Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Handbook of Nature Study: Picking a Focus

In my Outdoor Hour Challenge for this week, I have encouraged families to look at the table of contents of the Handbook of Nature Study and find a focus for their nature study. Here is what I wrote:
I am going to suggest that you pick a focus area for your nature study. Taking into account what you have close at hand, what season it is, and your child’s interest, look through the table of contents in the Handbook of Nature Study and pick one section that you will focus on for the next six to eight weeks. It might be a good time to study garden flowers (bulbs), wildflowers, birds, or trees if it is already warm in your area. If you still have lots of snow, you could focus on mammals, birds, or water forms. (For suggested nature study rotations using the Handbook of Nature Study, see the Ambleside Online’s nature study page for ideas. http://amblesideonline.org/NatureSch.shtml) If you have chosen a focus area, turn to the introductory page for that section and take the time to read just that page in the Handbook of Nature Study.
Our family has been using a focus area since the fall term and I have seen how it has helped us learn so much more about the area we concentrated on. It is as if you become hyper-focused on that particular area and see so much more to research. When we focused on insects, we saw more insects. As we started focusing on mammals, we found many mammal related things to learn about as we went about our daily life. We are getting ready to switch to our spring term focus of garden flowers.

In preparation, I have skimmed down the table of contents in the garden flowers section and I have found eleven flowers we can study during the term. As we plan our garden and visit the nursery for plants, I will try to remember to point out some that we can study using the Handbook of Nature Study. For instance, the section on sunflowers has five pages in the HNS. There are ten observation suggestions at the end of this section just for sunflowers and that will be more than enough to get us started.

Picking a focus area using the Handbook of Nature Study will help your family get more out of your nature time. It will also help you become more familiar with this rather large book and learn how to use it in your family. It's like the old joke. "How do you eat an elephant?" One bite at a time.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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