We are well into fall here in the Canadian prairies and I figured it was about time I shared some ideas for fall nature study.
To be honest, nature study is not something I am naturally good at. But I’m trying.
Apparently my trying has been at least somewhat successful because a few weeks ago my six year old said “Mom loves nature.” – at least he thinks so!
Our fall days here can be hit or miss. We often start getting snow at the end of September but it will usually melt right away or within a few days. The temperature can go from -10C in the morning to +20C in the afternoon. It can be sunny or it can be rainy. Really, we just need to be ready to roll with the punches (or the weather).
I wanted to create a list of fall nature study ideas so I have something to look back on when I’m feeling uninspired. Hopefully this list helps you as well.
Oh, and I also created a free autumn scavenger hunt because my kids love that kind of thing.
AUTUMN NATURE STUDY IDEAS
GO FOR A NATURE WALK
Really, all these ideas can include a nature walk but sometimes it is nice just to go for a walk without any ulterior motives and just see what catches your eye. Point out interesting things you see and get your kids to do the same. After you are done the walk you can ask them what their favorite thing they saw or heard was.
LEAF IDENTIFICATION, COLLECTION AND CRAFTS
You can keep an eye out for all the leaves you spot and see how many different varieties you can find. You can collect one leaf from each variety or try to collect a rainbow of colors.
There are also tons of different crafts you can do with leaves. I’ve been seeing lots of them on Instagram lately (and sharing some of my favorites in my stories), everything from making doll dresses to making masks to paining the leaves, there are some homeschool mamas with some great creativity out there!
SIT & LISTEN
A fun activity to do is to sit still and listen. After a minute or a few minutes ask your children to tell you what sounds they all heard. It’s a very good calming activity as well.
I made a free autumn scavenger hunt and my kids loved looking for all the different items on the list. Some we were able to see and some we even got to collect!
To grab the free scavenger hunt printable, just fill out this form and you will get access to the exclusive subscriber library:
At this time of the year the ladybugs are trying to find a place to hibernate and often do so in groups. We didn’t have to search very long to find a few groups. We made sure to not disturb them though (the ladybug pictures in this post are from earlier in the year).
It can always be fun to identify all the different birds we see but it’s even more so during migration season when we spy birds we don’t see here year round. This year we saw a great blue heron and pelican in the pond by our house, birds we’ve never spotted here before.
BIRD HOUSES & FEEDERS
On the topic of birds, if you want to see more of them, this is a great time to put up bird houses and feeders – you can even make your own! The birds have been going crazy over our bird seed and we have to fill up our feeder every week!
HUNTING FOR AUTUMN DECOR
Want to decorate with pinecones and other autumn-y things? Why not make it a nature study activity? Let your kids know what you are looking for and have them start searching.
Usborne Weather (in an edition so old I can’t even find a link for it)
The weather fact I put up on the letter board was:
Wind doesn’t make a sound until it blows against an object.
One of my children gets very frightened by the sound of wind and when they heard this fact they decided wind really wasn’t that scary then. #scienceforthewin
I remembered making a tornado in a bottle in elementary school and it was something I wanted to do with the kids. The one I remembered involved two large pop bottles and a piece of plastic, but honestly, the little plastic piece was $5 and I didn’t want to have to order it and wait for it to come in so we just made a mini tornado with a water bottle, water and glitter. It wasn’t as impressive but it worked.
Here’s the one I originally wanted to make:
Here’s what we made instead:
We also watched a couple of educational videos about weather from some of our favorite kids science YouTube channels:
And that’s really all there was to our mini unit study on weather!
If we would have taken more time/had the kids shown more interest in the topic I would have printed out the Clouds Fact Cards that we have from Brave Grown Home that we got in a previous bundle, maybe we’ll do that if/when we study the topic in the future.
If you have suggestions on other topics we should study in the future, I would love to hear them, I’m currently keeping a running list of ideas!
Part of our homeschool rhythm for the year is to have a mini unit study every Monday afternoon. My main reason behind this was because there are so many different topics I want to study with my kids and many of them don’t quite fall under our plan for the year, this is my way of sneaking those topical studies in.
This last Monday was our first mini unit study and we kicked things off with owls!
I started out by having the letter board and a few resources and books about owls out on the table in the morning. As soon as my son woke up and I told him what the letter board said he asked what other groups of animals were called so we spent a few minutes looking that up.
FUN FACT Owls do not have a good sense of smell, because of this the great horned owl is one of the only consistent predators of skunks.
I love that I learned just as much about owls as the kids!
We spent some time reading about owls (I’ll list the resources we used at the end of the post) and then the kids took some time to draw some owl pictures.
If we had more time I would have looked around for some good informational videos on YouTube. There are some channels that have good information that have videos on owls that would be good if you want to watch some, we may end up looking at them at a later date.
Owls: Our Most Charming Bird – This book is cute and the drawing of owls are adorable and would be nice to try to copy off of for drawing but the information in it was a little lacking, this is one I would recommend getting out from the library instead of purchasing.
Letter Cards – the black letter cards I bought from Amazon a couple of years ago, I really like them but don’t like that they don’t have duplicate letters so I created my own printable ones (and I reversed the colors so they are not so hard on the printer), but when you are writing words without duplicate letters the Amazon ones work great.
Owls in the Family – we didn’t actually read this book this time but we read it last summer, if we were doing a longer owl study I would read it again with the kids
Owl at Home – we used to own this book but I couldn’t find it when I was pulling stuff together. I would have loved to read it this week with my beginning reader but turned the house nearly upside down and still couldn’t find it.
Our little unit study was only about an hour long and here’s what our table looked after (remember, I only have two kids!), good thing we have a big table!
We have our next few weeks of unit studies planned out but if you have ideas for what we should study in the future, I would love to hear them!
Welcome to another monthly book list! I’ve been slowly collecting books about weather for us to study the topic so I thought it would make a great theme for August’s theme.
We went on a little road trip last week and as we were driving home we drove through some spectacular storms and cloud formations. I often bemoan the fact that we live in flat prairie land but it sure makes it easy to see what is all going on in the sky. I captured this shot last week from my seat in the vehicle, it’s not something you would generally be able to get a good view or shot of in hilly or mountainous places:
And since I am incapable of mentioning this flat province without referencing or sharing this scene from Corner Gas, I’ll keep up my tradition and share it here. #nothingtoblockyourview
That was a big of a rabbit trail, now on to some great weather books for the month of August!
This fun and educational picture book describes forecasters at work in a weather station as they track and gauge the constant changes in the weather.
Will I need my umbrella?
Is it a good day for the beach?
Will school close because of snow?
These are the questions weather forecasters answer every day. They can tell us what the weather is doing at any time of the day or night. But how do they do it?
Weather Forecasting tells how. With straightforward text and colorful pictures, this behind-the-scenes look at a modern weather station answers basic questions kids ask most, and makes weather forecasting more fun and accessible than ever.
Everyone talks about the weather, but what does it all mean? In clear, accessible language, Gail Gibbons introduces many common terms—like moisture, air pressure, and temperature—and their definitions.
Simple, kid-friendly text explains the origins of fog, clouds, frost, thunderstorms, snow, fronts, hurricanes, reinforcing the explanations with clear, well-labeled drawings and diagrams. Best of all, the book features a fun list of weird weather facts!
Will it be warm or cold? Should we wear shorts or pants? Shoes or rain boots? This picture book explores why the weather can be so hard to predict.
Now rebranded with a new cover look, this classic picture book uses colorful, simple diagrams to explain meteorology in a fun, engaging way. Perfect for young readers and budding meteorologists, this bestseller is filled with rich climate vocabulary and clear explanations of everyday weather instruments like thermometers and barometers. Both text and artwork were vetted for accuracy by Dr. Sean Birkel of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.
Have you ever looked up and wondered what’s going on high up in the skies above your eyes? Take a journey up into the air, through the atmosphere, way out into space, and back down to Earth in this richly illustrated concertina book.
Zoom past the technology that fills our skies, from helicopters, fighter jets, weather balloons, to satellites, hang-gliders, and hot-air balloons. Discover the insects and animals that whizz through the skies, explore the layers of the atmosphere, and travel through the solar system and out to the galaxies far beyond. The follow up to The Street Beneath My Feet, which dug down to the center of the Earth, this expansive concertina book opens out to an impressive length of over 8 feet, perfect for inquisitive young minds.
Begin your journey from the sidewalk of a busy city. Look up beyond the traffic lights, utility wires, and skyscrapers. Unfold the connected pages to reveal the incredible man-made sights that you would see 12 miles above (a weather balloon), 30 miles above (a rocket blasting a capsule into space), 62 miles above (a space plane and satellites), 250 miles above (the International Space Station), 235,000 miles above (the Moon), and through our Solar System.
Turn to the top of the other side to make your way beyond the Solar System to the hundreds of billions of galaxies filled with stars and planets we haven’t discovered yet. Then start your journey back down through the amazing natural wonders you would see 6,200 miles above (a comet), 55 miles above (meteoroids burning up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere), 7 miles above (a cumulonimbus cloud bringing thunder and lightning), 1 mile above (migrating storks), and down through the mountains, past trees, bats, and butterflies to finally reach the ground again—this time in a grassy clearing of a forest, where you can imagine yourself lying on your back wondering at the thought of the whole universe above your head.
From jet trails to comets’ tails, enjoy amazing sights as you journey through the skies.
Look! The sky is getting cloudy. Does that mean light rain, a thunderstorm, or just an overcast day? Dylan hopes their soccer game won’t be rained out. Bel the Weather Girl helps her friends read the clues in the sky. Will it rain on game day? Stay tuned, because every day is another weather day!
Do you ever wake up and wonder what the weather will be? Instead of turning on the TV to find out, you can just look out your window at the clouds. How do you know what type of clouds can forecast a change of weather? Read and find out.
Have you ever felt the wind tickle your face or heard it whistle through your window? Did you know that some wind travels faster than a car? Read inside to find out more about what causes wind, and learn how to make your own weather vane!
Have you ever felt the wind tickle your face or heard it whistle through your window? Did you know that some wind travels faster than a car?
Air is always moving. We can’t see air moving, though we can watch it push clouds across the sky, or shake the leaves of a tree. We call moving air the wind. In this enlarged edition, find out about the wind – what causes it, how it can be used to help us, and how it affects the weather.
Have you ever wondered what happens to a raindrop when it falls from the sky? This beautifully illustrated story will capture the imaginations of children and parents alike, and offers a perfect introduction to the water cycle.
Join in the rainy-day fun, as kids splash through the puddles, affecting another weather enthusiast, a nearby worm. An imaginative and playful story, readers will love seeing the worm delight in the weather just as much as the kids.
“Come on, rain!” Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Up and down the block, cats pant while heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway. More than anything, Tess hopes for rain. And when it comes, she and her friends are ready for a surprising joyous celebration….
The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather, which came three times a day–at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Life for the townspeople was delicious until the miraculous food weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger, and so did the portions. The flood of huge food caused chaos, and the people feared for their lives. Something had to be done . . . before it was too late!
Did you know that lightning bolts can be over a mile long? Or that they may come from clouds that are ten miles high? Storms can be scary, but not if you know what causes them. Before the next thunderstorm, grab this book by veteran science team Franklyn Branley and True Kelley and learn what causes the flash, crash, rumble, and roll of thunderstorms!
Boom! A crash of thunder follows a flash of lightning. Bel the Weather Girl and Dylan are having a slumber party, but now he’s hiding under the covers! Bel tells Dylan that thunderstorms aren’t so scary once you understand them. Will Dylan’s fear of the storm rain on their sleepover? Stay tuned, because every day is another weather day!
Thunder Rose vows to grow up to be more than just big and strong, thank you very kindly–and boy, does she ever! But when a whirling storm on a riotous rampage threatens, has Rose finally met her match?
What in the world is a tornado? In this age of extreme weather, Gail Gibbons’ informative introduction to tornadoes answers all your questions.
Tornadoes form when hot, humid air rises from the ground and meets with the cooler, denser air that is falling back to Earth. The two airstreams begin to swirl, pulling in more and more air to form a funnel-shaped cloud. The winds can swirl faster than 261 miles per hour!
Tornado siren! Bel the Weather Girl and Dylan head to the basement. Dylan is scared the house will blow away! But soon the storm passes. Some storms make tornadoes, and some don’t. Bel says she can explain why―in the kitchen. What does baking have to do with tornadoes? Stay tuned, because every day is another weather day!
Imagine a force that can toss boats around like toys, wash away bridges, and create waves as high as eighteen feet. With fierce winds and torrential rains, hurricanes can do all of these things. They can cause tremendous damage and even change the shape of a shoreline. For centuries people did not know when a hurricane was coming. But now we have new methods to predict when and where these storms will occur. Young readers will learn how hurricanes are formed, how they are named and classified, and what to do if a dangerous storm is on the way.
Count on Ms. Frizzle to teach anything but an ordinary lesson on meteorology. Flying through the clouds in the Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle’s class experiences a hurricane-and even a tornado-firsthand. During their thrilling ride through the sky, Arnold gets lost! Will the Friz be able to save the day this time?
Yikes! Grandpa tells Dylan and Bel the Weather Girl that he is tracking a tropical storm. They came to Florida for fun in the sun, not to get stuck in a hurricane! Bel explains the science behind the storm. Are the weekend plans ruined? Stay tuned, because every day is another weather day!
Do you know of any great weather books? I would love for you to let me know in the comments below so we can check them out!
All month I have been sharing some of my favorite nature resources over on Instagram and this week things are coming to an end, but not without a little fun.
There is a big giveaway going on where one lucky winner will come away with shop gift certificates, a nature journal, This Is My Classroom tee and one of my favorite nature journaling books, Watercolor With Me: In the Forest.
This month I decided to go with a bugs and insects theme for the monthly book list!
We are observing bugs all spring, summer and fall long but since I’m currently wrapping up my nature resource month over on Instagram (you can view the links to all the resources here), I was feeling extra nature-y and thought this would be a good theme for this month’s book list.
The only problem about this list is that it could have been much, much, much longer. I may come back and add more books to it over time but I wanted to start out with some of our favorites and as we get new favorites on the topic I’ll add them in.
Normally for my monthly book lists the books on the list are picture books, and while I do have some strictly picture books on this list (a couple), they are more the informative picture book this time.
There are some excellent authors and illustrators creating these books and I think you’ll be able to tell some of my favorites because I feature more than just one of their books.
If you have a favorite book about bugs and insects let me know, we would love to check them out!
The Best Books for July About Bugs and Insects
We love Usborne books and this one is no exception!
A skin-crawling introduction to the world’s biggest bugs, from gigantic spiders as big as a dinner plate, to butterflies larger than dogs Find out about the biggest swarms and colonies, the deadliest insects and the bugs with the best camouflage. Huge fold-out pages with life-size illustrations show children just how big the bugs really are.
This book has the same name as the one above but I would definitely suggest taking a look at both – they are both great.
From moths and beetles to worms and spiders, the world is crawling with fascinating bugs. The Big Book of Bugs is the first fact-filled book for children to explore the vast array of creepy-crawlies that share our Earth.
In the first pages, children learn that bugs live nearly everywhere on the planet and gain tips on how to become a young bug spotter. As the book continues, the scenic compositions on each page are dedicated to key groups of bugs, including beetles, moths, butterflies, bees, snails, crickets, grasshoppers, worms, and spiders. Some spreads approach the world of bugs thematically, such as bugs that come out at night, baby bugs, and life cycles, how bugs hide and show off, and how some bugs love to live in your home.
One of my favorite books from one of my favorite book series’, this one is a must.
A gorgeous and informative introduction to the world of butterflies. An incredible variety of butterflies are celebrated here in all of their beauty and wonder, from the tiny Arian Small Blue to the grand Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing.
This is from the same series as A Butterfly is Patient and is just as beautiful.
The award-winning duo of Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long team up again, this time creating a gorgeous look at the fascinating world of beetles. From flea beetles to bombardier beetles, an incredible variety of these beloved bugs are showcased here in all their splendor. Poetic in voice and elegant in design.
I’ve used this book as a reader for both of my kids, it’s a cute story that is easy for those just starting to read.
A fly is followed by a menagerie of characters in this humorous cumulative tale edited by Dr. Seuss. When a young boy sees a frantic fly buzzing past, he asks where the fly is headed—and with that, a chase begins. The fly and the frog, the cat and the dog, the pig and the cow, the fox and the hunter . . . who is causing all the fuss?
It’s a classic so I needed to include it here. I can actually remember the first time I heard this book read aloud, it was in my elementary school library . . .
When you think of a ladybug, you might picture a little red beetle with seven black spots on its back—but did you know there are thousands of types of ladybugs, spread across the world?
Follow a ladybug through the four stages of its development from egg to adult, and learn about its behavior and habitat—plus, how little ladybugs help protect crops by eating harmful insects. Bright illustrations and an easy-to-read text make this ideal for young readers studying the natural world.
Spiders help us by eating insects that are harmful to people and crops. From baby spiderlings to large tarantulas, here is information about ballooning, molting, and how different spiders build their webs. Spiders have been on earth since before the first dinosaurs. About 30,000 kinds of these creatures are known to be living, and more are still being discovered.
Follow the transformation from a tiny white egg laid on a leaf to a brilliantly colored butterfly in this kid-friendly introduction to metamorphosis. With detailed, bright watercolors, Gail Gibbons illustrates the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, stage by stage, as it grows, changes, and takes flight.
Thousands of bees visit more than one million flowers to gather the nectar that goes into a one-pound jar of honey. Every page in this picture book reveals how these remarkable insects work together to create this amazing food.
This book is large and beautiful. It’s got a ton of information and is a real eye-catcher.
One part science, one part cultural history, and countless parts fascination, Bees celebrates the important role that these intriguing insects have played in our ecosystem throughout the ages. From Athena to Alexander the Great and from Egypt to Ethiopia, Bees explores different methods of beekeeping and uncovers the debt that humans owe this vital species. With beautifully accessible illustrations depicting everything from bee anatomy to the essentials of honey making, readers will be captivated by the endless wonders of this seemingly small speck of the animal kingdom.
DK’s The Bee Book is a wonderful introduction to the humble honeybee: nature’s hardest worker, and much more than just a provider of honey! Bees are incredibly industrious, brilliant at building, super social, and–most importantly–responsible for a third of every mouthful of food you eat! Find out how bees talk to one another, what it takes to become a queen bee, what the life of a worker bee is like, and more. The contents include bee anatomy, types of bee, hives, colonies, pollination, making honey, and more. Discover just how much they matter, why they are declining, and what you can do to help!
What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?
Who would want to be friends with a wiggly, slimy worm? You can’t even tell which end is which! But there’s more to these lowly creatures than meets the eye. Kids are invited to find out where worms live, see how they move, and understand why gardeners consider them friends with the help of this humorous and informative look at an unappreciated — and fascinating — creature.
Okay, any suggestions for other bug and insect books we should check out? Let me know in the comments!