September is settling in nicely around here. We find ourselves wearing long sleeves and pants all of a sudden.
Our September Nature Study is perfect for the cooler days and slower family rhythms.
We have been using these gorgeous materials from Tanglewood Hollow to compliment our study. They are perfect with just enough information as well as being portable so we can actually take them out on hikes with us.
Our time is the rainforest has proven to be exactly what we need. Giving us some time to energize ourselves after the first busy weeks back at school. Looking for different types of ferns, lichen and mushrooms has been a fascinating treasure hunt.
A note of caution: We have poisonous mushrooms here and therefore we never touch them unless with a trained guide. We would recommend you do the same.
We have also been talking about the importance of rotting logs. There are some beautiful examples of this where we live. New life growing from old and the continuation of the biome.
There is so much see in the forest in Autumn. If you have yet to start a Nature Study, why not try a walk in the woods.
Our year long Nature Study begins again after a month off in July.
The first week of August we explored pond dipping again. It is such a fun and easily prepared activity for kids of all ages. Dip a net into a pond and gently dump the contents into a clean container filled with the same pond water. You will be amazed at what you find.
We recorded some of our findings in our Nature Journal. It’s interesting to observe how a child’s mind has grown and evolved in just one year. The different questions being asked and different observations made are fascinating.
This year, observing the ecosystem of a pond has been particularly special. We are currently travelling and so the pond we are observing is the one from my childhood.
There are so many things to share with Quentin. The holes dug by turtles and the remaining egg shells, the small minnows that swim past your toes. The smell of the water, and the crunch of the sand. A highlight for him was feeding the swan family and talking about their role in the ecoystem.
Pond ecosystems are virtually endless with a wealth of information to satisfy children of all ages. Everything from naming different animals for toddlers, to life cycles to the microscope world.
This particular pond has four generations worth of memories for my family and I’m glad I got to share it with Quentin today.
“Let the be children free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning.” Dr Maria Montessori
Process Art is not only important to us as a family and as a trained Montessori teacher, it is the only kind of art advocated for by the majority of those in the childhood social neurological development world for children under the age of 8 years.
For us, it just makes sense to take Art outside. Art is all about the sensorial world and there’s no better Prepared Environment that plays to the senses than the outdoors.
At the beach or in the forest, nature can inspire the child and spark their imagination.
Art also helps us extend what we’ve been exploring as part of our monthly Montessori Nature Study.
A little preparation can go along way. Here are some of our favourite things to bring outside:
- A thin, easy to carry watercolour palette.
- A mini clipboard to secure paper and provide a writing surface
- A large watercolour paper pad cut into quarters for easy transport
- This workbook is becoming a fast favourite.
- As is this one.
- Nature Anatomy is our absolute favourite Nature Study book and the one we have been using for our own Nature Study for the past year.
- Lyra pencil crayons are some of the best on the market. Vibrant true tones that spread like butter on the paper and the Ferby is the perfect size for little hands.
- A well made, well fitting child sized backpack to keep all of it in.
We also love adding audiobooks to our art times. Calm classics quietly read in the background help prepare a space for peaceful art.
All this with a healthy homemade snack and water bottle and you are set to make art outside.
Even the youngest toddler will enjoy squishing fingerpaint onto paper while under a big tree or beside a quiet stream.
If outdoor art is new to you take it slow and prepare in advance. Here are some helpful tips:
- Think about your own child’s interests/abilities. Do they love crayons over watercolours?
- Go at a peaceful time of day. Tired and hungry children are not happy artists.
- Process art is exactly that. Let the child lead. It’s about the scribbles and sensorial input, not about how much the finished product looks like you wanted it to look.
- Art can be messy (and that’s a good thing). Prepare in advance with something to clean up spills, wipe fingers and pack wet things home in.
Now go and enjoy. If you happen to try an outdoor art session we would love you to share it with us on social media either on our Facebook page or on Instagram by tagging us.
We love nature themed books and this one is absolutely stunning.
Broken down into the four seasons, it’s the artwork that first drew me in. Stunning collages accompany songs, stories, recipes and so much more.
Each pages collage is beautiful and perfectly captures the mood of th season it describes.
With so many ideas to try and stories to share it is sure to be a favourite for years to come.
The warmer weather has finally arrived and so we spent the majority of our May Nature Study outside.
Studying insects is one of the easiest topics to do because they are accessible on almost every continent, there is a large variety and children are most often fascinated by them.
We began our study by exploring different species of butterfly with the help of these beautiful cards from Alice Cantrell of Twig and Moth. We use so many of her materials because they are well priced, printable at home and above all beautiful.
We enjoyed some old favourites on the topic. This book is fantastic. The art style and amount of information are perfectly paired.
We also enjoy this book and we recommend all of this series. It is our favourite nature series for the 3-6 age group.
Lastly we decided to take a field trip to our local butterfly sanctuary. It is so beautiful there with so many different species of butterflies and moths. At just turned 5 Quentin now does really well on learning outings. This will serve him well as he progresses into the Second Plane of Development.
Montessori asks us to “Follow the Child” and this simply couldn’t be more applicable than when out and about. We travel at his pace, and stop when he wants to. This gives him an opportunity to really take in what he is seeing, to ask questions or to return to something he wants to know more about.
We both agreed that a butterfly sanctuary is a gorgeous spot to take photos.
If you have been looking to start a nature study, insects is a great place to start. Books from the library, and simply stepping outside are all you need.
“This is the time to immerse children in the stuff of the physical and natural world. Constructing forts, creating small imaginary worlds, hunting and gathering, following streams and pathways, making maps, gardening and shaping the earth are all perfect activities at this stage.” – David Sobel
I love sharing the wonders of the natural world with a child. Even in the Winter there are so many interesting things you can open their eyes to.
This month we are studying weather. We were fortunately blessed with a freak snow storm earlier this week and as the flakes continued, we decided to pack a picnic and head out to one of the beautiful beaches in our area to observe the rare weather pattern first hand.
The best part about studying nature is that it is low cost and extremely accessible, even in more populated areas.
We keep a well fitted backpack for Quentin stocked with a water bottle, a note pad and pencil, some small collection containers and a magnifying glass. These things are nice to have but aren’t necessary. The most important thing is as always to follow the child. We stop when something has caught his eye like these small stone structures stacked by someone else enjoying the beach at some point this winter.
Most of the beaches here are tumbled rock. We find a quiet and sheltered place under the overhang of the forest, open our picnic and watch the waves. Tides are something Quentin has experienced living next to the Pacific but we haven’t gone into detail about them yet with him. The constant crash of the waves is something he is aware of but that’s where his interest stops. Instead, we watch the snow gently fall and talk about water vapour and clouds and catch snowflakes on our tongues. I have remembered to bring our pocket microscope purchased here and we examine some of the flakes. So much detail in just a tiny flake.
Nature Study is an excellent winter boredom buster. Properly bundled, going outside for even just a few minutes to collect snow for melting crafts, feeding the birds or following tracks will help children connect with the natural world in all seasons and also help them build strong memories with you.
January was all about looking up into the night sky. We gathered some simple DIY materials and borrowed some books from the library. I love it when nature studies are simple. No special materials required, although sometimes they are nice to have. It’s really just about appreciating what’s around you.
We use this book for our monthly nature study. I made some constellation tiles with some inexpensive wooden discs from our big box craft store, my electric drill and a fine tip marker. Quentin loved shining the light through the holes to make the constellations appear on the walls. It was a truly hands on experience for him and he quickly learned the name of some of the constellations.
I set out an art invitation of making constellations with some watercolour paint and paper, a straw and a black crayon. Quentin greatly dislikes product art and it is not recommended for children under 8 years of age. Instead, its all about the process. The invitation held the prepared materials and he chose where to put his paint, how to blow the paint through the straw to get the affect he wanted, how to connect them and most importantly when he was finished. He sat for a moment looking at it, then went to get his Orion disc and found they were similar.
This book was absolutely fantastic as an introduction to the stars. It gave a brief history of how each constellation got its name and Quentin loves turning off the lights to see the book glow in the dark.
We used our beautiful Moon Phases cards from the unbelievably talented Alice Cantrell to learn some new vocabulary and interesting facts.
Lastly we bundled up, packed a warm blanket and a thermos of hot cocoa and went out into the night to observe the differences in the moon phases and the brilliance found when we stop a minute and stare up at the night sky.