No matter how big or small your home is, if you homeschool or your children go to school devoting a little space in your home to a nature table can help your children to appreciate the wider world and the wonders of nature around them. Combined with keeping a nature journal, taking nature walks with your own nature kit and throughout the year doing simple nature activities together, your children will connect with natural history, learn to appreciate the seasons, and discover the awe and wonder of the world around them. Today we're guiding you to set up a simple nature table and get started with a nature journal inspired by the book Nature Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström.
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We love being outdoors, especially when the weather is nice and getting out to investigate science and nature in summer is the perfect time the kids don't even realise that they are learning. We are keen to get out and about and see what we can find in our forests, parks, and in the tide pools at the beach.
To get us started we chose to read Nature Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström for a number of reasons:
- Great illustrations
- Very informative without looking too much like a textbook
- Easy to read and it appealed to all ages
- Youngsters like the illustrations and older kids liked reading the facts
- Each chapter deals with a different country or coastal environment
Inspired by book we set up a nature area in the home and then started a basic nature diary to record our find and adventures throughout the coming months.
We switch out the book on our nature table regularly check out some of the other book we recommend for your nature area.
Collecting for a Nature Table
We collected different items on our nature walk and could not wait to get back home. Setting up a nature table was quite easy. We set up our nature table in on a small table below a window so that natural light could enter. Some of our collection was quite big and was displayed on its own. Smaller items were placed in some clear, plastic containers.
Some of the things we added:
- Some feathers
- Small stones or rocks
We carefully wrote out some labels with some basic details such as where and when we found them. After some long discussions over what could be added to a group, we sorted our finds into different categories.
In spring we have added an observational tank to raise tadpoles in and in early summer a butterfly net to see the life cycle on the nature table as well.
After we had labeled our nature collection we decided to keep a nature diary from all the things we collect during the summer holidays!
Keeping a Nature Diary
We used a notebook for our nature diary and began to take it with us when we went out for walks in the woods and to the park. It was easy to collect small things such as leaves and flowers and secure them in the nature diary.
For larger things, we took photographs and printed them at home. We then stuck them into our nature diary and noted the date and where the photograph had been taken.
It was also a great idea to do nature rubbings of bark and other surfaces. We took a piece of paper and placed it on the rough surface. We then took a crayon or pencil and rubbed it over the surface to reveal the pattern underneath. This was also added to our nature diary.
Finally, we drew drawings and painted pictures in our diary and labeled them with the date and where we had been. This works really well if you are observing insects or animals on your nature walk.
Starting a nature table and diary is easy and lots of great fun. It is also interesting to continue throughout the year and record the changing of the seasons as well. We cannot wait to add some Autumn leaves and some spring flowers too.
Read more from Helen Witty Hoots here