Nature Study in the Fall


Grab a sweater and head outdoors for a homeschool fall nature study!

Every year it seems we eagerly wait for autumn. When the sticky, hot days of summer come to an end, a fresh new breeze blows through and invites us outside. Autumn is our favorite time to be outside studying nature as the changes we see happen almost right before our eyes. 

Here are some of our favorite nature items to study as the seasons change. 

What to Use for a Fall Nature Study

Trees

Each year the trees change so dramatically in autumn. This is the perfect time to identify and observe them. Questions like: 

  • What is the name of this tree?
  • Which trees are the brightest? 
  • Which trees have not changed color at all? 

This is the perfect time to collect leaves, make leaf rubbings, and observe the bark and branches more closely as the leaves have fallen. 

Tracking the Daylight

In the fall, children quickly notice how dark it’s getting at the end of the day. Now is the perfect time to find out why the daylight is shorter. Begin a study on the earth’s rotation and what the autumn equinox means.

Seeds

Autumn is the perfect time to collect, store, and study seeds. As plants start shutting down for the cold weather ahead, it is easy to find seeds. Sunflowers, acorns, Marigold flowers, are all wonderful plants to observe in autumn. 

Mushrooms

Although they grow year-round, fall is often the peak season for most mushrooms. It is very important to teach children about the safety of mushrooms. While a wide variety is edible, there are many poisonous species. 

Some ideas when studying mushrooms: 

  • Learn how mushrooms spread and grow.
  • Spend an afternoon foraging and identifying mushrooms (remembering that some may be poisonous).
  • Look in the forest around rotting or fallen trees for mushrooms.
  • Spend time sketching the mushrooms in a nature journal. 

Insects

As the weather cools down, insects slow down. This makes it much easier to observe and sketch insects in your nature notebook. By the beginning of fall, most insects are at the mature size and getting ready for winter. 

There is so much you can study when it comes to insects: 

  • Identification of the insect.
  • Learn more about his habitat.
  • Find out what a particular insect does to prepare for winter.
  • Find out what your insect eats or how he catches his prey. 

Pumpkins

While most of our homes display pumpkins in the fall, it’s a great time to study this squash. Is it squash or a gourd? 

A study of pumpkins is wonderful for little ones. Let them get their hands messy by cutting open the pumpkin to study on the inside. Learn how this pumpkin grew from one seed, explore the parts of a pumpkin, ask questions as children investigate with their hands, record what is found inside nature notebooks. 

Autumn is a magical time of year. Celebrating the season, studying nature, keeping a nature journal, all make the season more special. As a mom, I enjoy autumn as much as my children and find myself in awe of the wonder of nature right alongside them. Make plans to be outside this season, embracing all the season has to offer. 

Jennifer Dowdy

About the author

I’m Jenny. A woman with a multigenerational vision for my family. Wife, mom of 6, a health researcher, and much more! Things I love: God, natural wellness, Charlotte Mason homeschool, home decorating, quiet times, deep relationships, and serving others.

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