Nature Study

Charlotte Mason Nature Study -Seaside Nature Study & Living Books

Nature study, if you are not careful, can fall by the wayside (as can composer and artist study) in favor of exam subjects. If these things are important to you then you simply have to plan them into your homeschool week. There is no need to lose the joy of learning just because you are homeschooling a high schooler. I confess that at times our own nature/composer/artist studies were sporadic at best and we could definitely feel the difference in the joy of learning as a result.

A seaside/beach study is good for any time of the year. The coast is an ever-changing landscape and each season will have some new treasures to offer up for your nature explorers. So I’m not going to say that because summer is here it is the perfect time to plan a beach nature study, it’s an all-year-round study opportunity.

Below is a post I wrote a few years ago when we took a walk down to the beach for that week’s nature study. I hope that it gives you an insight into how simply you can incorporate nature study into your homeschool week. You really don’t have to know everything, you just need to enjoy time outside with your children and have an observant eye.

April 2017 – A Spring Beach Nature Study

I believe that good living books can be enjoyed at any age. My grandmother and I shared that simple joy that is picking up a Beatrix Potter/AA Milne/Kenneth Grahame/Jill Barklem, and a myriad of others, book. I really don’t see why, for the pure joy of reading these beautiful books, you would neglect to enjoy them because they are aimed at younger readers.

A great book to enjoy and share with your children of all ages is Enid Blyton’s ‘Nature Lovers Book’. Because it is a living book it is instructional although it is our field guides and observational skills that we will turn to as a matter of course. 

Today I had planned for us to take a walk to the beach and see what we could find. We started by reading from the ‘Nature Lovers Book’. It gave us a starting point on what to look out for which was quite useful as we have not done a marine nature study before. We learnt throughout reading about various shells and seaweeds that we could possibly expect to find – a great starting block.

The footpath down to the beach is just at the end of the lane, then it’s a 1/4 mile walk down to the beach.

Once there we found copious amounts of kelp and seaweed. Immediately we were able to identify three different types based on our reading. If we had not read that “children’s” story we would have identified a whole lot of nothing. Are you seeing the value of good living books being ageless yet?

We found Oar Seaweed [Laminaria digitata], Sea Lettuce, a Kelp Holdfast which we identified at home after a bit of research, and some Bladder Wrack which we had read about in our reading too.

We found 3 of the 5 different shells mentioned in our reading…

Whelks, Limpets and Periwinkles.

We learnt that ‘Whelks’ is a generic name given to sea snails and the shells can vary drastically. 

We even found skate egg cases amongst the seaweed! Another thing that was mentioned in the reading so we had a huge amount of learning and discovering in today’s lesson.

We brought all beach-combing treasures home to document in our nature journals. My daughter simply printed off the photographs and wrote a narration in her journal as she really does not like drawing or painting. I’ve mentioned that here before. For years I insisted she draw, but really, the joy was not there for her. Last year I decided that I would rather have her enjoy engaging with nature and keep a journal that works for her. So that’s what we do.

I, on the other hand, love keeping a nature journal as you know. So I sat down to a good two hours of recording our finds…

When we lived in South Africa, we were literally only a mile from the beach. Beach-combing in all weathers and searching rock pools was a weekly activity. I hadn’t realized until today how much I miss that! Now that we live so close to the ocean I am looking forward to picking up our beachy pursuits once more.

(12) Comments

  1. jan says:

    How lovely to be so close to the beach

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      It really is Jan, and no matter the weather, its always lovely to take a walk on the beach.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for posting this, Shirley-Ann, interesting to see how things are in your little spot of the world. How exciting to have this adventure so close! I think it would be hard to attend to my duties if I lived by the sea; would be hard to pull away from such a scene. As it is beginning the season of sickness here, I've been thinking a lot the last fews days how nice it would be to live oceanside, with such vibrant, clean air. Your nature journal is always fun to see and inspiring, as is hearing about your homeschool. I hope you two have a wonderful rest of the school year. As for me, I'm trying but still always feel rushing to catch up, though I try not to. Seems the more I try not to rush, the more things happen to force it to stay rushed and be more rushed. Keep posting…it is a nice bright spot online.
    -Elizabeth

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      I think that we are constantly having to fight against busyness aren't we? It's just about finding a balance somehow because there are things that simply cannot be left undone. Sometimes it can feel that we are not in control of those things and I think that's what makes us feel rushed.

  3. Penny says:

    Considering I walked in 10 degree (F) weather and snow this morning, this post is especially delightful! Thank you for sharing your excitement and enthusiasm for nature study, your joy is contagious!

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      I LOVE snow Penny so that makes me a little envious I have to say 😀
      You could do some lovely snowy nature studies and activities. I once made some lovely ice hangings by freezing pine needles and berries in a round baking tray and then hung it outdoors in the icy weather – it made for a very pretty decoration and it was fun for us to see how quickly it melted as the day heated up.

    2. Penny says:

      That's nice idea – I'll start collecting pine needles today since the snow is minimal right now – thanks! 🙂

    3. Candis says:

      The ice hangings sound like a fun project ~ and so pretty too! Thank You Shirley Ann for a nice wintery idea.

  4. Candis says:

    I love reading children's books, and I will be looking up the ones you mentioned. I agree ~ they are a simple joy. Thank you Shirley Ann. Blessings ~

    1. Shirley-Ann says:

      Candis I'm so glad to hear that others like to read children's books too! Makes me feel less weird LOL.

    2. Penny says:

      You are not weird! I love children's books so much I volunteer to do story times at my local library – not for *them* – – for *me* – – 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Yes to children's books! We recently re-read Wind in the Willows and started on the Beatrix Potter series. My favourite books are children's books with beautiful artwork and strong but simple messages. There's a lot of wisdom in Wind in the Willows, Miss Rumphius, Little Bear, Potter stories, and so many others. I think it was a way for those authors to extend the magic hours of early childhood. I think these type of authors never outgrew that "purple hour" of childhood and I'd like to go back to it myself.

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