Nature-based learning lends itself so well to homeschool projects. Nature projects are great for unit studies as they cover math, science, history, and writing! The best projects start with an interest your child is showing, you may also do nature study projects that aim to investigate and solve a problem.
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How to Plan Nature Study Projects
Nature study projects can be designed to fit your family and your timeline, but there are some steps that will help guide the process.
Choose A Topic
Take some time to be outside and see what questions naturally arise.
You may also get an idea from a book you are reading. I know my kids were very interested in Maple syrup after reading a book about where it was made.
Find a topic that is interesting enough to be studied deeply. Questions that can be answered in an afternoon should be broadened.
Gather books, videos, names of experts, and any other information you may find available.
Some families choose to display these resources in a basket to keep them all together.
Sarah Jesse Brown the creator of Fun-Schooling Journals uses a worksheet for the child to write down all their resources and her journals guide children through the research process as they work through the resources.
Plan an Experience
Whenever possible, plan to experience something about the topic.
This could include an ant farm, a visit to a local farm, a visit to the ocean, or a museum.
Plan an experience or a chat with an expert to learn more. Our brains make memories when we are in new situations, so this will really build learning.
Document It All
Be sure to document the new information and observations your child is making. You can do this with watercolors in an art notebook or a simple spiral-bound notebook where your kids write down what they have learned.
A commonplace is a book in which you record interesting quotes from books you are reading.
Another great idea is for them to create a slide show that they can share with family. You can use PowerPoint or Google Slides (which is free!).
Share Your Findings
Encourage your child to share what they have learned. This can be informal with friends or a formal display with a local homeschool group. Setting up a display at home and inviting friends and family to come for dinner and education is a great way to end a nature study project.
Ideas for Nature Study Projects
These ideas can be great as a nature study project for young students to older teens.
The age of the child will determine the depth of research and the length of the project. A child who is interested in gardening may spend years studying cultivated crops. This is a lifelong hobby that will be a gift for your children.
Your child may have observed beautiful spider webs in the morning dew. Encourage them to sketch the patterns they are observing, then head to the library to find other examples and facts about spiders.
Take time to observe spiders and learn about where they are likely to build webs. Did you know they took spiders to space to see how it would affect their web building?
Geodes are fascinating! How are they formed? Can we find them in our region? A local science museum is likely to have a geology specialist that would love to talk to your child about the formation of these special rocks.
Large well photographed encyclopedias of rocks and gems will offer a wealth of information and after a child has identified a type of rock it becomes a treasure hunt on every walk.
A visit to a local cave or cavern is sure to be memorable. A rock collection can be displayed and shared with friends and family.
Identifying trees by their leaves and bark is easiest in the summer, but observing a tree throughout the year is a classic nature study project.
Sketch the tree several times over the course of the year and see what questions arise. You can reach out for some education to local farmers.
Nature studies are the perfect way to learn about the world around you. Nature study projects are a great way to reintroduce your children to nature and all the wonders out there and learn more about what interests them.