Monday, March 28, 2016

Opening The Window To The World

Our family loves being out in nature. Whether it's a day hiking in the canyon or a 4 day weekend camping in a tent in the forest, our family is perfectly fine being away from Facebook and the Playstation and instead immersing ourselves in the great outdoors.  Spending time in the outdoors is a great way to get exercise, enjoy a change of scenery, spend quality time with your family and truly reflect on the magnificence of God's handiwork.  

However, it's not always feasible to take the classroom out to nature, especially during the week. How can you still incorporate nature study into your everyday classroom routine without having to make a trip to a national forest?  

Open The Window

Garrett Observing Out The Window
Fortunately, regardless to where you life, nature is as close as your window.   Students are able to observe so much just from taking about a minute to look out the window each day.  As part of our morning work, Ashleigh and Garrett keep a page where they document the weather outside such as if it's sunny (we live in the desert so it's almost always sunny), cloudy, windy or rainy (very rarely).  If there are clouds in the sky, they can quickly make a sketch of the type of clouds they are able to observe.

 Through these observations, students are able to learn weather patterns and to recognize various cloud formations.  These are great ways to introduce topics such as meteorology. .  All of these types of observations can be quickly jotted down at the beginning of the class day and add roughly 2 minutes worth of time.  From these pages, monthly averages of temperatures and rainfall can be made or graphed to show trending patterns.

Other things can that be observed from that same window each morning is seasonal patterns.  These are observations that are made over longer periods of time instead of through daily observations.  For example, if there is a tree in prominent view from the window, students can make their observations every few weeks as to changes they are able to observe. If starting observations at the beginning of a school year, students might note that the tree is in full foliage in August, that the leaves begin to turn to autumn colors in October and begin to fall in November. By December the tree might be completely bare and then begin to have new growth in March. 

Two months ago, we were able to observe that two of the three trees in our front yard were complete bare of leaves.  The third three, a pine tree,  did not have any pine cones on it.  Over the course of the last few weeks, the children have been able to observe the budding and growth of new foliage on the two trees and the progress of the growth of new pine cones growing on the evergreen.    These types of observations are easy to make and to record in a small notebook or journal every few weeks to keep a log to changes occurring.

The View from my Window Today  compared to a few weeks ago. 

My family is very fortunate to live in an community with lots of wildlife and having critters such as
Birds at the Feeder and New Growth on the Trees
rabbits, squirrels, bobcats, coyotes and hawks in our yard is nothing new.  While you might not have these types of animals visiting your yard,  a few simple additions added to your property and in view of your window will invite visitors for your children to observe.   We have a couple of seed feeders as well as a few hummingbird feeders in view of our front window.   These feeders draw a huge array of various birds which feed and perch within just a few feet from the window where the kids are able to observe them.

Another tip is to always have your camera read.  By keeping a digital camera handy, children can take photographs of the changes they observe or a quick snapshot of a new bird visitor to the feed so that they can have a reference to compare to in their bird field guide.  We also bring our camera with us for any actual nature walks or hikes that we go on so that we can live by the motto " Take nothing by pictures.  Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time."

Even behind the glass, children can learn so much just from using their eyes to observe nature around them.  By incorporating a few of these simple steps, you can easily add a very quick nature lesson to your school day without adding a bulk of work to their course load.

This post is part of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents sponsored by the Schoolhouse Review Crew..  Click the banner below and discover all the wonderful tips other members of the crew have to offer :)    Here's a few suggestions to help get you started.

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

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