Nature study doesn't have to stop just because the weather gets unbearably hot and humid outside.
- You only have to spend 10 minutes outside. Even on the hottest days, you can spend a few minutes in your own backyard. Give them a small paper lunch-bag and have them collect whatever interests them that will fit in the bag. They can then take the items inside where it is cooler to complete their nature study. Or, if they spot something that they can look up in field guides once they go inside, they can pick larger things to study. This will get easier with practice as they will know more and more animals and plants in their area. You could also give them a camera to snap pictures that they can then study or sketch once inside.
- You can complete your nature study once it cools down in the evening or at night. Bats, fireflies, moths, night blooming flowers and constellations are just a few of the nature studies that can most easily be done once the sun begins to go down.
- You can go to cooler places. Going to the beach, exploring tide pools or caves are all great ways to complete some nature studies. They are also great to look at in terms of habitats or inter-dependency chains. Small square projects can also be done in these places.
- Start a nature table. Have a place available where children can place items they find. It can be a table, a basket, a shelf, anything. They will then begin picking up seeds, feathers, rocks, shells and other items that they can later study and sketch. Once they have this, they won't demand you stop everything to look up each thing they find throughout their days because they know they will eventually have time to find out about them.
- Start an indoor habitat project. This is a good time to make terrariums, aquariums, ant farms, raise butterflies from caterpillars or frogs from tadpoles. The creatures and plants to inhabit the habitats can be taken from the wild or from pet shops or nature supply places.
- Complete nature studies on things that you have on hand. Nature study can be completed on things around the house such as salt, magnets, or your pets. You can also get items from your grocery store trips, such as the strawberry or the apple or potted plants. You can also make mushroom spore prints from mushrooms from the store.
- Planning ahead for the hot months can be very helpful. In the spring, you can set up a nature sanctuary just outside a comfortable windowed area. Putting up bird and/or squirrel feeders, bird baths and planting flowers which attract insects, such as butterflies, and birds will have nature coming to you! Inside collect binoculars, field guides, lots of paper and art supplies along with comfortable places to sit and sketch. You will be surprised at how often children will seek out their own times for nature study. You can also complete seasonal nature study by sketching scenes from through the window.
This post was originally in Handbook of Nature Study's July Newsletter.