January 30, 2012

Thinking Ahead About Nature Study

This next year (2012-2013) we plan to study about birds and insects.  So I have been looking around to see what is available out there online that I can use that will inform us about these two topics. I want to use living book in a narrative form that will inspire observation and nature study. And I want to implement a nature journal. As I was out looking for resources, I was so impressed by the variety and volume of FREE resources of all kinds on the web, I thought you might be interested to know about some of the ones which ended up in my files for further investigation. I also made a few things of my own to enhance the Insect Folk e-book by Margaret Morely. So without further ado, take a look at these amazing resources for birds and insects:


The Handbook of Nature Study Part Two: Birds and Fish
Burgess Bird Book by Thornton T. Burgess Kindle or PDF or in AUDIO
The Burgess Bird book coompanion
Montessorri Cards of the birds in the Burgess Bird book
Birds of the Air by Arabella B. Buckley ONLINE or AUDIO
Bird Coloring Book by Cornell Labs
How to Draw Birds by Raymond Sheppard
A Year with Birds by Alice E. Ball
Birds Every Child Should Know by Neltj Blanchan
Every Day Birds by Bradford Torry
The First Book of Birds
How to Attract Birds
Travel of Birds by Frank M. Chapman
The Bird Study Book KINDLE, HTML or PDF or AUDIO
Stories of Birds by Lenore Elizabeth Mulets
Citizen Bird by Mabel Osgood Wright
The Curious Book of Birds by Abbie Brown
The Boy who Knew what Birds Say by Padriac Colum
The Nest in the Honeys and other stories
The Tale of Solomn Owl by Aurhter Scott Bailey
The Tale of Jolly Robin by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Turkey Proudfoot by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Rusty Wren by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Old Mr. Crow by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Bobby-bo-bo-link by Arthur Scott Bailey
Online Bird Guide by Cronell Labs
Bird Sleuth 4 homeschools
Outdoor Hour Challenges birds


The Handbook of Nature Study: Part Four insects and invertebrates
Insect Folk by Margaret Morely KINDLE, HTML or AUDIO
Insect Folk vol. 2: Butterflies and Bees by Margaret Morley
Insect Folk PDF ($1.50)
Insect Folk Copywork (50 cents)
Insect Folk Notebooking Pages (50 cents)
Insect Folk Montesorri Cards (50 cents)
The Bee People by Margaret Morley
Grasshopper Land by Margaret Morley
The American Boys Bug Book
The First Book of Bugs
Life of the Spider by Jean Henri Fabre or AUDIO
Little Busy Bodies By Jennette Marks
Insect Life by Arabella Buckley ONLINE
Among the Meadow People By Clara Dillingham Peirson
Among the Pond People By Clara Dillingham Peirson
The Tale of Chirpy the Cricket by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Daddy-Long-Legs by Arthur Scott Bailey or AUDIO
The Tale of Kiddie Katydid by Arthur Scott Bailey
The Tale of Misses Lady Bug by Arthur Scott Bailey
Notebooking pages for bees,butterflies, and wasps
Outdoor Hour Challenges on Insects

Next year will be the first year that we will be implementing nature journals and a more CM approach to science in our lessons. I read this post about keeping nature study living and it got me to thinking, what things make a nature study living? Carol smith writes:

"Education, including Nature Study, as Mason told the young lady whom she interviewed to attend her college, is about living. I have thought about it and I have asked myself the question, “Are these (mentioned above) ways of teaching Nature Study more about “doing” Nature Study weekly or are they about “living” Nature Study. We are to develop the habit of living fully and part of that living is relating to nature and knowing the places where we live, not just doing activities, even Mason inspired ones!"
From the article I found at least four things to implement to keep the nature study living (maybe there will be more later)
  1. The nature journal will be theirs. Their take on nature and their expression of their observations. So what if there are not to many things they have done to show they are learning. Let them learn without having to produce something to prove it.
  2. We will be outside instead of inside. We will be looking at real things instead of only reading about them in books alone.
  3. The books I am choosing will be living books.
  4. Have tools availble to the boys so making an entry into the journal isn't a chore. This would include, finding rhythms of working that are adaptable to our discovery habits.
I have been giving my boys many hours of outdoor time a day since we began schooling a few years ago. We also routinely take nature hikes. I have been materly inactive in this area allowing them freedom to make a connection with the natural world around them. But this next year we will do it with more of  a purpose. To develope skills of observation, attention to detail, drawing skills, writing skills, learning the scientific method and much more. The trick is to assign the work so that it is theirs and at the same time the must of the CM methods is accomplished. I think I'll be needing to learn that balance more next year. I can't wait!


  1. We have sharpened our focus on birds and bugs too in the past few years. I never realized how interesting bugs are.

  2. Wow. Thanks for all the links to free sources about birds and bugs. I have saved it for my future use.

  3. We studied birds and bugs with Jeannie Fulbright's Flying Creatures book. While you may not be interested in going that route, and I DO think you've found a ton of great resources, and for FREE (!), I'd suggest buying field guides for your area of birds and insects. You'll find you turn to these again and again, and buying them will be SO worth it to always have the books at your finger tips. My boys love ours and often pull it out to check on a new-to-them bird they've spotted.

    Joy in Nepal

  4. Hi Joy, though I have a bunch of purchased resources I am a freebie nut. So in this post I left out the resources I did buy because I wanted to highlight the free ones. So I do have the Flying Creatures book, and DK's definitive visual guide called bird. It is way huge to carry but we will and have had great fun looking birds in it thus far. We have a smaller filed guide for birds for our neck of the woods to take along when we go out. And you are right, I need to get a field guide for insects. I have one only for moths and butterflies. My mom bought the boys the insect backpack from Home Sciecne tools and I am personally thrilled about the insect killing jar and the little display box/case we get to use display some of the more cool insects we find. I have always wanted to do that!
    I bet you find some very interesting nature in Nepal! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wonderful list of resources you have here. Yes, there is so very much available online and free! Though we haven't done as much nature study this year as I'd like, I do love it and hope to get back to doing it more regularly.