Going on a home school science nature walk is about as easy as it gets. Just go outside and walk. Even in the city you can go to a park, examine the different types of trees and leaves. Walk around the block... look down. I bet you'll be able to find a variety of ants and bugs to inspect. Parks and empty lots can offer more locations. Take a walk down the road, along a ditch bank, through a field of corn.
You may want to prepare ahead of time for a more formal study. Plan ahead what you will look for. Assign activities for your sons to complete.
For instance suppose you have been studying botany. You've learned about the types of leaves. Inform your boys that they need to look for each type of leaf and make a pencil rubbing.
Or maybe you've been learning about birds. Go to a local park and see if you can get pictures of the birds they see there. When you get home have them look up the identity of the birds they've seen.
Go to a pond and find tadpoles. Put them in a fish tank... let them grow and keep a journal of what is observed. Release the resulting frogs or toads back into the pond.
Zoos are a great place for a nature walk. Expose your kids to worlds different than their own. How many of you have a giraffe in your back yard? How much more memorable is seeing a real live giraffe in a well designed and kept zoo. Sure it is not the same as a wild giraffe. But it is still 100% better than a picture.
Aviary Expectations A friend posted on her blog.
Lessons learned? Always take the time to sit still, look, and listen while in an aviary.
Birds tend to hide when people are coming. If you sit on a bench, quiet and still, the birds come out and become active. That is when you really see the fun stuff.
You might want to choose an animal or two or possibly a certain environment to study before you go. For instance read about plains animals. While at the zoo make a point of visiting plains animals. If you focus in on birds, visit the aviary and make note of all the different types of birds.
Make a list of things to look for while you are at the zoo. See if they are offering any demonstrations.
Things to bring with you.
Field guides are the perfect tool for nature study in your homeschool.
A nature walk can be a spontaneous thing as well. Almost anytime you are out with a boy he is bound to find something in nature to admire.
I remember taking our Apologia Science Botany book on a day trip we took one day. We had to wait for someone and brought this book out. We pulled a few leaves from the trees surrounding the parking lot where we were waiting and classified them according to type. It turned a potentially long boring wait into some home school science educational time. PLUS it made the wait go much quicker.
Don't make every nature walk a written assignment. Sometimes you will be surprised what can be observed and learned just by being out. Discuss what you see and hear and smell. Ask questions.
Let your boy collect things! I always remind myself that someday I will not have rocks, sticks and other such treasures in my house. But for now, as long as it is not living... I try to allow them to collect, compare and learn. (I do confess I've drawn my line at living things in the house! Especially things with lots of legs.)
If you are going on a long nature walk and your kids are not used to hiking, be sure to make it enjoyable. Plan ahead, bring bug spray, water and/or snacks. (a boy with a full belly is always more agreeable!)
Wear comfortable shoes. Be prepared for weather conditions. If weather is cool, bring a jacket. If it is hot try to go in a cool part of the day. Don't head out just after lunch in the middle of July. Plan to get out early and home by lunch. Or if you make it an all day trip... be sure and bring lunch. (there we go with food and boys again!)
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