"" -- A Homeschooler's Notebook Subscriber.
An interactive, FREE, twice-monthly ezine packed with great reader tips, reviews, & practical encouragement for homeschool families.


Some of Our Sponsors


Landry Academy

Math Mammoth

Great Homeschool Conventions

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Resource Links

All About Spelling
Homeschooling ABCs
Upper Level Homeschool
FIRETIME Notebooking
FREE Funschool Units
Homeschooling Help
More Homeschooling Help
HS Gifted and Talented
Homeschool Country Life
Beloved Books & Audio



Nature Study Resources, Homeschool Guide Dad - Jim McGinn

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, February 25, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 16 February 25, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Guest Article
-- Why Nature Study?
Helpful Tips
-- Homeschool Guide, Jim McGinn
Resource Review
-- Nature Study the Easy Way
Reader Question
-- Homeschooling in Massachusetts
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Why Nature Study?
by Sheila Carroll - Living Books Curriculum


What is Nature Study exactly? Is it science outdoors? What place
does it have in a Charlotte Mason homeschool? Why should I bother?

Writing on Nature Study is one of my greatest delights and I will
be doing a series on this topic. My hope is to inspire you and
your children to grab a picnic lunch, a few reference books and
nature journals, and head for the outdoors.


The purpose of Nature Study is to develop a deep reverence for
the natural world as God's creation, to build up keen powers of
observation, and to draw great solace and refreshment from nature.

Nature Study is also a beginning point for scientific study.
Albert Einstein, one of the finest minds of the 20th century, said,
"All great science begins with a close observation of nature".

"Years hence when children are old enough to understand that
science itself is in a sense sacred, and demands some sacrifice,
all the common information they have been gathering until then,
and the habits of observation they have acquired, will form an
excellent ground work for a scientific education. In the meantime
let them consider the lilies of the field and fowls of the air."
-- "The Charm of Nature Study" by G. Dowton
From a speech to the P.N.E.U., Dublin, May 6th, 1930.

Is time outdoors the same as Nature Study?

Time in the out-of-doors and nature study are related but not the
same. Charlotte Mason taught that a child thrives by spending
many hours in the out-of-doors exploring, playing, imagining.
During this time there is much learning taking place. However,
Nature Study is a time for focused looking, usually directed by
the parent.

Living Books Curriculum recommends scheduling a Nature Study once
or twice a week for no longer than 30 minutes. This includes the
time of observation and an entry into your child's nature journal.
Of course, if there is interest, your child can be encouraged to
do more than this.

Through the study of nature the child learns appreciation and
understanding of natural processes and, most especially, keen
observational skills. To stand quietly and observe an animal or
plant and then to draw (as best one can) its likeness or describe
its parts to an adult, develops clear thought, communication and
assessment. And yet, as valuable as keen skills of observation
are, nature is no mere tool for education. There is something
more than skill to be gained out-of-doors. There is inspiration,
refreshment, and joyous delight. These are no small things for
a child to experience. Such times sow strength for the future
into their young hearts.

Handbook of Nature Study

How do I teach my child about some aspect of nature if I don't
know myself? It is easier than you might imagine. The *Handbook
of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock is a consummate guide
to nature study and is far more than a reference book for looking
up the name of a bird or plant. It is a guided exploration into
almost any of nature's wonders of which you can think. Each topic
has an overview, suggestions for observation, a "leading thought"
which explains what your child (and you!) should grasp from your
study, and suggestions for follow-up questions and activities.

When planning your once or twice a-week Nature Study, read ahead
of time about the particular topic, or simply take the book with
you. Use the index to find the topic you need. Comstock's book
is remarkably universal even if you do not live in a temperate
zone, as many of the studies are of nature plants and animals
found the world over (dandelions, slugs, birds, stars, etc.).

In LBC's 36-week school year each of the four terms has a parti-
cular focus drawn from the *Handbook of Nature Study. There is a
systematic arrangement of the topics so that each term will have
its own focal point and will not be repeated again, yet takes you
and your children through the entire book.

Nature Journal

Keeping a journal that records observations made during nature
study is a great pleasure to a child. The notebook can be a simple
sketchbook or a bound artist-type sketch-book. The first is very
modest cost; the second is more money but will hold up longer.
Another opition we recommend: print out on high-quality paper
our *Template for a Nature Journal.

Keeping a Nature Journal should be something that both you and
your child take pleasure in, rather than seeing it as a chore to
be gotten through. If you are seeing resistance, we suggest you
ask your child if some aspect is frustrating to him. Listen and
make adjustments accordingly. Most often a child is frustrated
by the fact that the sketch he has drawn does not "look like"
the thing he is trying to draw. If this is the case, remind him
that it is a notebook in which the naturalist (your child) is
making notes for future reference - rather than creating a work
of art.

Glad to be homeschooling!

Sheila Carroll
Living Books Curriculum


*Resources mentioned in the article:

Handbook of Nature Study

Template for a Nature Journal


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net


Awesome Home School Notebook Planner
The Full-Year Notebook System

Plan your home school curriculum using a simple/flexible
system that works!

This is a simple program which includes step-by-step
instructions and worksheets for both analyzing your time and
resources as well as worksheets to include in your children's
notebooks for subjects that don't fit well into "regular "
school such as field trips, music lessons, service
opportunities and more.

One of its best features is that it doesn't take a semester
to learn, in fact you could download it today and be
implementing it tonight.



Helpful Tip


Our helpful tip for this issue is to visit Jim McGinn's amazing
'Homeschool Guide' website! This homeschooling dad is a wonderful
source of great tips. In this 'real life' example below (from our
HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group) Jim helps a mom get a relaxed
handle on teaching fractions.


"Hi! I hope, I pray someone can help. My son uses Saxon math
and likes it. (Don't fix it if it ain't broke, right?) He has
been getting these questions. I'm not sure if I'm telling him
to do it right and maybe there is an easier way to explain it.
So here it is:

-- John ate 3/4 of the 60 raisins. How many raisins did he eat?
What percent of the raisins did he eat?

-- Draw a circle. Shade all but one sixth of it. What percent
of the circle is not shaded?

I have been telling him that to change a fraction into a percent
you divide and move the decimal over two. (Please let this make
sense!) -- So like for 1/6, you divide 1 by 6 to get .15. You
move the decimal over two to get 15%.

On a side note -- is this something he will use in 'real life'?
How is it applied? This will be my answer the next time he says
'do I have to do this?' -- Yes you do, because you will use this."


Jim's reply:

[John ate 3/4 of the 60 raisins. How many raisins did he eat?
What percent of the raisins did he eat?]

An equivalent of this in real life might be a 1/2 off sale, or
a 3/4 off sale. The percent could be 15% the regular price,
or adding 10% sales tax to a Lego set to see how much money he
really needs to buy it (instead of just the price in the Lego
catalog, or on the shelf in the toy store).

[Draw a circle. Shade all but one sixth of it. What percent
of the circle is not shaded?]

When my son and I split a pizza, he gets 2/6's and I get 4/6's.
That's half each, right? This usually gets his attention and
interest right away. This is one example I use with him with
fractions and circles.

I find the best place to look for practical examples, is to
start by looking at his interests. One lady I know made many
math examples of animals (looking after them, how much food do
they need for the week, etc.), because her daugher was very
interested in animals.

For my son, it's building things, calculating prices for his
business, designing things, and calculations to do with anima-

You are very much on the right track, in looking for ways he
will need to use the math in real life. That's a great way to
motivate him more.

Good luck, and keep finding those real world examples!"

Jim McGinn


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Nature Study the Easy Way!
Author: Cindy Rushton
For more information or to order: www.cindyrushton.com

Many homeschool moms have heard the term Nature Study, but few of
us really understand how to get started and implement this tool
in our 'school'. With inspiration and knowledge gleaned from the
19th century educator, Charlotte Mason, Cindy Rushton has written
a practical volume that will encourage even the most reluctant city
girl to get her children outside observing the world around them!

"Nature Study the Easy Way" is written in an easy-to-read, conver-
sational tone and leads the reader from the "why's" right through
to the practical "how-to" steps of Nature Study. Rather than feel-
ing like we now have another lesson to plan, the author encourages
us to let our children's natural curiosity and the amazing wonders
of God's creation BE the lesson for us. Sprinkled throughout the
book you will find lots of recommended resources to enhance your
study of nature. In addition to helping you get started, Cindy
presents lots of ideas for guiding your children to collect and
record their findings in scrapbooks, sketchbooks, or binders. For
additional inspiration, there are many drawings and illustrations
scanned from the Rushton children's own Nature Notebooks. Lest you
think that Nature Study is only for youngsters, Cindy has provided
a section on doing Nature Studies with older children as well.
Probably my favorite chapter in the entire book is "101+ EASY Ideas
for Nature Studies... Just to Get You Going!" The ideas presented
in this chapter really helped me to see outside the box and provided
just the inspiration I needed to implement Nature Study into our
routine. At our house we love literature, so I was also excited
to see that Cindy has provided a list of over 200 literature titles
for all ages -- all related to science and/or nature.

Written from a Christian perspective, Cindy encourages us to guide
our children to add quotes from Scripture to their notebooks. This
helps us point our children to our loving, amazing Creator. With
busy homeschool moms in mind, she has listed over 100 Scripture
references that are well-suited to compliment our Nature Studies.
Additionally, Cindy provides over 30 pages of poems and quotations
that make lovely additions to our children's Nature notebooks.

Comb-bound so it lays flat for easy reference, "Nature Study the
Easy Way" provides the tools and information for busy homeschool
moms to add this rewarding discipline to their routine.

Reviewed by Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com


To order: http://www.cindyrushton.com/onlineshopping.html
(scroll down the page till you find it)

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I wanted to get more information about homeschooling for the state
of MA. I live in Waltham. I am a single parent and am in school
full-time. I can be able to teach him in the evenings and weekends.
He is 8 years old. I really need help as far as a network and a
curriculum to type to the school district. Thank you." -- Monique

Our Readers' Responses

"Hi, Monique -- I don't live in Massachusetts, but my family is
military, and we move from state to state, so I do have some inter-
net resources where you can find out the information you need.

HSLDA, the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, has a website
where you can find information concerning homeschooling in any
state. The page that lists a link for each state is:


Also, the 'A to Z Home's Cool' website is a good resource for
finding information about state homeschooling rules. You can
find the webpage here:


The links to the state regulations are along the left side of the
webpage. Good luck!" -- Shelly

Answer our NEW Question

"I am a grandmother raising my fourteen year old grandson. He
is in the public school system, in junior high. He has struggled
for eight years (special ed classes for math, etc.). He has been
asking me for two years to home school him. I live in the state
of Maine -- I do not know where to begin. Any info would be
greatly appreciated. Thank you." -- Mary


Do you have some suggestions, direction or advice for Mary?
Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening

Check out our schedule of daily chats and jump right in! :-)


[Note: This ministry is geared toward Christian parents, but all
are welcome. You may need to download a Java program to utilize
this service. Email Luanne@educationforthesoul.com if you have
any technical difficulties.]

Our Searchable Newsletter Archive

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
at our archives!


...or you can search on a specific word or phrase in issues all
the way back to January 2001! Just go to this link:


Interactive Email Group

In an effort to help our readers become more of an interactive
community, we have set up an email loop at YahooGroups called

Here is the link to sign-up!



There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
marketing@stretcher.com with "Homeschoolers-Notebook"
as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group! Feel free to send any
contributions to HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

Our main website is:

We also sponsor an incredible site with over 1,500 pages of helps!


No part of this newsletter (except subscription information
below) may be copied and/or displayed in digital format online
(for instance, on a website or blog) without EXPRESS permission
from the editor. Individuals may, however, forward the newsletter
IN ITS ENTIRETY to *individual* friends (not email groups). For
reprints in paper publications (homeschool support group newsletters,
etc.) please direct your request to: Heather@FamilyClassroom.net


To subscribe, just send a blank email to the following address:

To unsubscribe send a blank email to the following address:


Next - The Theatre Experience, Whee! for Physical Fitness
Previous - John Taylor Gatto, Skateboard Math, Getting Back on Track

     Site content copyright individual contributors and FamilyClassroom.net 2001-2011 - Digital duplication expressly prohibited.
Privacy Policy | Advertise