Category Archives: The Method

Resource Review: Exploring Nature with Children

Exploring Nature with Children book cover

Do you want to add Nature Study to your current curriculum?  Are you new to Charlotte Mason homeschooling?  Are you at a loss of where to start?  Would you like to tie-in art appreciation and poetry with Nature Study?  Do you want your entire family (preschool through high school) to participate meaningfully together in your nature explorations?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon could be just what you’ve been looking for.  This is a week-by-week curriculum and lesson guide covering the entire school year–taking you gently by the hand to explore your local outdoor area through the changing seasons.

Handbook of Nature Study book coverMuch of Exploring Nature with Children revolves around sections in the popular and classic book,
Handbook of Nature Study
by Anna Botsford Comstock.  Seddon’s curriculum can stand alone and be used without Comstock’s book, but there are page references for those readers who would like to incorporate Comstock’s information and suggestions.

There are also lists each week for additional outside reading if you want to continue Nature Study throughout the week or reinforce concepts learned on your weekly nature outing.  Older children will benefit from the extra Extension activity suggestions, as well.

Charlotte Mason home educators will be pleased to see frequent quotations and references to Mason’s work throughout Exploring Nature with Children.  One of the things I enjoyed seeing in Seddon’s new ebook is the nature-related poem and information on an appropriate work of art that complements each week’s nature lesson.  The poems would be great to use for memorization, recitation, copywork, dictation, or just-for-fun reading.  Although the art work, itself, isn’t included in Seddon’s book, she gives the name of the artist and the painting so you can find a copy of it online.  I didn’t have any trouble finding the suggested works of art using Google.  I personally would probably go through ahead of time and find good quality reproductions online and then print up the year’s worth of art in advance on nice paper and store the prints in a large envelope along with the printed out study guide.

While homeschooling my own three children, I tried to always keep a seasonal nature table or display shelf set up for my kids so they could bring some of their nature treasures indoors. I was pleased to see Seddon recommend and describe a similar process.

Book Features:

  • Seasonal supply lists
  • Weekly lesson plans
  • Related poetry
  • Suggestions for artwork to view
  • Instructions for keeping Nature Notebooks
  • Extension activities for further study
  • Suggested additional reading materials
  • Page numbers for related content in Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study

At the beginning of each season, there is a list of supplies you may need to complete the upcoming activities.  Seddon is located in England so occasionally American readers may find themselves scratching their heads a bit, for example, needing to remember things like a “torch” is a flashlight (not a flaming stick of fire to carry in the dark!). 😉

For a full year of weekly Nature Study lesson plans that can be used with the entire family, you can’t go wrong with Exploring Nature with Children by Lynn Seddon.

Reviewer’s Suggestion:  If you purchase this book now (mid-September), I recommend skipping ahead to the “Harvest Moon” and “Fall Equinox” sections (Weeks 3 & 4 of September).

Happy homeschooling to you and yours!


Deborah Taylor-Hough
Author of A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas and editor of the weekly Charlotte Mason eMagazine


The author is offering a 30% discount (off the $15 price) for readers of this blog until October 18th, 2015.  Enter the code CM15 at checkout.

For complete ordering information, go to:

Exploring Nature with Children book cover

    • Exploring Nature with Children: A Complete, Year-Long Curriculum
    • Copyright 2015 Lynn Seddon
    • 240 pages; ebook format only
    • $15 (30% discount for my blog readers until October 18th, 2015 – Use code CM15 when ordering here)


Q&A: Habits


Cynthia Ann says–

  • “Habits. I’m super excited to have habit training as the foundation of my Home atmosphere although as a newcomer to CM and HS I’m a bit overwhelmed by the idea. If you did/do habit training is there a book or outline you followed that you’d recommend? I plan on using Laying Down the Rails by Sonya Shafer but I wanted to get other opinions and options I may be missing. Thanks.”

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Nature Study Poetic Idea

51N0LJzBviLWhile reading a required book in the MFA program this week, it struck me how —  for those of us living in urban environments — modern nature study and nature walks often involve city sights and sounds as well as the local flora and fauna. Harryette Mullen’s book of poetry, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary, is the author’s poetic reflections on a year of walking outdoors in LA, in local parks, and places she visited throughout the year.  She often combines her observations of nature with her observations of city life, people, streets, etc.

Mullen chose the Japanese tanka form as her way of recording her walks.  A tanka is a 31 syllable poem often reflecting on the role of the human in relation to nature.  I had a brainstorm while reading this book, that perhaps a short daily (or weekly) tanka (or haiku) assignment for the kiddos might be an excellent addition to their nature journals or other journaling/notebooking ventures.

Guest Article: Home School Science – Studying Microclimates

by Sheila Carroll
Guest Contributor

Getting out into the woods, yard or even nearby vacant lot is one of the best means of gaining an understanding of natural processes–a key discipline in the sciences. Charlotte Mason, a British educational reformer saw the study of nature as the means of training the senses to absorb the all-important details and then to draw conclusions. Continue reading

Guest Article: “Just What IS a Living Book?”

Mother Reading to Sonby Suz Stewart
Guest Contributor

Charlotte Mason was a Victorian educational reformer. One of her biggest contributions to the world of education was the concept of using only “living” books in her classrooms. Many new homeschoolers, and homeschoolers new to Charlotte Mason’s methods, haven’t a clue what a living books is or how to spot one, however. This article will endeavor to rectify that situation.

A living book is defined as any book that is literary in nature. That is, it has the following attributes:

  • Engaging, interesting, lively text
  • Literary elements – plot, descriptive passages, poetic language
  • It has stood the test of time – it’s just as interesting to today’s reader as it was to its original audience
  • It has something to say, something to teach – a redeeming quality, a moral, a character builder – it asks something introspective of the reader

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