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!



    1. Good ideas here - thanks for sharing! :)

    2. Love the nature table, do you have any suggestions on how and what to fill your table with? Also, how often do you change it out?


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