Monday, March 23, 2015

Using Nature to Raise Young Scientists

I just love that we have the time to spend in nature, exploring nature, and watching all the changes of the seasons.

We try to get outside during each of the seasons and explore many of the same trails and places so we can see the changes that each season brings.

Spending so much time outdoors had led my kids to study nature; it's changes, it's adaptations, it's beauty.

We read lots of books about nature too and the boys often take something we've seen at a nature center or on a hike and turn it into a mini unit study.

It's great to see how much being in and around nature has helped me in raising such budding young scientists! 

Today we had plans to head to a local nature center for a homeschool class.

We had a super quick morning of school work.  Each of the boys picked some math work and all decided that it was easiest to work on some worksheets:

  • Alec asked for another compute and color page reviewing adding with regrouping.  
  • Evan worked on adding groups of objects together as a precursor to multiplication.  
  • Ian chose to complete two pages in his measurement booklet.  
  • The older boys each spent a little time vacuuming while Evan and I worked on some reading and phonics.  Evan had a sheet where he had to choose the digraph blend that started each word and then we read What's That, Mittens? together.  
  By the time we finished all of that it was time to leave.

 We were heading out to Kettle Pond Visitor's Center for a frog walk, unfortunately we knew that it was still to cold and snowy to see any frogs but we went to see what the class would have in store for us anyway.  We packed ski pants, winter boots, winter coats, hats and mittens and met up with my sister and her two boys.

The boys had a great time and even though we didn't get to see any frogs we did learn about amphibians, reptiles, frogs, and salamanders.

At one point Alec was invited to get out of his seat and teach the class since he was taking over with facts (though we did learn that not all of his facts were 100% right, he had made quite an impression on the teacher). 

Every time something like that happens I'm struck by what wonderful young scientists I'm raising!

 After a lovely slide show, and listening to different frogs sounds we went out to check on the frozen vernal pool.

Along the way we learned about trees too; did you know that white pines have needles in five clusters (five letters in the word white is an easy way to remember that fact).

We also learned about how helpful natural wild fires are for forests and how humans have impacted the natural cycle of these fires.  After our walk the teacher was asking my boys what other classes they'd like to see taught and was telling them about what we would have been doing if the ice and snow had melted in time for today's class.

These classes are meant to be very hands on and so we would have actually taken eggs and frogs from the pond to study, we would have dug up the ground around the pond carefully to search for frogs, salamanders, and bugs.  He would have had the kids estimate the total number of species in and around the pond based on samplings of small areas and applying it to the masses.

He asked Alec if he thought he'd like to be a biologist when he grew up and work with/learn about animals.  Alec admitted he wasn't sure but that he loves to read and learn about animals of all kinds.

We had a great day and promised we'd be back for more.

We spent some time inside looking through the center and playing with some of their displays.  Alec enjoyed learning about the plover and asked me to get him some books from the library on them.

Alec inspects the tree 

Looking at the frozen vernal pool 

Making choices for the environment 

Looking for foxes and voles 

Learning about plovers and answering questions 

All the ones he got right (and looking for the answer to the last question)

   We listened to our book on CD today as we drove around and managed to complete two and half more disks today so we're just about ending our story as well.  Ian has already watched the movie Inkheart so he knows what's going to happen but Alec is still trying to hold out until after we finish the book.

All in all it was a wonderful day of nature learning! 


  1. Awe, love raising young scientists! How exciting to know all of the eggs were hatched and spring is here!

  2. Awe, love raising young scientists! How exciting to know all of the eggs were hatched and spring is here!

    1. It is so neat... but they were worried about the frogs on Monday when we unexpectedly got snow again.

  3. What a great day! That is such a great experience for your family, my kids would love that.

    1. We love these nature classes; unfortunately due to budget cut backs they have been discontinued.