Did you know that summer is upon us? I KNOW! How did that happen so fast, seems I was just getting my garden in and now it’s almost July. Means that soon I’ll have a 15 year old living in my house! Thinking of my boy brings me back to his childhood and all the walks we did in our local bush. I thought it might be fun to recall some of our explorations (if I can find the pictures) and talk about 10 ways to engage in summer nature study.
The Fun of having a pond
What exactly is nature study? It’s viewing the world around you and taking time to make note of it. It’s seeing ants and watching them work, watching a bumblebee bumble in the backyard, or finding clover in your front lawn. Nature study is simply the art of paying attention to the living things that surround you. It can happen indoors or out, at home or in the community and often when you go on vacation. It might even be something that you make!
We have a pond in our backyard that has gone through a couple of changes. The first year we had it, we were inundated with tadpoles. It was so cool listening to the calls of the toads, and one night the lad and I went out late and discovered mating toads. This of course, resulted in lots of tadpoles. For a fun quip from my lad see my original post.
As my son’s love affair with insects continued, we learned to build an insect trapping kit. This lovely device is called a Pooter. We used it for a long time and it was actually quite easy to make. You can make different sized one depending on the size of the insects you want to catch.
How Nature Study Happens
Nature Study mostly looked like taking advantage of where we were. If we went camping up north we took our time examining the wildlife around the numerous small ponds. If we went for a walk in the bush we’d examine the mosses, fungi, ferns, birds, spiders and insects that we came across. Our weekly trips to the local park let us watch the baby Canada geese mature. Regardless of where you live, nature study is possible.
It might look different to you. Where you live you might have pigeons and ospreys surrounding you, or you might have lizards and roadrunner in your backyard. For all I know, you might have manatees swimming in the local waterways. Take advantage of the world around you and take your time to learn about what you see. You never know what might inspire you… You might design your own toad area!
Bend down and touch the moss and fungi. Imagine if you will, the wonder in your child’s eyes when he discovers that some fungi puff up and release their spores if they are lightly brushed. Take your phone and grab a picture so you can remember and look up more information when you get home.
10 Ways To Engage in Summer Nature Study
- Go into your backyard/park/local green space. Put a hula hoop around yourself and now take the time to examine everything inside that hoola hoop, count the spiders, types of plants, ants and other insects, see if you can find any arthropods, tiny invertebrates, feathers etc.
- Weekly take walks in a bush, park, any green space, go to the beach, and just look… wildlife is everywhere. At the beach check the dunes for insects and spiders, watch the water birds, scour the shore for interesting rocks or shells. In the park, you’ll find birds, tracks of nocturnal critters, small rodents and maybe some reptiles too!
- Make an art project from collected items. For inspiration, you might find Crafty Ideas from Nature handy.
- Drawings while out in nature. One of the most enjoyable art pieces we’ve ever done has been going out into nature and drawing what we see. Moss on a log, a tiny spider in a web, a pine cone hanging from a tree, just sitting there and drawing while listening to the birds around us. Hugely successful and generated so much conversation.
- Scavenger hunts. Looking for words about nature such as Wild Words, or objects to find, or specific plants. Have fun with it, it is great for all ages!
Five More ways
- Follow Inspiration from nature books, cards, or any study you are doing. Such as if studying owls, going on an owl prowl held by your local park/nature authority.
- Go out at night, to an area you are familiar with, and just sit quietly. Do you see anything different than you would during the day?
- Set up a bird feeder and note the birds that come through. Are there any that are just passing by and are thankful for a quick meal, or do you have any permanent residents?
- Get a pocket microscope so you can do close up examinations right on the spot, allowing you to release small critters right where you find them, or lets you examine a leaf or flower without damaging the plant. So quick and easy!
- Keep a nature journal. Just a way to document what you see and watch changes occur throughout the seasons. Write in it, draw in it, and attach a bag to keep items in.