Handbook of Nature Study

Do you have this great resource? The Handbook of Nature Study is a large, comprehensive, helpful guide to nature by Anna Botsford Comstock, written in 1911. This book has been reprinted and is used by many home educators, especially those incorporating Charlotte Mason methods, which includes nature study as a major component of the home “curriculum.”

If you don’t have this book yet, and don’t want to buy one (yet,) you can download a free ebook version from Homeschool Freebie of the Day (today’s the last day,) or if you miss that, download for free from from archive.org.

Having second thoughts? Don’t want to read on screen or print out that big book? Order here:

93846: Handbook of Nature Study Handbook of Nature StudyBy Anna Botsford Comstock / Cornell University Press

Witness the wonders of God’s creation with naturalist Comstock as your guide! From dandelions, toads, and fireflies, to robins, rocks, and weather, she takes you on a lively trek through the natural world, vividly describing the habits, habitats, and physical structures of common living and nonliving things. Includes study questions and black-and-white photographs. 887 pages, softcover from Cornell University.

If you’d like some help in application, check out The Outdoor Hour Challenge, a blog of one ” family’s online nature journal using Anna Comstock’s book Handbook of Nature Study as our textbook and the great outdoors as our classroom.”

Nature Walks & Talks

This is an area I don’t post on very often. Although I love Creation, and my children love being out in it and wondering in all God has made, and we love reading in awe at his splendor, and watching videos of such things that we don’t have access to in rural Heartland USA, I’m still recovering from “we don’t do science”.

Someone who does do science and probably makes it more accessible for you (I don’t have, so haven’t read, her books yet) is Jeannie Fulbright. She has written the Exploring Creation series science books that are Charlotte Mason method friendly, and “Apologia Jr.” resources (i.e. they are considered pre-Apologia, which is texts for upper level science.)

Anyhow, I love what Jeannie has written about the neccessary relationship between Nature Walks and resources on God’s Creation. Read about it on her blog.


L.E.D. Science

I was asked this week what we do for science. We don’t do traditional science texts. We study God’s Word – He has a LOT to say about the things He has made; we look at, really observe and talk about, Creation, the things He has made, in our own yard, neighborhood, and whereever we go; and we read/listen to/watch Creation resources – books, audios and videos – that explain God’s ways in His world, written by people who have a passion for studying such things and sharing them with others.

Today, Ruth Beechick shared on “strong science learning” in our home education. I like her conclusion. 🙂

For strong science learning for most children, use mostly creationist materials, not traditional science courses with a bit of creation added. That way children learn to think, learn lots of science, and learn to understand even evolution better than children brought up only on the myth. For serious science students in the later years, you could add traditional courses in chemistry or other sciences.

Ruth Beechick in the Home School Minute 3/26/08

Gotta go. My online workshop begins in less than an hour. 🙂

Handbook of Nature Study ~ Weblink Wednesday

Late post I know. We got home late last night and I just had to post about our trip to the state capital to voice our opinion on a recent bad bill against home education introduced.

Anyhow, late or not,–

NEWS FLASH!!! What??? NO WEBLINK WEDNESDAY THIS WEEK, But there is a new graphic?  Well too bad, I have a link I wanted to share.

Although I don’t like reading books online, nor printing them out to put in folders, (that’s not “real” books,) I LOVE to find books (especially old books) online so I can truly browse through them and determine if it is something I want to purchase and read.

This year I have been looking for more of our favorite treasures online, so I can share them with other parents, so they can browse through and buy, or download and read, or print off as they desire.

Handbook of Nature Study is one of those old books we own and really enjoy. It isn’t our key science book, but it could be. We don’t use it all the time, but we could. But I sure enjoy pulling it out and browsing through and picking and choosing what we will use out of it.

Even more than the benefit of Handbook is the benefit of the site I found it on. I use this site for finding a lot of the old books I’m looking for – Internet Archive. Just do a search for the old books you’re looking for.


Off the Computer and Into the Kitchen

So just what are we studying and where is my thinking these days, that so few posts are making it to this blog? November was indeed a slim month for all but announcements.

So, first THANK YOU to all who took advantage of our Bounty of L.E.D. We hope and pray you are enjoying all your new resources and being blessed by them. Please let us know.

Next, what’s been happening in L.E.D. and why it hasn’t led to new information here for you.

The first component of L.E.D. is Lifestyle. Sometimes we have pretty structured lessons and follow through a real book, and dig, and research in the Word for principles and ideas – the Biblical view of what we are learning through the book. This is what we’ve been doing this month – minus the book. 🙂 Our first topic this year was book heavy. This one is not.

I have no less to share with you, but we are in the “hands-on” life application aspect of learning, which is keeping me off the computer more than usual, and in the kitchen.

Our science-y topics tend to do that – get us into the physical world more, and more active. Life requires balance! We need both – book learning and hands-on, experiential learning.

This past month has led to many experiments. We have studied, mainly from me teaching from all my past research (compiled for seminars I’ve done) and then taking the children to the Word to find the Biblical view, and then putting it into action through real life experiments.

One experiment the children all enjoyed was our taste testing of various not-milks. We discovered what the properties of the various kinds were and what the best combinations were, and developed our favorite recipe.

We also did not enjoy experimenting with a new recipe dd tried for a salad. She picked a new one that sounded good, and followed the instructions, but didn’t take into account “our” tastes. She was the first to taste it, and wasn’t pleased. I helped her present it nicely, but no one was impressed. I explained to her that in things like that, with a lot of different spices, you should add a bit at a time and taste as you go. She is continuing to try new ones, taking into account what she has learned.

Another ds is ongoing experimenting with various combinations for fresh juices. Many of them ones I’ve had and enjoyed before, but the children aren’t as familiar with. It is helping get him out of the rut of the same ol’ thing everyday.

They are also learning much of the science (true knowledge) and politics of health in today’s world. As tends to happen with us, we are not documenting (leaving a paper trail) as well as I’d like (looking with hindsight). There are many things they could have done to make this show their learning. Instead, I’m hoping it becomes real and alive to them, and they will live it! all the days of their lives.

If you’d like to read more – about our taste test, and best recipe – or other ideas we’ve looked at, take a hop over to my from me blog and browse through. If you are wanting more L.E.D. info to help you in your teaching, hop down to a post I made at the end of October on this blog. Even if you’ve read it, re-read it again. It is the foundation of Freedom & Simplicity™ of Lifestyle Education through Discipleship.


Freedom & Simplicity™ in Expanding Seed Principles

Here’s a simple example illustrating the expansive nature of the educational principle as Sowing seed. Not every lesson is entered into, nor proceeds and results as this one. But God is Sovereign and He gives grace. And we both live and learn.

Our lesson was on the History of Astronomy. Those of you on elists with me know I hunted for a living book telling this History from a Biblical perspective. I never found one. So we fell back on John Tiner’s “Champions of Science”, a book of several biographical sketches. We picked and chose, just reading and narrating, and mom/me pulling teaching from the stories on the fly. IOW, this time I hadn’t pre-read and planned “lessons” from them. We just were reading and narrating.

BUT from the foundation I have (having internalized teaching by Biblical principles), I was able to make some applications. For you “newbies” and strugglers in teaching by Biblical Principles, this is how you can “teach what you know”, and “you don’t have to teach a lot to teach a lot”, just build a foundation first. Here’s one example, from one of the chapters.

We read the chapter on Johannes Kepler, and the children narrated as we went along. (Yes, with some children this takes FOREVER!) The Principle of Individuality is usually a fairly easy one to pick out, and that was true here. Johannes had bad eyesight (and even eventually went blind). This made it hard for him to do observations. Even my 6 year old can pick out this trait of Individuality.

Kepler was also an excellent mathematician. Being the best in his university classes had gotten him the position of mathematics professor at the seminary at Graz. He had studied to be a minister of the gospel, but prayed to go wherever God could use him, so went to Graz. He used Astronomy in making the calendars and almanacs that was a part of his job. These things all contributed to his Individuality.

The story also told of Tycho Brahe. Of course, the easy thing to pick out about his Individuality is the fact that he had no nose, well, only a gold and silver one. His had been cut off in a duel. But the point we wanted to pick out about Tycho’s Individuality was his excellent observation skills. (Diane, yes, a good thing to work on 🙂 Kepler knew Tycho was a great observer, but not a great mathematician, and he had hoped to meet him but didn’t think it possible since Tycho lived in Denmark.

God’s Sovereignty and Providence in History is first seen in the time period in which Kepler lived. Wycliffe’s translating the Bible into English, and the invention of the printing press, opened things up for the great advancements that took place during this period. Kepler loved to study the Bible, something he would not have been able to do if he had been born in an earlier time period. He, and many of the great scientists making great advancements at this time, were dedicated Christians. Also, Galileo had improved the recently invented telescope, and was the first to turn it towards the heavens.

Specifically in Kepler’s life, we see the Providence of God in moving him out of France, where he could not remain because of his Christianity, and he lost all his work and equipment. He fled to Prague. By Providence Tycho also ended up in Prague, because he was unable to get along with the new king of Denmark. The 2 men worked together, God’s great combination, 2 astronomers, one who could make excellent calculations, but couldn’t see well, the other who was a great observer, but not so good at the mathematical calculations. God used these 2 men together to advance dominion through the study of Astronomy.

These are just a few areas of Biblical principles my children were able to pull out of this short story, at various levels according to their own individual development, some with reasoning/leading questions. The seeds of the Principles planted are expanding in my children’s lives and learning, growing as they grow. My 6 year old could pick out the Individuality of the men. My 8 year old could see the principle of Voluntary Union in the 2 men working together. My 11 year old could see the Sovereignty and Providence of God in moving them both to Prague. Our 14 year old read a longer biography and did a Key Individual sheet, expanding even further.

I hope my story encourages you to renew your mind in the area of educating by Biblical principles, and then to go on in Freedom & Simplicity, in the spirit of liberty to teach what you know, and to teach by seed principles, here a little there a little, line upon line.