7 Tips for Starting a Nature Club
Whether you currently enjoy nature study time with your children or not, being part of a nature club is a great motivator and provides hours of fun learning time!
1. What is a nature study club?
Quite simply, it’s a small or large group of homeschoolers who meet together for the purpose of studying nature topics together. (I prefer a small club of four to six families since larger groups tend to get off track easier.)
2. How often does a nature club meet?
It can meet as often as your group wishes. Some clubs meet monthly all year long; some meet monthly during the school year; some meet monthly during the “nice” months of the year; while others meet weekly, but only during a particular season. See what fits best with everyone’s schedules and go from there.
3. Where does a nature club meet?
Nature clubs can meet anywhere there’s nature to be found – a large yard, a park, a nature trail, a cemetery, a farm, a nature conservatory, a creek or pond, an orchard, a zoo or an aquarium, or an arboretum. The less travel required, the better. Group members are more likely to stick with the commitment when the meetings are close to home.
4. What does a nature club do?
Observe and enjoy nature, of course! This can take a gazillion different forms. Our nature club has gone on scavenger hunts, tweezer treks and simple walks. We have dissected flowers, made underwater viewfinders and painted scenery. We have played food chain games, filled out nature notebooking pages, and splashed in creeks. There is no end to the ideas.
I suggest thinking about where you’re going and what things are “in season” or abundantly available. If you’re group will meet at the cemetery where several varieties of conifers grow, it makes sense that you might focus on conifers. Bring along field guides to identify the conifers and complete bark rubbings and compare the varieties. Collect various cones to dissect, draw and label. Compare conifer leaves to leaves of deciduous trees. Try to choose activities that are age appropriate. If you have several age levels, you can complete the same activities, but expect a tad more from the older students.
5. Where do activity ideas come from?
Why, NaturExplorers studies, of course! Each of the 20+ nature themed studies has more than enough nature study ideas to keep your group busy for many, many nature clubs to come. There is even a small section in each study devoted to activities that work best with groups. I just know you’ll love what you find!
If you’d rather have grab-n-go or print-n-go ideas for your nature club, check out 100+ Creative Nature Walks or 40 Nature Walks: Science Labs On-the-Go!
6. Who teaches during club time?
Depending on the make-up of the group, one parent can take responsibility for being the main planner/teacher, or parents can take turns planning and teaching. Sometimes, you might even take field trips to nature areas where a professional teacher leads the class. In any case, it’s nice when a general plan of study is mapped out for the duration of the class in order to ensure several topics are covered and several different destinations chosen.
7. How long should one nature club meeting last?
One or two hours is usually plenty of time. The longer the class, the more activities the leader needs to have planned. Unless you have a very serious group of nature nuts, most children will only stay on task for so long. (It’s okay with me when the class ends in playtime because part of the purpose of our nature club is socialization.)
We have loved our nature club time over the years! It’s been a great hands-on science class as well as providing fresh air, sunshine, exercise and socialization. Feel free to ask any questions that I may not have answered.
Enjoy these nature club posts!
Do you include regular nature study in your homeschool? Have you ever been part of a nature club? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
i love this idea! being outside and enjoying Creation has been a huge focus for my family as we homeschool. and i have a hard time finding other families who value the same. i’d love to start something like this as a way of sharing the joys of nature!
I hope you can find some families who are excited to start a nature club with you, Natalie!
I love your post. I have been wanting to try creating a nature club. I was wondering what do you do when the weather is bad on the day which nature club is going to be meeting?
Good question, Denise. Bad weather has only happened a few times during our scheduled day. When the weather is still “walkable” (chilly or misty) we go for it anyway. If the bad weather is forecasted a few days in advance, we just reschedule because our little group is flexible. Once, we were able to meet at someone’s house and do some indoor nature-y activities instead. You could always consider prescheduling a “rain date” when the club date is set. I hope this helps!
Great ideas! I really like the rain day idea.