Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bringing nature indoors

Nature studies have brought enthusiasm and increased observation skills to my kids from the four year old to the twelve year old. We enjoy walking around outside looking at various birds, identifying trees, watching bugs, and interacting with each other and God's amazing creation.

Nature study in general has many benefits:

- Makes you slow down. Kind of a "stop and smell the roses" attitude. To appreciate it you really have to look at it. You have to really see it.

- Fresh air. Nothing like the great outdoors to make you feel better, sleep well, and smile more.

- Observations skills. You learn to classify, note details, and ask questions.

- Raises awareness of God's creative abilities. Marvel at the diversity, patterns, and interrelatedness of plants, animals, and mankind.

Here's a great resource for getting nature study started with your kids, Charlotte Mason style. And don't forget to check out the outdoor hour challenge if you want some specific motivation and ideas.

This year I have realized afresh the benefit of bringing nature study indoors as well. We have learned so much through incubating eggs and keeping the chicks around for almost two weeks now. You can learn a good bit from a visit to a farm, a museum with eggs hatching, or a good educational video. But, bringing it into the home takes it to a whole new level.

Actually seeing the developing chick first hand, carefully preparing for the hatch, and watching those first breaths outside the shell is incredible. Now we get to watch them learning to roost, growing feathers, and changing day by day.

The same is true for plants and bugs. Bringing them indoors where you can really keep an eye on them can open a whole new world of understanding and discovery.

How to bring nature inside:
- Raise a baby animal (hatch eggs, get a puppy, etc.) This is a huge commitment, but also a tremendous learning opportunity.

- Catch a bug. This is our homemade bug cage. An old ice cream container, cut out the center of the lid and insert a scrap of screen. Glass jars work well, too for more visibility, but in a smaller space.
- Grow a plant
- Cut some flowers, even dissect them to find and identify the parts

Then, research. Ask questions, find answers, talk about what you see. Look closer and ask more. The longer you have to watch something the more you will learn and marvel at how much there is yet to learn.

Enjoy more Thirsty Thursday encouragement.

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