We love doing nature studies in our homeschooling. Over the years I have grown in confidence and consistency with nature studies (it was challenging at first for some reason), but I still like to keep them pretty simple. Nature studies don’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler you keep them, the more likely you’ll actually DO them! Here is an easy sunflowers nature study for you to try in your own homeschool.
It’s August right now in the Northwest, so sunflowers are in their full glory here. This year, I grew a thriving crop of weeds in the garden. They’re doing nicely, if I do say so myself! (I totally let the garden beds go this year because I needed a break. LOL!)
But to our delight, a big sunflower grew up, bright and shining and with a few friends, in the midst of those weeds! The kids watched the sunflowers every day and talked about the changes they saw. When I noticed seeds forming, we did our first nature study of the new school year.
Sunflower Nature Study
If you have sunflowers where you live or can access them try out this simple and delightful study! Having one for dissecting is fun, but optional if you can’t pick any or get one from your local farm or store.
Here’s what we did for our study:
- We drew the sunflowers, paying attention to lines and shapes and noting any details we wanted to add later.
- The next day we cut the main bloom, dissecting the sunflower in half for more observation and drawing. (Normally we don’t do this but The Handbook of Nature Study suggested it in this case.)
- Both days, we asked questions and noticed different things about the sunflowers. Anything they wanted recorded on their pages were written down, either by themselves or by dictating to me.
- As they worked on their drawings and/or paintings, I read aloud from The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. There was background information, related poems or quotes, and observation prompts. In The Handbook, sunflowers are covered on pages 574 – 578.
- We also talked about different songs, hymns, quotes, Bible verses, sayings, or poems that the sunflowers reminded us of, and wrote some of them down on our pages. The poem by Montgomery that ends the sunflower section in The Handbook worked nicely nicely. We also discussed ideas about sunflowers specifically, about joy or a cheerful countenance, or anything else that sunflowers inspired them to think about.
- During dinner on the second day of our nature study, we watched the fun videos below and talked about Van Gough’s versions of sun flowers.
Nature Journaling for Mom, Too!
This year I decided I’d start my very own nature journal. One of my goals for the year (at the prompting of my husband) is to find a hobby or pastime that’s truly relaxing. I’m not great at rest – I know I’m not alone on that among homeschool moms, too!
So here are my two very first nature journal entries for the year. I think I’m going to make it a combination of nature journal and a treasure with my prayers as well as scriptures, hymns, and quotes that are meaningful to me.
Additional Sunflower Nature Study Resources
Nature study is about observing and recording. Other than a good resource like Comstock’s Handbook, you really don’t need anything more. Sometimes, however, it can be nice to pull in some extras.
Just try not to squash the simple beauty of nature study with too many other books. Sometimes folks end up with a giant stack of videos, literature, and non-fiction, that they turn it into more of a unit study. (Unit studies are great but are more involved.) Remember that keeping nature studies simple means you’re more likely to do them consistently and focus on observation.
All that said, here are a few fun things I found that we either used to supplement our study or I just looked at for myself.
- The Mind-Blowing Mathematics of Sunflowers by Scientific American
- Why Sunflowers Follow the Sun by Science Magazine
- Van Gough’s Sunflower paintings
- Growing Sunflowers for Pollinators in the Great Sunflower Project by Joybillee Farm
Want to Do More With Nature Studies?
Here are the resources I highly recommend if you want to do more in your homeschool with nature studies.
- Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Steps by Cindy West got me started with the Charlotte Mason method and it’s perfect for the busy mom who doesn’t want to wade through volumes!
- Cindy West also has fantastic pre-made nature studies you can take advantage of and we’ve used them often. Her new No Sweat Nature Studies in particular are perfect to keep on hand when we need inspiration or a little more of a plan.
- Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola is written from the perspective of a mom in her journal entries and really helps give you an idea of how simple and creative nature studies can be in daily life.
- The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock is a must have. I have both the digital and print versions. There are several other great resources you can accumulate for nature study inspiration or reference, which I’ll write about soon for you. But if you have to pick just ONE, this would be it. It’s gold!
I hope you found this easy sunflower nature study and the extra tips I shared helpful! Enjoy nature studies with your children as you study God’s creation together.
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