Our One Big Thing For The Year: Nature Study In Our Homeschool

Every year, we choose one big thing to focus on for the year in our homeschool. This year, we’ve decided to focus on nature study and we’re all excited about it! As we spend more time walking together outdoors, we are noticing so much more about the natural world around us.

Choosing one big thing to focus on each year really helps us incorporate new things that might otherwise fall through the cracks. As the year gets busy, it can be tempting to hone in on basics like math and language arts, forgetting to add extra things we wanted to do when the homeschool year began. If you’re looking for stuff to cut, it’s easy to cut extras like poetry tea time and board games without a second thought. 

To ensure we make time for fantastic new learning opportunities in our homeschool, we choose one thing to focus on each year. There are lots of amazing reasons to focus on nature study! Want to learn more about how we choose our one big thing? Keep reading to get the scoop on our one big thing and discover some fun new homeschool nature study resources we’re adding to our homeschool this year.

Picking Your Focus For Your Homeschool Year

We always choose one big thing to focus on each year. This “one thing” becomes a point of focus in our homeschool, something we strive to make time for and build habits around. Choosing just one big thing helps make adding something new to our homeschool routine easier.

It’s a lot of fun to talk about what our new “one big thing” will be each year! In the past, the one thing has included activities like poetry tea time, gameschooling, and making time for more field trips. After I finish planning our homeschool goals, we get together to choose one big thing: a goal we will all work to incorporate throughout the year. 

Deciding on this big goal together as a family gives everyone an opportunity to share their ideas and feel included in that year’s homeschool plan. We incorporate new activities and ideas related to our “one big thing” throughout the year. Gradually, these little activities find places in our schedule and become habits we enjoy together. 

Choosing just “one thing” each year keeps it manageable for us. If we chose many things to focus on, it would be tempting to skip something or abandon the idea altogether during busier or more overwhelming parts of the homeschool year. 

Our One Big Thing For This Year: Nature Study

This year, our “one big thing” to focus on is nature study. In the past, most of our nature studies happened organically. An animal or plant would cross our path and Emily’s natural curiosity would lead to learning more about it. 

I knew I wanted more out of nature study in our homeschool, but it’s never been something that comes easily to me. Over the years, I’ve discovered nature study resources that have helped. By making nature study our “one big thing,” we’re making a commitment to incorporate nature study into our homeschool schedule more frequently and with purpose.

It made total sense to make nature study our “one big thing” this year. There’s something for everyone: Kevin and Emily share a love of art and nature journaling is a great opportunity for them to engage in some of their favorite activities. I’m excited about incorporating nature walks that give me more opportunities to get moving each day.

Plus, we follow an interest-led approach here at The Waldock Way. Many of Emily’s interests this year are related to nature. She wants to learn more about the weather and birds which will happen more naturally as we practice nature study in our homeschool. 

Homeschool Nature Study Resources

There are so many amazing homeschool nature study resources out there! We are planning to incorporate more field trips to our state and national parks as well as getting outdoors for walks each day. Discover some of the other excellent nature study resources we’re using this year to help guide us on this journey. 



Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning

This unique nature study book is a teacher’s guide to nature study written in the form of a mother’s diary. In Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning, the author Karen Andreola shares hundreds of examples of what to look for on a nature walk together. Plus, study questions, nature poems, and the Latin names for living things you might observe along the way.

How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, Attention

This book by John Muir Laws explains how to teach nature journaling from drawing skills for those of us who aren’t gifted artists to incorporating journaling to meet educational standards. It’s got curriculum plans, advice, and experiences homeschoolers can learn from as they begin nature journaling together. 

The sample journal pages in How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, Attention include illustrations from notable naturalists and dozens of activities that have been field tested. It’s a great resource for those of us looking to incorporate nature study into our homeschool lessons more regularly.

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling is an art instruction book and how-to guide for becoming more attentive to nature study. There are all kinds of step-by-step illustrations and activities to help you reproduce plants, animals, and landscapes. This book is an amazing resource for homeschoolers who want to learn the basics as well as those who are looking for more advanced instruction.

Keeping a Nature Journal

One really cool thing about this nature study resource is that it was originally endorsed by Jane Goodall. The third edition of Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie is a great addition to any homeschool nature study because it focuses on teaching us to see, witness, and appreciate the wonders in nature. With an emphasis on learning how to see and observe, Leslie shows how drawing nature doesn’t require special skills, advanced artistic ability, or even much knowledge about the natural world.

Watercolor in Nature: Paint Woodland Wildlife and Botanicals

In Watercolor in Nature: Paint Woodland Wildlife and Botanicals, author Rosalie Haizlett gives super helpful step-by-step instructions on how to paint realistic insects, fungi, botanicals, birds, and mammals with watercolors. This nature study resource is a great place to begin increasing your ability to observe details about the natural world. Even after we finish the book, the techniques we learn will help us to improve our nature study lessons and nature journaling activities throughout the year. 

Want to see even more nature study resources? Watch our YouTube video all about them!

Additional Resources For Interest-Led Learning In Your Homeschool

Our “one big thing” is a big part of the interest-led learning approach in our homeschool. Since we follow an interest-led learning approach, we don’t often finish any given curriculum or resource entirely from cover to cover. Instead, we pick and choose what we need or like and leave the rest. 

There are all kinds of amazing homeschool resources that work well with an interest-led learning approach. Check out more of our favorites to add to your homeschool resource list this year:

So what’s your “one big thing” to focus on this year? Are you planning to incorporate nature study into your homeschool lesson plans too? Share your best nature study ideas and resources in the comment section.

Plus, don’t miss my free nature journal to get you started on the right foot with nature study in your homeschool this Spring. Just print these journal pages and you’re ready to go!