The Art of Nature Study
with Tricia Hodges
Woman holding "Handbook of Nature Study"
brought to you by:
homeschool nature study logo
you are an artist video art lessons logo
Let Nature Be the Teacher
I ntroducing our newest column, The Art of Nature Study! Each issue will feature an article by Tricia Hodges about either art or nature study. These two subjects really do go hand-in-hand. Learning doesn’t fit into neat little boxes, so combining them is a wonderful way to show your children how connected everything really is!

With both art and nature study, children develop observational skills and eyes to see the beauty around them. Drawing, painting, and chalk pastels give kids a creative way to fill their nature journals with flowers, trees, birds, and more.

Tricia begins with the most “natural” place to start by answering the question, “How can I build a habit of nature study in our homeschool?”

“Enjoy your time outdoors together and don’t spend your time lecturing or even talking very much at all.”
Building a Habit of Nature Study
If you have wanted to start a meaningful study of nature but get overwhelmed with all the programs and methods, there’s a simple answer:
Have fun and make memories together.
The key is to study one thing at a time and slowly build the habit of being outside through some interesting topics and relaxed adventures.
“Adults should realize that the most valuable thing children can learn is what they discover themselves about the world they live in. Once they experience first-hand the wonder of nature, they will want to make nature observation a life-long habit.”
– Charlotte Mason
Home Education in Modern English
volume 1, page 61
This has worked for many families over the years: Study just…

  • One Tree
  • One Bird
  • One Flower
  • One Insect
  • One Mammal

during the homeschool school year. You can choose three of these to start with or do all five; it’s up to you!

Slowly, gradually, gently… it works! This way of structuring a bare-bones nature study keeps the pressure off as you begin to pursue regular nature study. Working through the study of one subject at a time builds confidence and knowledge in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

Polaroid of caterpillar on leaf labelled Malacosoma Neustria
This method is sustainable over the years. In my family, I have seen the study of nature closest to us build a love of things that seem common, but on closer inspection, are rather remarkable. Dandelions and oak trees spring to mind as examples of studies we did and gained a new appreciation for their design and beauty.

You can apply this idea to any areas of nature study that you wish. You can try a reptile or a fungus or a constellation. The beauty of easing into nature study with your children is that you can follow their interests.

“She who opens her eyes and her heart nature-ward even once a week finds nature study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy… She finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going on a far voyage, she has found health and strength.”
— Handbook Of Nature Study. Pg. 3
Enjoy your time outdoors together and don’t spend your time lecturing or even talking very much at all.
You’re building a lifelong habit of enjoying nature, so make that your priority during your time together. If we make learning the priority, sometimes the enjoyment is missed. Learning will happen along the way when you let nature be the teacher.
The Monthly Toolkit
Tricia Hodges headshot

ricia Hodges and her family fell in love with the Handbook of Nature Study and the accompanying Outdoor Hour Challenges early in their homeschooling. The simplicity and ease of the weekly outdoor hour challenges brought joy to their homeschool and opened their eyes to the world right out their own back door! She shares the art and heart of homeschooling at You ARE an ARTiST and Your Best Homeschool plus her favorite curricula at The Curriculum Choice.