Monday 9 April 2018

March 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 started off cold and we had snow again! It has gradually become warmer towards the end of the month. However, it has also rained a lot which has meant we haven't been able to use as many natural materials in our learning as they have often been too wet to work with. 

Here is what we got up to this month.

Week 1 - Nesting birds

We started off by looking at these two 'Let's read and find out' books about birds. We have quite a few books from this collection now and we really enjoy them. They are easy to read and so educational. After reading the book, 'A nest full of eggs', the children made posters to show all the different kinds of nests birds make, from nests made out of twigs in trees to nests made in the sand or even floating on ponds! I had no idea there were so many different types!

Next we went on our nature walk to see if we could spot any nests. Unfortunately we did not manage to find any nests close up but the bare trees enabled us to see them on the branches.

The children decided to make a giant nest for themselves to sit in!

Finally, we made some nests indoors using playdough and loose parts. We always make our own playdough as it's non-toxic, cheap and fun to do! Here is the recipe we use:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp oil
1 cup boiling water
food colouring

Simply mix all the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients until it forms a dough. Then need for a few minutes, adding food colouring and anything else of your choice such as glitter or essential oils.

I always like to include my toddler in our learning activities so I thought this would be a good activity for him. I used this sectioned dish with the playdough in the centre and loose parts around the edge. 

The children enjoyed creating these nests and doing some role play with them as well.

Week 2 - Spring pond study

We usually go to the pond at springtime to see the tadpoles. Going slightly earlier in the year than usual meant we got to see the frog spawn.

As we got close to the pond we spotted some frog spawn on the bank that hadn't quite made it to the pond. I had never seen the frog spawn in this state before and it was interesting to observe.

Then we found some frog spawn in the pond. There was a lot of it but unfortunately some had been damaged by the freezing temperatures at the beginning of the month and turned a cloudy colour.

The children enjoyed a walk in the stream before we went home.

We had studied frogs in detail during our winter pond study after discovering a frog at the pond. This week we learnt about the life cycle of a frog using the above book and some printables.

I got these worksheets from Twinkl and the children filled them out.

Week 3 - Vernal equinox

We started off the week by reading the book 'A new beginning' by Wendy Pfeffer. In this book, we learnt about the different spring festivals celebrated by different cultures. We also looked at the book 'The reason for seasons' by Gail Gibbons.

I did not grow up celebrating the vernal equinox but my husband did. He is Kurdish and the Kurds have a festival called Newroz which celebrates the start of spring. I have never been to Turkey during this time but he tells me they would make bonfires to dance around and sing songs and play music. The above video clip is from this years celebrations.

To celebrate the start of spring, the children made small world spring scenes. To do this we got some small boxes and opened one side. Then the children decorated the inside of the boxes with crepe paper, foil, feathers and other bits and pieces. Finally, they put some little chicks and lambs in them. My eldest has enjoyed her little spring box so much she has been carrying it around with her everywhere we go! I think I will let her create more small world scenes when I find some more small boxes. 

Week 4 - Garden snails

We were all really looking forward to snail week. My eldest son is slightly obsessed with snails and often goes round the garden collecting them!

We started off the week by taking a look at the picture study, a piece of art by Henri Matisse. The children had never seen a piece of fauvism art before and to be honest they were not too impressed. However, I really like the way ENWC includes a selection of both modern and classical art to study as it really broadens your mind and opens up discussions with your children.

The children had a go at creating the snail art themselves. It was my eight year old daughter's idea to use squares of tissue paper to recreate the artwork in the style of Matisse. Here is her version of it.

This is the artwork by R, almost 6 years old.


Next, it was time to learn about snails. We enjoyed reading the above book.

Then the children completed some worksheets I had found online here and here.

Finally the really exciting bit; going to find snails. I got this 'Snail world kit' for the children to keep some snails to observe. It also came with a useful booklet which explained how to look after snails as well as giving some interesting information about snails.

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 April. 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 March?        


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