How to Build a Connection with Nature in Your Homeschool

Nature study has always been a major focus in our homeschool. In fact, throughout their primary and early elementary years, nature study was primarily the only science we covered.

While easily accessible, nature study incorporates so much more than just the study of plants and animals in our backyard. It can include the study of weather and climate patterns, even ocean currents and tides.

To help you kick off the new school year with gusto, I am giving away a basket load of wonderful nature study goodies that I know you and your kids will absolutely love.

How We Approach Nature Study

I try to incorporate a nature lesson each week. This begins with spending quality time outdoors. With a tween and teen, this basically means we go for hikes or evening walks as a family. When they were younger, however, it meant playing in the creek near the lake, building imaginary worlds in the backyard, and even climbing trees.

Foraging for Mushrooms: A Wild Edibles Nature Study @EvaVarga.net

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your purchase at these retailers helps to support my family.

Read my post Keeping a Nature Journal to learn how to get started in just 5 simple exercises. I’ve written more extensively about How We Approach Nature Study but how it is done is less important than just getting outside and exploring the world. Here are a few of our lessons from the past:

Here are some Summer Nature Activities to get you started before school begins next month.

nature journaling

If you would like to take it a little further or if you have an older child, consider learning about a master naturalist like Anna Botsford Comstock, Jane Goodall, or Carolus Linneaus.

For classroom or home educators, I also teach an extensive class on Nature Journaling in the Classroom if you’d like more guidance or are interested in earning course credit.

Nature BasketNature Study Giveaway

As promised, this basket of goodies is sure to delight you and your kids. I have included several of our favorite field identification books, a practical guide to discovering the natural world, and an outdoor workbook for families and classrooms. The contents of the basket are worth over $90!   

The Nature Connection by Claire Walker Leslie ($15.95)

The Practical Naturalist from DK Publishing ($22.95)

National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Birds of Sea and Shore ($9.00)

National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Birds of Lakes and Rivers ($9.00)

Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by Their Leaves by May Theilgaard Watts ($5.95)

Rocky Mountain Tree Finder by Tom Watts ($5.95)

Millie & Cyndi’s Pocket Nature Guides:

Painted Ladies of North America ($7.95)
Hummers: Hummingbirds of North America($7.95)
Talons: North American Birds of Prey($7.95)

 

Bonus: NaturExplorers Incredible Creeks eBook ($8.95) … to be sent separately

Enter to Win This Bundle

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back to Homeschool Gift Baskets

But Wait! That is not all ~ 52 homeschool bloggers have joined together to provide one massive back-to-homeschool basket giveaway! Take a peek around these 52 sites and enter to win as many baskets as you like.

Gift Baskets 2016 CollageEach blogger is conducting her own giveaway, so you never know. You may end up winning more than one! All giveaways will be live on Monday, August 15.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

141 comments on “How to Build a Connection with Nature in Your Homeschool

  1. We have really enjoyed Nature journaling. We hike or take a walk through the greenway trails once or twice a week. More often when the weather cools off :-)

  2. we don’t explore together as often as we used to when my kiddos were younger…but I’d like to try for at least once a week this year.

  3. We get out and explore nature as often as we can, depending on the weather. We are lucky to have a county park with hiking and biking trails right behind our house!

  4. When the kids were younger, we’d try to go out into nature weekly. Now that they’re older with lot of activities outside of the house, it’s harder to find time. Perhaps the items in this gift basket will encourage us to go out more. Thanks for offering this giveaway.

  5. We try to get out in nature at least once a week. I find that it helps our days go smoother when we get a bit of time in nature!

    • I am finding nature journaling to be useful for learning with my 5 year-old son. This basket would be a wonderful help (and treat) for us! He has learned his letters, numbers, colors through our walks and is learning how to put words with pictures to describe what he sees, hears, smells, can touch, and how it makes him feel. I have been taking pictures of things we see and then searching online to discover what the names are of some, the guides would be great to have :-)

  6. Starting with this school year, I am determined to get out into nature with my kids at least once a week. I’ve not done nature study with them yet but I think we would really love it!!

  7. Wow, what a unique homeschool giveaway – love it!! We don’t get out and explore often enough, although we are surrounded by it I think we take advantage of it sometimes instead of soaking it in!

  8. We used to do a consistent weekly nature study hour . . . and now we get out about once a month. We are outside frequently in the summer, either up in the mountains hiking or out in the garden.

  9. I take the kids out often and explore nature. I think it’s one of our best teachers. These resources would be fabulous to use with that. Although we go out often, we haven’t had many supplements to go with it…just walking, exploring and talking about it. Thanks for the opportunity.

  10. We have not done it much lately because of the heat, but we want to start getting out at least weekly for a nature study.

  11. We live on the edge of Chattahoochee National Forest and nature finds its way indoors. My daughter (or the cat) brings in wildlife she finds (toads, skinks, snakes, moles, fledgling birds) at least once a week. However with recent heat we haven’t been out up close so much as observing through the windows of our home and car. The grazing herds of deer and their friends the crow that haunt our yard. During car rides we observe the changes in the trees as well as the growing webs of caterpillars taking over trees.

  12. We live on Salado creek in Texas and my youngest just loves collecting rocks and chasing creatures. We go almost everyday down the hill to gather new pocket fulls! We have some of the most amazing birds and turtles to watch. We are blessed with a gorgeous natural science classroom.

  13. I don’t get out much I am a 100% NSC Vet and am in a wheelchair and we live in the country that does not facilitate using it outside but I love watching my son as he is checking things outside to bring in to me. I have a rose bush and he is always finding the prettiest boom to bring in to me.

  14. We get out and explore nature nearly every day in fall, winter, and spring. As for summer, rarely… It’s so stinking hot where we live!

  15. We get out just about everyday. We just recently moved from the city to the country and just love it! All the wildlife and wildflowers, its so peaceful!

  16. We live on a 53 acre small farm, so we try to get out each day. I want to make nature study a bigger part of our school this fall, though!

  17. We have many nature trails around us, a small backyard and grandparents that live on one of the great lakes. There is great variety and we try to get out somewhere or other everyday.

  18. We explore our half acre daily. Parks more like weekly. Yesterday we found 2 alligator lizards on our door mat! Caught one and he was our dinner centerpiece as we showed our 3 yo how to identify it. Let him go after supper of course. Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. We go to our large local park a few times a week or more. We are very lucky it is very close and has a wonderful boardwalk out to a river. We are collecting materials to begin regular nature study this autumn. We are going to be branching out and also looking for hiking opportunities.

  20. We do not get out nearly enough! However, we just got a dog and have been going out more and more and more! Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  21. We are a homeschooling family that loves getting out into nature daily and are currently engaged in bird study. Thank you for sharing some great resources and this opportunity to win them as well!

  22. I have to admit–not very often. But we are doing a science program this year that requires us to go outside and journal, so I should do better this year.

  23. Daily in our rural location. Just a part of our daily living, we raise sheep, chickens and ducks. We have dogs, cats and Guinea pigs. There are Hawks, egrets, and blue heron that visit our property often. Binoculars sit by our front windows of that in any indication.lol. Love this basket and would out it to good use. Thanks

  24. We’re lucky enough to have a wooded backyard, so we get to explore and experience nature pretty often. Sometimes it is just watching the flock of turkeys on the front yard or the big groundhog that lives in the rock pile out back, and sometimes it is hiking and seeing what we can observe.

  25. A couple times a week, but we would LOVE more ideas on how to increase the number of times we explore the outdoor world.

  26. We try to enjoy nature as much as possible. Due to the heat we’ve only been out every few days or so. Looking forward to somewhat cooler days so we can out an explore some more.

  27. We are out in nature quite often. We are members of a local nature center, take hikes in a local state park and in general get outside as often as we can. I have very fond memories of growing up playing in the forest and it is important to me to have my children receive the same.

  28. We used to explore nature more often, but general busyness as my children are getting older makes getting out to explore happen less and less. This may be just the motivation I need to make it a priority again!

    • I don’t get out to expore nature enough with my kiddos, especially in summer when it’s so dang hot here in Texas (nature isn’t that fun when it’s 100+ degrees). In the spring and fall we get out more though.

    • 100+ degrees … I recall those temperatures not so fondly when we lived in Redding. It was hard to get out mid-day. Early mornings were our best bet.

  29. We try to get outside daily for at least 15 minutes rain or shine. My children love to be outdoors and do much better with their school work when they can go out and play periodically throughout the day!

  30. Unfortunately, we live in the desert right now. It’s not very conducive to exploring. When we go on any trips we spend lots of time outdoors.

  31. During the summer time we dont go out much at all, the heat is just unbearable. once the temperatures cool down, we get out a lot more. we do make an effort to visit the duck park/ playground at least once a week

  32. This is such a fantastic giveaway!!
    We get outside every chance we can. The kids are always finding some sort of bug or leaf or cloud pattern. They’re always so excited to discover something new and “google” more about it.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter this giveaway!

  33. We don’t go out as a family to learn nearly enough, the book on tree identification sounds so cool! Thanks for the chance!

  34. We get out everyday even for just a bit. We just got “one small square: backyard” and I am ready to put it to good use!

  35. We dont really go out and conect with nature, we probably should. It would be helpful for me to know more to be able to teach my kids about it.

  36. What a great collection of resources! We spend our mornings outside, and our Monday mornings in the woods. Thanks for the chance to win!

  37. We go out several times a week to our family’s farms. I’m always looking for something new and inspiring reason to go out! This basket looks amazing! Thank you for the chance!!

  38. We go out everyday, weather permitting. Even when it’s raining we try to make it out for a bit. The only days we avoid are the – days in winter, and living in Maine we get a bunch of those.

  39. I try to make sure the kids get out everyday, at least for a few minutes. But, I need to join them more often (my husband usually takes them out).

  40. I try to talk about nature around us whenever we’re outside. Maybe looking at a new flower blooming, or see a spider on its web. But mine are still little, so we don’t have too much structure yet. So I want to start getting ideas for nature journaling and such before they are bigger.

  41. We try to get out daily when the weather is nice enough. Unfortunately, the summer time is a bit too hot to go outside for more than 30 minutes or so.

  42. I try and make it a point to get out at least once a day, but there are seasons of our lives when that doesn’t happen as often and in those times I strive for at least once a week.

  43. One of our first things we did a journal entry on was a Luna Moth. Taking the time to draw it really increased our observations skills!

  44. Happy to have found your site! We get outside at least once a week in the spring summer and fall . I love studying nature with my five kiddos… especially birds, wildflowers, stars, animals…etc!

  45. Our family lives to spend time outdoors in nature. We do a weekly nature study and take every possible opportunity to get outside together.

  46. We have recently moved. We are now in a neighborhood and I’m still figuring out how to “get out in nature” here. It’s a bit more difficult. But the kids do explore close to home!

  47. Live on a large property in sunny California, our kiddos spend hours outside daily. But concentrated, directed time we don’t get as often. Looking forward to building nature studies into our year!

  48. We try to go outside everyday and discuss something they see/find….most weeks though ive noticed we make it out about 3 out of 5 days but they still point out and examine clouds/bugs/birds from the window on the other days.

  49. They get out a few times a week but in our yard and local neighborhood. I need to work on getting them to the botanical garden and a few other gems in this area.

  50. We enjoy getting out in nature at every opportunity. We enjoy walks, collecting rocks, sticks, dead bugs, etc. as well as identifying live insects, bugs and birds. Even though our student is soon to be 4 years old, she has already learned how to identify an insect from a bug and different kinds of birds and rocks. This summer we were able to introduce her to different land forms during a cross country drive and to a spring that is enclosed to form a swimming pool that has live fish to swim with; it was at a National Park. We would love to spend an entire school year traveling the US and teaching as we go and hope that might be a goal we can reach before she is out of grade school.

  51. My 5 years old loves outdoors and bringing it indoors. We currently have a rhinocerus beetle in a jar we are watching. We read a tree is nice this past week and took pictures of trees and then collected leaves and if it had nuts or cones we collected that. We go out every day.

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