Autumn Nature Studies from NaturExplorers... oh, how I love Fall...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It is no secret I love the NaturExplorer Nature Study Units from Our Journey Westward.  I thought I would share some of the great nature studies available for the Autumn season.



This is such a beautiful time of year for so many of us - Harvest, leaves changing colour, cool nights, sunny, wind-blown days.  Pumpkins, corn stalks, wheat bundles, Mums on the door step... oh, how I LOVE Autumn!  It is also a fantastic season for all kinds of nature studies!

If you are looking for easy, hands-on, ready-to-go Nature Studies, the NaturExplorers units are a great option.  


What is included in the NaturExplorer Units?

There is SO much in these amazing unit studies!

These are very Charlotte Mason-friendly. Cindy has packed the pages full of incredible ideas and inspirations to jump start all kinds of nature study as well as notebooking and nature journaling.  The guides are easy to use and very well laid out.   They are also good for quite the age range, with ideas to carry you from preschool to even high school depending on how you use the information and how you direct your student.


Some of the elements include:


Getting Started - Literature Launch gives a list of recommended children's literature to inspire and introduce the concepts of the study (love this so much!), Inspiration Point and A Bit of Background offer the 'teacher' a chance to gain quick and easy basic understanding of the motivation behind the study and some background knowledge before heading into nature study both in and out of doors.


Getting Outside - Nature Walks and Outside Activities (the core of the curriculum) is the section where Cindy has written so many great topic-related ideas for getting outside!  This is exactly what I was looking for since the simple, "Hey let's go for a walk," doesn't always captivate my kids anymore.  

Branching Out - This section goes more in depth and, well, branches out on the topic of study.  There are many ideas for hands-on science experiments and activities, vocabulary and scientific concepts (this one includes a look at Allen's Rule, Bergmann's Rule, The Egg Rule, and Gloger's rule, along with discussions and activities for the concepts of adaptation, camouflage, how to make your yard animal and bird friends, and much more.)

In the Branching Out section, you will also find a ton (really!) of ideas for research, study and creative writing.  The ideas are so many and so varied that I mentioned to my husband that I would surely keep these units for years to come and pull them out during the applicable seasons to use as a launching pad for Nature Study over and over again.  Cindy gives hundreds of ideas that could serve as a very engaging springboard for all ages.

Bible, Poetry, Artist and Picture Study, and Composer and Music Study:


I love the Bible Lessons from His Creation section.  This highlights multiple verses and chunks of scripture that relate to the topic of study.  We used Matthew 6:28-30 as our copywork in our Nature Journals.

Poetry Place includes several titles of theme-related poems and suggested books of poetry.  For this unit, we printed off all the poems and read them aloud.  We used Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field as a nature journal page and learned more about the Canada Geese from Handbook of Nature Study. when we used Coping with the Cold this winter.

I was so excited to discover the Artist and Picture Study References included as well.  What a wonderful addition to any Nature Study!  Cindy gives great suggestions for kid-friendly picture study with artists and artwork related to the topic.  We really gravitated towards studying works by Robert Bateman for our Coping with the Cold unit and it was wonderful.  

Composer and Music References offers some lovely ideas for music study related to the specific theme of the given Nature Study unit.

There are also many notebooking pages to use within your home and homeschool for each unit - so many I couldn't list them all!  Each page pairs easily with the content within the unit study and can be printed off as needed!

Seriously, amazing resources!



So, specifically for Autumn, let's take a look at these -


Remember, there are easily downloadable samples of all the NaturExplorer Units on the Our Journey Westward site.




Delightful Deciduous Trees


In our area, we have so many delightful deciduous trees changing colours in the Autumn.  What a perfect time for the Delightful Deciduous Trees unit!

Here's some of what this unit includes (from the Shining Dawn site):  "Delightful Deciduous Trees comes with a huge amount of notebooking pages – Nineteen!  Some are seasonal scavenger hunts, others focus on tree parts, tree life and tree comparisions. The notebooking pages alone will keep you busy for quite some time! However, there are many additional ideas for studying trees outdoors. From leaves to bark to tree critters, ideas abound for detailed observation.
At home, you can choose from such things as making chlorophyll prints, graphing leaves or completing a transpiration experiment. You might also choose to learn more about photosynthesis, fungi, deciduous forests, state trees, erosion control, etc."


Fruits and Nuts

We absolutely LOVE checking out all the wonderful fruits and nuts that appear in the Autumn season.  This is why I chose Fruits and Nuts for Autumn Nature Study.  Some details from the site:

"This unit will not only have you observing and examining fruits and nuts, you will learn to observe insect and animal behavior, watch for the effects of disease or weather on plants and be challenged to create meals, make models, create history reports and so much more!
The outdoor and indoor activity ideas abound in this 64 page unit that includes 16 notebooking pages.  We’ve also included a slight focus on the Fruits of the Spirit in the Bible section with additional book, music and activity ideas to follow through with Biblical character training.  This is a well-rounded unit chock-full of lessons to fit every academic area!"

Remarkable Rain


I don't know about you, but in our area we get a TON of rain the Autumn months!  So, maybe a great time for a Nature Study about rain?  We haven't done the Remarkable Rain NaturExplorers unit, but I would love to get it.  
Here are some details from the site:  "Remarkable Rain will encourage you to observe the details of an approaching rain system through such things as the five senses and art journaling.  You’ll actually get outside in the rain (when the weather is safe) to examine, experiment and make notes about a variety of topics including erosion, run-off, plant and animal behaviors and much more!  And, you’ll get outside soon after the rain for many more activities such as photography, soil discoveries, and witnessing the water cycle to name just a few.
Inside, continue your discoveries through hands-on experiments and demonstrations that will help you understand more about the hows and whys of rain.  As usual, we’ve also included several art ideas.  In the Hands-On and Writing & Research sections, learn about the water cycle, weather fronts, erosion, pollution, storms, rainbows, plant and animal adaptations, rain forests, deserts  – the list goes on and on.  Eighteen notebooking pages are included, too!"




The Autumn Bundle

I think the Autumn Bundle would be a great way to dive into Autumn Nature Study with Delightful Deciduous Trees and Fruits and Nuts, then keep on going through the Winter with Coping with the Cold.  We used Coping with the Cold for about 3 or 4 months this past Winter and LOVED it.  You can see our full review right here.  It included quite a bit of pre-winter content, which made me wish I had started it sooner!  So, yes, this would make a great Autumn and into Winter study and bundle.

The great thing about investing in Nature Study Units like these is they are completely non-consumable!  This means, you can print them out, put them in a notebook or binder and use them year after year.  There are so many ideas in them, you will never do every activity or nature exploration.  We used Coping with the Cold last year, but we will certainly pull it out again this year!



Some more of my faves that would work well for Autumn...



Incredible Creeks

We used this unit over the Summer.  It is full of great ideas for studying not only creeks, but streams, rivers, lakes, you name it.  This would work well in the Autumn, as it is often recommended to study creeks and watershed areas in Autumn!

Incredible Creeks  includes: looking at the Water Cycle, completing detailed observations on both a large and small scale plus accompanying Notebooking pages, Wading Scavenger Hunt, observing rocks and collecting pebbles, finding and exploring waterfalls, discussing the various parts of watershed areas, looking at tree roots, identifying and journaling about Wild Flowers, looking for signs of a Healthy Creek, looking at amphibians, monitoring and charting creek temperatures, and tons more.

There are also ideas for making a model of a creek, drawing a cross-section mural of a creek,  and several really interesting science experience to help understand watersheds, erosion, and creek habitats.  Writing ideas include things like creating lyric poems, researching and writing about a famous gold rush, and learning and writing about dams.

There are multiple scriptures included in the unit that relate to life, water, and God's care and provision for His children as well as songs



Peaceful Ponds

Some of the hands-on ideas in the Peaceful Ponds unit include: Creating an underwater sampler, using a strainer to find live creatures in a pond, identifying specific pond plants and sketching and labelling parts in your Nature Journal, identifying and note booking the four main zones where pond plants grow, creating a map of your pond and surrounding areas, watching for birds/insects and create stories about their adventures, dissecting a pond plant, looking at pond water under a microscope, and looking at various pond animals.  

There are scriptures tied into baptism, creation, and God's hand in nature.    Poetry includes poems from Matsuo Basho, Alfred Noyes, and Eleanor Ferjeon and suggests a beautiful poetry book that specifically covers Pond Poems.  Picture Study includes Claude Monet, Cezanne, and Rousseau, and Renoir!

There are over 25 amazing suggested read-alouds to go with this unit as well as numerous note-booking pages to print-out and use along with the hands-on activities and learning.




Captivating Clouds



I love this unit study.  As I flip through all the wonderful ideas and suggestions for studying clouds, I'm reminded just how vast and beautiful our world is and how awesome our God is.

Here are just some of the ideas from Captivating Clouds: learn to identify different types of clouds, observe and journal clouds on a nature walk using an identification chart, keep a log of the cloud types you see every day, use a compass to identify the direction clouds are moving, learn about water vapour,  identify shapes in clouds, observe and journal about colours found in clouds, write Haiku, sculpt clouds using clay, learn the five main cloud components, learn about condensation, evaporation, and precipitation, make 'fruit in a cloud' for a snack, and so much more!

For writing ideas, suggestions include: make a chart showing cloud levels and altitudes, create an accordion book about fog types,  research, illustrate, and write a paragraph about Interesting Cloud Names, and several more engaging writing topics.

Multiple biblical references and readings are provided along with poetry suggestions.  Art and Picture Study includes Van Gogh, Monet and Norman Rockwell, among others.  Also has composer suggestions and numerous suggested fiction and non-fiction titles to work with the study of clouds.


Creative Nature Walks

This is such a great resource!  Who couldn't use 100+ 'easy and fun' Nature Walk ideas on hand to pull from?  I have used this at the drop of a hat, literally as we're walking out the door.  The ideas a varied in age range, length of time require, prep-time (most require none), and ease.  

Some of the ideas include: ABC's of Nature (I recently posted about our ABC walk here), Adjectives Abound - describing things in nature using adjectives, Below My Knees- noticing and journal things found below 'knee' level, Collect and Create - collect things that are no longer living on your walk, bring them home, and get creative, Fly By- noticing and identifying things found in air, and on and on it goes!  Honestly, this is an amazing Nature Study resource for any family to have on hand!  

I highly recommend it! 








I truly hope this is helpful as you venture towards an 'awesome' Autumn season with your family and in your home.










Our Journey Westward

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