Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when it came to nature study. Somehow in our modern life we have forgotten the simple pleasures of outdoor time. For this challenge, just go for a walk. Don't worry about taking any tools or supplies with you. Enjoy the outdoors and your children and then spend some time talking about your experiences together.
I am doing my preparatory reading, and decided to "highlight" pages 1-8 of the Handbook by quoting things I find helpful into this post.
"...The object of the nature-study teacher should be to cultivate in the children powers of accurate observation and to build up within them understanding."
What nature study should do for the child:
1. Give practical and helpful knowledge
2. Cultivate imagination
3. Cultivate a perception and regard for what is true (and the power to express it)
4. Cultivate a love for the beautiful
5. Personal knowledge that nature's laws are not to be evaded
6. Give an abiding love of and sense of companionship with the outdoors*
*"Let this latter be the teacher's criterion for judging his or her work."
What nature study should give the teacher:
1. Companionship with her children
2. Health and strength
"...The teacher, in confessing her ignorance and at the same time her interest in a subject, establishes between herself and her pupils a sense of companionship which relieves the strain of discipline, and gives her a new and intimate relation with her pupils which will surely prove a potent element in her success."
"In nature study, the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil... Nature study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect or plant that is nearest at hand."
"Curiosity may elicit facts, but only real interest may mold these facts into wisdom."
curiosity: a desire to know and learn
interest: a state of curiosity or concern about or attention to something
(Not much difference there, but I guess she means idle curiosity vs. genuine interest.)
1. Should be "short and sharp and may vary from ten minutes to a half hour in length.
2. Some believe it should be given regularly, while others find the most value in waiting until "the period of the school day when the pupils are weary and restless, and the teacher's nerves strained to the snapping point."
(Nature study is not my favorite, I'll be honest. If I wait until my nerves are at a snapping point, I am liable to be a grumpy nature teacher. I'll stick with the regularly scheduled lesson.)