~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~
Review & Reflections
Free Range Learning:
How Homeschooling Changes Everything
by Laura Grace Weldon
If you were to only have one homeschooling, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth owning this volume to revisit again and again for both support and inspiration.
This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.
Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.
In Chapter 10 – Science and Nature Laura begins to cover what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. However, in true unschooling style she asks you to broaden your vision of learning about Science & Nature as so much is understood, by both kiddos and adults, through hands-on-in-the-moment experiences vs. the systematic text and teaching model.
Real science is about asking questions, reflecting, trying something again and again, reading, investigating, collaborating, and asking more questions. Homeschoolers have the opportunity to get curious and truly engage with the sciences and take the time to connect with nature and learn both broad and in-depth knowledge of the world around them.
A phrase very much suited to this method is “in their own time and in their own way”. It works on so many levels.
Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.
Focusing on the “Science” of Play, Curiosity, and Nature
Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. Connecting to the sciences and nature are all apart of a “natural” process when we provide routine access to meaningful spaces. Nature does it best.
Exposing my kiddos to the great outdoors early on and continuing to put into practice our family value of appreciation of nature has evolved and changed over the years. No matter how it looks connecting to nature has always been a priority and very much present in our lives and very often has presented itself in the form of P.L.A.Y. as seen by these examples:
- Taking trips to our local Audubon center to walk the trails with family and friends, making watercolor paintings of what we see, learning about local flora & fauna, sketching in our journals, etc.
- Walking in the woods and having story time moments with our weekly Roots & Shoots group.
- Field trips with the statewide butterfly association connecting to both veteran and newbie lepidopterists. Designing and exploring the new “butterfly garden” in our own yard created due to the enthusiasm generated from being a part of this community.
- Weekly Wednesday Walks in the Winter to the local golf course down the street for sledding, snow & ice exploration, beaver dam observing, bird watching, “golf ball scavenger hunts” that had us looking closer and deeper into nature nooks, etc.
- Using the nearly 80 year old tried and true Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, former Professor of Nature Study at Cornell, as a springboard for getting curious and creating our own citizen scientist moments. <see book below>
- Becoming members of, and making weekly trips to, our two local farm CSAs and picking foods in season: berries, tomatoes, beans, apples, pears, squash, pumpkins, etc. and helping out with work parties: ex. creating Universal Access paths in gardens closest to the farm parking lot.
- Learning how to raise Nigerian Dwarf Goats as pets, throughout the four seasons here in New England, has been an amazing adventure that my daughter initiated by taking on two bottle fed babies and over time increasing her herd to four. She has shared this experience with the entire family and our community providing a wonderful learning curve for all and even more reasons to get outdoors daily built right in. <And a bonus barn cat to greet us!>
- And in the past 8 years making the big leap and leaning into our values of spending time in nature by building a home in an intentional farming community on 80+ shared acres of fields & forest, meadow & mountain, river & ridge, and gardens galore. We have the good fortune to experience the great outdoors daily and connect with nature in so many beautiful ways, goats and all, and learn from our fellow community members who embody this value too. The longer we live here the more nature opportunities seem to present themselves: ridge hiking, river walking, gardening with flowers and foods, cider making, berry picking, tadpole watching, bonfires under the moonlight, nature photography, and the list joyfully grows.
Nature nurtures our curiosity and sense of P.L.A.Y. and allows our understanding of science to grow organically.
Chapter 11 in this series can be found HERE.
As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.
Be sure to visit and support your local library by requesting these books!
~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~
Clare Walker Leslie –
The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You (my future review here)
The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms (my future review here)
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You (my future review here)
Richard Louv –
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (my future review here)
The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age (my future review here)
Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life (my future review here)
Mary Holland –
Naturally Curious: A Month-by-Month Photographic Field Guide of New England (my future review here)
Naturally Curious: A Day-by-Day Photographic Field Guide of New England (my future review here)
Anna Botsford Comstock – *public domain = available online free OR purchase the paperback to write in
The Handbook of Nature Study (my future review here)
Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About SCIENCE Homework (my future review here)
Joy Hakim – Overview of all 3 science books in this series – (my future review here)
The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way
The Story of Science: Newton at the Center
The Story of Science – Einstein Adds a New Dimension
Janice VanCleave – numerous hands-on science books – from physics to chemistry +more
Theodore Gray –
The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (my future review here)
Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything
Reactions: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe
Michael Driscoll –
A Child’s Introduction to The Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations and How You Can Find Them in the Sky (my future review here)
DK – SPACE Encyclopedia (my future review here)
Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books
and join the play-filled journey today!