Welcome!  
I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Organizing a Nature Club

How to organize a nature club for kids

I'll pause for a second so that anyone who KNOWS me can stop laughing at the fact that I, city-girl Jamie, am writing about organizing a NATURE CLUB...

I must first make it quite clear...I am NOT the one who has organized this fabulous monthly nature club. But, it's creation was more-than timely for our family as I had decided mid-summer that we would dedicate the 2012-2013 school year to nature studies. Although, I, myself spent a nature-less childhood among the concrete jungles of the inner city, I wanted my small-town kiddos to learn to love and experience God's creation to its fullest. (gulp!)


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After having a very natural start to nature studies, we signed up to join a handful of other homeschool families in our area to form a monthly club dedicated to all-things nature.

alpacas

How our nature club works

Guidelines:

  • Every family that signs up to join the club must host/organize ONE nature-themed activity/outing in the year. The months are not assigned. It is a first-come, first-serve basis. Each member chooses a month and is responsible for hosting an event some time in THAT month. 
  • You DO NOT have to attend each event. 
  • You must RSVP if you will be attending and indicate how many children/adults you will be bringing. 
  • If you are hosting/organizing an event, YOU are responsible to contact the organization or business (if applicable) that we will be touring/visiting. 
  • YOU are also responsible for announcing any special instructions and/or directions to group members.

snake

Advertising and correspondence for the group:

  • For the most part, the group's existence has been announced word-of-mouth and through social media.  
  • Our organizer created a Facebook "group" so that announcements/reminders can be shared regarding upcoming club outings and activities.
  • Club members often post web links to interesting articles and activities related to nature for folks to read/try for their own homeschooling endeavors.

Location for "meetings":

  • The most OBVIOUS choice is, of course, the great outdoors.
  • Members have hosted at their homes but mostly just at their property, not their actual houses.
  • A local church has been kind enough to allow us to host a few indoor meetings.
  • Often libraries, police stations, and other publicly-funded buildings have large meeting rooms that are available for public use. These FREE-to-use spaces are not usually advertised.  So they require a friendly inquiry.

Baby on sled

Club activities 

Fall nature walk

One of the families lives in the country and have a large piece of property. They invited members over to 
  • discuss how to use your 5 senses during a walk in nature
  • walk a few trails on their property and identify trees, mushrooms, animal homes, and wild berries
  • collect fallen leaves for a leaf rubbing at the end of the walk
  • enjoy a light snack (I'm trying to forget that one of my little ones broke a glass plate at this lovely home. Ugh!)

Live Turkey Demo

Just before Thanksgiving, a farming friend of mine brought a live turkey to a neighborhood church and
  • discussed the biology of a turkey
  • provided a turkey craft made from natural items 
  • served a simple turkey-themed snack

winter nature walk

Farm tour with an alpaca "meet and greet"

At a farm that is mostly known for its family-friendly corn maze and pumpkin patch, we
  • took a hay ride
  • visited their alpaca pen to learn about and feed the small herd
  • chased chickens
  • enjoyed a campfire treat together

Live snake and lizard "meet and greet"

One of our members invited a local snake and "critter" breeder to come and bring some of her "friends". My snake lovin' boys were MORE THAN eager to attend this hands-on meeting. The very knowledgable breeder
  • passed around her animals with the help of a few young assistance she had brought with her
  • introduced each animal kind
  • provided helpful facts about each animal's breeding habits, location of natural origin, and its natural predators
  • gave each child a fun parting gift, a discarded snake skin

Winter nature walk

My dear friend, and my "go to" nature expert, the Deputy's wife, welcomed our group out to her woods just last week. She invited us to make a cozy couch in the snow as she read Under the Snow, a sweet picture book recounting all the life that was just below all the white we were lounging on. Then she took us on a fun romp around her many acres to
  • identify animal tracks in the snow
  • enjoy the warm day (Don't be fooled by all the snow suits.  It was quite warm that day...at least it felt that way to all of us after a few weeks of below zero temps.)
  • do some free-range exploring in the woods and bog 
  • PLAY together!

family on a winter nature walk

My turn to host is fast approaching and since my knowledge of nature is limited to what I have read in a book, I've enlisted the help of a friend who works in the fisheries department of the local DNR. We'll be visiting during the hatching season and hope to see some little fingerlings take their first swim. (Were you impressed with my use of "fingerlings?" Don't be...I had to look it up!)

We've really enjoyed our nature club this year. For a mom who doesn't always naturally fit with nature, it has been a way to intentionally venture out. My children have gleaned much from the knowledge and excitement of other moms who, like the Deputy's wife, know much about the wildlife that surrounds us in our little place on the map. And as an added bonus, our club has widened our homeschooling relationships as my children and I have gotten to know many families that we otherwise would not have had the pleasure of meeting.

For more info about nature studies, be sure to visit two of my favorite resources:

Handbook of Nature Study
Ultimate Guide to Nature Study by Our Journey Westward
Nature Study Pinterest Board
Tree Unit Pinterest Board

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