Nature study

Nature Study in the City – March 2016

We all want our children to spend more time outdoors. However when you live in a city, connecting our children to nature can be difficult.

In this series of blog posts, I hope to inspire you with some ways you can teach your children about the natural world, and give you some creative activities to do indoors or in a city garden.

Nature Study in the City

Spending time outdoors in a natural environment has been proven scientifically to benefit children.

Since the release of the book Last Child in the Woods, which brought attention to the developmental effects of nature on our children, there have been multiple studies that prove likewise.

Some of the benefits of outdoor play include:

  • Supports development intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and
    physically (Kellert, 2005).
  • Encourages creativity: Studies show that children engage
    in more creative forms of play in the green areas. (Bell and Dyment,
  • Improves Concrentration: Exposure to natural settings increases
    children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive
    abilities (Wells, 2000).
  • Improves Academic Performance: Children who partook in outdoor
    science programs had an improvement in their science results by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005).
  • Reduces ADD symptoms (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).
  • Improves eyesight (American
    Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011)
  • Encourages healthy eating  (Bell &
    Dyment, 2008) 
  • Reduces stress  (Wells and
    Evans, 2003)

Book Recommendation

Before we start, I want to let you know that we have been using this vintage nature book, Looking At Nature, by Elsie Proctor, as our primary text.

It is fantastic. Unlike most nature books, it is not just pages of facts, but it also poses lots of questions for the children to answer and gives great ideas for outdoor activities and experiments.

This is what we have been doing this March:

Observing Germination

We began this month with a trip to the supermarket to by some compost and plant seeds. I read in the book Looking at nature
, that Sunflowers
and Runner Beans
are easy to grow…we’ll soon see!

Nature Study in the City

I decided to begin with an activity I remember doing at school. We filled jars with kitchen roll, and then carefully pushed two Runner Bean
seeds in the gap between the glass and the tissue. Then we added enough water the to jars to make the tissue damp, and left them on a sunny window-sill. 
Within 5 days this is what we saw:

Nature Study in the City

The children drew what they saw for their Nature Notebooks, and we discussed all the parts of the plant and what plants need to grow. They learnt the words germination, shoot and tap root.

Nature Study in the City

Nature Study in the City

This is something you can do indoors, in a small space, and at very little expense!  

Began Planting Our Children’s Garden

This year I am giving a part of our small garden to the children. They will be responsible for growing the plants in that patch, weeding, watering etc.  If it works…it’s going to be a fantastic source of learning opportunities
The boys planted their Sunflower Seeds
, and left them in our cold-frame to grow.

Nature Study in the City

Nature Study in the City

Looking for catkins

Thankfully we have a number on trees on our road that have catkins. We collected what we could find, and brought them home to identify.
Nature Study in the City

Visited our City Parks

At this time of year, there is so much to see in the park. The daffodils are blooming, the birds are back and building nests, and everything is stirring back to life!
We spent several hours looking for the first signs of spring. The boys drew some daffodils for their nature notebooks, and I just allowed them to explore. The only rule we have in the park is ….You Are Not Allowed To Walk On The Path! 

Nature Study in the City
Drawing daffodils

Nature Study in the City
Playing hide-and-seek! He’s  counting…

Nature Study in the City
He’s hiding!

They found this muddy pond and were in there wading through the murky water…They loved it!

Nature Study in the City

I hope this will encourage you to get out into nature with your children, wherever you live. 
What activities have you done outdoors with your kids? Do any of you have any recommendations for other plants we can put in the children’s garden? Please let me know in the comments below 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Make sure you don’t miss the next in this series!
I’m hoping to get it out the same time next month insha’Allah. 

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Peace and Love.

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SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler’s Review

Last week we decided to take our homeschool for a field trip.
Since my son has shown a budding interest in Ocean Life (sharks especially) we decided to make the day trip to Sea Life Manchester.

Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

Sea Life Manchester is found in the Intu Trafford Cente, one of the largest indoor shopping centres in the U.K. This meant finding parking and food was so easy and I got to pick up a few things whilst I was there!
You start off having your photo taken, which you can later purchase, and then there is a show. Then you begin to make your way around.

Each part of the aquarium is numbered, and the kids are given a little booklet, with simple questions to answer about each area. When they have answered the question, they look for the ‘stamping station’ to stamp their book.

It was amazing how my boys got into this! They were so excited to run from area to area answering the questions. Its such a clever idea and meant they they really made the most of all the information available. All the displays were very interactive and perfect for children of Primary school age (4-10).

Some of our highlights were: 

1) Under-water tunnels

These were awesome! The kids enjoyed pointing out the sharks and the turtle swimming above.
Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

2) Interactive Pool

M got to stroke a crab and a star-fish! Pretty cool!
Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

3) Turtle Egg Display

This was A’s favorite bit! Apparently the gender of turtles is determined by the temperature the eggs are kept at. To demonstrate this there was a giant egg that the kids have to touch. After about 30 seconds the screen tells you if you egg is a boy (cold hands) or a girl (warm hands)! Genius!
Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

4) Interactive Video Game

At the very end of the aquarium was a game, Wii style, where you appeared on the screen and had to hit the rubbish out of the sea to help the little turtles swim across. It was very energetic and the boys ate well after this!
Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review

Our favourite animals were the turtle, the sharks (of course), the scary Moray eel, and the enormous spider crab
When we got home M was keen to write about his day-out in his diary…
Ocean Life Unit Study: SEA LIFE Manchester : A Homeschooler's Review
Overall I highly recommend visiting Sea Life Manchester, especially if you have children under the age of ten-years-old. It is so well thought out and the staff were very friendly and helpful. We had so much fun and learnt loads!

In terms of price, I think it is good value for money. We bought it, together with entry into LegoLand (also in the Trafford Centre), and it came to around £45 in total for all of us. 

The only negative point I can think of is it is a small attraction. It will only take you two hours maximum to see everything. However, for mums of young kids this is no bad thing! 
If you are interested in knowing more about SeaLife Manchester click HERE for their website.

Have you been to Sea Life? What did you think? Could you recommend any other places to visit in the North of England? I’d love to hear your recommendations. Please leave me a comment below 🙂

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Peace and Love.


Teach the 99 Names of Allah – al-Khaliq

teach 99 names of allah

Al-Khaliq – The Creator

As a part of our Muslim homeschool, I am teaching my children the ninety-nine names of Allah. It is my opinion that Islamic education should be taught in a creative and fun way and that is how I have approached this week in our Islamic studies.

Teach the 99 names of Allah

This week we were looking at the name al-Khaliq, or The Creator.

We began by discussing the definition of al-Khaliq:

“The One who creates something from nothing and determines and creates according to the proper measure and proportion of each thing. The One who plans and determines how, when and where to create. The One whose works are perfectly suited, appropriate, fitting and proper.”

Then I gave out the Al-Khaliq colouring sheet and whilst they were decorating it, we memorised ‘al-Khaliq. The Creator.’

For your FREE ‘al-Khaliq’ colouring sheet CLICK HERE.

It was also an opportunity to revise the Arabic letters and see which they could identify from their sheet.

When they were finished, we cut around the words and stuck them in the centre of a large A2 sheet of coloured card.

Teach 99 names Allah

Then I gave the boys a basket each. I encouraged them to go outside and collect things from our garden that Allah (swt) had created.

They scoured the garden (and later the park) and brought back a collection of leaves, stones, petals, seeds and a pine cone.

Using glue sticks and wrapping tape, we stuck these treasures around the name ‘al-Khaliq’ reflecting on how He (swt) has made these things from nothing. SubhanAllah!

We also used this opportunity to look up the names of all the leaves and flowers, so it doubled as a science lesson too!

It was a fun way to teach the children about God, to instill a sense of awe and wonder about Him, and ignite an interest and excitement about Islam. We made a lot of happy memories too!

Teach the 99 names of Allah

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Peace and Love.

Homeschooling children

Related: Teach The 99 Names of Allah – al-Malik

Related: How to Teach the 99 Names of Allah to Children

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