Monday, 4 December 2017

November Nature Studies

If you have read about our homeschool curriculum or follow my instagram account, you will know we are following a nature curriculum this year called 'Exploring Nature With Children'. It is a wonderful curriculum that covers different topics each week of the year. For each week, there are activities to do, recommended reading, poetry and a piece of art to study. The curriculum incorporates science, English, art and nature studies so it is really varied. You can check out the curriculum here.

This month we started to get back into the swing of things and were able to get out and about more now Asiya is getting a little older. We spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the autumn weather before it gets too cold.

Here is what we got up to this month.

Week 1 - Fungi

The first week of the month was fungi week so, after looking at some books on mushrooms, we went on a nature walk to find some.

As soon as we arrived at our nature spot it started to rain but luckily our spot had some shelter. We also had some hot chocolate to warm us up!

The children managed to find lots of different fungi and we tried to identify them using the Collins Mushroom and Toadstool guide. I was surprised at all the different varieties the children found and even more surprised to find some purple fungi!

The children learnt about the parts of a fungus using this printable. 

We also did some fungi arts and crafts during the week. D decided to make a toadstool out of clay which she painted red and white. The children also did chalk pastel drawings of some of their favourite fungi.

Finally, we made some spore prints. We removed the stalks from some mushrooms and placed the caps face down on some white and black paper. Then we covered the caps with some bowls and left them overnight. In the morning we lifted the caps to reveal the spore prints. We found the prints showed up better on the white paper. The children were fascinated by how the mushrooms had left prints on the paper.

Week 2 - Moss

Week two was moss week so we went on a nature walk to discover some moss. We managed to find lots of moss growing on trees and some on the pavement too.

We learnt about how animals use moss to make beds for themselves and the children wrote short stories about this.

Finally, the children made some terrariums. Terrariums are normally glass containers that contain soil and plants. We used some plastic containers and the children went into the garden to collect things to put into them. The aim was to collect moss but they could not find much moss so used grass and leaves as well. Once they had added the plants and stones, they then turned their terrariums into small world scenes by adding some figures. D added fairies and R added dinosaurs. 

Week 3 - Lichen

Lichen was something I did not know much about so it was really interesting to study it during the third week of November. I could not find many activities for the children to do this week as I felt they were a bit too young to understand much about lichen. However, we thoroughly enjoyed looking at lichen through our brilliant pocket microscope. This microscope is amazing. Its easy to take out and about and magnifies the specimen clearly. I managed to take a picture of the lichen through the microscope which you can see above.

We also had fun learning about how lichen can be used as a dye. We watched this video about how to do it and are now on the look out for enough lichen to try this technique ourselves.

Week 4 - Weather

The final week of November was weather week and this was a lot of fun. We read books, did science experiments and made crafts. We also made a rain catcher, which you can see above, to monitor how much rain fell during the week. Surprisingly it was a very dry week and only rained slightly on the Saturday!

We used these books to learn about the weather. The children loved the 'Magic School Bus' book which talked about rain and wind as well as hurricanes. We found some experiments inside this book which the children tried out. Firstly, the children found out that hot air rises. They tested this by cutting spirals out of paper and attaching thread to the top. They held these over a light bulb and watched them rise and turn round. They experimented with different lengths and thicknesses of paper spirals to see which would rise the most and turn the fastest. 

Next, we found an experiment to test how gas expands in heat. We put a balloon over the opening of a bottle. Then we placed the bottle in a bowl and added hot water. As the air inside the bottle heated up, it expanded and pushed air into the balloon which made it blow up slightly.

The children enjoyed keeping a weather diary this week. They wrote in it every day to keep track of the weather.

Finally, we ended the week by doing some arts and crafts. We made streamers and wind socks. To make a streamer, find a stick and stick some strips of crepe paper to it. 

To make the wind socks, we cut the top and bottom off a bottle. We then used a black bag for the main part of the wind socks. Lastly, we cut shapes out of different coloured plastic bags to decorate the wind socks. We attached string to the wind socks and hung them from branches in the garden.


We have had a lot of fun with nature studies this month and have enjoyed spending more time outdoors. I am really looking forward to the topics we will be covering in December. To take a look at the curriculum you can use the links below.

Have you been following this curriculum? What activities did you do during November?                                                

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