Disclosure: I was given a complimentary ebook copy of Creative Nature Study from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine through the Schoolhouse Review Crew, in exchange for an honest review.
Creative Nature Study is a 100 page ebook dedicated to helping families find joy in the world around them. Full to the brim with ideas, it is sure to create an appreciation and love of nature in even the most reluctant of families.
As most of you know, we love a good nature study. However, we are not bells and whistle type naturalists. We prefer to simply go out and find whatever our Creator wishes to gift us with each day. Any time we have attempted to use a curriculum or study guide of any sort we seem to lose rather than to gain enthusiasm, so I was genuinely interested in reviewing Creative Nature Study.
There are eight chapters in addition to an extensive appendix. The topics of each chapter look something like this:
- What is nature study and why do it?
- How to get started, where to go and what to pack
- Creative walks
- Creative projects
- Creative writing in nature
- Nature notebook ideas
- Scavenger hunts galore
- Nature study with allergies or asthma
However, on closer examination each chapter is so much more than its topic. For example, chapter two (Topic: How to get started) includes a beautiful reflection of the evolution of one family’s nature studies carried out over the years; a focus on nature study throughout the seasons; nature study in likely and unlikely places as well as extensive ideas for packing a nature bag (great Christmas present ideas, here)
The 30 page plus appendix is also a treasure trove of additional ideas and tools. The extra resources page sent me over to Amazon hunting for nature themed picture books I could use with my youngest (why had I never thought of this before?). The suggestions for field trips were less useful for me, living outside of the US, but I am sure similar places could be found in any given country. And last but not least were the notebook pages. These were colourful, simple and inviting to use.
The creators of this ebook have thought of everything, and because it is not a specific nature guide containing specifics on particular species, it is possible to use regardless of whether you come from the US or Outer Mongolia. I am from the UK and it was very relevant to the nature studies possible here.
The writers’ state their goal as giving homeschooling parents ideas to jump-start or invigorate nature study in their homeschool, and in this they succeed.
What I loved about this guide, and I really did love it, were the sheer amount of ideas shared. It was a smorgasbord of delightful suggestions! For example, who knew there could be so many types of nature walks (chapter three):
- ‘I see God’ walks
- Herb and berry walks
- Group walks
- ‘No nature book’ walks (my favourite type)
- ‘In the garden’ walks
- ‘Listening’ walks
- Night-time walks
Or so much potential for scavenger hunts?
There is surely not enough time to try out everything. And this is the point, I think. I am confident when I say that this book contains something for everyone, regardless of your home-school philosophy, where you live in the world or indeed the ages of your students. The sheer amount of projects will keep this ebook in use for many years to come. I would even venture to say that after your children have flown the nest, and you come across Creative Nature Study whilst clearing out your extensive ebook collection, you will still decide to keep it for your own personal time in nature, because let’s face it, time in God’s creation never grows old 🙂
Creative Nature Study is a collaborative effort between many enthusiastic homeschooling mums, who have all found their nature study mojo in some way or another and who all bring their own experiences to the table. Each chapter contains ideas from a variety of families. And it is this collective collaboration which makes this particular nature study book such a success.
Creative Nature Study will not necessarily change what we do but it will make each morning walk we go on more purposeful. There is much I won’t use. For example we are not nature note-bookers, as a family we have an intense dislike for any kind of paper work in our nature walks. And that is okay. We record by capturing the beauty of nature on film. We all take our cameras and our binoculars and we observe. For us simple is best and I’m not going to mess with something which clearly works this well. So we’ll not be using the beautiful note pages in the appendix, nor the grids to fill in for a back yard bird count, or even the wonderful scavenger ideas, all of which I recognise as being fabulous in their own right. No, what I will take away from this guide is far more subtle. Reading it has been like sitting down with like-minded mums and chatting over tea, sharing ideas, encouraging one another and renewing both our enthusiasm and resolve to make time to connect with the wonderful natural world God has created.