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Nature Study in Home Education

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I have asked Pam Knudson if she would share with us about Outdoor Education. There is information at the bottom of the page about her classes should you wish to take one.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Spending time in nature strengthens mental health, improves focus and concentration, supports creativity and cognitive functioning and is a great way to get some exercise—but you knew that already.  You may already value nature study but what you may not know is how to squeeze another subject and the related planning into your homeschool week.

But what if prioritizing nature study could help support your whole homeschool year in a powerful way? Here are a few easy ways to make outdoor education a simple, refreshing, purposeful addition to your home education and you can start this spring!

Do it Together

  • Don’t just send them out to play; go with them!
  • Tell them it’s okay to get wet, dirty, and messy and that goes for you too!
  • Plan to do things together outside. Build a fort out of large sticks, plant a garden, play a game.

Be Present

  • Teach your kids to listen, look, smell, touch and taste. Model being fully present outside.
  • Be present by getting lost! Lay on your back and watch clouds with your kids.
  • Listen and talk to your child. Often a new environment can make conversations spark.
  • Sometimes just being quiet together outside can help them focus more on nature.

Take A Hike

  • Take a walk or hike with your children. Try a variety of parks or new places. Schedule a hike once a week with your family or as a meet up with friends.
  • You can also go on a programmed park hike. You would be amazed at what you can learn with your kids.
  • Try a unique hike like a color or texture hike or make a list of things you saw or heard.

Bring A Tool

  • Grab your camera or cell phone and take pictures together. Children often can take pictures from a fun or unique perspective.
  • Bring a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe or zoom in with that camera or a magnifying glass. You would be amazed at how different things look close up. It can truly open up a new world for you and your children.
  • Take binoculars along. Looking at birds, small animals or landscapes close up can bring so much to life for you and your children.
  • Grab a field guide or pull one up on your phone. Sometimes having a focus for your time outside can make it really engaging.
  • Book-Grab a great book from the library about any local nature focus. Read it outside and then find it! For example; you could read a book about maple trees then go find maple trees and maybe find a place that does maple sugaring.

Take a Class with Me!

Pamela Knudson ( B.Sc.Ed. & OCVN) Experienced Educator & Certified Naturalist

  • Yea, it is totally a plug for my classes but I promise they are really good and will launch your homeschool nature studies into an exciting, and engaging journey. So let me introduce myself…Hi There, I am Pam.  I am a fellow homeschool parent, and an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist. I taught in the public school system before starting my family and homeschooling my children. I am passionate about nature and education! I teach nature themed classes to children all over the world. You can click on my profile, scroll down and see all the classes I offer.

 

  • Nature Journal BasicsThis is my most popular class.  Nature Journaling is a fantastic way for students observe, and get their thinking on paper. My basics class teaches kids basic tools to help them to better observe and think about nature. It is a class that often has children from all over the world sharing the nature they encounter through their journal. NATURE JOURNAL BASICS 

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  • Nature Journal Club
    • A fun way to connect with other students and embrace nature journaling and make it their own. NATURE JOURNAL CLUB  
  • Art and Nature
  • Nature and art blend beautifully in my short nature art series. Students will learn about an artist and a nature focus of their art. They will learn some nature facts about that focus and make an inspired art project. ART AND NATURE CLASS 
  • Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 11.01.28 AMGreat Deals– If you are new to Outschool I can give you a code to get $20 off of any class. And because you are reading my friend Lisa McAfee’s blog, I can offer you an additional discount! Just let me know when you sign up that you know Lisa and, of course, love her blog!

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Spring Activities for School

I am starting to get the Spring Itch as I see the first signs of the season appearing. My neighbor’s crocuses are blooming and the birds have begun migrating back to their summer homes.  Are you and your children getting itchy too? How about taking advantage of the warmer days to do the following activities. I have written school subjects in parentheses.

Take a nature walk Have your children take a picture on your phone of signs of spring. They can create a photo montage when they return home or draw pictures in a sketchbook. So many subjects can be covered by this simple activity. (Science- researching, labeling plants and animals; Handwriting; Fine Arts, and Physical Education.)

Feed the birds Even if you aren’t interested in feeding the birds throughout the year, a small bag of bird seed will bring the birds and squirrels to your home.  Your budding biologist can see if they can match the male and female species of birds. Cardinals are the easiest to ID since there are obvious differentiations of color. iBird and Merlin are apps that I use to help me identify unfamiliar birds. They are both FREE and are excellent resources. (Science- Your child can draw a picture of their favorite bird to be placed on your refrigerator:), in their room, or in a science notebook. Language Arts- A short report on a specific bird or squirrels can be assigned. Science- Observing and studying wildlife cover this academic area. Fine Arts- sketching, coloring the animals that come to the feeder)

Outdoor Play– As my mom used to say, “Go blow the stink off of you!” Have your children play a game of tag, play Hopscotch, play on the playset, run around the yard, ride bikes, or play jump rope. These activities all help with the physical well-being of your child and will aid them in sleeping. (Physical Education, Health, Safety- bike and playing safely on playsets)

Cloud Watching– Spring has some of the best varieties of clouds. If you have a day where there are puffy, billowy clouds either go outside or watch from a window. What can you learn about clouds? They are a good indication of the weather that is likely to come. You can use a poster like this for reference. (Science- observation, weather)  If you are interested in purchasing, click on the picture.

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You can also go to the Ducksters website to learn about clouds and have your meteorologist take a 10 question quiz after reading the material. (Win! Win! You can print off the quiz and use for documentation for school.)

Here are some nonfiction books for your children to investigate. (All parent approved)

 

If you have yet to be introduced to the Let’s Read and Find Out science series, you are in for a treat! These books are packed with interesting scientific information that is on an elementary level.

Clouds

Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll

What Will the Weather Be?

Down Comes the Rain

Weather Words and What they Mean Gail Gibbons’s books are highly informative and have been a perennial favorite of mine for helping students understand science concepts.

A Drop Around the World is a  book about the water cycle that follows a drop of rain around the world.

 

Ohio’s Great Zoos and Animal Parks

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I am going to be visiting the zoo quite a bit this coming year and, ever the educator, was thinking of all of the opportunities there are when you go with children. I will list the zoos first and then activities you can consider doing while you are there or when you are back home.

Just click the name of the zoo or animal park and it will take you to the link of that particular site.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens– Hurry and plan your trip because zoo admission is half off until this Friday, March 8. The Zoo Babies are a huge hit in the spring (usually begins in April). Fiona the Hippo, another crowd pleaser who was born at the zoo is a now a 1000 pound toddler!

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, set on 22 acres, is not only a place where you can see animals, but you can also take in the Zoombezi Water Park, the Wilds, go to the aquarium and play golf. What a great day of fun!

Toledo Zoo you can see an underwater view of hippos at the Hippoquarium, the only exhibit of its kind in the world. There is an aquarium here at this zoo as well as the Pro Medica Museum of Natural History that will have interactive experiences for visitors.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has the largest collection of primates in the United States. It also has Amur Tigers that are on the endangered species list.  Only 540 of them are known to exist in the wild.

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African Safari Wildlife Park located in Port Clinton, Ohio is a drive-thru park that is open daily. Here you can see guanaco, sika deer, Scottish Highlander cattle, bongo and many other species. If you have little ones or elderly family and friends there is no need to get out of your car to enjoy the interesting and diverse species of animals the park has to offer.

Wagon Trails Animal Park is located in Northeastern Ohio on 60 acres. You get to have a safari experience where you ride in an open-air safari bus to see and feed the animals. It is featured in USA Today as one of the “10 Great Places for a North American Safari.”

The Lagoon Deer Park operates from Memorial Day through the beginning of November. You get to be up close and personal as you stroll through the park, feeding the animals by hand. You can also pet the animals if you like. If you like fishing, bring your poles and bait so you can do enjoy relaxing on the banks of their 4 their shaded lagoons. You can even pitch a tent on Friday and Saturday nights to enjoy night fishing.

So, what kinds of educational things can you do at the zoo? I am glad you asked!

Social Studies 

  • Where is the animal from?
  • Locate that country/ region on a map. Color the country and learn about the habitat of the species. (Here is a map of the world.)

Math

  • How far is the country/ region from where you live?
  • How much does the animal weigh at adulthood? How much is that more than you?

Language Arts

  • What does the term endangered species mean? What does extinct mean? Further investigation- Were any of the animals you saw on the Endangered Species list?
  • Have your son/daughter write a science report about their favorite animal they saw at the park.

Art

  • Sketch or draw and color the animals they liked the best.

Science

  • Study the various classifications of the species. Science- study the meaning of the Latin name. (example- hippopotamus- Greek- hippos- horse potamos- river)
  • What kinds of jobs could you get by working at the zoo?
  • What is the Latin name of your favorite animal you saw.?

 

 

 

 

National Chocolate Day

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Sunday, October 28 is the National Chocolate Day, so why not join the celebration and at the same time make it a learning experience?

Chocolate Sampling

You will need to purchase the following types of chocolate for sampling: unsweetened, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate

Break up into pieces each of the different types of chocolate and put them on individual plates. Have each person close their eyes and sample a piece of each type of chocolate. Have everyone rate them from 5 being their favorite to 1 being the least favorite. Reveal to your participants what each type of chocolates was and tally the points each received. You could create a bar graph for math with each of the chocolates.

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How Chocolate is Made (Science) 

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree.  Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America.  The earliest known documentation of use, of cacao seeds, is around 1100 BC.  The cacao tree seeds have a very intense bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.

Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are then dried, cleaned and roasted.  After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs.  The cacao nibs are then ground into a cocoa mass which is pure chocolate in rough form.   The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. 

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  • Unsweetened baking chocolate –  cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
  • Sweet chocolate –  cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat and sugar.
  • Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk.
  • White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.
  • Dark chocolate- cacao beans, sugar, emulsifying agent

Some good news about dark chocolate if eaten without any milk: it can lower your blood pressure; it has a large number of antioxidants. Now, that is good news!:)

Language Arts How about having your daughter or son create a story about chocolate or reading this book? (Click on the book to go to the link.)

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Geography

Using the chart of the top ten producers of cacao, locate the countries on a map. Have your son/ daughter read the number aloud to reinforce place value. (math)

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Culminating Activity- Make a chocolate dessert. This can be cookies, pie, ice cream, a malt… There are limitless possibilities, aren’t there?

Enjoy!  ~Lisa~

Apples! Activities for Your School Day

Did you know there are 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States? 7,500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world? 100 varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States?* I didn’t either, but that explains why when I go to the store there is another type of apple I haven’t heard of that is available for me to try. Since September will be scurrying away so quickly and apples will soon be past picking, why not take advantage of the varieties that are available and teach an Interest Unit? If you live in Ohio, you can count this for your study of Ohio history. 🙂

Make Applesauce 

Most children love applesauce and it’s such an easy project that your children can help you make it. Start it in your crockpot in the morning and enjoy in the afternoon as a snack.

Materials needed:

8-10 apples- peeled, cored, and cubed

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup brown sugar (If you buy a sweet variety, you don’t even need this!)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional- add to the apples or wait until after it has cooked)

One large crockpot

Place all ingredients in the crockpot and turn on high. Allow apples to cook for 4-5 hours. Depending upon how chunky you want your applesauce to be, you can either take a wooden spoon or potato masher and break up the cooked apples into smaller pieces, or place in a blender and process until you have the desired consistency. Doesn’t this look good?

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As the delicious smell of applesauce fills your house you can do some apple inspired school activities.

Free Apple Math Pack has a variety of preschool activities in a sampler. If you like, you can purchase the entire packet.

Thanks to John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, apple orchards were begun across the midwest and were valuable to families who were traveling west during the westward expansion.

Here are some stories of his life to read. With older students, you can pick out the information that is true and that which is fabricated. Create tall tales about Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny Appleseed

Here are some comprehension questions for the story.

What was Johnny Appleseed’s name?

When did he live?

What was his purpose in growing apple trees?  Do you think this was a good idea? Explain why you think it was or was not a good idea.

Write one detail from your reading that is not true.

Why did people make up details about him that were not true?

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A documentary for children to watch about the life of Johnny Appleseed would be great for children to take notes. The Story of Liberty

Watch the Disney version of Johnny Appleseed

Compare and contrast the two videos. You could use a T-Chart or a Venn Diagram (Boy! it was hard to find a printable of this, but I found one. yay!)

Have a great day!  ~Lisa~

* (urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/facts.cfm)