Thursday, December 01, 2011

List: Indoor Nature Study

I am not really a nature person.  Even when the weather is tolerable, I'd rather stay inside and improve my mind or my indoor environment than go on a trek down the hike-and-bike trail.  As a result, I have collected many ways to avoid going outside while still studying something from nature.  Since my kids are 17, 14 and 11, I am more oriented toward those ages, so some ideas are more suitable for older kids:

  • Observe the flowerbed, grass, tree, etc., out your window at intervals over the period of a year.  How does it change?
  • Grow a potato, avocado or carrot plant.  You can plant it outside in the flowerbed when it gets too big for the house.
  • Study rocks and minerals using pictures from a book or online and/or a collection of purchased rocks.
  • Purchase a flower (or a bouquet of flowers) from the store.  Note its features, sketch it, label the sketch, search online for poetry about that particular kind of flower.
  • Grow flowers from bulbs.  Sketch at intervals.
  • (Did you know that simply looking at something from nature, whether in real life or in a picture, actually reduces stress?)
  • Catalog and label photos from previous nature walks.
  • We live in Texas, and winter is a prime time for bird watching.  Leaves are off trees, and we live enough south that we still have a variety of birds.
  • When leaves are gone, it is also easier to pay close attention to tree bark.
  • Keep a record of the weather over a period of weeks, or note the weather once per week for a year.  What are the changes?  WHY are the changes?  Study the tilt of the earth-- its relationship to the sun at different times in the year.
  • Grow lettuce indoors.  It grows fast, and then you can eat it.
  • Catalog nature finds collected on previous nature walks.  We have leaves, rocks, cones/burrs/seed pods, dry flowers, dead insects, etc.  How are they the same?  How are they different?
  • Buy several different fruits and see what is inside.  Sketch.
  • Read books about animals you might never see in real life except at the zoo (ie., polar bears, elephants, emus, monkeys).  Note characteristics you didn't know about before.
  • Look at a map of your area.  Pay close attention to the waterways.  Do you have a lake or river nearby?  Where does it come from?  Where does it go?  Is it part of a larger system?
  • What is the soil like in your area?  Take samples from different places, mix thoroughly with water, and let each sit until clay, sand and silt separate.  Note the different combinations in each sample.
  • Choose a favorite piece of clothing.  What is it made from?  Where did the cotton, etc., come from, I wonder?  If the material is man-made, what natural things were combined to make the new material?
  • Make a terrarium from an oversized pickle jar.  Find instructions online.  Add plants and a bit of water, close up the jar, and watch the water cycle work.
Most of these ideas came from other people, books or our yearly foray into the science fair.  I will add to this list as I think of other things.

1 comment:

Kim Wilson said...

Hi Katie-
I'm trying to find your email, because after seeing your article in HomeSchool Enrichement I wanted to send you a copy of my new ebook- Good and Easy Eats. It's a wholesome collection of everyday favorites- especially helpful for anyone dealing with food sensitivities. Email me at and I'll send you a copy right away!