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How do you direct your children when you do it? Any tips or hints to share?
I am having a hard time getting nature study into our routine. When we're out, the kids just want to play and do their own thing and it's hard to get them interested in stuff, especially in winter.
Any tips would be appreciated.
Hi Michelle, I do a lot of different things when we go out on a nature walk. On the days leading up to the nature walk we talk about what things we will be looking for. We make up a list of things. We try to find those things. We take a cam with us, my grandson loves to take pictures. He takes pictures of the things we are looking for, when we find them. I also even in the winter take a bag lunch with us. We take a rest and eat. I let him play or what ever for a few minutes. Then when he is done we continue on our walk. We collect things we find in our lunch bag. We always see who can find the most things. We talk about them as we walk. When I come home, we put our things up till the next day. Then the next morning we talk about all we did and what we found. Then for art, we try to make something out of what ever we found. We also down load our pictures we took, and talk about them. We keep a scrap book of science, those pictures are printed out and put in the book. I also copy them to CDs for his record book I keep.
The main thing is make it fun. When his mind wonders off, I bring him back to where I want him maybe by finding something and saying loudly and with excitement in my voice, "Look what I found!" It works just about everytime. I have been known to keep a few things in my pocket that gets dropped like a arrow head, or a cool rock, I buy some of the things at the store at our Nature tail. I live in the woods so I am always coming across something I can use to get his mind back to what we are doing.
My grandson is only 6 and his mind wonders from what we are doing. I just find ways to bring his mind back, ways that he comes back on his own. I don't try to force him.
My grandson loves to impress my husband. My husband gets right into it all with us. He makes a big fuss over what he learned on the walk. That helps me out a lot.
First, I had to start by observing the little things around me. Pointing things out to my children has made them more aware of the life around them. One day my son burst through the door to tell me he found a praying mantis and I knew he was finally getting it.
In the winter, we enjoy the birds consuming pounds and pounds of birdseed. Every morning we spend a few moments noticing which birds are visiting and discuss some their habits. Maybe try forcing some bulbs. I saw that idea somewhere and thought how much we would enjoy a bit of green right now. Go for a walk even if it's cold. Give them something specific to look for. In the spring, I ask my children to look for certain colors as we walk. In the fall, we do leaf rubbings, etc. Oh, and I saw a really cool nature journal that is simple to make: http://lunablog.net/2008/01/28/homeschool-hacking-tips-make-your-own-nature-journal/ That might bring some interest, too. :)
We have attracted a lot of birds to our back yard by using bird feeders and also just throwing bird seed mixes on the ground. When the birds come, if we don't know what they are, we look them up in the bird guides we have.
We have also attracted plenty of squirrels and an occassional raccoon.
Looking up various insects and other creatures that we have come across outside in books has been enjoyable.
One year we raised some butterflies. The children enjoyed watching them grow through all of the life stages. It was pretty simple to care for them. We also read about butterflies and later the children wrote a short paper on their life cylces.
One year we made a trip to the Science Center in Newport Oregon and the center had various activities prepared for the children to learn about sea life. We also have visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium a couple of times.
We have done various things for nature study.