Charlotte Mason really emphasized the importance of children learning from nature. She believed that most of a child’s waking hours should be spent outside including mealtimes. She said “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without“. Children learn to develop their powers of observations by exploring the world around them and describing in detail what they have seen. They should learn the names of local trees and flowers, insects and animals and make careful drawings of them in a nature diary. Miss Mason has so much to say about the study of nature I can’t even go into the smallest part here. Be sure to read her writings for more information http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/vol1complete.html#042.
Ambleside Online recommends the Handbook of Nature Study and has a rotating schedule for subjects to teach, http://amblesideonline.org/NatureSch.shtml. Here is a list of Ambleside Online’s natural history/science recommendations for each year. Simply Charlotte Mason also has several resources including a nature journal.
We purchase these Artist Sketch Diaries (but don’t buy them from Amazon- you can get them from Walmart for around $3!) for each child and they use that as their nature notebook. They love drawing pictures of the birds and butterflies that visit our yard.
We love these Pocket Naturalist Guides for whatever state we are living in, they have them for all sorts of things, insects, birds, trees, animal tracks, etc…
Charlotte Mason recommended letting the children have pets. I am not a pet-loving person, however I relented and got my kids a puppy. While I still don’t like pets and wish I didn’t have one, my kids love her and have learned so much from having her. We have also raised caterpillars to butterflies- that is a fun and low-maintenance “pet”. We love studying birds, we use the book All the Birds of North America and when we were in Europe, the Birds of Europe book and we also enjoy collecting butterflies and other nature findings.
We usually do official nature study once a week but my kids have lots of free time to explore and discover outdoors during the week too. My husband has a background in the technical sciences so he wants our kids to have a strong foundation in the sciences. We supplement nature study once a week with the Apologia Science series. Right now we are using the Jr Notebooking series and my boys work on them together. I feel like the notebooking part is a lot of busywork so I probably won’t purchase them in the future.
I also think Khan Academy is a great tool to use for older students in understanding advanced scientific concepts.