Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Exploring Nature with Children

Nature study is something that I have been keen to add to our agenda on a regular basis. Whilst we have walked outside regularly, our outings have tended to lack focus. Just at the end of the holiday, Lynn Seddon published a resource which we are using as a gentle guide our nature study.  Exploring Nature with Children is an ebook which has ideas and information for a whole year of nature studies.


After an introductory chapter with information about nature journals, finding a place for a nature walk and a nature table, the book is divided into seasons and each month has four different nature study ideas. The book begins in September but there would be no reason why it shouldn't be started in any month.

The introduction to the book includes information on making a nature journal, selecting a spot for regular nature study and keeping a nature table. None of this is complicated and the whole book is set up so that it can be used with multiple ages.

Each week has a specific theme so our first week had the theme of seeds;

 this week was minibeasts

and next week looks at the harvest moon.

Each week has
  • a nature walk activity along with information, for example, about seed dispersal. How much or little of this information is used is up to you and is likely to vary according to the age of the children. Observing and recording in a nature journal is encouraged both for parents
  • and children. 
  •  a book list. Some of the books are likely to be in many home libraries such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar but others are less well known. 
  • a poem. These tend to be quite short and we have read them while out on our walk.
  • a suggestion for a picture. These have been easy to find on the internet.
  • extension activities which include craft, writing, art and gardening. For example, some of the ideas for the last week in September include planting Spring bulbs, writing a list of things that remind you of Autumn and finding out the sunset and sunrise times, recording them in the journal and making thumb nail sketches of the sun as it rises and sets; plus three other ideas for this week.
The nature walks vary. Usually they are around the place chosen for the regular nature walk which can be a garden or park as well as fields or woods. However, some look at a pond and others suggest going somewhere different. The time of day isn't usually specified but some of the walks are at dusk or at night.

We have loved our nature walks. I wasn't sure how my youngest would find them but he has been an enthusiast and has drawn several labelled  pictures in his journal.

In my opinion, the big pluses of this book are that it

  • is flexible and can be used for different ages. Some of the classification information would be best suited for older children but even toddlers will enjoy looking for seeds and minibeasts.
  • the encouragement for parents to take part. I'm no artist but have enjoyed making my own journal. It has also been an encouragement to look up questions that might otherwise have just floated aimlessly through my mind. What is that tree? What type of spider is this? Is this object an oak apple? Are all oak galls the same? 

  • Encouragement to go outside throughout the year.
  • The book starts in September but can be started at any time in the year.
I warmly recommend this book. Whilst it is written by a fellow UK home educator, this is the type of book that families with schooled children could also enjoy as nature walks would be a great way to relax after school or at the weekend.

Exploring Nature with Children is available as a PDF. Some people have printed this off but I have loaded it onto my Kindle, for convenience. It costs $15 (price in dollars as it is sold from a US site although it is written from the UK). However, Lynn has kindly allowed me to offer my readers 30% off using the code DG15. This code is valid until 30th September 2015.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Exploring Nature with Children for review purposes. The views are my own and those of my children. I was not required to write a positive review.

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  1. Love the children's drawings and yes we are enjoying the book too.
    Thanks for recommending it

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Perhaps, we should meet up for a nature walk one day.

  2. we have this study, its amazing! We are now nature wombles!

    1. I agree, it is amazing. I love your description "Nature wombles".