Review: Creative Nature Study

Having been invited to write a review for Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was tickled to find Creative Nature Study available from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  The forecast for our area last week was perfect autumn weather--high 40s over night and reaching 70 or so each afternoon.  Knowing I'd feel compelled to get outside and make the most of these last autumn days, I requested a copy of the ebook and began reading immediately.

photo credit: Pixie

I am not a natural at taking my kids outside to study and learn.  I was a bookworm who, as a kid, only went outside to walk to school or the library.  I'd come home laden with books from either location and curl up in the overstuffed armchair in the living room and not come up for air until forced.

I have a couple of kids like this, but a good number of my kids need to learn with their hands and bodies.  I also have kids with special emotional, physical, and cognitive needs, and research shows that kids learn and grow best just like plants do--in the sunshine, wind, rain, and dirt.  As a result I've spent a great deal of time trying to learn how to make the most of the great outdoors.

Bookworm that I am, the key for me is to read, read, read--to read until my head is so stuffed with ideas that I have to act.

photo credit: Pixie

Creative Nature Study helped fill my head to bursting.

It is a brief (just barely 100 pages) collection of essays by homeschool moms who've gotten good at nature study over the years.  They write of their individual experiences, sharing how they started, how they grew, and a few favorite tips and tricks learned along the way.  Some of the essays are really practical--for example the "I See God . . ." essay that details how to to take and document nature walks focusing on the wonder of God in all things.  Some of the essays are more nostalgic, intended to inspire the reader to study further and make long term plans for nature study.

Journal entry by Nature Angel

Mister Man's narration and picture

Super Star's poem inspired by the "I See God" walk
Following the essays is a list that is a treasure trove of favorite nature book titles that the many authors of the essays have loved over the years.  From Handbook of Nature Study to Peterson's Field Guides to One Small Square, there's a great variety to choose from.  Several titles immediately made it to my Christmas giving list this year.

Then at the very end are a dozen or more different types of scavenger hunt printables.  From the very simplest ("I saw animals with this many legs") to more complex "(I saw these types of soil erosion . . ."), the variety is quite good.  They're all ready to print and take with you, and the graphics are simple and effective.

We did not use the leaf scavenger hunt as printed.  Instead we adjusted to our family needs, and simply used the sheet to tally the types of leaves we found.  At first we found only single leaves.

But then we walked up to the corner and counted fallen maple leaves.  :)

Before receiving Creative Nature Study, we'd already been studying leaf shapes.  This scavenger hunt was just right for us to tally the leaf shapes we found in our yard and on our walk.

I had several "ah-ha!" moments while reading and applying what I learned from Creative Nature Study.  The most important for me was while reading the essay about nature study and asthma/allergies.  The author's story and advice opened my eyes to how very, very simple nature study can be.  I'd been feeling inadequate in my walks and journaling (or lack thereof), but this essay talked about nature study from a car window!  As I pondered the significance of her family's behind-a-window studies, my mind opened up to the significance of our small efforts.

The awesome effect was to free me up to get us out more often, more simply, and more joyfully.

I found myself opening the book several times just to review or study further a concept taught in one essay or another in quiet moments while rocking babies or stirring pasta sauce for dinner.  I can see myself opening it frequently in days, weeks, months, and years to come.


  1. The scavenger hunt pages are fun! We do a regular drive through a local arboretum, at least once a month, watching for changes and rolling down the windows to smell and hear too.

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  3. Sounds like an inspirational book! I love nature study.


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