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Explore Nature for Earth Day

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Explore nature with books for Earth Day

I thought about getting together a list of picture books for you for Earth Day tomorrow, but there are already several posts like that floating around the ol’ interweb, and  I figure if you’re reading me, you read other homeschool blogs and have already taken advantage of their brilliant suggestions.  If you’ve not seen it yet, check out my Story Time on The Giving Tree for some great craft and activities ideas if that’s what you want to do to celebrate the day.  I promise, they’re awesome.

20 books and ideas for getting outdoors to celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day Fun With Books

Instead of a list of picture books, I want to share with you how we’ll be celebrating Earth Day here at Lit Mama Homeschool.  Oh, it involves books, never you fear, but it is also means spending the day outside.  Because we’re supposed to be celebrating The Earth, not our floors and walls.  There’s a reason they designated a spring day for this stuff.

My plan is to head out as early as possible to the fishing hole.  This is such a brilliant time to hang out at a pond–everything, from red-winged blackbirds to butterflies to frogs and turtles, is waking up and preparing for a summer of delectable eating and procreating.  The best time to spot turtles is now when they are first coming out of hibernation and using all this warm sunshine to heat their blood and bones.

Supplies

We have a backpack that we take on nature walks with us.  It’s been with us for 5 years and is well-used, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t try to make a pretty picture of it.  Just imagine a worn, frayed, black backpack and we’ll go from there.  Into that pack (well, honestly, Always In that pack) go magnifying glasses, nature study journals (which are really just 5×7 artist’s sketchbooks–they work wonderfully), pencils and colored pencils, scissors and specimen jars.  And though we don’t carry our butterfly garden with us, we do take a small catcher in case we see a likely caterpillar that wants to become a butterfly in our classroom.

Butterfly catcher and garden for Earth Day exploration

Naturalist books

One of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world is read outside.  In fact, during summer breaks you can often find me swinging in my hammock chair, curled around a good book.  Since I want my Littles to know that joy, we always take books with us to the pond.  But not just any books.  Books that help us learn and know about the incredible things we see while we’re there.  My favorites are the older nonfiction books written by naturalists.  Here are the ones we use the most:

Nature study books for Earth Day exploration

If you ask me which one I would rather read, I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.  If you’ve been reading me for very long, you probably know Canada Geese are my favorite birds.  I love the sound of them, the way they look in flight, the way they watch out for each other while feeding, how fiercely they protect their young.  So Wild Goose, Brother Goose by Wisconsin naturalist Mel Ellis could be my fave.  This book, about a wild goose who falls in love with a pinioned goose on the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Refuge and their subsequent romance, is Not A Personification.  It is a realistic, true story about two geese who became mates despite odds, and it is, hands down, the best way to learn about Canada Geese and their reality I have ever come across.  Also, it was first published in 1969, and the language Ellis uses is of that soft, slow pace so many books had back then.  It is not fiction, but it is a story, and it’s beautiful.  I think you can probably tell how dear this little book is to me.

But The Year of the Turtle by artist/naturalist David M. Carroll is an amazing way to learn about turtles, too.  As the title implies, it goes through a year of turtle of observation, dated like a journal.  It’s filled with the author’s renderings and so much information about turtles you will not know what to do with yourself.  It starts with Emergence, or the turtle coming up from the mud of the pond to begin his waking year and ends with Hibernation.  In between it covers Courting and Mating, Nesting, Hatching, and what turtles do all summer in between those things.  My Littles really enjoyed this book.  We literally read it for a year, saving each entry for the day it was dated and then heading to the fishing hole to see if we could spot the stuff we’d read about.  It was heady.  I fully intend to do it again, but for now we use it as a reference.

I’m not going to tell you all there is to know about all these books, but Grizzly Country does for bears what the other two do for geese and turtles.  And what kid isn’t fascinated by bears?  And Nature Through the Seasons?  Richard Adams, people.  The dude that wrote the amazing, incredible, awesome Watership Down.  Um, yes, please.  It is about Britain, so if you’re one of my British readers and you don’t have this book… Why not? If you’re  a Yank like me, and you don’t think this book will apply, remember that we are roughly on the same latitudinal lines and a lot of the creatures and plants found in Britain are also found in parts of the U.S. and if they aren’t?  Just think how cool it would be for your littles to know Britain so well.  Yeah yeah.  Who doesn’t want to know everything about Britain?  I mean, send me there if you want to.  I’m dying to go.

Field Guides

Amazing Nature Guides to take with you on an Earth Day exploration

Of course, we also have a ton of field guides and picture books and general nature study books, and we tend to pack as many as we can so we can reference them as we go.  Is this backpack getting heavy?  Why yes, yes it is.  But it’s so worth it.  I need to get a butterflies of Indiana book, because even though I love my current butterfly book, it is worldwide and some of the butterflies I see around here have been left out of it as unimportant.  Bleh.

Some of our favorites:

National Audobon Society First Field Guide to Weather

Reader’s Digest Up Close!

Trees of Indiana

Birds of Indiana

Wildlife Cards

Wildlife Adventure Cards for Earth Day Exploration

I found this brilliant box of wildlife cards at a yard sale a couple years back for a quarter.  I don’t know how old it is, but it was well-loved when I purchased it.  The cards are in excellent shape, though, as you can see, and we often throw a rubber band around them and toss them into the backpack because they are such a quick way to find what we’re looking for.  The backsides are full of info about each creature.  Love. Them.

Pond Books

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And then there are my specific pond books. Those 4 that look like I put them together myself?  That’s because I did, several years ago.  You can download all 4 of them for free at LibriVox.  That link is to By Pond and River, but there’s a search box to find the others.  These are mostly 19th century naturalist books, and I can’t tell you how amazing they are–written for kids, mostly in story form, but full of facts.  I just downloaded the pdfs, printed them in book form and gave them construction paper covers.  We love to sit by the pond and read them.  It gives us a different perspective.  People looked at the world so differently back then.  It still had tons of magic to it.  I crush hard on those.  Go download them.

Wonders of the Pond is a gorgeous old picture book that describes the life that goes on around the pond.  And it can be gotten for a penny, so yeah yeah.

The Golden Guide Pond Life is one of my favorites.  It’s this tiny book packed full of information about all things pond.  I’ve probably read it a million times.

In the morning, I will surprise the Littles.  I will wake them up after the backpack is packed.  I will say, “Hurry up, get on your jeans and boots, there’s something you have to see outside.”  I will lead them to the fishing hole.  Halfway there they will realize what we’re up to.

“Mom,” they’ll say, “should we go back and get our fishing poles?”

Yeah yeah.

Sounds like a class to me.

Love wins,

KT

Want even more spring book fun?  Check out:

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KT Brison
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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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28 Comments

  1. This is great KT, thanks, featuring on this week’s Family Fun Friday.

  2. Great book choices! Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday at Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

  3. I love Earth Day celebrations, but I love the idea to add Earth Day fun into our reading. Thanks for all the great book ideas! Glad to see you on the What to Read hop.
    L. E. Mastilock recently posted…Books for Horse Loving KidsMy Profile

  4. Hi, these are some great books and ideas. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.
    Mary recently posted…#LMMLinkup: Pushing ForwardMy Profile

    • They’re my faves! I just adore books about nature. Because I love to read outside, it makes it even more fun to learn about the things I’m seeing. Fortunately, my boys feel the same way. 🙂

  5. Love these ideas, thanks for sharing.

  6. This brings back wonderful memories of my homeschooling days. The kids and I would head out to the back fields with our Nature Study Book following the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling.

    These resources you have shared here would have been a wonderful addition for us many years ago.

  7. I’m in the Southern Hemisphere but I still like reading good quality nature books from other parts of the world. Pinning this.

  8. Thanks for this great list of resources! I’m looking forward to our weather warming up so we can head out into nature a bit more here. Stopping by from LMM!

  9. I’m so glad you shared this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

  10. Looks like a wonderful collection of activities and ideas to explore Earth Day.

    So much fun too!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…The Super, Fantastic, Ultimate Bucket List for Moms!My Profile

  11. Perfect way to celebrate Earth day! We love being outside and going on nature walks and hikes.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Things They Are A Changing!My Profile

    • ktbrison@gmail.com

      Right? We got rained out, be we just used our backpacks on the living room floor, so it was still like a picnic. lol

  12. Books and nature for Earth Day sounds amazing! What a great idea to carry a pack on a nature walk. Thanks for sharing all these resources and ideas with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂
    Kelly @RaisingSamuels recently posted…Mother’s Day Giveaway! (Full Leaf Tea Company Review)My Profile

    • ktbrison@gmail.com

      I can’t take credit for the backpack idea. I learned it from another blogger back when we first started. If only I remembered who it was, I would give the credit to her. lol

  13. Awe, I love this! I’ve been mulling over what we should do for Earth Day and now you’ve inspired me to take the kids out into nature and enjoy the outdoors…with a few nature books of course! Thank you for the inspiration! #LetKidsBeKids
    Erin Vincent recently posted…Our Week in Review: Including Farm Life, The Old Oak Festival & Our New LibraryMy Profile

  14. Thanks for sharing all these great ideas.
    Books4Learning recently posted…Giveaway: Fairest of All (Sarah Mlynowski)My Profile

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