7 Ways To Bring Nature Into Your Homeschool Curriculum
From calming anxiety to boosting immune systems, finding ways to bring nature play into your homeschool curriculum is important for a number of reasons. In this article, Mama of Two & Homeschool Hero, Ashley Corinne, shares the benefits of natural play as well as 7 ways you can incorporate it into your child’s education.
Whether it’s a stroll through the forest, a swim in the ocean or a simple walk around a park, nature soothes us in a transformative way.
The truth is, the natural world is not just something to be enjoyed; as living beings, we are nature. It’s a part of us, and we’re a part of it. When I watch my daughter effortlessly climb a tree, or watch my son hunt for hermit crabs, I’m reminded of how important it is to nurture this connection to nature that children are especially in tune with.
As a homeschooling parent, I spend a lot of time trying to bring nature into our homeschool curriculum.
In this article, I’ll share:
- The benefits of nature play
- 7 ways to bring nature into your 3 to 8-year-old’s homeschool curriculum
- The Tot’s nature-play inspired toy picks
Scroll down to learn more!
The benefits of nature play
Studies have shown that the more children interact with nature, the healthier they are, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Interactions with nature help calm anxiety, boost the immune system, foster creativity and more. I truly can tell the difference between days we’ve had a good romp outside and those we haven’t. My kids are happier, calmer, and (bonus!) bedtime is less of an ordeal.
With something so crucial to a child’s healthy development, I always include it in our homeschool life. Due to the fact that there are so many things that compete with that natural connection (screens and staying indoors due to weather/ a global pandemic), getting immersed in nature actually has to be intentional. However, intentional does not mean complicated!
There are a few simple things most of us can do to invite nature into our homeschooling rhythms, both inside and outside the home.
7 ways to bring nature into your 3 to 8-year-old’s homeschool curriculum
#1 Take your lesson outside
One of my favorite takeaways from my daughter’s time at Waldorf Pre-K was their “outside every day” philosophy. I carry that same philosophy into our homeschool life.
It doesn’t have to be a project – just take part of your lesson and do it outside – on your porch, in your backyard, on a park bench. Or create a new tradition, such as storytime on the steps, or practicing math problems with sidewalk chalk.
#2 Conduct a Nature Study
Devote some of your lesson time to a particular topic in nature. I usually let my daughter pick the topics and how deeply we dive in. I do ask that she chooses topics that we can easily personally see in nature, like observing the moon or butterfly life cycles. We then read books, learn songs, do crafts, and investigate all about the topic.
#3 Keep a Nature Table
It doesn’t matter if the kids and I are doing a full-blown nature walk or just taking a quick stroll around the block – their hands and pockets (and my purse) are always filled with rocks, sticks, flowers, leaves, seeds… Instead of quietly “disappearing” these trinkets, or letting them collect dust in a corner, display your children’s nature treasures. It can be a dedicated table, or a shelf or a windowsill (we have used all three depending on our space at the time). The size doesn’t matter – the kids love having their special treasures displayed. It will be fun to see how your nature table changes along with the seasons (a lesson in itself!).
With all the extras that they bring home that won’t fit on the nature table (because “one more stick” is never just one more), keep them to use as loose parts. Store them in baskets and pull them out during quiet play, use them as math manipulatives, and keep them on hand for crafts. Speaking of which…
#4 Create Nature Art
Use nature in your art projects. We always have paint, construction paper, recycled cereal boxes, mod podge, and yarn on hand. My younger one is thrilled with painting or coloring his nature finds. My daughter enjoys making pretty nature collages with flowers and leaves, and nature mobiles. Some projects we do are Pinterest-worthy, but others I like to just let their own creativity and process shine.
#5 Read Nature books
Keep books on hand that spark your kids’ (and your own) curiosity. One of our favorites is “Nature Anatomy”, by Julia Rothman. My 3-year-old regularly pulls it down from the shelf, proudly telling me the creatures he knows and asking about ones he doesn’t. We also enjoy stories that feature heroes championing nature such as the real-life Wangari Maathai in “Mama Miti” or the kind boy in “Kofi and the Butterflies.”
#6 Listen to nature soundtracks
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with wolves. My parents bought me a CD called Wolf Magic that I loved. It blended wolf howls and other ambient nature sounds to soothing instrumentals. I would close my eyes and just imagine running free with a wolf pack. What parts of nature spark your kids’ interest? Keep beautiful nature tracks playing in the background that help weave music with their nature faves.
#7 Go enjoy nature
Make it a point to simply go outside and enjoy nature. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to forest preserves, beaches, or botanical gardens, go regularly. If not, enjoy your own backyard adventures, or city parks. No need to plan activities each time – let your kids take the lead and see where that takes you.
In these simple ways, we can plant seeds of appreciation and connection to nature that not only benefit our children but, us as well.
The Tot’s nature-play inspired toy picks
All Tot Tested and approved, here are The Tot’s nature-play inspired toy picks!
- Looking for Montessori-inspired toys for your homeschooling curriculum? Visit The Tot Learning & Educational Essentials Shop!
- What We’re Reading: Montessori-Style Discipline – 3 Ways To Discipline Without Punishment