Nature study enrichment can begin to develop the care-taking dimension of a boy’s heart. Men are designed to be caretakers and protectors of their family and to take dominion over what God has placed in their care while here on earth. Boys need to be prepared for this important task. Nature study seems to balance their rough and tumble sides. They can learn how to be gentle with what is placed in their care.
STEM is the latest & greatest in schools, but I advocate beginning science in preschool! So much is learned like empathy, being gentle or patient, and appreciation for God’s creatures & the miracle of nature. Best subject for kids is science!
My friend Ingrid is the mother of four boys. I have asked her to share with us some of the creative ways in which she teaches her very active young men and how she seeks to strike a good balance between being ‘all boy’ and being ‘gentle men’.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” ~Romans 1:20
One of our greatest joys in life is sharing Christ with our boys. As the above verse states, God’s character qualities are seen all around us: His creativity in the world, His care for us in the food He provides, the fact that He is a God of order, etc.
Now that autumn is here, it is the right season to see God’s creativity in the variety of caterpillars, larvae, and the amazing design of a chrysalis. Anytime of year, take them on nature walks, perhaps bringing along a nature journal with colored pencils for them to draw and write down what they discover.
Throughout the years of nature study, we have discovered many interesting caterpillars and bugs in our own yard (as well as mail-ordered caterpillars) to watch them grow. I personally like to bring in caterpillars that we find in nature and do our own research on what they are and how to care for them. Be sure to feed them branches from the plant you found them on. If all goes well, they will start a chrysalis or cocoon before your very eyes.
Even when things go wrong in a nature study, you can learn from it.
Do some research and find out what happened. We learned about the tachinid fly that is a parasite to the Monarch. The fly lays eggs on the Monarch caterpillar. The fly’s larva will eventually kill the Monarch, sometimes after it is in the chrysalis. It will then make a tiny hole in the chrysalis through which to come out. A thin, silky string coming out of the chrysalis is a sure sign the Monarch has been attacked.
We can make a spiritual lesson out of nature study as well, such as how sin or bitterness can grow inside us and consume us if we don’t ask or give forgiveness (or both), and start over fresh.
Once we have a new butterfly, we like to put a vase of flowers in so she can drink the nectar. If fresh flowers are not available, sugar water can be used in a pinch. Typically we enjoy the butterfly for a few days and then take her outside to watch her fly free…
As we observe God’s handiwork in butterflies, we also have the opportunity to discuss how the butterfly is a visual example of God’s transformation in our own lives, if we allow Him to work in us.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” ~2 Corinthians 5:1
We begin by sharing the simple truths seen in God’s creation when our children are young, and continue to be amazed together at the intricacies of God’s creation as they grow up and learn more complex details of how things work.
Benefits For Boys In Nature Study
- it develops in them a sense of wonder which stimulates a love of learning
- they learn to be good stewards and careful overseers of God’s natural resources and gifts to them
- they begin the journey to become life-long learners
- it increases awareness, reasoning, and observation skills
- it encourages a love of God‘s amazing creation, but most of all, a love of the Creator!
- they learned how use advanced technology to create high quality videography.
- develop their artistic side through nature journaling
Caterpillars are just scratching the surface of what’s wonderful to include before beginning formal science classes. Other nature study areas include the stars, weather, the sun’s influence on seasons, leaves, plants, trees, insects, germination, bees and pollination, etc. Here are wonderful book geared to delight the curious child!
Sites To Investigate
- Carolina Biological Supply Catalog (for all things science-related)
- Nature Study Journal Pages
- Identify a Butterfly, Moth, or Caterpillar
- Butterfly Garden (smaller)
- Butterfly Pavilion (larger)
My name is Ingrid. I am first and foremost a daughter of the King, adopted into the family of God through Christ’s grace. Secondly, I am a wife to a wonderful, steady man, and a great father. I am also known as a mother of boys. We live and home-school on acreage which allows for many adventures and work opportunities for the boys. We currently have two llamas, two sheep, four cats, a guinea, and multitudes of chickens for farm fresh eggs. As I look at my role as a mother, I like to think of what I once saw in a letter from www.aboverubies.org: “I am an Arrow Polisher, a Nation Builder, and a Director of Home Affairs”. These are fitting titles as I raise my boys to be arrows sent out for the Lord!