Nature Study for Kids in Florida
Going to the Everglades on field trips has been not only fun, but reenergizing as well. We’ve seen our share of alligators basking in the sun awfully close to us hikers, beautiful anhinga birds fiercely chasing their prey, reptiles, insects, –lots of them–, butterflies, flowers and a great deal of other flora and fauna. Each time we go, we leave so satisfied and craving for continued and deeper contact with nature. The feeling of connection after a hike in such luscious environment is hard to duplicate once back in our nice and comfortable city dwellings. Fortunately, nature is everywhere, all we have to do is look a little closer. So, if you would like to begin doing nature study at your homeschool, I found lots of free or nearly free and fabulous resources to help you get started right there in your own backyard.
Getting Started with Nature Study
This is the best handbook on how to get started I have found. It is a beautiful book with lots of simple, yet engaging ideas on how to explore nature even if you live in a city full of buildings.
http://amzn.to/1Om9diN (affiliate link)
Here’s a free nature study curriculum by the California Native Plant Society: Opening the World Through Nature Journaling, which I found also very helpful. It aims to integrate language arts with drawing and nature, and it contains detailed tutorials on how to draw sketches.
Specific Florida Nature Programs for Kids
- Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network
- Get Outdoors Florida
- Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail
Florida Field Guides
The beaches of Florida:
Native trees of Florida – field guide *fantastic, although the images are a tad too small*
Florida species field guides (sample lists):
- Mammals = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/mammals.pdf
- Butterflies = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/butterflies.pdf
- Birds = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/birds.pdf
- Insects = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/insects.pdf
- Frogs = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/frogs.pdf
- Reptiles = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/reptiles.pdf
- Trees = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/trees.pdf
- Wildflowers = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/wildflowers.pdf
- Natural communities = http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/species/wildflowers.pdf
Florida native plants and flowers guide:
florida landscaping guide – This is not a field guide per se, however, the second part of the book includes images of all Florida trees, shrubs, plants and flowers, which can make an excellent field guide.
Coloring books can be a neat learning tool for kids as they can carry it along and start coloring once they spot an animal featured in the book. Children could also use it as a log of animals seen by coloring only those that have been sighted, and including in the page details such as the where, the when and other details.
Florida animated alphabet coloring book:
Indian River Lagoon coloring book:
http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/levelthree/Teaching%20Materials (link to a table for other resources as well)
Who lives in a wetland coloring poster:
Florida insect coloring books (Florida Dpmt of Agriculture and Consumer Services):
Florida wildflowers coloring book:
learn names & details, full color page guide included
Another Florida wildflower coloring book:
Florida water source coloring book:
I will be documenting our progress with nature study as we go along. I’m excited about making nature a more deliberate companion of our homeschool. As we feel the inner connection and how reinvigorating nature is for all of us, it really can’t be any other way!
How About You?
Do you have any ideas to share with us on how to make nature study funner, better or brighter? Please tell us!