Besides the fact that nature studies are the best way to enjoy the world God created, I love the fact that they are so easy and require very little money or preparation (aside from a couple of good field guides and such). You really don’t have to have a very structured curriculum or one at all for your children to absorb and learn a lot. Just get outside and dig deep into whatever topic you are interested in.
Investigating Trees in the Field
Grab your nature journal, a field guide, water and take a walk out into your own yard or a local park and take a deeper look at the trees. Of course, you have noticed them before but how closely have you really looked?
This time notice the bark, the limbs, the leaves, what types of animals and insects make their homes in and on a tree? Does it bear fruit? Investigate a woodpile, what is different about the cut wood from a rooted tree? Find holes made by woodpeckers or boring insects, carefully inspect knots, and exposed roots.
Take out your nature journal and draw a tree or a section of a tree. You can identify it at home later on at home if you are not able to while out in the field. Look for fallen trees and note the roots, are they wider or deeper root systems? What kind of creatures make their home in a fallen tree? Does the tree produce food for animals or humans? Gather leaves, small fallen branched, acorns, pinecones, and other parts of trees to observe more closely at home.
Use a camera or smartphone to take photos of knots, leaves, signs of animal life, roots, and other parts of trees.
Younger children will enjoy gathering fallen sticks and leaves to bring home, investigating knots and rotten logs as well as making tree rubbings of the various trees you find.
If time and weather permits visit different areas to observe as many different trees as you can. Find trees that produce food for humans as well- citrus, apple, pecan, maple, etc…
Investigating Trees at Home
Once you have enjoyed a wonderful hands-on investigation of trees in their natural habitats you can continue it at home no matter what the weather is like. Pick up an inexpensive tree slice from the unfinished wood section of your local craft store, I have a large one, some small tree slices that were bought for crafts and these little bitty birch slices I scored a whole bag of at Dollar Tree.
Use these to check out the bark a little closer, count rings, measure the height, width, and circumference of the tree ring. Test the softness of the wood.
Use the photos you took out in the field to help you identify the trees, fungi growth, and other characteristics.
Pine Cone Science
If you were lucky enough to come across a few pine cones on your nature walk, you can use these free pine cone science notebook pages to expand learning. Students can color, label, and identify different parts of a pine cone.
Grab some of the leaves you gathered from your nature walk and drop several different kinds in a large glass or bowl of water, be sure they are completely submerged. Be sure your leaves are fresh, this won’t work with dried out leaves!
Leaf Science Project for Kids
Set your bowls in a sunny window, you will need to leave them alone for a few hours.
Come back after a couple of hours and observe what you see. Do you notice the bubbles forming on the surface of the leaf? Do the larger leaves have more bubbles?
The leaves are using photosynthesis ( converting sunlight into energy) and they are releasing the excess oxygen and water that they do not need. Using the water gives us a pretty cool look at how the process works, something we would not normally get to see!
Leaf Identification Activity
While you are waiting for your leaves to bubble grab a field guide or other book, we are loving our Nature Anatomy books as a reference, and see if you can identify the leaves you found.
Try some fun art projects with the leftover leaves like pressing and drying them between the pages of a book to add to your art journal, laminating a few for a fun little placemat, or making a leaf collage.
Parts of a Leaf Printables
For students who are ready, you can add in our free parts of a leaf printables. This set includes coloring pages, worksheets, cut & pates labeling, and notebooking sheets that are sure to liven up your leaf nature journals.
Leaf Art Project for Kids:
Students of all ages will love to make these stunning zentangle leaf art prints. These oak leaves turn out just as unique as the children making them! You’ll find a free printable template and step-by-step instructionss to create these fall beauties here.
Books About Trees for Kids:
Here are some fantastic tree books for reference, tuck a field guide for your area into your nature pack for deeper study out in the field!
Branch, trunk, bark, photosynthesis, transpiration, deciduous, coniferous, forest, roots, leaves, canopy, rings, deforestation, blossom, foliage, and dendrophile.
Choose words from above depending on your child’s level to use as spelling and vocabulary words during your study. Use them as writing prompts for journaling, create sentences label the parts of the tree during your nature journaling.
Choose some trees that are in your area and include these as well – Ash, Alder, Maple, Douglas Fir, Birch, Pecan, Lime, Oak…
Fall Science Experiments for Kids
This helpful set is filled with a week’s worth of fun, educational math games, hands-on activities, science experiments, art projects, early readers and writing prompts. Everything you need for fall to add a little holiday fun to your kindergarten or first-grade classroom this year!
This set includes five simple autumn science experiments and challenges. Each thematic activity guides students through a fun, hands-on science exploration with very little prep-work. Students work their way through the scientific method using the step-by-step science journals. Each experiment includes a follow-up activity for added learning.
Each day students will play a fun Thanksgiving themed game or activity then follow up their learning with a lesson sheet to show mastery. Games focus on learning to frame numbers to ten, basic addition, counting to 100, and counting by 10’s.
We include five stunning fall art projects that are perfect for Thanksgiving. Each project comes with a full photo tutorial, printable templates and easy to follow materials list. Students work with oil pastels, paint, textures, blending and more.
This set includes three early readers covering social studies and history. Each story includes a carefully controlled word list and incorporates key vocabulary for extended learning. Students are provided narrative and comparison writing prompts that are not only simple to follow, but would make wonderful educational keepsakes.
T is for Take Home Review Sheets. These sheets can be used as review work in the homeschool classroom or as homework in a standard classroom. Each page features reading, writing, vocabulary, and character thinking points.