Saturday, February 23, 2013

Monthly Nature Notebook - and Our New Tree Study

We are so happy to be getting back into a homeschooling groove again after the past couple of months of transition. It just feels good to be doing something that feels “normal” to us, if you know what I mean.
One thing that we really love about living in Africa so far is the immense number of possibilities for nature study here. So many new and interesting things to discover. That’s one of my goals for nature study for the coming year – to familiarize ourselves with the flora and fauna to be found in our area. As a tie in to “science”, I also want to guide the children towards discovery of the characteristics that distinguish plants from animals.
One new thing for us this year is our monthly nature journal. I’ve seen on many blogs the idea of keeping a “book of firsts” or a seasonal nature journal of sorts. I’ve always sort of thought that we couldn’t do this because we live in the tropics and don’t have 4 distinct seasons per se. (That and we’ve moved 4 times in the last 4 years, which makes keeping an ongoing record and seeking to notice patterns over time a bit difficult.) But I was inspired by Amy over at Fisher Academy that there are variations to be had even in the tropics and decided to go for it.
Our monthly nature journal is a binder with a tab for each month of the year. Behind each divider there are three pages right now: a weather chart, a ‘monthly nature journal’ chart, and a notebook page to record our tree study for the month.  The weather chart is pretty straightforward. The ‘monthly nature journal’ is a way to make brief observations of things we noticed about plants, flowers, weather patterns or whatever more frequently than we do a full nature study and journaling event, with an eye towards eventually getting an idea for what is typical in our area in various times of the year. (Inspired by this Monthly Nature Journal ).  And since we had such good success with our tree study last year, we decided to do a new tree study this year. 
We selected the mango tree in our front yard. It may not turn colors and drop leaves in autumn, but it will be interesting to note the stages and cycle of fruit production over the course of a year. And it’s a little hard to miss, so follow up should be easy.
James has decided that he wants to keep a nature journal this year too. Here is his first entry. Not too shabby for a little guy, is it? =)
Looking forward to sharing our new discoveries as we make them!

PS - Our seasonal tree studies have been inspired by The Year Long Tree Study challenge over at The Handbook of Nature Study.  Be sure to check out this blog for lots of wonderful nature study inspiration!  





  1. I am going to enjoy your nature entries from very different and interesting. :)

    I don't think a seasonal tree needs to be deciduous or colorful in order to be a great experience. I think you are very smart to pick your mango tree since you will be seeing it everyday and watching for the subtle changes. Perhaps there will be different birds or animals that come to visit from time to time. Or maybe it will be interesting to watch the development of the fruits. Only time will tell.

    Thanks so much for taking part in the OHC Carnival.

  2. yay! thanks for sharing jen! i bet you're gonna be excited at what you find!! :)