Many parents are intimidated by the thought of teaching their children about science. This ought not to be so.
Science is learning about the world God created for us. Nature study, I believe, is a great foundation for all science.
Nature study does not require you to build a laboratory; it is already provided. The first steps are the important ones. As you discover the world around you, and learn to love learning, your children will too.
25 Ways to get started Studying Science the Natural Way
1. Spend lots of Time Outside, in all Weather
Work up to being outside four hours a day from April to October; eating meals alfresco (outside), walking, gardening, observing, going to the park, and enjoying. Share this experience by inviting your children along to enjoy these experiences with you.
2. Become as a Little Child, Full of Wonder and Curiosity
Be the example to your children. Wonder about things. Be curious enough to learn the common and Latin name for things you observe. Learn how to use a field guide.
3. Keep a Nature Notebook
Make a record of things you observe. Learn to draw, watercolor, and to write, beautifully. Do not forget date and location; or to include poems and prose, as well as, personal observations. On the last pages create an index.
4. Utilize Literature
Read stories which are descriptive of nature. Memorize Poems about nature. Experiment with writing your own poems about nature.
5. Let children discover!
When out with your children, do not be too quick to point things out, and name everything for them. Let them discover their own treasures, and share them with you. When they come to you with questions, introduce them to how you find your answers; show them how to use your field guides.
6. Let your children use Nature as a Natural Gym
While out on nature walks, let your children run, climb, jump, sing, and yell. Their bodies, minds, and spirits need the freedom, fresh air, and exercise.
7. Be an Example! Lead by your example by sight-seeing and picture painting. Charlotte Mason taught these concepts (her works are on the resource list):
* Sight-seeing is observing something.
* Picture painting is describing accurately what one has observed, without exaggeration, or being too simplified.
These skills are oral composition, pre-composition, and build the ability to express one's ideas.
8. Be a Naturalist!
Let your children see you do leaf prints, flower pressing, sketches, watercolors, make plaster mold of animals footprints; collections of leaves, rocks, feathers, egg shells, etc.; and displays.
9. Provide Children with Tools
When your children show interest, provide your children with their own tools: nature notebooks, pencils, drawing pens, watercolors, and carrying containers for collecting.
10. Start a Family Garden, if only in Containers
There is so much to learn and observe in a garden. Grow flowers, food, herbs, fruit, etc.
11. Build your own Weather Station.
Record the temperature, rainfall, wind, and clouds etc. Look for patterns. Are you finding the weather more predictable?
12. Read about Famous Scientists and Their Experiments
There are many experiments that you can duplicate at home. Keep a log of your experiments and share these stories and experiments with your children.
13. Learn the Constellations in the Night Sky and the Associated Stories
Locate a telescope to look through, to see planets. Learn how to make your own telescope. Share these experiences with your children.
14. Visit all kinds of Biomes or Eco Systems
We live near mountains, streams, rivers, deserts, orchards, lakes, forests, alpine meadows, tundra, marsh, and more. This can take place once a week, or even once a month. Invite your children to share in the journey.
15. Make a Water Visor
Stretch plastic wrap securely over the end of a can that has two ends missing and fasten with a rubber band. To use, place the plastic wrap, side down, in the water and the other end out, and then you can observe what is underwater. If the water is not too murky, this might not work. Be careful of streams in the spring, they can rise very quickly and can be life threatening to children, as well as adults.
16. Go Treasure Hunting
Look for cocoons, mantis eggs, etc. Bring these treasures indoors to observe the hatching. Start an ant farm. Build a terrarium in a bottle or aquarium.
17. Learn about the Balance in your Garden
Companion planting; what plants are enemies; why you want to attract bees and butterflies; and why we want birds, and beneficial insects.
18. Go on a “Listening Safari”
What do you hear? Do you hear water, birds, insects, the wind, machines?
19. Take Field Trips
Go to Zoos, Museums, Planetariums, Arboretums, etc., and invite your children along to experience them with you.
20. Get a Microscope to View the World Unseen
Contact the botany department at your closest university; perhaps a faculty member would let you peer through an electron microscope. Ask if you can bring your children along to share the experience.
21. Raise Animals or Insects
Care for a variety of pets, raise small farm animals; chickens, ducks or rabbits; start an apiary. If this is too much, learn about pet care and offer to watch a neighbor’s pets, with your children, while the neighbors are on vacation.
22. Collect and Classify
Learn to identify different kinds of rocks– collect, display, and label them.
23. Go Birding or Nesting
Observe birds, their eggs, the nests, the nest location, their feathers, etc.
Will coke really dissolve steak or a nail? Why not find out? Which water is better for plants- tap water, purified water, distilled water, or microwaved water? Why not do an experiment and find out?
25. Learn Orienteering
Learn to use a compass. Learn how to make one.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Post Thought on Cradle Gifts
Nancy Young, wife of artist Al Young, suggests that cradle gifts are the knowledge that parents pass to their children through conversations and everyday life experiences. As parents, you can add to your well of knowledge and experience, then bless your children by sharing your journey with them. If you seek for the lessons that teach spiritual insight, while you are studying God’s creations, the insights will come, but you will have to seek them.
If you walk, get curious, read, collect, watch the stars, experiment, and garden, how can you not help to love what you see? Out of your love and delight, you will pass this legacy to your children. Science in your home school begins with you. Children are naturally curious. You do not even have to tell them that this is your science program. Just be curious, set the example, and just do it.
Share these bits of wisdom with your children:
“talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
These are cradle gifts of the first order! (Cradle gifts are the gifts and opportunites we receive from our families by virte of living in our homes.)