One Year Pond Study Week 27: Mid-way Reflections

Here is our pond this week:


This week we are just past the six month mark of a year long pond study, and I can’t actually believe I made it this far.  It seems incredible that for the past 26 or so weeks we have faithfully visited our little pond.  I am proud of us all.  However, this pond study hasn’t turned out how I expected at all.  Let me explain.

The Expectations

I have always failed miserably at nature study.  Each year we would buy in a curriculum or special nature diary or nature note pages all of which promised me success at nature study.  I would read blog posts about packing for a nature trip and all the things I would need.  These are probably helpful to many people  but if I’m honest we would start and it would all too soon begin to feel like just one more thing to add to the growing list of things we had to do and then write about.  And so it fell by the way side.

My children are enthusiastic about nature.  In fact I am blessed to have children that, in general, are enthusiastic about most things.  I didn’t want to let that enthusiasm for God’s creation go to waste.  So I came up with a plan to do a year long pond study, just visiting once a week.  I didn’t plan more than a couple of weeks in advance but I did have lots of ideas that I hoped to incorporate in a structured way throughout the year.

Instead of filling in notepages or individual journals the children and I decided to keep a family nature journal, which the girls happily made up on week one:

Our Family Pond Study Journal

And so we set off on our ponding adventures.

The Reality

To journal or not to journal? (Not as it happens!)

The first thing to fall by the wayside was the journal.  We did manage to do two months worth:

Lots of fun seeing everything we had collected over the month

Thing was, we found that we didn’t want to focus on note taking, drawing or collecting specimens (I’m not saying these are bad things AT ALL).  The truth is that the pond captured our hearts, our attention and our affections almost from the very first visit.  It seemed almost rude to take notes whilst conversing with the ducks and trees.  And no we weren’t actually talking, but by observing them, in their environment, it felt a little like we had been invited round for a friendly visit to someone’s house.  We didn’t want to be bad guests by not giving our hosts our full attention!  That said, we still took the liberty of taking copious amounts of photos so I’m not convinced we would have been their most well mannered guests!

I’m probably not explaining myself very well, but the reality is that nature study, for us, has been simply about observing nature.  Really nothing is required except our presence and the nature.  Period.  It is that simple.  No, maybe that is not as exciting as buying in supplies and making beautiful note books, and by all means anyone who enjoys these activities should go on ahead! (The girls occasionally take note books, I just don’t require them to)  For us though, the excitement has been the nature pure and simple.  And it becomes more alluring every week we go.

Nature’s Own Schedule

Another thing to go by the wayside was my own planning.  That’s not to say that these days I don’t plan at all, it’s just very flexible.  Nature has it’s own schedule, and it’s one with which I am unfamiliar.   We have dropped plans for an injured duck:

Can you see the injury just above his leg?

To see the Canada Geese dance:


And to just quietly observe the sheer variety of animals around the pond one week, from ducks, to mating bees, to frogspawn to a huge turtle:

It's a terrapin!  And it's sunbathing!!

And just simply to gaze at the beauty of our heron:

Our Heron

You see, the pond has always got something better to offer than I can imagine up in my head.  Nowadays we just grab our cameras and go.  Yes, that simple.  And that is why we manage to go, not just once a week, but often much more.  The pond calls to us like the siren’s did Odysseus, and we are helpless but to obey.


  1. You have inspired me too. We walk our dogs daily by a pond which is through woods. D loves nature and we have recently been foraging on our dog walks and bringing pictures back to try identifying various trees and plants. We are now inspired to incorporate the pond into our nature study.

  2. Gosh I did not know turtles were in ponds in this country! I also am inspired by the simplicity of this you make it seem very do able, thank you

    1. Thank Debbie, it really is. In our pond we have seen at least two if not more, turtles. It was a wonderful surprise when we did see one and now we look out for them on hot days. They seem to surface on hot days.

  3. I totally understand what you are saying and couldn’t agree more. I have tried lots of nature studies and it always seemed like I was dragging my nature loving kids through them. Less is more!! My kids have had the same journals since they were preschoolers. They only use them about 5 times a year, even though we explore nature almost weekly.
    Blessings, Dawn

  4. We have completed 17 weeks on our urban deciduous forest and the 3 (girls) g’kids just love it. We grab our camera too and just go. After all their observations and chatter, they take turns with my camera to record their finds and, then, they climb their favourite tree in the forest. (It is not really a forest, just a strip of trees left standing beside a bicycle path, but it is “our” forest.) I print out some of the photos, on the computer, each week and put them in a scrapbook, which is eagerly looked at by the girls many times each week. It is a good activity, all round. We just love it.

    Myra, from Winnipeg, where the temps fluctuate between 30+C and 20C, in a day, and then back up to the heat, but the trees are turning colour already.

  5. What a lovely post. We often get busy and nature study goes by the way, but this year my goal is to stick with it. We live in a neighborhood, so just getting out to the woods or a pond is a drive, but we do find nature in our own backyard. I must say, it is hard to get outside on those 100 degree plus days! Everyone must find what fits their family, and it sounds like you have done just that. Thanks for sharing. The pictures are beautiful and your words are inspiring. Thanks for sharing the One Small Square books. I have purchased one and plan on getting more.

  6. The pond looks beautiful, sometimes just living the moment without the distraction of note taking etc. is the way forward 🙂

  7. It seems to me these unstructured visits to the pond have been and are one of the greatest gifts – the opportunity to experience communion with nature. Aren’t the observation and experience of nature what inspired countless poets, authors, and naturalists? It seems you always find the best way to inspire curiosity for your family!

    1. I didn’t really have to do much. The pond is such interesting subject matter. I need to choose somewhere different for next year but nothing appeals quite like the pond! I might be a little bit obsessed!

  8. I’m so glad you did an update of how your plans changed, because it’s helpful to me at least to see how things change, and that it’s okay for the things to change.
    I’m itching to find a pond that really does have lots of nature in it.

  9. When we listen with our hearts and soak up wth our eyes, the incredible Gifts that God has simply poured out around us, our minds will take it in and remember it forever… Love it x

  10. I have loved all of your pond posts! I was just mentioning your pond study to a few “new” friends at our homeschool co-op this morning. They may be headed your direction for idea’s. As always, thank you!!

  11. I too love the pond posts. They look like fun and such a wonderful way to be outdoors and in nature.
    My kids love being outdoors and are interested in every little creature they come across. After reading your pond posts, I’m considering a similar study for us.
    Thank you for such a wonderful idea!

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