Fun With Nature Notebooks

By Charmaine Wistad

Would you like to include a little bit of fun “school” during the summer months? Summer is the perfect time to start your children (and yourself!) on a nature notebook.  In the summer, your family will probably  spend a good amount of time outdoors – so why not take advantage of it and use the time to observe and draw nature.

Drawing notebooks can be readily found at just about any discount or variety store (including many large grocery stores). They come in various sizes, but I found that a 6” X 9” spiral bound sketch diary works best.

Start your nature notebook project by taking a little time to decorate the cover. Cut a piece of white paper the size of the cover. Have the kids cut out pictures from magazines of their favorite animals, plants, flowers, tress etc. and glue them on to the paper. Leave room at the top to label the book with permanent marker or a computer print out i.e. “Anne’s Nature Notebook”. Once the paper is decorated to the child’s liking, glue it to the book cover then cover both front and back with clear contact paper.  This will help keep the book in better condition when you get it outdoors and into some “natural” situations.

What to put in the nature notebook? Start by taking a little walk around the yard. Ask the child to simply look for something they find unusual or interesting. Then, date the first page and ask them to draw it in their notebook. You can use carbon pencils, colored pencils or both.  Later, as everyone becomes more comfortable with the notebooks, you can look up the item in a field guide and perhaps label the parts or write a little bit about it.

Be sure to take your nature notebooks with you when you:

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Visit a city or county park
  • Go hiking
  • On vacation

Visit Home-School.com for more ideas on nature notebooks.

Nature notebooks are a fun and easy way to encourage close observation of  the beauty that surrounds us everyday.  As your children add to their notebooks over the years, they will be creating a keepsake of not only what they’ve observed but of many good times together as a family.


Charmaine Wistad has successfully homeschooled her own two children from pre-school through high school.  Now she is turning her attention toward helping other homeschool moms. Through personal coaching, Charmaine helps homeschooling moms thrive… not just survive! Visit her website to try a complimentary no-obligation telephone coaching session.

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Our Curriculum for Next Year!

Books

This past year we have been using Alpha Omega’s Horizons preschool in our homeschool.  For Kindergarten in the fall, we have selected Memoria Press’ Kindergarten classical curriculum.

Memoria Press’ curriculum appealed to me with its introductions of amazing art and music throughout the school weeks.  There is focus on Bible teaching using the Golden Books Children Bible which I remember from childhood.  Copybooks emphasize phonics lessons with seatwork and copying of Scripture as the kids advance in their handwriting.  There is a recitation period to start each school day, where the kids get to formally recite what they have learned.

Memoria Press starts the kids on Latin around the 1-3 grades and I, at least, am looking forward to that, having been taught Latin when I was homeschooled! The dividends on that are paid in vocabulary and in general language learning.

I am a big fan of the classical approach to learning.  I should add that we intentionally went looking for a curriculum with structured lesson plans so my husband and I can hand off school throughout the week depending on our schedules.

For my visual learner, I knew we needed something with manipulatives and visual emphasis of math lessons.  I didn’t see that in the Rod and Staff math that comes with the Memoria Press curriculum, so we wanted to substitute something else in its place.  I saw Right Start Mathematics and instantly liked the fact that the concepts were not watered down from the very beginning.  We do the same thing with our science instruction at Homeschool Science Press, so it seemed like a natural carryover.  Right Start Math uses tools such as a Math Balance, abacus, clock games, and manipulatives.  Having already introduced some basic math and counting this past year with the Horizons curriculum, Right Start recommended we begin with Level B.

There is no dedicated science book with the Memoria Press Kindergarten curriculum, so as science is covered, we will supplement with pages from My First Science Notebook by Homeschool Science Press.  This will help us learn science as we encounter it in the real world, but still drive home the skills of science: observation, measuring, drawing, and recording.  I expect to continue this approach for this next year at least and then we’ll be looking for a dedicated textbook.  I might use vintage science books, who knows?  My most important goal with science for now is to make sure they are asking questions, guessing the answer, and observing outcomes.

What are you using in your homeschool this fall?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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New Reviews of Hands-On Science!

Photo courtesy of Cheerios Underfoot

 

I recently provided three blog readers the opportunity to receive a copy of Hands-On Science: Particles in Motion.  They agreed to review the book and have written some excellent information for you!

Hands-On Science is a K-6 experiment and activity book.  It provides discussion and thought-provoking questions along with practical application.  The experiments can be completed with an entire homeschool, that is to say, a wide range of ages, at differing levels of difficulty simultaneously.  The best part is, you probably already own every item required to complete the experiments!

But I’ll let you read what these ladies have to say about it.

Here are the Reviews!

If you’re looking to grab a copy of this book for 20% off, be sure to head over to the Homeschool Science Press Facebook page, (like us), and find the discount code!  If you are already a Facebook Liker, head to the special offers tab.

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