Nature Study is one of those things in our homeschools that sometimes we’re afraid to try or we’re not sure how to begin or maybe we don’t even see the value of a nature study commitment, especially in the high school years. The truth is Nature Study goes beyond just the curriculum you follow. It has powerful potential to raise awareness of our natural world, to practice stewardship of our natural spaces, and there is plenty of science and practical arts to learn. How to Teach Literature Based Nature Study in Your Homeschool is all about how to incorporate nature study into your homeschool using Seasons Afield by Beautiful Feet Books.
Disclosure: I was given a Seasons Afield set and I was compensated for my time in writing this post. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Confession: Seasons Afield: A Literature Approach to Natural Science for Primary Grades targets early elementary school, but I assert that you can adapt this program for your family, including high schoolers.
So, bear with me and read on to get a sense of how this exquisite natural science curriculum will add peace to your homeschool days and offer opportunities to dive deep into the natural world as the seasons change.
Also a PSA: If you are venturing out into the wilds, including your backyard, please be sure to protect you and your kids from ticks. Lyme Disease is no joke. It was a life changing disease for three of us and whenever I post about heading outdoors, I include this reminder.
What Comes with Seasons Afield?
The materials are gorgeous.
You will swoon.
- A Fat Stack of Picture Books– related to the seasons and nature
- Picture Reference Books– that you can use with the lessons
- The Teacher Guide– which is swoon worthy all on its own
- Field Notes & a Notebook– to take into the field with you and record your observations, including the ones that the assignment asks for.
- Watercolor Art Book– with watercolor paper pages and exercises to teach watercolor techniques along with the field notes include the drawings for you to try out the techniques (so you don’t have to paint in the book).
The Teacher’s Guide follows the seasons, beginning with fall, and inserts all the goodness of each season through labs, art projects, stories, and poems.
Benefits of Using Seasons Afield for Nature Study
When nature study sometimes makes it easy to just jump right in, why bother with a curriculum?
Seasons Afield by Beautiful Feet Books is a rare gem.
I can’t tell you how many times I said out loud just think of all the amazing adventures we could have had with such a trove of seasonal, natural science resources!
- Encourages enjoyment of each season as it comes– which goes a long way come long northern winters for any age (including parents!)
- Allows you to become familiar with the world around you– no matter how old you are
- Offers carefully chosen resources and activities– that aren’t too difficult, so they are easily accessible
- Provides art and art appreciation, natural science, and literature– not just nature study
- Introduces your family to the idea of nature keeping– and being attentive to your journaling
- Shares beautiful resources– that are a delight to use and learn from
- Slows your homeschooling down– so you can enjoy your family from moment to moment, in a relaxing pursuit that demands attention to detail for the best experience
Since my children were small, I’ve always said the best homeschooling happens when we allow ourselves to slow down and go deeper into our courses instead of rushing around, which for many homeschoolers, keeps us stuck in the 3Rs or the most basic learning. Seasons Afield is a deliberate way to practice slowness in your homeschool.
Why a Curriculum Meant for Primary Grades Can be Enriching for High Schoolers
How can a program written with young elementary schoolers be valuable to high schoolers?
Aside from its beguiling properties, Seasons Afield brings thorough concepts that encourage more exploration.
That is, if you are truly practicing curiosity!
Here are few ideas to get you thinking:
- Explore as an environmental science course– with ecology and address any gaps in detail with additional materials
- Use as an elective– when your whole family is participating in the activities
- Add these materials easily for grade appropriate assignments– and connect them to chemistry, biology, and home economics.
- Choose as a perfect overview of ecology– for your non- STEM students
- Enjoy this curriculum as an out of the box resource– for your out of the box teens
Nature Activities for High School Electives
One of the activities in Seasons Afield is to use spices to do some fabric dying.
I love dying fabric. When our Cornell graduate was in high school, we did a ton of fabric dying.
If you’ve never taken the opportunity, I encourage you do try it.
The instructions in Seasons Afield guide make it easy and what’s more, the ingredients for dyeing are in your spice cabinet.
My 17yo helped me get the jars ready for our dying experiment.
Then I decided to put some rubber bands on our fabric to try and do some tie dying on a few of the dyes.
Plus, we tried dyeing with other plant based items like avocados, coffee, mustard powder, paprika (also in the manual), and several kids of tea.
The result were lovely and these beauties will find their way into handmade journals.
Each of the activities and labs have a field note which are cards that have a place to glue or record your findings.
From there, you can glue the field note into your log book which also comes with Seasons Afield.
For teens with ADHD or any other neurodivergence or learning differences, the field notes and log book are an easy way to remove the barriers of organizing information.
Studying Seasonal Nature with Seasons Afield
The curriculum centers around The Complete Brambly Hedge which follows a community of mice through the seasons of their year.
Anyone accustomed to teaching with literature will recognize how the story anchors the nature studies.
For example, in The Autumn Story, students will review senescence when the other pigments in leaves are revealed once the chlorophyll begins to fade.
To enjoy the study of plant cells and chloroplasts high school style, check out Microscopic Marvels: Explorations in Historical & Modern Microscopy. In this course there is a whole lesson on observing chloroplasts in a plant cell.
More Nature Study Resources to Pair with Seasons Afield
How to Find and Collect Animal Tracks– how to find and cast tracks along with track identification
Entomology: The Science of Insects– how to collect and pin an insect collection
Nature Journal Calendar– this pairs excellently with Seasons Afield and will provide another place to record seasonal observations
Art & Nature with Beatrix Potter– a study of Ms. Potter and her naturalist accomplishments and her art
How to Capture Snowflakes under a Microscope
I’m a snowflake hunter.
Just like Wilson Bentley.
Seasons Afield includes a study of the book, Snowflake Bentley and exercises to go with the snow in the winter.
If you want to learn how you can capture your own snowflakes to view under a microscope, this post is for you!
More Literature Study from Beautiful Feet Books
How to Teach Science & History with Beautiful Feet Books– this is one of our all time favorite curricula which teaches science through history using some phenomenal books.
Modern World History through Literature for High School– another fat stack of books for high schoolers to learn about modern world history. Our history loving kid loved this when he was in high school.
How to Teach Geography through Literature– my youngest and I went through this geography program a few years ago by reading books and doing the maps.
You can’t go wrong with any Beautiful Feet program. We’ve scratched the surface using several, but there are so many more to enjoy!
Homeschooling High School by Design Membership
Learn more about what makes a high school level work and how much is enough or too much. In Homeschooling High School by Design Membership, you’ll have access to a membership library of courses on this topic and more. Explore specific ways to use Season Afield with high schoolers. Click to find out more!