I have great childhood memories of my Dad taking my siblings and I for nature walks. He would show us different birds and insects, and taught us how to identify them by their features. As a result, I love nature and the outdoors so this is something I want to encourage in my children too.
Since moving to the Top End of Australia, my son has started taking notice of the environment around him and his love for nature is starting to blossom, just as I had hoped. With the use of our bug catcher, we have made some wonderful discoveries which have lead to impromptu nature lessons.
It all started with my son calling out, "Mum, get the bug catcher!" because he had found a grasshopper. We caught the grasshopper and immediately started observing it.
We discussed the physical features we could see such as the antennas, long back legs, four small front legs, big eyes and what looked like little hairs on its legs. Then the questions started; Why did it have antennas? What are they used for? How can the grasshopper hang on the side of the bug catcher without falling off? These questions needed answers so we got out a pile of nature science books and we started researching.
One book in particular, was most useful in my sons search for answers. The Wonderland of Nature by Nuri Mass is a narrative style science book that focuses on Australian nature. My son loves listening to stories so I knew that this books would suit him perfectly, which is why I had purchased it. We read a few chapters in this books about insects, life cycles and grasshoppers.
After seeing an insect diagram in The Wonderland of Nature book, I then encouraged my son to draw a picture of his grasshopper and label the different parts of its body. To integrate a visual art aspect of his learning, my son used water colour paper and pencils to draw his grasshopper blending colours and shades together.
Once my son had finished his drawing and labelling, we let the grasshopper go back into our garden observing how it used its back legs to jump.
The classroom teacher part of me (a consistent inner battle I have) would have loved to have seen my son write more about what he had learnt from his research and observations of the grasshopper. However, the home educator part of me chose instead to support and encourage his growing love of nature and science, and let him direct his learning. I know in doing this, I am encouraging his love of learning and this is by far, the most important thing.