Growing up in a Charlotte Mason filled homeschool, our children were surrounded with nature walks and talks, but to explore nature in their free afternoon activities is a whole other things and often times overlooked even in a homeschool that has nature as one of their weekly or daily activities.
To explore nature like I'm talking about, a child first needs to be taught to observe, and then to be left alone to see what they can discover on their own.
When my older children were younger, and I was working to implement the concept for them to explore nature in their free afternoon activities, I wanted to provide them with tools to do that. These tools were exactly what was needed for them to build a relationship with the nature in our backyard, without me being their teacher of what they would find in their own time of exploring.
One of the best investments for tools for our children to explore nature were field guides. My favorite series for younger children is the Fun with Nature, and More Fun with Nature, plus the others in this series.
I also love having a series of field guides that our children can learn a little more information from, and my favorite is the Smithsonian Handbooks series.
The hours my children would explore nature in their free afternoon was mind blowing to me, and the creatures that they caught, learned to use the field guides to identify and then learn how to build a habitat for the creature, work to feed it and then let it go. I always expected my oldest son to follow his love of nature and use this love in his adulthood, as a career choice, but his love of golf won out.
In addition to the field guides, we would purchase fish tanks at yard sales and even large plastic bins for our children to put their creature finds in them, so they could identify them, journal them and even observe them close up.
I can't promise you that you won't find your child bringing snakes, salamanders or even fish into these tanks, if they are anything like my sons, so you will want to do due diligence and be sure your children have a state's guide for snakes or anything else that may be venomous and dangerous to catch.
Our state's Department of Game and Fishery mailed us free guides that we still use today, almost 14 years later. The snake guide was my son's first grade science book, because it identifies the snakes, one on a page, with green across the top for non-venomous snakes and red across the top for venomous snakes. They all have learned or are learning to identify these snakes because safety comes first!
Don't forget to enjoy the other free afternoon activities ideas in this 31 day series…
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