How We Do Nature Study

Nature study in our home is mother-planned, student-directed.
Here's what I mean by that;

First, Mom creates an Environment of Discovery:

Our Nature Table ~ September 2011


I have a small table set up in our school room (dining room).  It is actually an antique wash stand I have owned for years and moved with us all over America.  It has had many uses;  wash stand, display table, toy storage, book shelf.  Currently, the inside holds my watercolor supply and the top serves as our nature table.


The table always has binoculars, magnifying glass, labels, pen, tape measure, & small dishes or jars to hold specimens.

Changing monthly, according to the theme; field guides, charts, reference books, photos & specimens.


Nature study is scheduled every day of the week for younger children and four times a week for my middle and high schooler.

I have learned that if I do not devote a concentrated time to the table it is sadly neglected.  So I make it a point to "assign" the table once a week to each child for their nature study.  The other days are devoted to outdoor study/walks & nature reading (more about that below).

  1. Choose 1 specimen to study from the table.
  2. Draw the specimen from at least two different angels (ie, front and back, top and bottom, etc.) in personal nature journal.  Coloring is encouraged.
  3. Locate the specimen in one of the field guides.  
  4. Record two facts about that specimen in your field guide.  Record which book and what page your facts came from.
  5. Create a label with common and scientific name of specimen.  Place next to specimen on the nature table.
  6. Before credit is given for the work (sticker for younger, credit points for older) the student must explain their entry to Mom (narration).

    8 year old
    15 year old
    10 year old


    Two days a week are devoted to "nature reading".  Over the years, we have amassed quite a collection of nature books.  Some favorites are:

    ~Thornton Burgess books; Adventures of Johnny Chuck, Blacky the Crow, The Burgess Bird Book, etc.
    ~Among the Pond People, Among the Meadow People, etc.  | Clara D. Pierson
    ~ Christian Liberty Nature Readers 1-5

    Among the Forest People | Clara D. Pierson

    1. The student will read one of the stories (usually 8-10 pages), with or without Mom, depending on the reading ability.
    2. Younger students will narrate orally to Mom, then copy a sentence or two from the reading and draw a companion illustration on a page like this.
    3. Older students use Publisher to make a nature page about the reading's main subject (dragonfly, duck, clam, rose, etc.).  Must include the following:  
      • Title of the subject
      • one or more images
      • brief summary of the reading
      • section containing 3-4 facts about the subject.

    8 year old..lots of help from Mom as he is just learning to use Publisher
    Narration was dictated, Mom typed and helped with some structure

    10 year old ~ Done on his own


    Two days per week are devoted to nature walks &/or outdoor study.  Here are some examples:

    • Take a walk in neighborhood, collecting specimens, taking photos, or field sketching.  Journal entry must include a sketch, date, time/temp, weather, & related poem verse or scripture.
    • Find a specimen (one or a grouping) to draw in the yard or area directly around the house.  Journal entry requirements same as above.
    • Take a nature field trip away from home and proceed as you would for a neighborhood walk and journal entry.

    10 year old

    13 year old

    15 year old

    EXAMPLE SCHEDULE (for 10 year old):

    Monday ~ Burgess Bird Book p. 44-49, "Longbill and Teeter"; Nature Page on The Sandpiper

    Tuesday ~ Nature Table; Journal Entry

    Wednesday ~ Burgess Bird Book p.57-61, "Drummers and Carpenters"; Nature Page on Woodpeckers

    Thursday ~ Outdoor Nature; Journal Entry

    Friday ~ Nature Walk with Mom & brother; Journal Entry

    I understand that this is not pure Charlotte Mason.  This method works for us.  Hopefully, you are inspired to do some nature study...any amount is beneficial!


    Composer Study ~ October 2011 ~ George Frideric Handel

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


    • Living Books/CDs

    Handel, Who Knew What He Liked  |  Anderson & Hawkes

     Classical Kids Hallelujah Handel  | available on i-tunes

    Looking forward to another great composer study!

    Poet Study ~ October 2011 ~ Dante

    Botticelli's Dante c.1495


    • Poet Profiles ~ study sheets I created to help us organize our Charlotte Mason-style Poetry study
              Free PDF (8 pages)

      • Living Books

      La Vita Nuova | Dante

      Dante:  Poet, Author, & Proud Florentine | John C. Davenport

      Dante's Journey; An Infernal Adventure  | Virginia Jewiss

      • On the Web
      1. Divine Comedy, Longfellow's Translation, Project Gutenberg
      2. Encyclopedia Britannica, Dante

          Artist Study ~ October 2011 ~ Sandro Botticelli

          Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 - 1510)  Florentine Painter,  Early Renaissance

          Detail from Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, c.1486, tempera on canvas


          • Artist Profile Pages ~ a tool I created to help organize our Charlotte Mason-style artist studies

                     Download PDF (free 9 pages)

          • Living Books

          Getting to Know the World's Great Artists; Botticelli |  Mike Venezia

          • On the Web
          1. Olga's Gallery
          2. Encyclopedia Britannica

          • Images to print ~ I will hang these on our school room (dining room) wall.

          The Adoration of the Magi 1470-1475, Tempera on Panel

          Venus and Mars 1487-88


          Portrait of a Young Woman

          Agony in the Garden c.1500
          Madonna of the Pomegranate  1487

          For more general information on   how we do artist studies visit   HERE.

          Visit the School Room for other fine arts studies and more CM ideas.

          Thanks for Stopping By,


          School Days 2011 ~ Week 4

          A quiet week...

          ~Learning about Chaucer:  His father and grandfather were wine merchants.

          ~Drawing Giotto:  He was not just a painter, but also an architect.  He designed the bell tower at the Florence Cathedral.

          ~Listening to Vivaldi:  He trained orphan girls to become world-class musicians at the Ospedale della Pietà.

          ~Letters from a Roman Solider in Medieval Britain

          ~Showing the power of the sun's energy concentrated through a lens

          ~Living room jam sessions

          ~Waxing Poetic:  
                      The Prompt was, "Write a poem about a very small object."  My 8th grader's response:
                       My apologies to the squeamish among you.

          The Maggot

          Oh, the maggot,
          He really does have it;
          A warm shell and plenty to eat
          Poop and toe-jam from human feet.
          Not a worry in the world,
          Safe here in his tree;
          Until he hears a pecking.
          What could that be?
          Then the beak comes in 
          And rips him out of his rest,
          And the woodpecker flies him to a nearby nest.
          He falls down into a baby bird's mouth
          Where his body is ripped up and swallowed down south.

                                                                            By Nathan