Nature Study Simplified: Identify, Observe, and Journal

Why do I feel nature study is important?

Every day we seem to move farther away from the natural world being a part of our lives. I didn’t grow up in an outdoorsy family, but even so, life then seemed more connected to the season.

We didn’t have watermelon and strawberries in December, nor did we have pineapples every week at the store.

The rice fields matched the seasons, and a field of bursting cotton in the hot sun was a beautiful sight.

Now, I live in a major metropolitan area. Fortunately, my children have quite a bit of nature available, but we rarely pass newly tilled fields, and they enjoy pineapple whenever they like.

Life is different.

However, the importance of understanding the world and our effect on its well being is more crucial than ever. Those year-round pineapples come at a cost.

Connecting with Nature

So how do I help my children and myself connect with nature? The three main steps I utilize to increase their appreciation and understanding of nature are:

  1. Learn to recognize and identify items in nature such as rocks, flower, trees, and animals.
  2. Appreciate nature through observation which leads us to a greater understanding of the natural world.
  3. Journal our nature experiences to record and give proper value to its importance.

Nature Study Simplified

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Nature Identification

Being able to recognize and name things helps us to hold things in a higher regard, whether it’s plants, animals, or people.

I want my children to know the difference between an oak and maple leaf or a tulip and hydrangea.

How can you appreciate a tree and its role in our well-being if you’re unable to identify it accurately?

So whether we’re taking an official nature walk or just enjoying a day at home, I try to identify what we see. Whether it’s the Japanese maple changing color or a cardinal at the birdfeeder, I point it out.

What if you can’t identify the things around you? Well, then it’s the perfect time to learn together.

  • Visit a local nature center and ask questions
  • Get some regional nature guides about trees and birds in your area
  • Start learning the names of those trees and shrubs in your yard

Homeschool Strewing

Nature Observation

It can be hard to find the time, or the quiet, to observe nature, but I’m always amazed at what you can hear if you sit quietly. The dense canopy of our backyard will be bursting with song and chatter.

It’s so important to give our children the time to watch the hummingbirds and be amazed at their speed, to watch a bee go from flower to flower gathering pollen, and to see the clouds moving swiftly through the sky.

nature study

These things will go unnoticed if we don’t slow down and pay attention. If we delight in watching the birds flit from tree to tree, then our children are likely to do the same.

    • Go out in all weather (I’m not very good at this, but know I should)
    • Stop when your toddler want’s to watch ants for the 100th time
    • Take a trip to the zoo
    • Set up feeders in your yard


Nature Journaling

There are many inspiring nature journals such as The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and Keeping a Nature Journal,  but they can also be intimidating.  If I can be discouraged by their beauty, imagine how a child would feel.

So while these may inspire me to attempt recording my nature observations, I admit they might not be best for my children.  I never fail to let them see my less than perfect depictions.


Brave Writer has some tips for incorporating nature journaling into your homeschool day.

I don’t require journaling, but instead, hope to inspire my children by my journaling  And nothing is as inspiring as a new notebook and pencils.


I love the smaller size journals that don’t intimidate you with enormous blank spaces to fill. Start small and as your children’s abilities grow, increase the size.

Follow my Nature Study for Homeschool board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Nature Study Simplified

When we hear the term “Nature Study” self-doubt can flood our homeschool mom being and we can scramble to avoid this unfamiliar topic. There was not a nature study class when I was in school, but this doesn’t mean I’m incapable of introducing nature to my children.

We often create in our minds the ideal nature study day where we read from the Handbook of Nature Study while our children create perfect dry brush works in their journal, which is an achievement my family will never reach.

Don’t let perfection become the enemy of the good.

nature study parakeet

So now I take the time to watch the locust molt, the ants work, the chipmunks scurry, and the seasons change, without the expectation that I will find the perfect poem or read aloud to coincide with our observations. It’s nice when everything comes together, but even disparate experiences can create an affection for nature.

So don’t let nature study intimidate you. It is just one more facet of creating an educating life for your family. It can be as simple as sitting in your backyard and identifying the trees, observing the clouds, or depicting the feeding birds in your journal.

The purpose of nature study is to enjoy making those connections with your family.

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