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Nurturing Curiosity and Wonder: Nature-Based Learning in the Charlotte Mason Approach

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

blog banner : Nature based learning in he Charlotte Mason approach

In the world of education, the Charlotte Mason approach shines as a guiding light for holistic and nurturing learning. One of its core beliefs is that children should be fully immersed in the wonders of the natural world from an early age. By engaging in a variety of nature-based activities, this approach helps cultivate a strong bond between young minds and their environment, fostering curiosity, sharpening observation skills, and instilling a lifelong love for learning that goes well beyond the confines of the classroom. Now, let's explore the key reasons why each of these activities holds such significance for different age groups within the Charlotte Mason approach.

Ages 1-3 years old: Nurturing the Senses

In these formative years, children are absorbing the world around them like sponges. Outdoor sensory exploration enables them to touch, smell, and feel the textures of nature. This hands-on experience isn't just about nature; it's about understanding the world through their senses. Nature walks provide brief and gentle introductions to the outdoors, planting seeds of curiosity that will continue to sprout as they grow.

child lying on the grass

Activities to try:

1. Outdoor Sensory Exploration: Let them touch leaves, smell flowers, and feel different textures in the natural environment.

2. Nature Walks: Short and leisurely walks where they can observe insects, birds, and other elements of the outdoors.

3. Nature-Based Art: Introduce them to simple outdoor art activities like leaf rubbings or finger painting using natural materials.

child painting on leaves

Ages 4-6 years old: Cultivating Observation

As children's ability to observe sharpens, nature-based learning activities like scavenger hunts help them practice observation in a structured yet exciting way. These hunts engage their curiosity while teaching them to pay attention to details. Additionally, encouraging outdoor storytelling weaves their imagination with the natural world, fostering a sense of wonder and creativity.

children exploring in nature

Activities to try:

1. Nature Journals: Encourage them to draw or describe their outdoor experiences in a journal.

boy, writing on his journal

2. Nature Scavenger Hunts: Create lists of items for them to find in nature, promoting observation and curiosity.

3. Outdoor Storytelling: Use the natural surroundings as inspiration for imaginative storytelling and creative play.

Ages 7-10 years old: Delving Deeper into Nature

At this stage, children are ready to explore specific aspects of nature. Nature study projects let them dive into topics like birds or insects, nurturing their budding interest in the natural world. Keeping nature notebooks refines their observation skills, helping them document their findings in detail. Outdoor science experiments then take their curiosity a step further, giving them a glimpse into the scientific method while learning outdoors.

child observing a frog

Activities to try:

1. Nature Study Projects: Choose specific topics like birds, insects, or trees for more focused observation and learning.

2. Nature Notebooks: Develop more detailed notes and sketches of their observations, enhancing scientific understanding.

nature notebook

3. Outdoor Science Experiments: Conduct simple experiments outdoors, like observing the growth of plants or tracking weather changes.

Ages 11-16 years old: Independent Exploration and Beyond

As children grow, their curiosity transforms into independent inquiry. In-depth nature research empowers them to delve deep into topics of their choice, sparking a lifelong passion for learning. The art of outdoor photography teaches them to capture the essence of nature, a medium through which they can express their appreciation for the world around them. Field trips and expeditions then connect classroom learning with real-world applications, solidifying the significance of nature-based knowledge.

independent exploration

Activities to try:

1. In-Depth Nature Research: Encourage independent research on specific topics, fostering deeper knowledge.

2. Outdoor Photography: Teach them photography skills to capture the beauty and details of nature.

3. Field Trips and Expeditions: Plan outings to nature reserves, botanical gardens, or other natural sites for hands-on learning.

In essence, nature-based learning activities within the Charlotte Mason approach serve as conduits for a multitude of vital skills and values. From sensory exploration to independent research, each activity nurtures curiosity, observation, creativity, and a deep reverence for the natural world. This approach doesn't just teach children about nature; it teaches them how to learn, fostering a love for knowledge that will accompany them on their educational journey and throughout their lives.

If you have any experiences or insights to share about nature-based learning in the Charlotte Mason method, we would love to hear from you. Together, let's continue to cultivate a deep connection with nature and inspire the next generation of curious learners.

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Find more resources and get support in raising your little ones and preparing them not just for school, but for life with other families with young children in Growing Together: Early Childhood Educators & Families


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