Friday, January 11, 2008

Handbook of Nature Study: Friend or Foe?

There it is, Handbook of Nature Study, sitting on your bookshelf. Now what?

My copy of the
Handbook of Nature Study sat on my shelf for a couple of years and I finally sold it on ebay. Yes, you heard me right. I got tired of dusting it and feeling as if I should be doing something with it when I couldn't figure it out at all. So now you are wondering what happened to bring me around to where I am now. Simply put, I stopped fighting it.

I checked it out from the library and took some time to page through it. I read blogs where families actually used the book, encouraging me to give it a real try this time. We already had a love of nature in our family but we really wanted to have a better way of studying things in nature in a little more systematic way.

Maybe it was not the book that was the problem for us.

Since I trusted
Ambleside Online's ideas for many subjects already, it was a natural fit to try their system for nature study. I went to their nature study page and read the whole thing. I then read the information in the Charlotte Mason volumes about outdoor time and nature study. I read other blogs that used the
Handbook of Nature Study. In other words, I did a little bit of homework and came up with a plan for our family.

Tips from our experiences:
  • Pick three sections of the book to cover in your school year....four if you want to cover one over the summer too. Try to think of things you will actually be able to observe in your course of everyday life. Do you have a birdfeeder? Do you have a pet cat or dog? Do you have a place to grow a few vegetables? Do you enjoy keeping track of the weather or looking at the clouds?
  • Start with something you will enjoy.
  • As the parent/guide, read the introduction to the section you are going to study a few times over. I have found that just reading these few pages opens your eyes to a lot of ideas for further study on the topic chosen. Use the information and suggested activities as a place to start your study of a particular animal or aspect of nature.
  • Make notes in the book or in a notebook with ideas for your study.
  • Go through your personal library and check for any reference items you may have on the subject of your study. I was surprised when I did this to find that I already owned quite a few books to go along with our fall study of insects. Check your library for books and field guides too.
  • Our family enjoys identifying things we find on our nature outings. This means we need to have a basic field guide to go along with our study since the Handbook of Nature Study is NOT a field guide.
Yes, I finally purchased the Handbook of Nature Study for the second time and this time around it is getting used weekly. I had tried to use the online version by printing out only the pages I needed but that was too much work. Having my own copy at my fingertips has been a blessing this past term. Our nature study has taken on a new level of interest. Hope this helps someone get started with this valuable book.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

No comments:

Post a Comment