Homeschool Students Discover Their Neighborhood


If a child is to keep alive his or her inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least  one adult who can share it; rediscovering with him, the joy, excitement and mystery of the  outdoor world.                                    

Rachel Carson

Nature Detectives for Home schooled students creates opportunities for more personalized attention and critical relationship building. We talk about what nature the child or children explored in the past week and sometimes share some riddles or last week’s weekly nature challenge.

Found a broken eggshell and a tiny dead bird inside.

They often show me something they found outdoors that week – a collection of leaves, flowers, a caterpillar or other insect.  Photo displays an eggshell that fell from a tree. A premature baby bird lays still inside.

Students decorate the cover of their Nature Discovery Journal on the first session of each new season (each 4, 6, or 8 weeks). As with in-person classes, the journals consist of 8 blank 8 -1/2×11 white paper, and a front and back cover of colored paper..

Spring activities start with a scavenger hunt in the student’s front or backyard or nearby neighbors. Doing a color walk. Nature Detectives choose two colored pencils and find natural objects to match his or her colors. The fun begins when the child goes outdoors to explore. Upon returning they share discoveries.

“Ms. Jan look what we found!”

Students tape down flowers, bark, leaves or other discovering into their journals, drawing an object to match. Ms Jan watches and waits for the artistic creation to be revealed. Other times, Nature Detectives draw “at the scene” and share their finished drawings.

We may make a butterfly fan puppet after reading a book to learn about the butterfly life cycle. Or creating a kite opens a dialog to talk about how to recognize wind – across our face, blowing leaves – and results of different wind speed. And where does wind come from? How do clouds move?

If you are lucky and time the class at just the right time, you may be invited to watch a  butterfly feeding as it is raised from a chrysalis inside its mesh tent.

When it is time to go, we talk about next week’s nature challenge, Then “Bye Ms. Jan, See you next week!”  Even when our last session ends for the season, our relationships continue. Nature Detectives are anxious to share their next discovery online or in-person at a special Community Science Project day or other special activity.