Nature Study – Not just for science anymore

Meeting people outside was easier when the weather was nice.  Just going outside, as a family, was easier when the weather was nice.  If you’re really struggling for a  good excuse to get your bunch (and a friend’s bunch) out in the fresh air as the days grow shorter and colder and wetter, never fear.  Nature Study is here!

Study nature with Seek

Whether you follow the famous (and rightly so!) Exploring Nature with Children or another variety of nature study or cobble together your own program, the lovely thing about nature study is we’re still all doing pretty much the same thing!  Whatever the program, whatever the age, if you’re studying nature in the northern hemisphere right now then you’re probably looking at leaves, fungi, minibeasts and squashes.  Nature’s pretty dependable like that.

If Nature Study alone isn’t enough to motivate you to don some warm clothes and wellies, try enticing the kiddos with iNaturalist’s app, Seek.  Seek is a simple app that helps the user identify various plants, fungi, arachnids, insects, amphibians, fish, reptiles, birds, mollusks, mammals, and ‘other species.’  As you observe more species, you go from a bronze, to a silver to a gold seeker in each species.  Or you can take part in a monthly Challenge and earn a badge.  October’s challenge is to find scavengers that recycle nutrients – fodder for interesting science discussions and projects for sure.

The Seek app doesn’t just keep a tally of your observations, it also keeps a photographic record of all of the species you’ve observed.  These pictures can be printed and displayed on a nature table or wall, they could be placed in an arty scrapbook or nature journal.  Or you can sketch and label them in the warm and dry of your home with a nice hot mug of apple cider or hot cocoa nearby!

Stay healthy, go outside

If you or the littles are not sleeping well right now, aim to get out early.  Get it over with.  Eat your frog.  But also, getting out early will help to regulate your body clocks so you can sleep more easily.

Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. We can produce some of our own vitamin D if we expose our skin to strong sunlight.  If your shadow is longer than your height, it’s the wrong time of day.  Go out between 10 and 3 and lift your face (and bare your arms if you can bear it) to the sun for 15 minutes or so.

Better yet – go out twice!  Fresh air and exercise are the best medicines for the winter blues.  Art also boosts mental and physical wellness, so do make use of your observations if you can.

And then of course it counts as science learnin’…but you knew that already!

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