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As a re-start to our nature studies, we are once again following the phenomenal plans laid out for us by Barb from The Handbook of Nature Study blog. Really, Barb’s plans make nature study so friendly that my only excuse for not doing them is my own laziness.

These plans heavily use that homeschooling nature study stand-by: The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. A true living book, Mrs. Comstock’s love of nature comes through loud and clear, as does her passion for passing that love along to children.

On Monday, for our first day of our Spring study, we simply sat outside and tried to be quiet. I know that Banany had a rough time with that -it can be difficult to be six sometimes. But he made the attempt admirably and I tried not to torture them with too long of a period of silence! I asked the children to listen and tell me what they could hear from God’s creation: birds singing (which we were later told by Special happens because the male is trying to attract a female, one bird is sounding a warning, or just for the joy of singing), flies buzzing past our ears, woodpeckers hammering on trees (to look for food or make a nest, according to Banany), and the wind whistling (Bear’s favorite sound). I thought that this was a good re-introduction to nature for us and a great lesson in the many things to be learned in the sounds of silence.

Tuesday took us back outdoors, this time with the specific intent to look up possible signs of spring’s arrival. This late in April, spring has definitely sprung! We saw the green grass, the dandelions, the buds on the trees. We heard the birds singing through the trees – oh so many more than there had been during the cold winter. The air even smells different in the spring. Bear had a great time pointing out to us the tiny little pinecones forming at the ends of the pines and explaining the growth from last year, as could be seen by last year’s stubborn pinecones. The children all came in and wrote up their notebook page from the Outdoor Hour Challenge on Signs of Spring.

Bear: 4pm The baby birds turn from babies to adults.  The rocks are extremely hot.  Butterflies play, streams ripple, and bees buzz. Special: We found a robin's egg that must have fallen out of its nest, because the only holes were ones that ants made.  We had beavers, and in the spring ants are busy and pine needles sport a fuzzy new growth. Beautiful Banany

Today’s nature study was a reading from The Handbook on Maple Trees. The children especially delighted in the descriptions of old-time syrup harvesting. I’m sure more than one remembered the description from Laura Ingalls Wlder’s Little House books. Special took on the role of teacher as she explained to all of us what the lobe of a leaf is. Tomorrow, we will head out behind the creek, where there are three tall maples growing, and examine their bark, branches, blossoms, and buds. The leaves in some spots are just beginning to unfurl. During and after our visit, the children and I will complete a notebook page on the springtime Maple tree. I’ll try to get those scanned and posted by next Thursday.

What have you done lately to foster your children’s (or your own!) love of God’s creation? Do you enjoy nature walks, trips to a park, or even bug watching along the sidewalk? So your children narrate back to you what they’ve seen and heard?