The first thing I did after choosing home education for my family was ask myself what sort of atmosphere and lifestyle I wanted to set for my children. What was important to me? What elements of the various methods of education really resonated with me? Did I want to replicate the public school classroom in our home with textbooks and worksheets or was there another way?
Over months and months of scouring blogs, reading books, and observing homeschool families on Instagram I came to a few conclusions. The key elements I wanted to include in our home education were:
- Family-style learning
- Beauty and goodness
- Living books
- Narration and notebooking
- Hands-on learning
- Focus on nature and the rhythm of the seasons
I found myself scrambling to piece each of these elements together to make a cohesive lesson and decided it was time to plan ahead and create what I always wanted but couldn’t find. With these values at the center, I wrote Treehouse Nature Study. I wrote it for my family and am so honored to share it with you. It is with great joy that I introduce to you, Treehouse Nature Study.
Treehouse Nature Study is a seasonal nature study curriculum designed with family-style learning in mind. It is a gentle guide meant to invite various ages to connect with each other and the world around them through living books, nature notebooking, hands-on projects, and beauty subjects such as poetry, picture study, and folk songs.
From preschool through upper middle school, it appeals to every age and is easily used with multiple ages at the same time. It would be a great fit for your preschool or kindergartener’s core curriculum or your whole family’s home education Morning Time and Nature Study. It also provides supplemental work for your children’s language arts through poetry memorization, recitation, copywork, and notebooking.
Each week of this 13-week guide is focused on a Winter nature theme. The Winter themes are:
- Winter Birds
- Winter Solstice
- Coniferous Trees
- Animals in Winter
- Snow and Ice
- Nocturnal Animals
- Maple Sugaring
- Moss and Lichen
This Charlotte Mason and Waldorf-inspired seasonal nature study curriculum includes each my of my six core home education elements:
I want our home to be a place where the excitement of learning and great ideas are shared between siblings and with my husband and me as well. For as many subjects as possible, I wanted to adapt the content to multiple levels so that each child in our family could learn together. I know some subjects such as math this isn’t as easy but for many it is! This is one of the main features of Treehouse Nature Study. It was developed to use with all of your children at the same time. I have included hand rhymes for the littlest of learners and tips on adapting this guide for every grade level.
A focus on nature and the rhythm of the seasons
The idea of studying nature never occurred to me until I was researching methods of education. It was one of my main draws to a Charlotte Mason education. I also learned a lot about helping our children appreciate and connect to the rhythm of the seasons through the Waldorf method of education. Treehouse Nature Study is a seasonal nature study curriculum, introducing children to nature themes in rhythm with the season. For example, in the Autumn edition, you will study themes such as apples, the Autumn Equinox, mushrooms, pumpkins, and arachnids.
I discovered through my research that one of the values I resonated with is that children can engage with beautiful, deep things. We don’t need to give them cartoony illustrations, dumbed-down stories, and watery content. It is a shame to keep them from the great artists, classical poetry, and great ideas. I wanted my children to be regularly introduced to poems, works of art, and excellent music. These subjects are often called “beauty subjects”. Each week of Treehouse Nature Study includes a poem, folksong, and piece of artwork centered around the week’s theme.
I discovered that textbooks aren’t the only way. I wanted to offer my children rich stories with memorable plots and interesting non-fiction guides with gorgeous illustrations. I learned that these types of books can really be the core to learning anything. For this reason, Treehouse Nature Study offers an extensive booklist of picture books, non-fiction titles, and relevant reference selections from the most popular books for nature study in home education: The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock and the books in The Julia Rothman Collection: Nature Anatomy, Farm Anatomy, and Food Anatomy.
Narration and notebooking
I was introduced to narration and notebooking through many homeschool mamas and it captured my heart. I loved the idea of children processing what they learned through words and beautiful illustrations. I love that notebooking covers many skills in a beautiful, life-giving way. Each week of Treehouse Nature Study includes a time of notebooking. I have also included a Notebooking Guide in the introduction to get you started if you are new to this idea and to help adapt this method to all ages.
Rather than simply reading about mushrooms, I wanted my children to forage for some and create spore prints. I wanted to give them the chance to dissect owl pellets, dip Autumn leaves in beeswax, and learn through following a recipe and baking together. I wanted our lessons to include walks in nature to allow my children to learn through seeing, smelling, touching. Treehouse Nature Study includes themed hands-on nature connections each week to provide these things for your children.
Both Treehouse Nature Study: Autumn and Treehouse Nature Study: Winter are available now! Over the next year, I will be releasing guides for all four seasons. For the first time ever, we are also offering hard copies of the curriculum professionally printed and shipped to you.
To watch a video, with peeks inside the curriculum, watch this IGTV.