Summertime is a great time to send your kids outside to learn more about God’s creation.
Charlotte Mason has made nature study a popular thing, and I agree. (My only disagreement is that we Bible believers should call them “Creation Walks” rather than “Nature Walks,” since we want to use every opportunity to remind our children that YHWH created the world.)
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, NIV).
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, NIV).
Here are three suggestions of ways to help your children spend more time in God’s creation this summer. This easiest suggestion is first.
1. Go on a scavenger hunt.
A great introduction to the wildlife in your area is to go on a scavenger hunt. Send your kids out to find the following items, and see who can find all these items first.
Things to Find:
Driftwood (small piece)
Insect or bug
Items categorized by color or texture
Leaves (of trees native to the area)
Piece of litter left behind by someone else
Tree bark from fallen branch
You might send a camera with them and have them record a picture of each item they find.
Other items they might need include:
- Paper to draw with and colored pencils
- Sunscreen, hats, appropriate shoes, long sleeves and pants
- Canteen or other drinking water
- Field Guides
- Small containers
2. Choose a theme to study.
Choose a topic to spend more time extensively studying. Here are some ideas:
- Plants -Learn to identify the plants in your area, or make a list of edible plants and herbs. What dangerous plants are nearby? Can you identify common trees? A fun idea is to collect samples of leaves. At home, place each leaf between two sheets of waxed paper with a little border around the leaf. Place a thin dish towel over the waxed paper. With iron on medium heat, evenly iron over towel. Trim it to fit into a plastic sheet protector, and insert into your Science Notebook. Be sure to label the leaf.
- Insects – Identify a variety of insects and even collect live creatures by taking medicine bottles or other small containers with you. Take them home and make them an environment that is similar to their own. Research how to feed them. If you don’t care for handling bugs, take a magnifying glass with you to observe them in the wild. See the following websites and apps for help in identifying insects:
- Audubon Insects and Spiders mobile app (android)
- Rocks and Minerals – Take along tools for digging, containers for collections, and gloves to protect hands while digging. Learn what various rocks and minerals can be used for. See if you can visit a local quarry for a field trip.
- Birds – Identify local birds and take pictures of them with a camera. Record their songs with a voice recorder. Learn about their diets, their nests, their mating patterns, and their natural enemies.
- Microbiology – Take along slides for a microscope, and study the water in nearby puddles, ponds, creeks, rivers, and lakes. What tiny life can you observe? How are microorganisms affected by environmental pollution?
- Animals – Learn about animals living in the local habitat. Notice footprints, droppings, and homes. What cautions should you take to avoid scaring local animals or being attacked by them?
- Maps – Make maps of the terrain. Geocaching is a fun way to also explore the local terrain.
3. Make a keepsake collection.
Kids love to make collections. When I was a little girl, I even made my own “museum” in the dining room, and then I annoyed all family and friends by asking them to tour my museum, charging admission of course. 🙂
Once your children come indoors (and especially on rainy days), they can make their own guide, booklet, or collection from their discoveries. Help them to do extra research to explain what they’ve learned. You could even end the summer with a special party where your children can teach others about their topic.
Some helpful websites are:
Have your children also remember to research their topic in the Bible by using a concordance. Get the Creator’s perspective!