I have to say that preschool nature study is one of the things I look forward to the most when looking toward the warmer months ahead. In Minnesota, the winter is long, but the spring, summer and fall are gorgeous. The amazing colors and animals we see around us make up for the months spent largely indoors. Since I worked full time and went to college full time when Kira was a preschooler, we didn’t have a lot of time for focused nature study (though we did a lot of casual nature walks). That means I still need help figuring out how to go about nature study with kids! Through my endless searching online and starting my home nature study library, here are my recommendations for books to get started.
1. Handbook of Nature Study – When you are starting your search for nature study resources, Handbook of Nature Study is referenced time and time again. There’s even a blog named after the book with some amazing resources, using the book as a guide, though the site is more aimed toward elementary children rather than preschoolers. Handbook of Nature study is more for you as the parent to use to frame your thoughts around how to talk about what you see on your nature walks, and for you to learn alongside your child. This is a core book if you really want to make nature study a focus in your preschool
2. Toddler and Preschool Nature Study – This was the core of our nature study last year as we were just getting started. The set consists of three main parts: an introduction with ideas and thoughts on toddler and preschool nature study, eye spy cards, and nature booklets. The nature booklets are easy to use printables to learn basics about some of the most common creatures you find on nature walks. The eye spy cards introduce kids to paying attention to what they see, and looking up their observations, giving way to more detailed field guides, like this:
3. Fun with Nature: Take Along Guide – I just received this from Amazon, and I’m excited to get started with it this spring, in sha Allah! I’d been on the hunt for a field guide geared toward preschool age, and it’s not very easy to find. This one is a great introduction to field guides with how it is organized into categories, and then includes a number of different species. Plus, there are fun activities to do in each section like making a bird feeder, or growing an evergreen tree!
4. Caterpillars and Butterflies – There are a ton of resources to supplement this common at-home nature observation. Last year we bought a butterfly garden kit so we could observe the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies. We plan on getting the caterpillars this year to start this project, and I love this book from Usborne that details all the steps along the process. Aamina has already started “reading” the book herself, and loves all the real pictures.
5. Big Book of Bugs – In our suburban backyard we don’t have a ton of wild animals coming through, but you can always find a wide array of bugs! Whether it’s different kinds of ants, the beetles that eat my rose bushes, mosquitos, butterflies, bees, or anything, this is a fun book for kids to explore lots of different types of bugs around the world with huge fold-out pages. This book introduces lots of creatures sparks curiosity in preschoolers, growing their hunger to learn more!
Is nature study part of your homeschool? What books helped you along the way?
Image courtesy of Henkster