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Nature study is not only important for our little ones, it can be a big part of the middle and high school years as well. It not only adds a lot to your teen's high school science studies, while engendering a love of nature...It can also launch them into other areas of study.
Here are four ways to enjoy nature study and bird watching with your teens, including entering nature contests, creating photo notebooks, making a nature journal, or even starting a small business project. These all can earn high school credit at the same time.
In my last post, I talked about birdwatching and science activities for younger kids. In the elementary years, 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 in photography. They also list art and essay contests related to bird watching. Lots of choices, if your teen is interested.......
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" won, on her college application.
Creating Photography Books
My daughter decided to compile her pictures into a notebook of bird photos, using a simple ring notebook, report covers, and her photos, printed on thick printing paper. This made it a frugal project, as photo quality paper was not needed. Below, shows how she simply put together her pages...
Making a Nature Journal
One of my favorites for getting started with a nature journal is this post by
|40 Journal Entry Ideas for your Nature Notebooks|
Jes, from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, offers these 40 beautiful printables for nature journaling, with essay prompts to get you started, and all with a free download. Thank you, Jes!
Later on, that year, my daughter decided to try her hand at making nature photo cards, and this led to a fun 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 are important task skills that teens need to develop. And isn't it fun to do some of these things with non-academic activities!
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.
Here is the book that we liked using for bird identification........
Golden's Guide to Field Identification
What kinds of things do you like to do for nature study and homemade electives in your homeschool? This post was feature on....
Betsy blogs at BJ's Homeschool , where she writes about high school, college, and all the fun of homeschooling the early years, too. As a former OT, and a veteran homeschooler, Betsy also offers
This post is linked to some of my favorite blog hops here.
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