“In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

~John Muir

The Simplicity of Nature Study

by Emily Edwards | Thoughts on Nature

 Nature Study is probably one of my favorite aspects of our homeschooling. It requires recognizing, naming, comparing, organizing, and classifying. It heightens the senses, embodies our learning, instills a sense of wonder, lifts our focus outward and upward while drawing us together in shared experiences. It challenges us, as Thoreau stated, to become, “a self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms…” And through nature “we enter into a wider community, which is not that of man alone but of everything that shares with us the great adventure of being alive,” (Last Child in The Woods, By Richard Louv)

But, oftentimes I hear people getting intimidated by Nature Study. Maybe because it just wasn’t a part of their own education (I am with you!), and perhaps the unfamiliarity and seeming lack of knowing scares folks off (also with you!) But truthfully, it is so simple! I promise! Ready?

Here we go…

1. Go outside.
2. Observe something.
3. Ask questions.
4. Research using a field guide.
5. Express what you have learned     in words and /or drawings.

          And you’re DONE!


 We try to get outdoors everyday and for more intentional exploration at least once a week. Our children started their nature studies at a local Audubon homeschool program and when that no longer was available to us we shifted a co-op I was hosting in my home for many years to a nature themed co-op with much success. I think one of my favorite skills and artistic expressions I have enjoyed practicing with my children is the art of nature journaling. Truly these nature journals are some of our most treasured work throughout the years. And I love having the opportunity to continue to redeem my own lack of “knowing” nature alongside my children.

Here are some of our “go-to” nature study resources…

Peterson Field Guides          (any will do!)

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature- Deficit Disorder              Richard Louv

For the Children’s Sake,        Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Original Homeschooling Series, Charlotte Mason

Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Bostford Comstock

Download Anna Bostford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study for free HERE.

Took a look at this video to see how we took an insect that just happened to be flying around in our bedroom unexpectedly and turned it into an afternoon nature study the next day with no outside planning on my part. Really, it is this simple and the benefits will be far-stretching.

But ultimately, by being present to and through the studying of nature, we align our “human celebration with the great liturgy of the heavens.”  As Dante simply stated, “Nature is God,” and through our nature studies we begin to see that Creator God is “before all things and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

So let’s get outside, discover and explore!

Still looking for More Ideas?

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Naturalist Study