I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
What better way to kick off Hip Homeschooling week than sharing one of my favorite reasons for homeschooling: having the freedom to explore the incredible wide world around us, first hand. We don’t have to wait for recess or science class, we don’t have to wait for the rain to stop or for the snow to be plowed. The great big world awaits the eager mind, waiting to fill the child and parents alike with wonder, exploration, discovery, answers, peace, meaning, and solitude.
Exploring nature and doing it regularly is so essential for every child, no matter the age. Exploring the world around you introduces you and your child to so many topics: biology, zoology, botany, geology, chemistry, astronomy, mineralogy, entomology, dendrology, and on and on. The homeschooling life allows for the time and freedom to be spontaneous to explore at times and organized at other times. It allows for slowing down enough for kids to be curious on walks and taking notes of their questions as they ask them to research once back at home. It allows for the mystery of life, nature, and the world to always be fulfilled and, simultaneously, always leave you desperate for more answers.
We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.
So let’s dig in.
Here are 5 Ways to get out and explore your world:
1. Discover your neck of the woods by getting to know it: join/sign up for events and opportunities that will help you dig deeper in getting to know where you live.
One of the best ways to explore your particular local world (no matter where you live) is to find out about your little corner of the world. An easy way to do that is by joining your local homeschooling association. Most associations send out regular emails with upcoming events and opportunities that you and your child may be interested in. Some may be organized by homeschoolers but many events are already run by local organizations/state parks and the information is then passed on to you via email.
Some activities we’ve participated in (and some we are excited to sign up for) because of finding out about them via our homeschooling association include:
- local exploration activities at our state parks (orienteering with a compass and nature story time/craft time for example)
- on-site learning about local birds
- hawk observation on top of one of our tallest mountains with a guide
- visiting a green house at our local college
- visiting a planetarium at our local college
- joining a local mineral club
Explore what makes your corner of the world unique.
This could be taking a walk through a meadow close by to gather that season’s findings. It could be bringing your child’s library book of plants to the park to discover what is growing at your child’s favorite park. It could be taking a nature walk at the turn of fall and gathering every color of leaf to bring home and label for their leaf collection.
No matter the season or location, there is always some question you can ask that will keep your children mindful and always wondering. Make it a habit to inspire that curiosity regularly by taking them out into the big wide world regularly.
Some introductory questions for any time in nature can be:
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you smell?
What do you feel?
These questions introduce the idea of getting to know nature through all of your children’s senses. A simple trip to the park is a prefect place to try these out.
3. Make and take a nature kit to accompany you on your many adventures outdoors.
It is wonderful to be out in nature and to explore. But being prepared to explore and learn makes the experience even better. First, make a simple nature kit. It could include binoculars, notebooks + sketching pencils, some identification cards (plants, birds, flowers, insects are quite popular here) and tape for securing nature finds. (Here is our tried and true nature kit and tutorial.) Keep the nature kit close to the door so it is easy to grab for spontaneous and organized exploration.
Keep the nature kit changing and maturing as your children mature. You may include watercolor pencils + brushes (my kids favorite part of the kit), field guides (we currently have a bird guide in out kit), and camera. The whole idea is to have supplies for researching, identifying, and recording ready for on-site discovery.
4. Help your children continue the connection with nature by creating with their nature findings.
As you explore, you and your child will make incredible connections to nature. Continue these connections by creating with nature. We love to create while in nature and at home.
Some of our favorite creations with nature include:
Another way to encourage your children bringing nature home is by setting up a nature table. It will look different with every season but always inspire your children in their learning, questions, art, and understanding of the world.
5. Document your experiences, findings, location, etc. while you are out or when you return home.
Having your own nature journal invites both child and parent alike to remember their experiences in nature. It may be taping down the first red fall leaf and writing where it was found. Or how you felt when you reached the top of the summit. Nature journals not only document your child’s experiences and learning in nature, but it offers an excellent opportunity for writing. Learning to write the date, to label, and write brief notes will make more of the little explorer than meets the eye.
Our nature journals
A great book for getting started with nature journaling: Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
And as always, books from the library can continue the questions from being in nature to beginning to find their answers. Always check out books about every part of nature from the library for your children to keep the hunger for nature alive. Books always encourage the return to nature.
I hope these 5 ways to explore your world will inspire you to get out and see the beautiful world around you. No matter where you live–in the city or near the mountains–there is life and great learning to be explored. The first step is opening the door.
Get out and be inspired!
Feel free to share or pin!
Our favorite nature explorations:
the sleepy time gal