Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nature Study Challenge #1 - Getting Started

I found a fabulous blog that will surely help us as we attempt to introduce proper nature studies into our week. Handbook of Nature Study. I purchased Anna Comstock's Handbook for Nature Study so I could utilize it this year in our science curriculum. But just looking at the size of this book daunted me. I had a hard time even opening the cover to it. It is such a massive book!

Well, when I googled "Handbook of Nature Study", lo and behold the aforementioned blog popped up second in the queue. Wow! What a neat find! I decided to start off with the First Outdoor Hour Weekly Challenge.

And so here we are.

The first portion of the challenge was to first read pages 1-8 of "Handbook of Nature Study" and highlight anything that stands out to me so I can return later when I need encouragement. Here are a couple of things I found that I felt pertinent to where we are at in our journey.

"If nature-study as taught does not make the child love nature and the out-of-doors, then it should cease."

Yup. That's definitely us. But hey! We are just getting started, right? How quickly should I give up? Well, the next thing that jumped out at me was this...

"However, if the love of nature is in the teacher's heart, there is no danger; such a teacher, no matter by what method, takes the child gently by the hand and walks with him in paths that lead to the seeing and comprehending of what he may find beneath his feet or above his head."

Ah yes. That there is the solution. I must first foster a love of nature in my own heart, then take Chloe's hand and walk through nature, the two of us, learning and discovering together.

Something else popped out at me as I was reading. It had to do with "when the teacher should say 'I don't know.'"

"Moreover, the teacher, in confessing her ignorance and at the same time her interest in a subject, establishes between herself and her pupils a sense of companionship which relieves the strain of discipline, and gives her a new and intimate relation with her pupils which will surely prove a potent element in her success."

Okay. So on to the second half of the challenge. GET OUTSIDE and explore for 15 minutes.

Now I must be honest with regard to two things. One. We kind of already decided to study birds when we started school three weeks ago. We've been feeding them in the backyard and trying to attract them so that is currently where our interest lies. Two. It is hard for us to only spend 15 minutes outside. When we go out, we get lost in what we are doing. I guess nature studies are already a part of us. (I didn't realize that before today. We came inside before I realized we had spent two hours watching the birds.)

So, our mission today was to collect feathers from our yard. Amazingly enough we found plenty. I was a bit surprised at how many we found. Here is picture of some of them.


I pulled out a resource book from the library so we could learn about the various kinds of feathers. We put them into our nature journals and labeled them. We even found one tail feather to add to Chloe's journal. I didn't think we would be able to find all of them in our backyard but we did. Hooray!


I decided I would like to keep my own journal right along with Chloe. I love learning new things which is one of the many reason I enjoy homeschooling so much. So, I added some feathers to my page too.


Chloe then decided she would like to learn more about pigeons this week. She drew a couple of pictures in her journal and we read part of a book about pigeons I borrowed from our library.



I thought this photo I captured looked pretty cool. Can you see the red head and breast of the House Finch as he is flying away with the Pigeons? They flew so fast I caught only a blur of them, but you might be able to make him out above the pigeons if you look closely.


We tried to entice some birds with a buffet. We put out grapes, tangerines, peanut butter, raisins and banana chunks in little dishes. So far we've had no takers. A Pigeon came close but then opted for the nearby black oiled sunflower seeds I placed in a terracotta saucer. A Cowbird walked through the dishes and eyed them a time or two before heading over for a bath. A couple of House Sparrows seemed tempted as they walked by as well as a Robin but the mealworms proved more to her immediate liking.


So, all in all, I would say this nature study was a success. We will probably keep an eye on our buffet over the next couple of days to see if we get any takers, bringing in it each night so we don't accidentally feed the rats by mistake. Chloe enjoyed herself and we both learned something new. I think we will take some walks around our neighborhood this week to see if we can find more feathers. Chloe would like to start a collection.


1 comment:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Welcome to the OHC! I love to see new families getting started and watching them as they progress through the first pages of the HNS. What a treasure of ideas to inspire in those pages!

I love that you are enjoying being outdoors and birds are a fantastic subject to start with. You might try picking one bird a week to read a little about in the HNS. Just skip to the lesson part of the section and get some ideas for additional observation with your daughter.

I look forward to your next entry and thank you so much for sharing your nature study.