We are year-round homeschoolers. I find this method works best in our family. We keep going through June, then for July and August we typically switch to full-time Nature Studies with hands-on Literary Studies that accompany the Nature work.
This year, I am really excited to be using Incredible Creeks for our Summer Nature Study. Our family absolutely LOVES the NaturExplorers units from Our Journey Westward. I have a whole pile of them and plan to work my way through every one of them! Over the Winter we learned so much and truly enjoyed our time working through Coping with the Cold.
Many Moms have asked me lately about how to easily and affectively implement Nature Study into their homeschool. I say, start with the Spring/Summer months! This is the best season (especially for us in Southern Ontario and similar climates) to really soak in every warm day we can. We often do our ‘book’ work on the deck outside and spend the afternoons outdoors accomplishing parts of our Nature Studies as best we can. Not every day is perfect, but we aim for lots and lots of outdoor time, and when the studies are based around that outside time – it is much more likely to happen!
I thought I would link below to several NaturExplorer units that I have and love. These are BY FAR my favourite Nature Study units available on the ‘homeschool’ market, so to speak. They are very reasonable, easy to acquire (ebooks, you download them right away!), and so rich in content. Well worth the small investment – Cindy has made them so reasonable!
What is included in the NaturExplorer Units?
Some of the elements include:
Getting Started – Literature Launch gives a list of recommended children’s literature to inspire and introduce the concepts of the study (love this so much!), Inspiration Point and A Bit of Background offer the ‘teacher’ a chance to gain quick and easy basic understanding of the motivation behind the study and some background knowledge before heading into nature study both in and out of doors.
Getting Outside – Nature Walks and Outside Activities (the core of the curriculum) is the section where Cindy has written so many great topic-related ideas for getting outside! This is exactly what I was looking for since the simple, “Hey let’s go for a walk,” doesn’t always captivate my kids anymore.
Branching Out – This section goes more in depth and, well, branches out on the topic of study. There are many ideas for hands-on science experiments and activities, vocabulary and scientific concepts (this one includes a look at Allen’s Rule, Bergmann’s Rule, The Egg Rule, and Gloger’s rule, along with discussions and activities for the concepts of adaptation, camouflage, how to make your yard animal and bird friends, and much more.)
In the Branching Out section, you will also find a ton (really!) of ideas for research, study and creative writing. The ideas are so many and so varied that I mentioned to my husband that I would surely keep these units for years to come and pull them out during the applicable seasons to use as a launching pad for Nature Study over and over again. Cindy gives hundreds of ideas that could serve as a very engaging springboard for all ages.
Bible, Poetry, Artist and Picture Study, and Composer and Music Study:
I love the Bible Lessons from His Creation section. This highlights multiple verses and chunks of scripture that relate to the topic of study. We used Matthew 6:28-30 as our copywork in our Nature Journals.
Poetry Place includes several titles of theme-related poems and suggested books of poetry. For this unit, we printed off all the poems and read them aloud. We used Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field as a nature journal page and learned more about the Canada Geese from Handbook of Nature Study. when we used Coping with the Cold this winter.
I was so excited to discover the Artist and Picture Study References included as well. What a wonderful addition to any Nature Study! Cindy gives great suggestions for kid-friendly picture study with artists and artwork related to the topic. We really gravitated towards studying works by Robert Bateman for our Coping with the Cold unit and it was wonderful.
Composer and Music References offers some lovely ideas for music study related to the specific theme of the given Nature Study unit.
There are also many notebooking pages to use within your home and homeschool for each unit – so many I couldn’t list them all! Each page pairs easily with the content within the unit study and can be printed off as needed!
Here are just *some* of the fantastic Nature Study Units that would work wonderfully for Summer Nature Study:
Some of my faves…
These NaturExplorer units have enough to keep you and your kids busy for the Summer months. You could even do as much as 3 units, which is what is included in the bundles. For now, I plan on diving in to the Incredible Creeks unit for most of the Spring/Summer.
Some of the activities for this unit include: looking at the Water Cycle, completing detailed observations on both a large and small scale plus accompanying Notebooking pages, Wading Scavenger Hunt, observing rocks and collecting pebbles, finding and exploring waterfalls, discussing the various parts of watershed areas, looking at tree roots, identifying and journaling about Wild Flowers, looking for signs of a Healthy Creek, looking at amphibians, monitoring and charting creek temperatures, and tons more.
There are also ideas for making a model of a creek, drawing a cross-section mural of a creek, and several really interesting science experience to help understand watersheds, erosion, and creek habitats. Writing ideas include things like creating lyric poems, researching and writing about a famous gold rush, and learning and writing about dams.
There are multiple scriptures included in the unit that relate to life, water, and God’s care and provision for His children as well as songs
There are over 25 amazing suggested read-alouds to go with this unit as well as numerous note-booking pages to print-out and use along with the hands-on activities and learning.
I love this unit study. As I flip through all the wonderful ideas and suggestions for studying clouds, I’m reminded just how vast and beautiful our world is and how awesome our God is. Here are just some of the ideas from Captivating Clouds: learn to identify different types of clouds, observe and journal clouds on a nature walk using an identification chart, keep a log of the cloud types you see every day, use a compass to identify the direction clouds are moving, learn about water vapour, identify shapes in clouds, observe and journal about colours found in clouds, write Haiku, sculpt clouds using clay, learn the five main cloud components, learn about condensation, evaporation, and precipitation, make ‘fruit in a cloud’ for a snack, and so much more!
For writing ideas, suggestions include: make a chart showing cloud levels and altitudes, create an accordion book about fog types, research, illustrate, and write a paragraph about Interesting Cloud Names, and several more engaging writing topics.
Multiple biblical references and readings are provided along with poetry suggestions. Art and Picture Study includes Van Gogh, Monet and Norman Rockwell, among others. Also has composer suggestions and numerous suggested fiction and non-fiction titles to work with the study of clouds. I can’t wait to try this unit this school year. Possibly in the Autumn!
Would also make a great Summer unit!
What are the three main types of tracks patterns we should look for? What are the four terms we should understand when measuring animal tracks? What kinds of animal signs can we observe when tracking animals? These questions and hundreds more are considered in the Animal Signs unit from NaturExplorers. Other activities include: measuring and recording various tracks in a nature journal, identifying, comparing and contrasting various animal tracks found in nature, make mud track prints, identifying feeding vs. sleeping areas of animals, creating a chart of tracks likely to be found in your area, and more.
Writing and Research ideas include things like, identifying types of feathers, understanding and determining how animals move and how that affects their tracks, creating a file folder report about a nomadic Native American tribe and tell how animal tracking was crucial to their survival.
Loads of bible verses to read and memorize as well as Art and Picture Study, Poetry, and Composer and Music References. Includes lots of great ideas for themed books as well. Love how different this Nature Study unit is – very unique and engaging. Another one we plan to dive into!
Nature Study Bundles:
Late Spring Bundle
Early Summer Bundle
Late Summer Bundle
These are, by far, my favourite Nature Study Units.
I haven’t found anything that competes with the ease, creativity, depth, and thoroughness of these units. I wouldn’t make a post linking to so many if I didn’t fully believe in these!
You can take a good look at the units and view sample PDFs on the NaturExplorer website.
I truly hope these units might bless some families with wonderful memories together outdoors, learning about God’s incredible world!