Looking to the Skies for Nature Study

Usually when we think of nature study, we think of observing and learning about plants and animals. Sunshine, dewdrops, thunderstorms, and rainbows are part of nature study too! My kids and I have never been very successful at keeping a nature journal or any of that sort of thing. But we’ve all had a fascination with the weather and watching the sky, so that was where we focused our attention for nature studies. We’ve studied meteorology, kept a weather journal, made do-it-yourself weather instruments, and included sketches and photos of clouds and other weather observations in your science notebooks. We have a covered porch, and over the years our family has made a practice of sitting on the porch to watch thunderstorms roll in. We also like stargazing as a family, so we’ve gathered out in our yard to identify constellations, watch meteor showers, and even a lunar eclipse or two.

Meteorology – the science of weather – can appeal to all ages and can be a wonderful addition to homeschool science, whether as a unit study or as a full year focus. Classical astronomy – observing the sky – is another great short or long nature study; and the two disciplines can even be combined.

Weather-watching ideas for your nature study:

  • Keep your own weather journal and collect weather data.
  • Make your own weather instruments. Barometers, anenometers, rain gauges, and hygrometers can all be made with household supplies.
  • Do hands-on demonstrations to understand weather concepts. Make a Cloud in a Jar; do an experiment to find a dewpoint; and find out what effect temperature has on air pressure.
  • Observe the clouds and make sketches or take photos to put together your own cloud atlas of the different types of clouds.

find a dewpoint

Middle School Monday - Hands-on Science @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

use pinecones to measure humidity

a homemade anenometer

Sky-watching ideas for your nature study:

  • Learn about the constellations and practice identifying them and the bright stars and planets that can be seen without a telescope.
  • Learn about the phases of the moon – we did it using Oreo cookies!
  • Make your own backyard compass and use it in observing sunrise and sunset, the moon, and the stars.

building a backyard compass

observing sunrise from the backyard compass

 

learning about the phases of the moon

Curriculum and Resource Suggestions:

  • Weather on the Move is one of the Once-A-Week unit studies from Homeschool Legacy. It’s suitable for Grades 2-12, and is designed for seven weeks of weather-related studies.
  • Weather and Climate unit study from Moving Beyond the Page is designed for fifth or sixth graders, and contains 10 lessons and a final project that could be completed over about two weeks.
  • God’s Design for Heaven and Earth – Our Weather and Water from Answers in Genesis is a full science curriculum suitable for Grades 1-8. There are 35 lessons, so it can be used once a week for a whole year, or used two or three days a week and combined with the other God’s Design for Heaven and Earth texts.
  • Signs & Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy can be used as a reference or as a full curriculum to help you understand the movements of the heavenly bodies.
  • Stellarium is a free open-source planetarium for your computer. Download it, set the coordinates for your location, and Stellarium will show you a realistic 3-D sky and help you identify celestial objects and constellations.

Are weather-watching and sky-watching part of your nature studies? Leave a comment and let us know!

~Kym

Kym (32 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.


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