I know that a lot of people want to do more nature study, but feel overwhelmed by the thought of all the time it’s going to take. Here, then, are my top 10 ways to study nature when you only have 10 minutes a day. Over 11 years of homeschooling, I’ve been happy to find these quick activities that still make a big impact. I hope you’ll find them helpful too!
1. Paint the weather. Divide a page in your nature journal into small squares – 1″ is plenty. Take ten minutes each day to paint the colours of the weather as you perceive them. Mud? Grass? Glorious red morning sky? Snowstorm? Have fun with it.
2. Pick one spot to check out daily. Mark it off if you need to…..it can be as small as a planter pot or as big as the huge maple tree in your yard. Each person can pick something that they’ll enjoy looking at and making “theirs”.
3. Take one photo. Hand over the ca,era and let each child take a photo of something they’ve spotted. Print, glue, and date. Done.
4. Pick one thing to look for on a short walk. Red things, moss, robins…it doesn’t matter what! Make it up before you go out, or ask the kids for suggestions.
5. Tell an ongoing story. If your kids know that the next installment of Billy Blue Jay’s adventures are coming, they’ll have their boots on in no time and you can fit a surprising amount of science in there too.
6. Sketch the sky. Take 10 minutes to paint or draw the clouds each day at the same time.
7. Watch something bloom. This time of year, for us it’s the tulips and daffodils as they make their journey from tiny green stub to a graceful, colorful bloom. Take ten minutes to scribble down as many changes from the day before as you can. Think about measuring and graphing the height, checking for new leaves, doing a quick pic of how open a bud is.
8. Observe the ant. Or whatever creepy crawlies you see in the same spot each day. Write it, sketch it, photography it…..if you place them out like a calendar you’ll be amazed at the variety by the end of a month.
9. Stand and listen. Sit quietly (or what passes for quiet in your house) and write down as many things as you heard when the 10 minutes are up.
10. Try the sniff test. First close your eyes and smell. Then see if you can locate some of the things you observed. Lilies? Rain on a dry pavement? Freshly cut grass? It’s rarely the same combination twice, but we could find our yard blindfolded by now. Have some fun!
How do you include nature study when you only have a short time? Share in the comments!
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