Today's post is a guest blog from Mackenzie at Twigs and Sage. Mackenzie is a wife to her husband of 10 1/2 years and a homeschool mama to three, soon to be four! She enjoys learning alongside her children and highly values reading aloud together, spending time in nature everyday, and centering her homeschool around Jesus and the Bible. She follows a Wild + Free and Charlotte Mason inspired approach to learning. Tea is her favorite drink, and she also loves to spend time at the beach. She is passionate about natural living, supporting other mamas in their walks with Christ, home making, and cultivating meaningful relationships with each of her children!
Nature study is a huge part of our homeschool and we especially love learning about nature in the form of unit studies. With my kids being 8, 6, and 4, I try to use curriculum that can be taught family style, benefiting all of my kids and their varying “grades.” Treehouse Nature Study been a great fit for us for that reason.
Each week, I introduce the folk song and hand rhyme on Monday and we enjoy singing them both and learning the motions throughout the week. This is a big part of nature study for us, especially for my son who is four. We are not personally doing any copy work for the poetry, but, we do read the poem each week, talk about who wrote it, and practice reciting it! I usually have them take turns reciting the poem to my husband at dinner time each night. It’s amazing what they can remember by Friday!
When I introduce the picture for picture study, also on Monday, we observe the picture together, and discuss what parts are our favorite, what we notice first, and then, I flip it over so we can play Lyndsey’s recommended “Hide & Describe.“ Starting with my youngest, we go around in a circle and talk about any details we can recall before flipping the picture back over to reveal if there were any details we missed! We really enjoy this part! Afterwards, I display the picture on our book shelves, surrounded by book basket books to match that weeks topic, and we enjoy looking at it throughout the week! We also replicate it towards the end of the week. Sometimes as closely as we can to the original, but often times, it’s just used as their inspiration and they create their own version.
Speaking of books, I like to reserve the fiction books from the library for a month of lessons at a time and display the current week’s books in our homeschool room. In addition to the fiction books, I usually select one non-fiction book to read each week. I find they sit and listen to the non-fiction book really well when their hands are busy, so I either have them sculpting with clay or drawing (encouraging them to create something that goes along with that week’s theme) while listening. If it’s a longer book, I break it up into multiple days of reading.
Another part of nature study my early elementary children really enjoy is the nature connection. We spend a lot of time crafting and drawing pictures of what we have learned about all week. My oldest daughters, ages 8 and 6, will narration a sentence or two to me, what I write down on a separate piece of paper, and then they use that as copy work to write their sentences on their pictures. Usually their sentences describe what their picture is about or includes a fact about what we’ve learned that week. My son will also narrate a sentence but I will write it directly onto his picture for him. He usually wants to write something so sometimes I will follow the steps I do for my daughters for him to write a title. When their pictures are complete, I slide them into sheet protectors and add them to their nature binders, which is just a 1 inch binder for each child. We love going back and looking through all of the artwork they have made over the year! This is a fun binder to pull out when family members come over to visit. My kids love showing their hard work to their family, and in doing so, they review previous week’s topics!
Lastly, we get outside! Spending time in nature observing God’s creation is so important to us. Sometimes we pack up clipboards and art supplies to draw what we observe while outside. Other times, the kids will play and as they do, they are on the lookout for anything they find pertaining to that week’s topic. It’s so cool that we almost always find something that complements our study really well!
I get asked sometimes if Treehouse Nature Study is a good fit for young learners, and I hope this encourages you that is 100% is!