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We recently wrapped up our nature study unit on wild mammals, and I realized that it may be useful to share some of the living books we used for it in our homeschool.
We follow the nature study rotation set out by Ambleside Online and it is these books that make up the nature lore, tales and nature study components of that Charlotte Mason education.
For more information on our Homeschool Curriculum Choices, CLICK HERE.
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To get a better feel for, and to see inside, these beautiful living books, watch the video below. It’s always useful to see inside children’s books before you purchase, so please take the time to watch this video.
These delightful living books are a collection of stories featuring wild animals from the British Isles. The stories capture the child’s imagination and interest, whilst also teaching them important information about the species’ habitat, behaviour and other natural history.
There are three books in this series, and they cover wild animals from all the major animal kingdoms; including mammals, birds, reptiles,fish and amphibians. These books are suitable for children aged 5-8 years old.
This charming living books narrate the story on one specific species per book. They are aimed at older children, aged 8 -12 years old. Through their study, children will become intimately acquainted with the animal, and associated species, and it’s natural history.
We have just completed another term of nature study in our homeschool; this time focusing on British birds. Nature study is one of our most-loved subjects and part of our Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum.
Below, I have listed all the resources we love and have found useful in the study of birds; including living books,beautiful children’s literature for all ages, reference books, preschool picture books, our treasured nature journal supplies and more!
This blog post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.
Make sure you WATCH THIS VIDEO to get a closer look at these resources and take a peek inside the books!
This is the diary of a naturalist who rescued an abandoned owlet from the woods and hand-reared it at home. This true story also features tips on how to keep your own nature journal and original black-and-white photos.
This book has been such an asset to us these past few months. We have used it to sketch the birds from into our nature journals. For each bird you are given a variety of large high-quality photos and plenty of information.
This lovely little book is our trusty guide to identifying birds when we are on nature walks. It is small enough to carry with us, with just enough information to help us identify any new birds we see.
This book from Usborne focuses on birds from many different habitats. It discusses many aspects of their behaviour, life cycle, indientifaction and some myths and legnends! The illustrations are beautiful too!
There is nothing quite so heart-warming as seeing tiny birds, of many coours and varieties, flock your garden, to eat the seeds you put out. They even develop a routine so you know what time each bird will arrive at your feeders that day!
Birds feeders, if placed close enough to your windows, can even be a way to do nature study on those days you cannot leave the house.
Your local park or woodland is a fantastic resource for you and your family. Get outdoors and explore the nature to see these incredible birds first-hand.
Your example and enthusiasm for nature study will influence you children far more than any book ever could. If you, as a parent, enjoy learning about birds and take part in nature journalling yourself, you children will be eager to follow your example. And besides, you might actually learn something…right?!!?
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comment below.
It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.
Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.
Monday 2nd October
This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!
Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”
We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.
Tuesday 3rd October
The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!
We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!
Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.
It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.
We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.
The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.
Thursday 5th October
Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.
We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!
After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!
Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.
There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!
I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.
Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)
My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!
After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!
Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!
We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.
We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.
How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!
It had a few pages about snails for me to read and familiarize myself with, and then loads of questions and points of interest for me to ask the children. It’s a fantastic resource for nature study.
Well, as you can imagine, the kids didn’t want to part with the snails, so we set up a special snail environment for them in the house so the boys could continue to observe them.
To create the snail tank, we spread an inch on damp soil across the bottom, and the added some bark and stones for the snails to hide under. We added a very shallow jam-jar lid for water, and various fruit and vegetables for food.
We kept them with us for 3 days, careful to position the tank in a cool and quiet spot, out of direct sunlight.
When those three days came to an end, my youngest son was very sad to release them back into our garden. He had enjoyed having them around!
This was my children’s first introduction to the responsibility of having a pet. They had to feed “their” snails and look after them. It was a very valuable lesson.
The study of snails lends itself wonderfully to learning more about life cycles. For this we watched this YouTube video, followed by a read through our science encyclopedias.
Whilst we were looking through these encyclopedias, we discovered how snails fit into various food chains. After some discussion and drawing various food chains out, we watched this Youtube video for some fun! It’s a song all about Food Chains!
The encyclopedias we used for this unit study were:
Whilst the snails were with us, the children observed their behaviour and their “personalities”. From this they decided upon names for them all (Leo, Sweetie and Apple) and together we talked more about their characters.
This character development exercise was the first step to begin writing an adventure story featuring our snails as the main characters! We’ve had a lot of fun with this activity!
I hunted all over the internet looking for some good literature about snails. I wanted a book that would capture my children’s imagination, whilst at the same time teaching them more about snails.
My favourite find was Are you a Snail? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. This picture book is aimed at children under the age of 7. It is a charming little book that goes through many of the physical characteristics of snails, their habitats, what they eat and their predators in a narrative style. On top of all that, the illustrations are beautiful!
Another book that we used was Amazing Pictures and Facts about Snails by Mina Kelly. Although I do not believe this would meet Charlotte Mason criteria for a living book, my sons enjoyed reading from this book. It is essentially a collection of interesting facts about snails, accompanied by some interesting photos! Don’t be put off by the initial appearance of the book (it’s self-published) …the content is great!
In addition to their initial sketches, we copied pictures from the Are you a Snail? book to create some lovely water colour paintings for out nature journals.
My toddler joined in the fun too, creating her own snail from coloured tissue paper!
Another craft, that keep my children’s attention for days, was this Hama Bead Snail Kit. They came out beautifully! The boys were so proud of their work that we have been using it as a centre piece on our dining table!
Did you know that the spiral of the snail’s shell perfectly correlates with the Fibonacci sequence?!?! Neither did I! This is the same sequence that is seen throughout nature in the petals of flowers, bracts of a pinecone, hurricanes and galaxies.