Earth Child: Games, Stories, Activities, Experiments & Ideas About Living Lightly on Planet Earth by Kathryn Sheehan & Mary Waidner, Council Oak Books, 1991.
This resource seems particularly CM compatible as it includes living books, story telling, guided imagery, recipes, music recommendations, make your own games, and various handicraft activities. It could be a good resource for focusing your nature studies, particularly if you use one chapter at a time. My favorite aspect are the listings for organizations and book recommendations. There are three different types of book recommendations as well as book references in the margins. Some activities are great (making sand candles) while others are quite simplistic (sprouting bean seeds). Best for preschool through early grammar stage.
Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children by Joseph Bruchac and Michael J.Caduto, Fulcrum Pub., 1997
This is a fabulous resource that combines Native American beliefs and information, ecology, storytelling, observation and discussion. Truly *the* book for studying ecology and getting our kids to appreciate the world around them. There are actually several books in the series, as well as some tie-in books of just stories for story telling, but most people never get past the first book. If you used the entire series you would have a curriculum that would last from kindergarten to up to the middle school years. To find the entire series you will need to noodle around the internet as typical booksellers never have the entire series--for the more obscure titles look to naturalist and Native American based stores and websites.
175 Amazing Nature Experiments by Rosie Harlow & Gareth Morgan, Random House, 1991.
Part of a series of experiment books that are best suited for mature preschoolers and grammar stage learners. My daughter likes this book because many of the experiments are easy enough for her to do on her own (ie. no waiting for mom or dad to have spare time to supervise impromptu experiments). A decent book that is easy to find used.
How Nature Works: 100 Ways Parents and Kids Can Share the Secrets of Nature by David Burne, Reader's Digest and Dorling Kindersley, 1991
Part of the How...Works series. My kids love this more scientific approach to studying nature. Definitely a must-have book at our house. It does require some fancy equipment, but often it shows how to build your own. Geared toward the Logic Stage, although I've used it with multiple ages adapting where needed.
Pets in a Jar: Collecting and Caring for Small Wild Animals by Seymour Simon, Puffin Books, 1975
If you have children that collect the wildlife in your backyard or nature walks and you are then left wondering what to do with these delightful critters than this is the book for you. Also, good for children that want pets but can't have them. Instead of a pet they can have a revolving exhibition of mini-critters in their jar. For a more scientific version of this concept check out Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method.
Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method: More Than 100 Hands-On Science
Experiments for Children by Sally Kneidel, Fulcrum Resources, 1993
This is not really a CM type book but it is a great fit for those kids who want their nature studies to be a bit more formal or indepth. It's a step up from Pets in a Jar. I believe this book is geared toward the Logic Stage but I have used it with Grammar Stage learners as well. My son enjoyed the few activities he did from this (he was really too old for it when I bought the book).
Right in Your Own Backyard: Nature Math, Time Life for Children
This is one of my daughters' favorite recommendations from the Living Math website. They love how it uses nature to show various aspects of math. Talk about making connections! I think it is part of the I Love Math series but I could be wrong about that.
Kamana Naturalist Training Home Study Course from The Wilderness Awareness School in Duval Washington. For ages 12 to adult. The link for the school on my links page should take you right to it. The school's store is a good source for nature study resource ideas.
Since there is a plethora of nature related fiction for children I am not going to list individual books here. Instead I will list just authors that are most prolific and the general topics they write about. I will list nonfiction/informational type books, even if the author also writes nature based fiction.
My favorite nature based fiction authors:
Jean Craighead George: She is most known for her Julie of the Wolves series but my daughter actually prefers all her other books.
Gary Paulson: He writes most about children surviving in the wilderness. Many of his books take place in Minnesota.
Seasons of the Moon series by Jean Craighead George, 2001, Harper Trophy. This was originally a 13 book series based on the cycle of 13 full moons that has now combined the books into just four seasonal books. The descriptions in this series are wonderful.
One Day in the .... series by Jean Craighead George, 1986, Scholastic Inc. Very nice descriptions of various ecosystems.
Any book by Jim Arnosky. All of his writings are about nature and many of them are from his nature studies in his own backyard. We particularly enjoy his All About...books. His Crinkleroot books are absolutely delightful and highly recommended for preschoolers through first graders. I sure wish I had discovered these books when my kids were younger!
Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide, NorthWord Press, 1999
This is a basic guide for children to use as they begin their nature studies. Includes a few hands-on follow-up activities. My daughter really enjoyed this book as a preschooler and kindergartner---she took it everywhere with us. In the past few years I have noticed other similar books that are obviously part of the same series.
Far Out!Exploring Nature with Binoculars by Christina Wilsdon, Reader's Digest, 2000
Way to Go! Finding Your Way with a Compass by Sharon Sharth, Reader's Digest, 2000
Up Close! Exploring Nature with a Magnifying Glass by Sarah Jane Brian, Reader's Digest, 2001
This is actually a set of books that you can use together or separately. Some kits include the binoculars, compass and magnifying glass with the books. This is a step up from the Fun With Nature Guide. My older two kids used these extensively when they were in grammar stage.
When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year by Penny Pollock, Little Brown & Co., 2001
The poems in this book were inspired by the Native American concept of keeping track of time using the moons. This book has poems for twelve of the thirteen full moons. My favorite part of the book are the woodcut illustrations by Mary Azarian.
Around the Seasons poems by Eleanor Farjean, Henry Z. Walck Inc., 1969
A nice CM style book of poems that captures the feelings of each season.
Animal Poems edited by John Hollander, Sterling Publishing Co., 2004
Part of the Poetry for Young People series. My daughter loves the poems selected for this particular book. I am less than fond of the illustrations, however.
Sketching Outdoors in Summer by Jim Arnosky. Lothrup, Lee & shepard Books. 1988. The series includes books for each season as well as one titled Sketching Outdoors. Most of Jim Arnosky's books can be used for nature studies in one way or another. I believe Reading Rainbow has an episode showing him in his yard drawing a porcupine.
For more information on nature journaling visit our Nature Journal page.
Something like this would make a great nature journal entry. Some kids would draw just the caterpillers, others just the flowers and others would draw it all. This is nice because caterpillars tend to stay in one place long enough to be drawn.
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2005, 2008
According to Louv much of society's troubles today can be traced back to our children spending less time in nature than previous generations. While he can be a bit of an extremist I did find reading this book gave me plenty of food for thought on how I am raising my urban children and I think Ms. Mason would definitely agree with him on many points.
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E Roth, Storey Publishing, 2000
You simply can't go wrong with any of Clare Walker Leslie's books. If you are looking for inspiration for how to do nature journalling or just want a peak at how someone else does it than this is the book for you. Plenty of helpful tips.
Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning: A Story for Mother Culture by Karen Andreola, Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Company, 2002
A nice easy read that I didn't enjoy quite as much as I expected to. Not secular however. I think this excerpt from the back of the book says it all, "a teacher's guide to nature study cleverly disguised as a heartwarming story written in the form of a mother's diary". If you are new to nature studies or just need some inspiration this may be the book for you.
Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn by Hannah Holmes, Bloomsbury Pub., 2005
I must confess that I have yet to fully read this book. It is at the top of my stack for summer reading. The excerpt from the back of the book is just too enticing to not include for those of us who live near cities. Looks to be a very humorous, and inspiring, account of a world most of us overlook.
Even if you are unable to spend much time outside due to location or illness you can still do nature studies!!! Turn your balcony or deck into a nature center with bird feeders and waterers, squirrel feeders, a mini-garden that attracts beneficial bugs and butterflies, add a weather station and you are set. For studies that are farther afield, yet still able to be done from your home check out and follow some nature spy cams. Note that many spy cams are seasonal and focus on the babies born in spring and early summer.
Besides the links I list here I would encourage you to check out U-Tube and zoos for nature spy cams. Many zoos use a spy cam on their website when they have baby animals. Also, check your local Audubon website as they sometimes have webcams posted of their babies. Portland's RaptorCam is an example of this.
Ignore all the commercial stuff on this site. I am including it peerly for the list of bird cams. Even Portland's own Raptor Cam is listed here
Suji sent us this one and it has a wide variety of bird cams.
KodyGirl checking out a mama duck and her late season ducklings.
I linked to the nature studies page of this website but I encourage you to look around as this site has a little bit of everything for the Charlotte Mason family.
Wondering how to do nature studies in your own backyard? This blog details the findings in one English lawn.
This is *the* blog for those doing nature studies. Includes great information and activities, including Outdoor Hour Challenges. A m
The website for the National Wildlife Federation's Green Hour Movement. Includes nature based activities.