Nature Study for Kids
We hope you enjoy this collection of Nature Study resources for kids, parents, and educators.
When children are surrounded by nature they can't help but apply the scientific method. They begin to ask questions, observe, experiment, and learn - naturally.
What is Nature Study?
Nature study is the study of nature and everything that exists in the natural world, by way of direct observation and exploration.
As such, nature study includes the study or observation of all animals, plants, insects, etc., found in the natural world.
According to Wikipedia:
The nature study movement (alternatively, Nature Study or nature-study) was a popular education movement in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nature study attempted to reconcile scientific investigation with spiritual, personal experiences gained from interaction with the natural world. Led by progressive educators and naturalists such as Anna Botsford Comstock, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Louis Agassiz and Wilbur S. Jackman, nature study changed the way science was taught in schools by emphasizing learning from tangible objects, something that was embodied by the movement's mantra "study nature, not books." (source)
Charlotte Mason Method of Nature Study
Charlotte Mason is a modern educator that has put together a well-known method of homeschool education for homeschool families that includes a strong emphasis on nature study. As such, she encourages parents to allow children to spend a minimum of 4 to 6 hours per day in nature every single day.
Nature study lays the foundation for science lessons. It’s simple! Go outside with the whole family at least once each week. Give every family member a nature notebook in which to record their observations. Their entries could include pencil sketches, descriptions, watercolor paintings, or chalk drawings. Instruct children to draw what they see, not what they think something should look like. Be sure they label each entry with its name, location, and date observed. Use field guides to help identify children’s findings. (source)
Charollete Mason believed that every child has an innate interest in nature and that it is the parents' responsibility to encourage and invite children to follow their interest in the great outdoors. Otherwise, this innate desire to study nature will be lost as the child matures into adulthood.
A book titled “Hours in the Out-of-Doors” Is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to educate children with an emphasis on nature study using Charlotte's Methods.
Nature Study in Education Today
Like Charlotte Mason and the early founders of Nature study, Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf Education), and Dr. Maria Montessori (founder of Montessori Education) also believe that time in nature, nature study and the study of nature should play a large role in the education of the whole child.
As such, they also believed that children should spend plenty of unstructured play time in nature exploring, and doing whatever calls their attention, without the interference of an adult, or teacher.
These same ideas are what have caused a wealth of outdoor education programs to erupt in the late 19th century and early 20th century known as nature preschools and forest kindergartens.
Nature Study Books for Parents and Educators
- Handbook of Nature Study
- Hours in the Out-of-Doors
- Charlotte Mason Companion
- A Pocket Full of Pinecones
- Liberty Hyde Bailey: Essential Agrarian and Environmental Writings
- Last Child in the Woods
- I Love Dirt
- How to Raise a Wild Child
- Play the Forest School Way
- Nature Preschools and Forest Kindergartens
- Balanced and Barefoot
Nature Study Ideas for Kids
Try any of these nature study ideas for kids. Studying nature is a great way for children to learn about the world we live in--naturally!