Spring is in full force in my local area. The weather is mild. Flowers are blooming. And the bugs! Well…they’re my least favorite part of spring. This season lends itself to some great opportunities to get outside and enjoy some nature study with the kids.
If you’re not sure exactly what nature study is, Ambleside Online has a pretty good explanation here. When I first began using some of Charlotte Mason’s principles, it’s one of the things I had the most difficulty with. I’m not an outdoorsy person by nature. But I slowly began to learn how to incorporate nature study throughout the changing seasons. I have to admit the spring has always been my favorite. Here are five ways that you can combine enjoying beautiful spring weather with some nature study with the kids.
Take a nature walk.
When my kids were younger, we would head out after lunch on a nature walk. We usually just walked around our block, but sometimes we only walked around the yard and sometimes we went to a local walking trail. On these walks, we all tried to find something that we liked, something that was unique, or something that was a sign of spring.
When we came back indoors from our walk, we would look some of our findings up in the Handbook of Nature Study. (You can read it free online here.) This provided a great way to have some interest-led science discovery.
Visit a local park.
Spring is the perfect time to set out for a local park. Many parks have walking trails in addition to playgrounds. And, sometimes, you might find an interesting habitat like a pond or creek. This gives opportunity to see new critters or plants. Again, you can look your findings up in the Handbook of Nature Study to learn more.
Create a nature collage.
We’ve often combined this activity with our nature walks and park visits. As you’re walking, encourage the kids to pick up nature items that are interesting to them- leaves, flowers, nuts, small rocks. (If you’re in a public park with rules about what to pick, make sure kids know that they can pick up what’s on the ground but not pick the actual flowers and leaves from the plants.)
When you get home, give the kids a piece of cardstock and have them glue on their findings to create a nature collage. Another version of this that we’ve done is to give the kids a masking tape “bracelet” turned sticky side out and let them collect findings on their bracelet.
Find a new hiking trail.
I admit that I’m not a big hiker. But I do like a nice, reasonably flat walking trail- especially one that winds through a pretty place. Spring is a great time to find a new hiking trail. On the All Trails site you can enter you address and find local trails. (It does require free registration.) They’ll even give details about the trail such as the difficulty and some things you might see. On your hike, you can take time to observe what you see in the new area. Some trails will have specific trees or plants labeled so that you can learn what they are and look them up later.
Plan a nature-themed photo scavenger hunt.
If you have older kids, this is a great addition to a nature walk or hike. Give kids a list of nature items they might find in the area where you’re walking- specific types of trees, flowers, insects. Have kids take a phone or camera on the walk and look for the items on their lists to take pictures of. If the kid are old enough and the area is safe, kids can split up in pairs and compete to see who can find the most items on the list.
Spring is such a beautiful time to enjoy nature study. Take some time to pick a few of these activities and do some nature study with your kids to celebrate spring.