In our neck of the woods, the weather is finally turning more spring-like, so we have been spending quite a bit more time outdoors. This has provided us with several opportunities for impromptu nature study.
This type of nature study is all about taking advantage of the opportunities to study science outdoors as they present themselves.
What does Impromptu Nature Study Look Like?
The other day as we were weeding in one of our flower beds, my daughter ran across a slug. I called my son over and we took the opportunity examine the invertebrate.
We noticed how it pulled its tentacles in and out before it changed directions. We also observed how moist its skin looked and the trail of slime it left behind as it moved across the brick paver we had set it on. We talked about what an invertebrate is and how slugs differ from snails.
My children were fascinated by the reality of the science that was being displayed before them. It was one of those beautiful moments in our homeschool when an ordinary task became a captivating learning experience.
Impromptu nature study looks like a mini-science class on the fly. It is spontaneous and takes advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves.
Why use Impromptu Nature Study?
I love teaching through nature because it awakens the scientific side of the brain in the same way that a good book can awaken the imagination. It helps the students to cultivate their observation skills, to develop in them a hunger to learn more, and to see that science has real life applications.
Impromptu nature study is a more natural and simplistic form of this beneficial tool.
It can be as simple as:
“Hey kids look at this caterpillar I just found on the driveway. You see the way he walks along my hand. What does he feel like to you? Do you want to put him in a jar and go look him up on the internet to find out what kind of caterpillar he is?”
You can also take this a step further by trying to “hatch” the caterpillar into a butterfly or moth. This type of nature study takes advantage of the unplanned learning experiences that cross your path and turns them into a short scientific study.
Impromptu nature study is a great way to enhance what the students are already learning through their formal classes.
Some of our best memories of our studying science have been during our impromptu nature study times. So, I encourage you to take a moment this week to really look at the wonderful world of science that is displayed in nature before you each and every day.
Resources for Nature Study in General
If you want to learn even more about nature study and how it can benefit your students, check out the following articles: