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Nature Study – 3 Steps to a Better Experience

Madrone Tree

“The Field Lesson. When planning a field lesson, three points should be kept in mind:
First. The aim, to bring the children into sympathy or in touch with nature, through the study of that part of nature in which they have been interested.
Second. The conditions out of doors, where the children are at home, where they must have greater freedom than in the schoolroom, and where it is more difficult to keep them at definite work, and to hold their attention.
Third. The necessity of giving each child something definite to find out for himself, and of interesting the children so that each will try to find out the most and have the greatest number of discoveries to tell.”  Nature Study and The Child, Charles B. Scott, 1900.

I am finding that for my high school aged son there needs to be a different sort of follow-up to our observations…more than just a nature journal. He is using his past experiences with nature study and making some connections. This has led me to going back to the internet to research more closely how nature study develops into upper level science. I am finding it fascinating. I am excited to share my findings and show how I am implementing the ideas learned with my son as we go along (see the printable below).

“But true science work does not stop with mere seeing, hearing, or feeling: it not only furnishes a mental picture as a basis for reasoning, but it includes an interpretation of what has been received through the senses.”
Nature Study for the Common Schools, Wilbur Samuel Jackman, 1891

This is the part of nature study I find most meaningful for my son. When he can take something he already knows and build on it with new information, he develops an interest. If I am merely telling him a fact, no matter how interesting the fact is, he is not as impressed. He needs to find the answers to his questions.

Madrone Tree branches
Pacific Madrone 

“Adults should realize that the most valuable thing children can learn is what they discover themselves about the world they live in.” Charlotte Mason, volume 1 page 61

My research found that this pattern – observation, reasoning, expression – is nothing new or unique to nature study. This pattern is the process that all science is built upon. Watching my son work through the More Nature Study ebook challenges has brought this into focus for me. I wrote the challenges to include advanced study and just happened to present it in this three step pattern.

Nature Study - Three Steps to a Better Experience

If you haven’t yet downloaded and read my Nature Study-Three Steps To A Better Experience, I invite you to now. It outlines in simple form how to build a lifetime habit of meaningful nature study.

5 thoughts on “Nature Study – 3 Steps to a Better Experience

  1. I just met a man in Santa Cruz, CA last weekend who said that he was burning too much Madrone (vs mixing in another wood) to keep his home warm for the family. I was not fast enough to ask what madrone was before the conversation turned to something else. But now you’ve answered my question. And enlightened me on more ways to get the Gs outside. Thanks

  2. Madrones are beautiful trees and very distinctive in our area. This is the best specimen and probably the largest one that I have seen.

    Glad to have helped. 🙂

  3. thanks for posting this barb. i’ve downloaded the link for the print out and know i will find it very helpful.

  4. Thank you so much for this download Barb. I found this post and your insights to be very informative and cant wait to use these steps in our next nature study. Thanks again

  5. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked pg 4 with the checklist. That will help me stay on track with journaling. We seem to forget about journaling most days.

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