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#1 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi I'm new to the homeschooling concept but had always thought it is what I wanted to do for my children. I have a 4 yo and a 5 yo who will be kindergarten age next fall and is currently in a public preschool. I want to try homeschooling though and am very interested in finding info on a curriculum that has a nature/environment basis. Can anyone point me in the direction of a certain curriculum that focuses on mother nature, the environment, evolution, etc. ? Is there such a thing or am I better off just making one up? thanks :)

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#2 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 02:59 PM
 
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We are quite focused on the natural world in our home-based learning, but while I looked over a number of resources when my kids were that age, I never really found anything that worked for us as a curriculum guide. I think that's because what constitutes "nature" in any family's context depends very much on where they live. What I discovered was that nature is the curriculum. I mean, this year my 8-year-old's nature studies have involved moose, and wind-chill factors, and coyote social behaviour, and a huge focus on solstice and the solar system, and avalanche awareness and the particularities of snowpack depth, layers and conditions. Last year she noticed that the leaves on the rhododendron bush beside our deck were drooping and curling with the cold, and she generated this entire science-fair-type project about thermotropism. And this spring she's all keen to study secondary ecological succession at the avalanche site a mile and a half past our property. None of this stuff would have been arranged like this in a curriculum ... but it's all very much a part of what we see in nature around us, and has thus it has led my dd's learning. 

 

I think this is what makes nature-based learning so powerful -- it's about discovery. It's not just about getting to the next page in a book, being given a worksheet or having something read to you or who you pictures. It's about being in the natural world, moving about, touching, smelling, digging, finding things, noticing changes, asking questions, wondering. 

 

We gleaned ideas from myriad sources. We've loved having multiple field guides, and a digital camera, and sketchbooks, and magnifying glasses, and a thermometer, and iBird for birding, and Skywalk for astronomy, and raising tadpoles and adopting cocoons, and creating fairy gardens outside, planting gardens, hiking, camping, rock-hounding, creating Andy Goldsworthy style ephemeral earth art, etc. etc. Along the way the kids learned to read, count, measure, compute, write, hypothesize, deduce and predict. 

 

I don't know if what you're looking for exists. If you don't, or if you don't find it, I think you'll likely do just fine anyway. Start a garden, take walks in natural settings, notice the weather and other changes in the natural world around you, and see where your particular environment leads you. 

 

Miranda

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#3 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 03:51 PM
 
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I would recommend looking into either Seasons of Joy, or Little Acorn Learning.


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#4 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 06:18 PM
 
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Do you mean learning *about* nature, or using nature to learn about other concepts?  

 

I know of the "Coyote Guide" for nature awareness, published by the teachers who run the Wilderness Awareness  School in Duvall, WA.  They sell a 4-volume "Kamana for Kids", a loosely structured, story-based curriculum for kids.  They also have a Kamana series for adults for home or correspondence learning.  What I like about the their focus is tools for awareness, not specific lessons, that center around having a secret "sit spot".

 

We mostly just do things somewhat like moominmamma wrote and also we just keep stacks and stacks of guidebooks around.

 

This is answering assuming you wanted something for learning about nature, not necessarily using nature for learning.


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#5 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 07:04 PM
 
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Sweetsilver- Could you go a little deeper into how Kamana works?  I've been looking at Coyotes Guide, and it seems to be mainly group activities, geared towards camp counselors.  How does it compare with Kamana?  How do you use it on a day to day basis?

Thanks.

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#6 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 07:47 PM
 
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The Charlotte Mason approach has nature as a key component of how it is structured.

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#7 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes I mean learning about nature and teaching a respect for the environment. I want their schooling to be largely based on the outdoors. I mean i know they could still attend public school and I could just take them on lots of hikes and outings on the weekends but I really feel I want to try this idea I have in my head of a nature based learning curriculum. My daughter already shows a strong interest in science and plants and my son loves exploring the woods so I think this would be great for them. I have a degree in horticulture so I've already been teaching them types of trees and plants and gardening. I want to also teach them a lot of native American history and the way they worshiped the land. I plan to teach them evolution but not talk bad of creationism. They can have both ideas and decide for themselves.

 

So maybe I sound a little nutty but I have this idea of what I want to do it's just maybe a bit hard to explain! :) I guess I'm just hoping there are other people who had a similar idea and have gone with it and can share some of their thoughts :) Like I said I'm new to homeschooling completely and don't even know what the norm is, if there even is one??

Thanks for the ideas!

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#8 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 10:09 PM
 
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Hi!

 

I'm not a homeschooler so don't have any cirriculum suggestions as such but thought you might get some inspiration from reading about on the "Forest Schools" movement (preschools/schools where all or at least the majority of time is spent outdoors). As I understand it, the movement is most active in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Germany though there seem to be some similar programs spread throughout the US too. I can't personally recommend any books on the subject, but there seem to be quite a few published.

 

Also, I have found this book useful for ideas, though it may be a little basic if you're already an outdoors expert.

I Love Dirt

 

Cheers,

Caitlinn

 

ETA: I've just ordered this book Lens on Outdoor Learning, which I thought looked really interesting.

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#9 of 20 Old 03-01-2012, 10:19 PM
 
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I use Enki Education as my first curriculum and I really, really love it. 

 

http://www.enkieducation.org/

 

As an enrichment - I use Earthschooling.

 

http://thebearthinstitute.memberlodge.com/Default.aspx?pageId=625979

 

Enki is expensive - but I have two kids I will use the curriculum for. Also, it is a lifestyle and not just a curriculum. The lifestyle really works for us. In addition, I participate in monthly phone calls with the curriculum writer. This have proven to be incredibly important to our family. Ad there are yahoo groups.

 

Best,

 

Jennifer


Homeschooling

Roland 08/03
Oscar 05/07

http://pnwlifelearning.blogspot.com/
 

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#10 of 20 Old 03-02-2012, 07:16 AM
 
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You might want to look into Waldorf education.  It is entirely based on nature -- when you're not outside, you can bring a 'nature table' inside.  Lessons are very influenced by seasons.  Lots of poems, stories, songs, it's a very gently curriculum, and centers around nature absolutely.

 

There are a number of different approaches to bringing Waldorf education into homeschooling.  Enki is one of them -- it's kind of a blend between Waldorf, Montessori, and I think Charlotte Mason.  You have to do a lot of prep work yourself, bringing together all the options and ideas the curriculum gives to choose from.  Lots of work, but that makes it very flexible and customizable, and it comes with TONS of resources.

 

Little Acorn Learning and Seasons of Joy are good programs that are more "pure" Waldorf.  Christopherus is another, which offers very detailed and very complete guides for building your Waldorf homeschool.

 

Something more structured, but still Waldorf-based, would be Oak Meadow.  It's less "pure" but is good if you'd prefer to just follow a script rather than create your own program out of given materials.

 

Earthschooling (from Bearth Institute) is another nice Waldorf program, IIRC it's also more structured than Christopherus but is more 'pure' than Oak Meadow is.

 

And of course, as mentioned above, Charlotte Mason education is a different philosophy but it also nature-based.  Waldorf is more "dance with the fairies and sing to the seasons" kind of nature-based, and CM is more "sit under the trees, sketch what you see, describe the natural world as you respond to stories."  In other words, CM has more of a 'classical' feel to it in that it's more, how to say it... 'proper'?  There's an emphasis on "good habits" and logical analysis (age-appropriate of course) where Waldorf is more free-flowing creativity.  These are huge generalities of course!!!  :)  They're both great philosophies, I use elements of both (and more) in our eclectic homeschool.  


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#11 of 20 Old 03-02-2012, 07:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardsmom View Post

Sweetsilver- Could you go a little deeper into how Kamana works?  I've been looking at Coyotes Guide, and it seems to be mainly group activities, geared towards camp counselors.  How does it compare with Kamana?  How do you use it on a day to day basis?

Thanks.

Kamana for Kids is simply a collection of stories to illustrate a concept, with a handful of suggested activities for kids.  Being unschoolers I don't implement it at all, let alone on a daily basis, but we read the stories.  I can't say yet whether it has had a big impact or not.  Yes, the Coyote guide is geared towards counselors, but the first half of the book is heavy with observation skills.  The main concept is the "sit spot" where you make a habit of going and sitting as often as you can, listening and being still.  Opening your awareness to nature is really the first thing.  I mean, true openness without agenda, something we adults have to relearn.  Nature hikes are nice, but they take you from point A to point B and you are moving and creating something of a ruckus.  The quiet, subtle things are invisible and we see only the plants and rocks, and the birds that are on alert to our presence.  We see deer, but they are wary and moving, or running away.  It is limiting.  Not bad, but we need to be aware of the limitations we have created by choosing it (same for sitting, really.)

 

I really enjoy focussing on nature as a family.  I think that it lends itself slightly more to an organic style of learning, not necessarily offered by a curriculum.  You could learn a lot from one, but then try to be open to all the surprises nature brings and always be ready to change directions.  Right now, being pretty cold still, our "nature" learning is centered on towering stacks of guidebooks that my 5yo daughter looks through over and over and over.
 

 


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#12 of 20 Old 03-03-2012, 04:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

The Charlotte Mason approach has nature as a key component of how it is structured.



I was going to suggest Charlotte Mason as well. There's a free curriculum based on her methods available online, and they have all of her books right on their site as well.


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#13 of 20 Old 03-04-2012, 04:20 PM
 
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Another vote for both Waldorf and Charlotte Mason.  We use both and a lot (if not most) of our learning happens outdoors in nature, and when we're indoors, we're thinking about the outdoors!

 

I love, love, love Seasons of Joy for Kindy.  We use Christoperus for Grade one, plus Ambleside Online for our Charlotte Mason stuff (some of the books recommended on that site have been real treasures for us!).  I've heard great things about A Little Acorn Learning and Simply Charlotte Mason, too.

 

Enjoy finding something that works for you.  We just love our nature-based curriculum.  So rewarding and so appropriate for our family with three active boys.


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#14 of 20 Old 03-04-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again for all the great resources! I have to ask though, is most home schooling based on religion? I have been noticing almost every home school resource I come across online mentions, The Bible or God or both? I'm not against religion or anything I'm just not a very religious person myself and don't plan on it being the focus of my children's education. I want to home school for different reasons I guess? Am I wrong to assume this or is most home schooling done for religious reasons?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, like I said this is all new to me!

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#15 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 04:52 AM
 
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About religion:  I think many families do homeschool for religious reasons.  That's not my experience in my area, though.  In our homeschool co-op, which is Waldorf-based, there are only one or two families who have a religious connection (we're one!).  Most of our members seem interested in finding spiritual connections to nature and the human experience of living in nature.  A great many of our group activities are aimed at getting the children outside and connecting to the rhythms of nature.

 

I think it's pretty easy in both Waldorf and Charlotte Mason to skip the religious stuff (with the caveat that I can't quite imagine Waldorf without seasonal festivals and most of these are at least spritiual even when not religious).  Or at least take the religion out of it and keep the spiritual essence.  As I said, we use Ambleside Online for our CM stuff and that definately has Christian overtones, but it seems pretty easy to eliminate those and focus on the books that seem right to you...or use that book list to inspire your own.  I've also heard that Simply Charlotte Mason is more secular.

 

Have you looked for a group in your area?  I see you are from NH and I can think of a couple of Waldorf groups in that area.  If you are interested at all in that philosophy of education, maybe just meeting up with some families who practice it might give you a feel for if it would work for you.


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#16 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 05:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha27 View Post

Thanks again for all the great resources! I have to ask though, is most home schooling based on religion? I have been noticing almost every home school resource I come across online mentions, The Bible or God or both? I'm not against religion or anything I'm just not a very religious person myself and don't plan on it being the focus of my children's education. I want to home school for different reasons I guess? Am I wrong to assume this or is most home schooling done for religious reasons?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, like I said this is all new to me!


There are a lot of people who homeschool for religious reasons, and a lot who homeschool for other reasons.  Which there are more of probably depends on where you live.  Religious homeschoolers seem to be in the minority where I live.

 

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#17 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We do live in NH, far northern NH and now that I'm looking more into home schooling I'm learning there are a few up this way that do it. I have one good friend who home schools her kids and she is religious so I think that is one big reason she does it. She has a 6 year old so she has been into it for about a year and is a good resource for me, even if we have different ideas about it.

I'm liking the sound of Waldorf, I think I'll check into that to use as a base for our curriculum and add some of my own ideas to it. I do like the idea of celebrating seasonal festivals b/c I am spiritual just not religious.

 

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#18 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 07:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha27 View Post

Thanks again for all the great resources! I have to ask though, is most home schooling based on religion? I have been noticing almost every home school resource I come across online mentions, The Bible or God or both? I'm not against religion or anything I'm just not a very religious person myself and don't plan on it being the focus of my children's education. I want to home school for different reasons I guess? Am I wrong to assume this or is most home schooling done for religious reasons?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, like I said this is all new to me!

I think I've read that the majority of homeschoolers HS for "religious reasons".  What does that mean and how did they arrive at that figure?  No idea, so I'm sure it's debatable but even in my own experience most HSing folks I've met personally has a religious focus to some extent meaning they incorporate their religion into their daily curriculum to varying degrees.  When my ultra-religious ILs heard we were going to homeschool, they sent some pretty hard-to swallow stuff (from my irreverent POV).  "2 carrots plus three carrots equals five carrots.  Five carrots and God is pleased!"  I'm sort of making that up because I sold the books to a consignment shop and I don't remember the exact words but it was something like that.

 

Short answer-- you are not imagining things and some areas might be more this way than others.  Some moms I've met HS for other reasons but are part of their church's HSing support group and while they don't necessarily praise God after each equation (duck.gif) they still incorporate Bible study etc.

 

You're right--Waldorf isn't religious necessarily, at least until you dig deep into Steiner's philosophies.  Every school room at the Waldorf school will have a portrait of the Madonna and Jesus, but it doesn't creep in to the lessons.  Of course, home Waldorf school can be done your own way, but I say that as an irreverent unschooler.  The folks at Christopherus insist that it isn't Waldorf if you don't follow the curriculum fully.

 

OK, I'm rambling far beyond any questions you've had now so I'll end this before I get into trouble!
 

 


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#19 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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Hi there!

Great thread!  One of the main reasons we homeschool is to be able to provide our children an environment/nature-based learning environment.  Truthfully, we don't really "provide" it, we let most of it just happen! To add to all the great comments above, I've also found awesome content for homeschooling on university sites, national park sites, natural history museums, various enthusiasts' sites etc. 

 

The girls often say, "I want to learn more about x" and then I research from there.  I often spend evenings scouring the internet for info/projects/etc. on various topics.  I usually cut and paste findings into a powerpoint document which basically serves as a "teacher's guide" for me.  I've found that a topic such as "dolphins" comes up every few months, so it's nice to know which sites I've used as a resource previously. 

 

Here are a few environment/animal/science site I've found useful (some have actual units you can use):

- EEI http://www.calepa.ca.gov/education/eei/

- Arbor Day foundation www.natureexplore.org

- http://insected.arizona.edu/info.htm

 

The last one I listed is my all-time favorite for insects!

Have a great day!

 

 
 

 

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#20 of 20 Old 03-05-2012, 03:36 PM
 
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http://www.globalvillageschool.org/ is another option.


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