Nature Studies
The study of nature is appealing to people of all ages. It is easy to incorporate nature studies into your homeschooling approach. Some homeschooling methods focus very strongly on nature studies, including the Charlotte Mason method. Learn why it is so important and some great approaches to learning from nature.
Things to See & Do in Virginia
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Located in Virginia Beach, the Virginia Marine Science Museum features a total of 800,000 gallons of aquariums, live animal habitats, more than 300 hands-on exhibits, nature trail, aviary, and an IMAX theater.
Mill Mountain Zoo
Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke exhibits 45 species of exotic and native animals on a ten acre site. Winding pathways and observation areas provide close viewing of such animals as a Siberian Tiger, Red Pandas, Golden Lion Tamarins, Hawks, Tree Kangaroos, and reptiles. A popular contact area includes goats and small mammals which children can learn about up close. During the summer season, programs are presented on the Zoo's amphitheater located at the top of Mill Mountain with beautiful views of the Roanoke Valley below.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park lies astride a beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which form the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains between Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Shenandoah River flows through the valley to the west, with Massanutten Mountain, 40 miles long, standing between the river's north and south forks. The rolling Piedmont country lies to the east of the park. Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park, provides vistas of the spectacular landscape to east and west. The park holds more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Trails may follow a ridge crest, or they may lead to high places with panoramic views or to waterfalls in deep canyons. Many animals, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys, flourish among the rich growth of an oak-hickory forest. In season, bushes and wildflowers bloom along the Drive and trails and fill the open spaces. Apple trees, stone foundations, and cemeteries are reminders of the families who once called this place home.
Virginia Zoological Park
Located on 53 acres adjacent to Norfolk's Lafayette Park, the Zoo was established in 1901 as a City Park and has over 375 animals and features one of the finest Africa habitats in the country. The 8-acre Africa exhibit is aptly named Okavango Delta, because it is representative of the actual Okavango Delta region in Botswana, Africa.
Prince William Forest Park
Prince William Forest Park, located in Prince William County, Virginia, is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region at over 15,000+ acres. Today, the park serves as a window into the past, of what much of the east coast once looked like centuries ago. The park is an example of the increasingly uncommon Piedmont forest and its ecosystems and protects the Quantico Creek watershed. It is a sanctuary for numerous native plant and animals species. The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing, 37 miles of hiking trails and 21 miles of bicycle accessible roads and trails. The park’s cultural resources are also varied. They include the remnants of Joplin and Hickory Ridge, two small communities existing prior to the park’s establishment, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who built the facilities, roads and lakes during the 1930s and the U.S. Army’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) who used the land exclusively for training spies and radio operators between 1942 and 1945, just to name a few.
Green Springs
Green Springs National Historic Landmark District encompasses over 14,000 acres in the western piedmont of central Virginia. It is a shallow basin created by the erosion of a volcanic intrusion, geologic activity that created the particularly fertile soil which has sustained farming for almost three centuries. The homes and farms are a continuum of Virginia rural vernacular architecture, reflective and respectful of their location, preserved in their original context with little alteration. Here the landscape has been enhanced, rather than despoiled, by the presence of civilization.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,180-mile footpath along the ridgecrests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. It traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Conceived in 1921, it was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. The trail traverses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Assateague Island National Seashore
Storm tossed seas, as well as gentle breezes shape Assateague Island. This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind. Special thickened leaves and odd shapes reveal the plant world’s successful struggle here. Ghost crabs buried in the cool beach sand and tree swallows plucking bayberries on their southward migration offer glimpses of the animal world’s connection to Assateague.
Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park, a site that is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, is an 800 acre park located along the Potomac River 14 miles upriver from Washington D.C. The park is known for two things, its scenic beauty at the head of Potomac River fall line and the historic Patowmack Canal.
Resources
Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking

With Jim Arnosky as your guide, an ordinary hike becomes an eye-opening experience. He'll help you spot a hawk soaring far overhead and note the details of a dragonfly up close. Study the black-and-white drawings -- based on his own field research -- and you'll discover if those tracks in the brush were made by a deer or a fox.

In his celebrated style, this author, artist, and naturalist enthusiastically shares a wealth of tips. Jim Arnosky wants you to enjoy watching wildlife. He carefully explains how field marks, shapes, and location give clues for identifying certain plants and animals wherever you are. He gives hints for sharpening observational skills. And he encourages you to draw and record birds, insects, shells, animal tracks, and other finds from a busy day's watch.

Nature Studies Homeschool Curriculum
Considering God's Creation
Life science truly comes alive with this 270-page lap-book style notebook for 2nd-7th graders. A Charlotte Mason type discovery approach is easily implemented with creative activities, music and topical Bible studies, making this program a perfect choice for a homeschool family or a classroom. It may be used as a stand-alone science course or as an invaluable supplemental resource for any other program. 
Nature Studies Activities & Experiments
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: Science
Family style learning is a great way to tackle lots of different subjects, including science.
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
Featured Resources

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Catholic Home Schooling: A Handbook for Parents
Mary Kay Clark, the director of the accredited and successful Seton Home Study School shows parents why and how to teach their children at home, giving scores of practical examples and setting forth the spiritual, moral and academic advantages. The book includes chapters by several experts and covers Catholic curriculum, textbooks, Catholic family life, legal aspects, discipline, socialization, home management, using computers, children with learning disabilities, single-parent home schooling, t...
A History of Science
A History of Science is not a textbook, but is a guide to help parents and children study science through literature. It is intended for children in elementary grades.
Morning by Morning : How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League
Home schooling has long been regarded as a last resort, particularly by African-American families. But in this inspirational and practical memoir, Paula Penn-Nabrit shares her intimate experiences of home-schooling her three sons, Charles, Damon, and Evan. Paula and her husband, C. Madison, decided to home-school their children after racial incidents at public and private schools led them to the conclusion that the traditional educational system would be damaging to their sons’ self-esteem...
The Case for Classical Christian Education
Douglas Wilson looks at the state of America's school system and offers a remedy for those who are committed to their children's best interests in education. Wilson details the history of the classical education movement and discusses what is needed for a useful curriculum. Readers will come to understand that classical education offers the best opportunity for academic achievement, character growth, and spiritual education. 
Reading Made Easy
Reading Made Easy is a phonics-based program, featuring 108 easy lessons, designed to be taught in less than 30 minutes per day. It is fully scripted and has original Christian content and stories. Includes hands-on writing and drawing activities. Reading Made Easy can be purchased here.