I love nature studies. Growing up, I was always outside with my dad. We were either doing something outside on the family farm or trekking through the woods. I learned so much from him and from just being there. I learned things about the natural world that were never covered in all those text books. There are things that should go in between the lines that hold it all together, but unless you live it, you’ll never know it.
Not everyone loves nature and being outside as much as I do, but don’t let that discourage you from doing a hands-on nature study. They can be so rewarding. The whole family can learn from them – and not just about science!
Doing A Bird Study
Bird studies are a great way to take the first step into hands-on nature studies. Birds are everywhere – in the country, in the city and in the suburbs. And, if you are not the outdoors type, they can be observed through a window! To start your bird study you just need a few supplies:
- a bird feeder
- basic bird seed
- a place for your bird feeder where it can be easy seen from a window (ideally with some nearby bushes or trees for the birds to hide in)
- binoculars – practice using them on non-moving small objects before trying them on birds
- a good bird guide – find one that is easy to use for each age group (I like Peterson’s field guides.)
- a notebook and pencil
We hang our bird feeder outside the kitchen window just a few feet from the house. The kitchen is a busy place so the kids are always looking out the window to see what is going on at the feeder. When they see a bird, they identify it and then mark it down in the notebook. It is interesting to see which birds stay year round and which birds change with the season. That is why our bird study never stops.
The kids like to experiment with different foods and feeders to see which ones the birds like or if certain foods attract certain birds.
Feeders to try:
- finch feeders
- tray feeders
- suet feeders
- hummingbird feeders
Foods to try:
- sunflower seeds
- branch dough
- dried fruits
- varieties of specialty bird seed mixes
Not Just Science
My kids like to record all kinds of data from our bird studies. They report their findings in bar and line graphs, written reports and artwork. Nature studies can be so much more that science. We also look for story books, chapter books and biographies that relate to our study.
Do you do a bird study? What is your favorite nature study?
Hands On Homeschool Science is written by homeschool mom, Marci