Nature Study: Indoors
Nature study is a beautiful time to be outdoors with our children. Collecting leaves, seeds, pinecones, and finding neat animal tracks is priceless. But what about those days when the wind and rain keeps us indoors? Or when our child has a cold and needs to stay inside? It’s easy to just say-forget nature study-for the day, but when the snow persists or the sniffles persist, it’s good to have some alternatives to doing nature study indoors.
Take photos from indoors
A lot of great nature captures are done from a place where you won’t disturb little animals or birds: indoors! Set up a cozy spot by a window and get your camera with a zoom lens handy. If you can find a comfortable spot looking out at a bird feeder, that’s even better. Take some pictures of the leaves blowing, the snow falling, birds on the feeder, squirrels gathering nuts, or bees buzzing and print them off to add to your nature journal.
A book my kids love is The Secret Life of Squirrels. This is a great book for indoor nature study. The author, Nancy Rose, has set up wonderful little sets for the squirrels in her yard to explore. She sets up her camera indoors and waits for the right moment. At the end of the book she gives some great tips for nature photography.
Inspect your previously collected nature finds
Pick up some of the older items you’ve collected in your outdoor nature studies. Inspect them with a magnifying glass. If you aren’t sure what some specimens are, look them up in your nature guides. Take some time to label them before you put them back on your nature shelf.
Read nature stories
There are so many wonderfully written and illustrated children’s books to incorporate in your nature study and what better time to enjoy them then when you’re stuck indoors. This is a great list to get you started collecting your own nature books. Another series that we love is Nature Readers by Christian Liberty Press.
Set up a nature table
If you don’t already have one, setting up a nature table is perfect for keeping all your nature finds in one spot and showing them off. You can keep your journals here, nature guides, nature finds, and more all in one spot.
Sketch in your nature journals
Sketching in your nature journals outdoors is great, but sometimes being back inside without any outdoor distractions is even better. Take some time to add some watercolors to your journal drawings or practice your drawing skills on new pages. It might be a great idea to copy a nature related poem into your journals and add some pretty borders to them. If you are looking for some extra inspiration, you could even check out other nature journals on the web and add new things to yours.
Take this time while you’re indoors to do some nature projects you’ve been itching to do. There are some great books out there with nothing but nature crafts. Think out of the box here and be creative with ways you could enjoy nature through art inside your house. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Press leaves and make a garland from them
- Preserve fall leaves by dipping them in wax or covering in contact paper
- Make furniture for your gnome home or fairy garden with things found in your recycling bin
- Paint some acorns you’ve already collected
- Hang pinecones on a string to make a garland
- Use chalk pastels to create are to accompany a poem
- Make some garden flags for your garden when it gets warmer
- Make natural dye with black walnuts–we loved this one!
Just remember that no matter the weather, there’s always something you can do to incorporate nature study into your days. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Have items on hand that you’ll use indoors to make things easier on yourself and enjoy!
Alicia Hutchinson is a homeschool mom to four kids ages 13-2. You can find her blogging at www.aliciahutchinson.com, where she writes about homeschooling, motherhood, creative living, and more. She lives in the Minneapolis area with her family.