Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Nature study in November

Last day of November!  I want to squeeze this post in for November's nature study, because we are going on a new theme in December.  Nature study has been a bit of struggle for us, and I am not proud about that.  I honestly believe that children (and adults) benefit greatly by being in nature.  Admittedly, we do nature walks on a weekly basis as a family but I am not sure I would count that towards 'nature study' simply because it is done very informally, casually, and with no specific purpose other than just being out in the nature and being together.

After attempting different ideas since September, I am now inclined to have a monthly theme as a basis of our nature study.  I think having a theme to work on each month will help us to have a more focused purpose in our nature exploration (well, for the ones that I do with Tiger anyway), and for me to organise learning materials more efficiently.

Our November theme was Evergreen.  My jump-off point these days has been a nature book by Enid Blyton.  It is one of the rare living books about nature written for children in the UK.

This book is written has 12 chapters - one for each month of the year.  Each chapter contains descriptions of two nature walks that three children take with their very knowledgeable uncle.  There is a surprising amount of detailed and well-observed nature notes being woven into the stories, so that makes a very good pre-walk reading for Tiger and I.  I read the first part of the November walk at the beginning of this month, afterwhich we went out for a walk to observe what we had just read about: fog and mist.  It was certainly very damp that day!

Our second walk in November, according to the book, was to observe evergreens on a sunny day.

This was easy to do, since by now most of the deciduous trees have shed their leaves.

We didn't have to go very far to find numerous evergreens.


Observating and identifying evergreens is a good start.  We went a little further by taking some samples home to learn for ourselves why and how evergreens have leaves all year round.  The answer is in the texture and shapes of the leaves, compared to those of deciduous leaves.

Along the same theme of evergreen vesus deciduous plants, we did an experiment to see whether we could 'trick' a deciduous plant to hang on to its leaves a little longer than it would have if left out in nature, by placing a branch with a few remaining leaves in a glass of water indoors with good light.  As this experiment was done after our second walk, it took us a long time to find a branch with any deciduous leaf left since nearly all the decidous trees have shed their leaves by then.  The idea for the experiment came from yet another Janice vanCleave book.

Day 0
Day 5 - leaves still intact but going more brown and brittle
Day 13 - leaves are turning very brown, but still hanging on to the branch!

The best part of our nature study efforts this month has been seeing Tiger reading more of the Enid Blyton book by himself after our formal lessons were done.

This post is linked up to several blog hops, where you can visit to see what other homeschoolers have been busy with.  It is also linked to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Music and Composer Study edition.


  1. I really should be doing the same...taking a walk outdoors, I mean. Sigh, we're such lazy bumpkins. My turn to hang my head in shame lol. Love the book. Didn't know EB wrote a nature-themed tale. Keep having fun!

  2. We've also been struggling to have an organized nature study time. I've learned to not try to make it perfect and it's more likely to happen! Your study looks like it turned out quite well.

  3. Those books sound great! And I love the idea of having a theme every month. Though I have to disagree about your casual walks not being a study in nature. I think just getting out into nature can be the best way to observe it and foster an appreciation for it in our children. Though also focusing on something and being more intentional is awesome too!

  4. Thanks for submitting this to the CM Carnival...loved seeing how you personalized your nature study.

  5. I'm sure you have, but have you seen the Handbook of Nature Study blog? They suggest themes for each week, I think.

    My problem always was, the particular theme they had for that week was not something I was able to observe at that time.

  6. Just my two cents, but I think informal nature walks are an excellent way to study nature and for kids and adults to develop a true love for it beyond the 'studying' :)

  7. Love your study! I've been thinking of doing an evergreen unit this Dec. It fits in well with Christmas and we have lots of pines around our area.

  8. we've enjoyed other enid blyton books, but hadn't heard of that one.

    themes haven't worked for us, it always seemed too forced to try to get the kids interested in whatever theme we'd decided ahead of time on. so, we just get out and i fall in love with something and some times they do too :)

    thanks for sharing this! it looks like you guys are learning lots!


    amy in peru


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