Friday, January 21, 2011

Christian Worldview Reasons for Nature Study

Kingdom Arrows and Gracie Girl have been given a very unique privilege, our picture is one of the pictures chosen for Photo of the Week at the Handbook of Nature Study Blog, click here and scroll down to see her!  She would LOVE to hear some Comment Love!

Now, I don't usually write 2 serious posts back to back, but I have been wanting to explain our reasoning for Nature Study. Many homeschoolers think it is just a nice little extra or something to just do when your children are younger.  So, I want to present some thoughts about that, and shake your tree a little.  Again, I am not trying to produce guilt or say that you have to do Nature Study, I just want you to think intentionally about including it or not including it.  Sometimes we don't include something just because we don't even think about it as an option. 

So, this week I ran across this verse:
"Solomon spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall.  He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish."  1 Kings 4:33

Wow!  King Solomon took time from running the country and being the wisest man around to do some Nature Study.

Something to think about.

Now as I was talking to the resident theologian about this, he reminded me that the first Adam had a special job, "The Lord God brought every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was his name."  Genesis 2:19  Also, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."  Genesis 2:15  Being that we are the second Adam, we also have a responsibility to have dominion over all these creations.  One way we have dominion is understanding and knowing about the other things God has created.  Even getting them in order in our mind and knowing an American Goldfinch when you see one can be a way of having dominion. 

I also love the memories my children are building about us as a family doing nature-y things.  To me this is similar to scripture or catechism memory.  When my kids are old and grey and they can remember those verses and questions, I think they will also be able to remember the birds, moon, and snow facts that got stuck in their brains when they were little.  Oh, and then the next step- they get to share that with the next generation and teach what having dominion looks like. 

One of the things that hindered me from beginning nature study was how overwhelming it is.... clouds, trees, stars, mammals, mountains, birds, etc.  How would I ever learn anything more than the 5 birds I already knew?  That is where I would recommend this blog, The Handbook of Nature Study.  I did not know about that blog, so I just jumped in last January with a tree book, some pictures of flowers, a bird book, and Identiflyer, some bird feeders in my yard, and reading every one of the Birding 101 posts herehere and here.  I started with birds since they are my favorite.  Remember yesterday's post about following your passion in homeschooling?

 This year we are branching out into trees,  ha! ha!  Did you get it?

Please share any secrets your family used to begin the daunting task of beginning Nature Study!



  1. Heather, I'm just loving your blogging lately. Trials produce perseverance, and I can see the evidence of that work in your writing.

    Thanks for the linky love. I feel honored to be linked to along with Barb.

  2. Ha Ha. Branching Out. Ha ha.
    We have learned so much this year from simple nature observations - the most of which? We've learned we really don't "see" anything, and we don't know anything about them. Yellow Flower, weed by the road, tree with out leaves all have names now. The boys are able to talk about creation, the yearly lifecycle of living things, the total lifecycle of living creatures. The understanding is amazing. LOVE IT!

  3. Nature study has always been one of my passions. My father passed this hobby down to me. From an early age, I introduced my own children to ladybugs, caterpillars, earthworms, and told them the names of violets, roses, and tulip poplars. As I learned about something, I made sure to teach it to them too, and, yes, we have learned a lot together.

    Informally we usually have bird feeders well-stocked and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bird Feeder poster is posted nearby for easy reference. Our feeder is in view of our kitchen table so our winged visitors often become table conversation topics.

    Also any time that I or the children find a caterpillar, we do our best to identify it, find out more about it, and keep it inside to observe sometimes until it changes into a butterfly or moth. God's creation is all around us, and I look for every opportunity to guide my children to it.

  4. Your post warms my heart because it lets me know that what I do really *matters*. I just spent the weekend with my sister out in the woods with our snowshoes and cameras and we had long discussions about how learning about things we see outdoors has changed our adult lives. If it has changed our adult lives, think how it changes the whole direction of a child's thinking.

    It reduces stress, helps them gain confidence, makes them feel like they is so much more than the birds, trees, and flowers we observe.

    Bravo to you for sharing your passion on your blog and believe is something that is contagious. I have seen it happen in so many ordinary families.

    My favorite scripture:
    Romans 1:20 (New Living Translation) "For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."

    We can actually see God's fingerprints by looking at and observing nature. It is the best antidote for evolutionary thinking to actually see the wisdom in His creation.

    Thanks so much for sharing your post and your encouragement to me and others through your words and example.


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