of Nature Study

Many people don’t know much about nature and the years’ natural rhythms because they don’t observe it. If we give our children regular time outside to get in touch with God’s creation we are gifting them with a habit that will be a source of much delight all through their lives.

Getting Started with Nature Journaling image of nature journal

What Do I Need To Start a Nature Journal?

Any kind of blank book will do for this, except that it should not be too large to be carried around in the pocket, and it should always have a pencil attached.

Anna Botsford Comstock ~ The Handbook of Nature Study

Anna gives sound advice on what is needed, a small blank book that is easily taken with you on your nature adventures. You do not want anything cumbersome for children are adventurous creatures and should have every freedom to explore the great outdoors.

A graphite drawing of what is observed is easily done and is in Anna’s opinion far better than a long description of a natural object.

My Nature Journal Recommendations

My personal recommendations are the Speedball Art Journals. The paper is thick enough to take watercolor and the size makes it easily transportable. I currently have the square journal but I’m keen to try out the 5.5X8.25 next.

If you have a reluctant journaler consider just providing blank paper which can be easily replaced if their drawings don’t go to plan. Some children (and adults) can find it very intimidating to commit to putting pencil to paper in a new journal.

A Word on Watercolors

I bought each of my children a small set of watercolor paints at the beginning of our homeschooling and they lasted years! Don’t be tempted to buy something that has too many colour options, it’s amazing what colors you can achieve through mixing.

Do make sure that you have invested in good watercolors as the cheap and cheerful ones just do not do your work any justice and in keeping a nature journal you are creating something that will be treasured for many years to come. This particular set of watercolors costs around £11.00 – so about $14.61.

Anna Botsford Comstock’s Advice On Nature Journaling

Remember that a nature journal or field notebook is to be a joy to the child. In The Handbook of Nature Study, Anna lays out a few rules to be observed to make nature journaling a success:

  • The book should be considered the personal property of the child and should never be criticized except as a matter of encouragement; for the spirit in which the notes are made is more important than the information they cover.
  • The making of drawings to illustrate what is observed shall be encouraged.
  • The notebook should not be regarded as a part of the work in English. The spelling, language, and writing of the notes should all be exempt from criticism.

Anna also believed that no child should be compelled to keep a notebook and although I agree, I believe that we can encourage our reluctant journaler in other ways. Perhaps instead of drawing what they observe they can take photographs which may be printed out and pasted into their journal. I think that it is natural for a child that feels their drawing is ‘not good enough’ to want to shy away from drawing what they observe.

Book Recommendation

Have you read Karen Andreola’s book “A Pocketful of Pinecones?”

If not I would highly recommend that you do. Karen is the author of the Charlotte Mason Companion, another book to add to your booklist. A Pocketful of Pinecones is a story written especially for homeschool moms who are feeling discouraged in their homeschooling as well as a lovely guide to nature study.

It is written as a diary of a homeschooling mom who is in her first year of homeschooling using Charlotte Mason’s gentle art of homeschooling. There are some beautiful chapters on what nature study looks like on a practical level in her homeschool and which gave me the confidence to implement the same into my own homeschool. You don’t have to be an expert instead you can learn alongside your precious children and learn together, creating a treasure trove of precious memories spent in God’s glorious creation at the same time!

This book is honey for the homeschool mothers heart and I would encourage you to get a copy. I have found that I read this book each year, I never tire of it and always feel encouraged and inspired to lead my children in their adventures in discovering and forming connections with nature.

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