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Cabin fever. Cold, rainy days. Winter can be a hard time to homeschool.
When it was too cold to really get outside, we often spent time watching the birds at our back yard feeder. It not only helped us find a way to experience nature in the winter, it helped us with the winter blues, if we had them. And it led to a bunch of other activities that my daughter enjoyed, including:
- entering nature photography contests
- making a photo notebook for bird identification
- nature journaling
- starting a small business project.
- Video Art Lessons on Birds
These activities were put together to give my teen a high school credit in nature study.
I already shared something about birdwatching and science activities for younger kids previously.
When my daughter was about 8, I gave my daughter a camera, and she soon she began taking pictures of birds...I enjoyed teaching her basic photography principles. She still loved doing this in middle school.....
That led to a photo contest......
Entering Nature Contests
Cornell University, an authority on birds and birdwatching, offered a contest that my daughter wanted to enter, with for their bird photography contest. I helped her to find this, just by googling "nature photography contests".
To find a nature oriented contest for your young teen, Cornell now has a site that lists contests and resources at Young Birders Network. There are a number of contests here, including the Young Birder of the Year Contest.
These contests are not just for photography. They also list art and essay contests related to bird watching.
Participating in this contest added a lot to our daughter's self esteem and inspired her to continue to improve her photography skills. It also gave her something to put under "awards" on her college application.
Creating Photography Books
Lots of families enjoy doing nature journaling, and there are tons of resources on the web, to help you get started. Doing a nature journal fosters art skills, essay writing skills, of course nature study.
One of my favorites for getting started with a nature journal is this post by Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.
|40 Journal Entry Ideas for your Nature Notebooks|
Jes offers these 40 beautiful printables for nature journaling, with essay prompts to get you started, and all with a free download.
Later on, that year, my daughter decided to try her hand at making nature photo cards, and this led to a small business project....
Starting a Small Business Project
My teen learned how to make her nature photo cards, from studying online, and meeting with friends who had done this type of project in the past. Doing this project gave her practice in a number of organizational skills, including:
selecting and purchasing supplies
organizing and planning
assembling the cards
finding local sales opportunities
deciding on pricing
setting up and selling cards
All of these things were helpful task skills that teen needed to develop. Making and selling these cards also introduced her to basic business principles.
There were many places to sell these cards, such as at local consignment stores, church rummage sales, farmer's markets, etc. And they don't have to be just photography cards. Notecards can also be done through - drawings, paintings, stamping, or collage.
Making the nature cards and the other activities mentioned above, easily became a homemade course which earned high school credit....
Turning it into a Homemade Course
Through the activities listed above, we were easily able to put together a course in nature photography... for high school credit. It also counted as one of my daughter's fine arts requirements for college admissions.
To make this a high school course, we used the mastery method, and granted her one credit in nature photography. By earning an award from Cornell's nature contest, and making a notebook of our local birds, with identifications, and participating in nature photography activities and birdwatching over the year, my daughter showed a beginning level of mastery in nature photography.
Please see my post on assigning high school credit for more info.
I loved homeschooling high school, as it not only gave my daughter a solid education, it also built lifelong hobbies and a love of nature and nature study in my graduate.
For bird identification........
Golden's Guide to Field Identification
Would you like to have your kids learn more about specific birds through art?
These video art lessons by Chalk Pastels.com, are taught by a master artist and include the following birds: (Sale through Feb 16th)
Click here for more information, a free sample bird drawing lesson and more.
Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,
Betsy is mom to her now rising college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school. She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early years, high school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind. She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting, and has had articles picked up by the Huffington Post.