Over the past couple of years, we have been loosely following the Outdoor Hour Challenges from The Handbook of Nature Study for our weekly nature studies. Though science – particularly ecology and life sciences – is my strong suit, I haven’t been very consistent. When life gets hectic – nature study is typically the first thing omitted from our schedule.
As I tend to be more consistent when I am accountable to others and as there was a need in our homeschool community – I started hosting a weekly nature study outing using Barb’s Summer Nature Study: Using Senses eBook & the Outdoor Hour Challenges as guidance. I had been doing this with our Roots & Shoots club on a monthly basis yet I hadn’t been consistent with nature studies independently each week. Inviting others to join us on our outing assures that I don’t let life get in the way.
This week (our second week) the focus was on Wildflowers. We spent the first 10-15 minutes undertaking a “Wonderful Wildflowers Scavenger Hunt” from NaturExplorers publication, Wonderful Wildflowers. This proved to be a great way to focus the group on the days topic and to engage learners of all ages and abilities. We were able to find everything on the list except one (a flower growing among rocks).
After the scavenger hunt, we gathered around the picnic table and spent time sketching a flower of choice. A few of the boys (my own included) opted to sketch a leaf or tree rather than a flower. The above sketch is from Mei Li’s journal … her yet unfinished Columbine.
Sketching their observations provides children with the opportunity to slow down and really “see” the specimen. It not only hones their observation skills but also unlocks creativity and provides a window into the past. I can’t wait to look back at these early journals when they enter college.
Best of all, the data collection process is backbone of quality science. It also reinforces important record-keeping skills such as reading, writing, and drawing.