A Charlotte Mason Education, Nature Study, Observation, Practical Application, Science of Relations
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Nature Study Field Trips for All Ages by Deborah Dobbins

Nature Knowledge the most important for Young Children. –It would be well if all we persons in authority, parents and all who act for parents, could make up our minds that there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in. Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life. We were all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” Charlotte M. Mason, Home Education, volume 1, p 61.

Within a short distance, you may find a world of nature waiting to be explored. While I share briefly about some recent excursions, you may think of similar opportunities within your locality. Day-trips do not require much planning other than selecting your site, date, checking the hours of operation, and any fees involved.

My explorations led me to a nature trail located on the grounds of our Perimeter School campus. It is a one-mile wooded trail that is a great place for a short hike and bird watching. I found a delightful place to enjoy being outdoors that is accessible by walking.

Around the corner is the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve, which includes several woodland nature trails, historic buildings, a reptile facility, and a scenic creek.  The sights and sounds of children playing in a creek are magical.

I searched the Audubon website and found local Audubon field trips available. I selected to go on the Reynolds Nature Preserve Audubon field trip that met early Saturday morning. Our Audubon leader gave us a checklist of the Birds of Atlanta to use along the 2- mile nature trail. Remember to bring your binoculars!

Since my daughter loves fish, we visited the Tennessee Aquarium using her membership. HollyAnne served as a knowledgeable tour guide then painted a beautiful watercolor of her favorite fish of all time, the Lionfish.

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There are trails to explore as well as a Butterfly Garden, Beaver Habitat and Birds of Prey at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Children may bring up to 3 clean natural items per visit to exchange and keep a Natural Reading Log to earn points in the Nature Exchange.  The Microeye Discovery magnifies nature items on a large screen.

If your family would enjoy a safari walk then go to your local zoo. We purchased a Travel Passport and membership card that allows us free or discounted admission to more than 100 participating Zoos and Aquariums. For an up-to-date list of facilities in your area visit www.AZA.org.

Do you have a botanical garden nearby? At the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the 2-acre Children’s Garden is a place of wonder. Children’s Storytime has stories about bees, frogs, and flowers in the amphitheater where children enjoy acting out stories. I found the real beehive fascinating to observe. They also feature a caterpillar maze, tree house, pond and splash fountain.

Does a Gold Rush sound interesting to you? Dahlonega Gold Museum rangers shared about the First Gold Rush with a display of coin collections and gold artifacts. They recommended the Crisson Gold Mines for younger children to experience panning for gemstones or the Consolidated Gold Mines for older children.

The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is a glass enclosed tropical butterfly conservatory where all ages may delight in observing butterflies in a natural habitat. The variety and abundance of butterflies never fails to amaze my family.

I hope you are inspired to explore rocks & minerals, gardens, trails, butterflies, birds, reptiles, fish, animals, bees, frogs, trees and creeks. You should not have to travel far away to make nature discoveries. Even a backyard can be a place of wonder, imagination, and delight.  I’d love to hear about other places that children have been able to “get in touch with nature.”  Please share with the Charlotte Mason Institute Community about one of your recent marvels with plant and animal life.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Psalm 24:1-2

©2014 Deborah Dobbins, M.Ed.

Deborah teaches 1st and 2nd grade Nature Study Classes at Perimeter School in Duluth, GA. She has presented Nature Study Workshops at the Charlotte Mason Institute over the past 7 years.

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