Nature Studies
The study of nature is appealing to people of all ages. It is easy to incorporate nature studies into your homeschooling approach. Some homeschooling methods focus very strongly on nature studies, including the Charlotte Mason method. Learn why it is so important and some great approaches to learning from nature.
Things to See & Do in Arizona
Tonto National Monument
Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants. The Salado were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most exquisite polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Many of these objects are on display in the Visitor Center museum. The monument is located in the Upper Sonoran ecosystem, known primarily for its characteristic saguaro cactus. Other common plants include: cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (blooming April through June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers (February through March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona black walnut, sycamore, and hackberry trees.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. Here, in this desert wilderness of plants and animals and dramatic mountains and plains scenery, you can drive a lonely road, hike a backcountry trail, camp beneath a clear desert sky, or just soak in the warmth and beauty of the Southwest. The Monument exhibits an extraordinary collection of plants of the Sonoran Desert, including the organ pipe cactus, a large cactus rarely found in the United States. There are also many creatures that have been able to adapt themselves to extreme temperatures, intense sunlight and little rainfall.
Saguaro National Park
This unique desert outside of Tucson is home to the most recognizable cactus in the world, the majestic saguaro. Visitors of all ages are fascinated and enchanted by these desert giants, especially their many interesting and complex interrelationships with other desert life. Saguaro cacti provide their sweet fruits to hungry desert animals. They also provide homes to a variety of birds, such as the Harris’ hawk, Gila woodpecker and the tiny elf owl. Yet, the saguaro requires other desert plants for its very survival. During the first few years of a very long life, a young saguaro needs the shade and protection of a nurse plant such as the palo verde tree. With an average life span of 150 years, a mature saguaro may grow to a height of 50 feet and weigh over 10 tons. While most visitors to Saguaro National Park choose a leisurely drive on one of our scenic loop drives, those eager for an escape from the rigors of city life often opt to explore the park on one of our many trails. With over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from flat and easy strolls in the Sonoran Desert to steep and rugged hikes into the Rincon Mountains, visitors of every ability have a place to get out of the car and explore.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. Three of America's four desert ecosystems--the Mojave, the Great Basin, and the Sonoran Deserts--meet in Lake Mead NRA. As a result, this seemingly barren area contains a surprising variety of plants and animals, some of which may be found nowhere else in the world.
Chiricahua National Monument
Twenty seven million years ago a volcanic eruption of immense proportions shook the land around Chiricahua National Monument, located near present day Willcox. One thousand times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Turkey Creek Caldera eruption eventually laid down two thousand feet of highly silicious ash and pumice. This mixture fused into a rock called rhyolitic tuff and eventually eroded into the spires and unusual rock formations of today. The monument is a mecca for hikers and birders. At the intersection of the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, and the southern Rocky Mountains and northern Sierra Madre in Mexico, Chiricahua plants and animals represent one of the premier areas for biological diversity in the northern hemisphere. Of historic interest is the Faraway Ranch, a pioneer homestead and later a working cattle and guest ranch. Faraway Ranch offers glimpses into the lives of Swedish immigrants Neil and Emma Erickson, and their children. The house is furnished with historic artifacts which not only give us reminders of our youth and our ancestors, but one can also trace the development of technology during the first half of the twentieth century.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! Exhibits re-create the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and more. Within the Museum grounds, you will see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants. There are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is more than a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of the turbulent Colorado River. This canyon is a gift that transcends what we experience. Its beauty and size humble us. Its timelessness provokes a comparison to our short existence. In its vast spaces we may find solace from our hectic lives. The Grand Canyon we visit today is a gift from past generations.
Pipe Spring National Monument
Pipe Spring National Monument, a little known gem of the National Park System, is rich with American Indian, early explorer and Mormon pioneer history. The water of Pipe Spring has made it possible for plants, animals, and people to live in this dry, desert region. Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians gathered grass seeds, hunted animals, and raised crops near the springs for at least 1,000 years. In the 1860s Mormon pioneers brought cattle to the area and by 1872 a fort (Winsor Castle) was built over the main spring and a large cattle ranching operation was established. This isolated outpost served as a way station for people traveling across the Arizona Strip, that part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. It also served as a refuge for polygamist wives during the 1880s and 1890s. Although their way of life was greatly impacted, the Paiute Indians continued to live in the area and by 1907 the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation was established, surrounding the privately owned Pipe Spring ranch. In 1923 the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument. Today the Pipe Spring National Monument - Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum explains the human history of the area over time. Daily tours of Winsor Castle, summer "living history" demonstrations, an orchard and garden, and a half-mile trail offer a glimpse of American Indian and pioneer life in the Old West.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. The recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic vistas, geologic wonders, and a panorama of human history. Additionally, the controversy surrounding the construction of Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of Lake Powell contributed to the birth of the modern day environmental movement.
Desert Botanical Garden
Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants, showcasing 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits. Home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world, the Garden offers interesting and inspiring experiences.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Hike down into Walnut Canyon and walk in the footsteps of the people that lived here over 900 years ago. Under limestone overhangs, the Sinagua built their homes. These single story structures, cliff dwellings, were occupied from about 1100 to 1250. Come out and see millions of years of history unraveled in the geology of the rocks. Listen to the canyon wren and enjoy the turkey vultures soaring above. And if you look closely, you may even see an elk or a javelina. Different lifezones overlap here, mixing species that usually live far apart. In this canyon, desert cacti grow alongside mountain firs. The people that lived here moved on to become the modern pueblo people of today. Walnut Canyon is one of their ancestral homes. Located outside of Flagstaff.
Reid Park Zoo
Come visit the Tucson zoo, and have a wild time. Meet the more than 400 animals—rhinos, elephants, anteaters, polar bears, lions, and many more! Adventure in our African, Asian, and South American regions. Explore the Flight Connection, our full-flight, walk through aviary.
Phoenix Zoo
Visit the beautiful Phoenix Zoo, home to over 1,200 animals. Centrally located in the Phoenix metro area, the Phoenix Zoo offers an exciting array of animal exhibits, unique special events, educational programs and outdoor recreational activities for people of all ages.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest is a surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. The park is located in northeast Arizona and features one of the world's largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood. Also included in the park's 93,533 acres are the multi-hued badlands of the Chinle Formation known as the Painted Desert, historic structures, archeological sites and displays of 225 million-year-old fossils.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Sunset Crater near Flagstaff is the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau. The volcano's red rim and the dark lava flows seem to have cooled and hardened to a jagged surface only yesterday. As plants return, so do the animals that use them for food and shelter. And so do human visitors, intrigued by this opportunity to see nature’s response to a volcanic eruption.
Parashant National Monument
Parashant National Monument, located on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon was established by presidential proclamation on January 11, 2000. This remote area of open, undeveloped spaces is an impressive and diverse landscape that includes an array of scientific and historic resources. Parashant National Monument is a very remote and undeveloped place managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. There are no paved roads into the Monument and no visitor services.
Wildlife World Zoo
Wildlife World Zoo in Phoenix has Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals, totaling more than 1,300 individual animals.
Links and Items
Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking

With Jim Arnosky as your guide, an ordinary hike becomes an eye-opening experience. He'll help you spot a hawk soaring far overhead and note the details of a dragonfly up close. Study the black-and-white drawings -- based on his own field research -- and you'll discover if those tracks in the brush were made by a deer or a fox.

In his celebrated style, this author, artist, and naturalist enthusiastically shares a wealth of tips. Jim Arnosky wants you to enjoy watching wildlife. He carefully explains how field marks, shapes, and location give clues for identifying certain plants and animals wherever you are. He gives hints for sharpening observational skills. And he encourages you to draw and record birds, insects, shells, animal tracks, and other finds from a busy day's watch.

Nature Studies Homeschool Curriculum
Considering God's Creation
Life science truly comes alive with this 270-page lap-book style notebook for 2nd-7th graders. A Charlotte Mason type discovery approach is easily implemented with creative activities, music and topical Bible studies, making this program a perfect choice for a homeschool family or a classroom. It may be used as a stand-alone science course or as an invaluable supplemental resource for any other program. 
Nature Studies Activities & Experiments
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: Science
Family style learning is a great way to tackle lots of different subjects, including science.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
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Featured Resources

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Perrine's Sound & Sense: An Introduction to Poetry
Perrine's Sound and Sense is a fantastic book for studying poetry with your children. It is a great resource for high school students. It includes clear and thorough explanations of devices, forms, how to analyze poetry, and more, as well as a huge variety of poems, both classic and contemporary.
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Jr. Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Race around the board in this fast-paced, wonderfully wacky game. Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 1st and 2nd grade skills in math, language arts, life science, physical science, and social studies!
Spell to Write & Read
This teacher's manual, written by a homeschool educator with experience as a professional school teacher and private tutor, shows how to teach reading the "write" way. By phonetically teaching spelling from the start as the backbone for reading, all children can be taught, regardless of learning styles, to read and spell. If your student knows how to read already, this program can improve his or her spelling. Find out more about this product here.
One Thing at a Time : 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day
Simple, effective ways to put things in their placeThose piles of papers, clothes, and other things you thought you'd successfully de-cluttered have returned, and this time they brought friends. What's the use of trying to fight the clutter? Is there a better way?This powerful and useful guide delivers solutions that work, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. The answer isn't an elaborate new system, or a solemn vow to start tomorrow. Instead, psychotherapist and organizer Cindy Glovinsky shares ...
So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It
Confused and intimidated by the complexities of homeschooling, many sincere parents never get past the "thinking about it" stage. Now Lisa Whelchel - herself a homeschooling mother of three - introduces fifteen real families and shows how they overcome the challenges of their unique homeschooling situations. This nuts-and-bolts approach deals with common questions of time management, teaching weaknesses, and outside responsibilities, as well as children's age variations, social and sports invol...