There are certain “tools of the trade” when it comes to homeschool science and nature study and these are the ones we used with our own children and heartily recommend. And since most of these resources are going to be used during the whole time you homeschool your children, it is wise to accumulate as many as you can.
Hand lenses, Binoculars, and Microscopes
Bausch & Lomb Hastings Triplet Magnifier, 14x[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B0007LRNG6″ locale=”us” height=”100″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41nH6r97ctL._SL110_.jpg” width=”110″]. Bausch & Lomb is one of the finest names in optics and this hand-held magnified is made of three lenses bonded together to provide sharp distinct magnified images. A swing-away nickel plated case protects the lens and serves as a handle. Protective storage pouch included.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00005AXIV” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41dpnXVMZ%2BL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Bushnell Perma Focus 10×50 Wide Angle Binocular. These are great binoculars that I use myself. Most all-purpose field binoculars are only 7×25 or 8×40 magnification but these are a whopping 10×50! However, they are best for high school ages and up because of their size and weight. These binoculars also have a “prema focus” feature that helps you stay locked on the image. Plus they are from Bushnell which produces fine optics.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B001C1QY6K” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41j42YaIECL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Bushnell Natureview 8 x 40 Birder Combo. These binoculars are the industry standard for bird watching and our family has a pair of these too. The NatureView Birder Combo provides everything you need for a rewarding experience on the nature trail, including a birding the North American Bird Reference CD-Rom for positive species identification, a birding field log, and high quality binoculars with a limited lifetime warranty from Bushnell. These are excellent binoculars that are best suited for upper elementary and older because of their size and weight.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B007JNWCDE” locale=”us” height=”87″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/416ZwmA-GeL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black. Although this is would be a great all-purpose field binocular for adults, this is the binocular to get for children. It’s child-sized, extremely portable, folds up compactly enough to fit into a bag or backpack, and only weighs 10 ounces. Plus, it’s waterproof and fogproof and backed by Bushnell’s limited lifetime warranty.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B008MB1A1W” locale=”us” height=”142″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31muHJFzA6L._SL110_.jpg” width=”160″]Deluxe Brock Magiscope Kit – NEW!. We’ve looked for years for a microscope rugged enough to withstand child use without constantly needing repair, but powerful enough to really be considered a microscope. The Magiscope is tough enough to use outside and to withstand the abuse of fumbling children. There are no mirrors, cords, bulbs, batteries, adjustments or alignments necessary. It is easy for even a small child to use and is so “kid proof” that the manufacturer unconditionally guarantees it for 5 years against accidental breakage. The basic Magiscope is equipped with a 5X projection eyepiece and 4X achromatic objective to give a magnification of 20X which is sufficient for most microscopic study except microbiology. The kit includes 2 extra lenses which increase the magnification to 100x. The basic Magiscope is recommended for K – 12.
Nature Journal Supplies
Notesketch Pad. These sketch books/note books have everything you want in a nature journal: they are spiral bound so they will lie flat for drawing or writing; they are 8½” x 11″ sized so they are easy to work in; and they have smooth opaque paper suitable for pen and pencil. But best of all, the top half of each page is blank and the lower half is ruled, so children can make sketches, mount pressed flowers and dried leaves, paste in pictures or photographs, draw graphs or charts, or illlustrate stories, etc. in the blank top of each page and write notes on the lined lower half of the page.
Take Me Along Sketching Paper is an 11” x 14″ spiral bound sketchbook with 100 sheets of 50 lb. sketching paper with just the right tooth (texture) for a nature journal.
Prismacolor Scholar Graphite 7 Piece Drawing Pencil Set This kit contains the most needed sketching materials: 1 each of 2B, 4B, and 6B pencils; 1 ebony pencil; 1 soft charcoal pencil; 1 medium charcoal pencil; 1 kneaded eraser; and 1 pink pearl eraser. These high quality sketching materials include everything a beginning sketcher needs.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00006IEEV” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51pVqMRWM%2BL._SL110_.jpg” width=”98″]Sanford Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Set, 48/Tin We have tried many of the colored pencils on the market and these are our favorites. The pencils have vivid hues and they cover with color without having to bear down or having to keep going back and forth over the paper. The colors mix completely so they blend beautifully. If you have ever tried to color with cheap colored pencils, you will think these are a dream to use.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B004BNGIF8″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51UQRU1jc7L._SL160_.jpg” width=”120″]Fimo Soft Clay 10 Color Assortment. Our children have loved this clay and have made all sorts of creatures with it (particularly reptiles). It comes in vividly colored blocks that can be molded to form whatever their hearts’ desire and then baked in an oven to permanently set. The colors are blendable and retain their brightness after baking. The set contains ten 1 oz Blocks of vivid Color: White, Mandarin, Brilliant Blue, Peppermint, Black, Indian Red, Tropical Green, Caramel, Lemon, and Violet. It is great for science study because you can actually make small models in full color.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1580174930″ locale=”us” height=”75″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iFvo%2BFGFL._SL75_.jpg” width=”69″]Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You. This is the nature journaling “how-to” book we have been wishing for. It begins by explaining the equipment you will need and giving some simple and encouraging sketching lessons. Then it gets to the best parts—many, many pages with samples of journaling styles, generously interspersed with tips on different ways to develop a nature journal, plus ideas for journaling in each season of the year. A beautifully done, very special book that will make you long to start your own nature journal.
Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too. Mona Brookes’ easy-to-follow, lesson-by-lesson approach to drawing has yielded astounding results with children of all ages and beginning adults who have learned to draw through her “Monart Method.”
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0395912385″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51hZ-QoZmzL._SL110_.jpg” width=”95″]Common Birds and Their Songs (Book and Audio CD). This book-audio package provides a unique introduction to fifty of the most familiar birds of North America and the songs they sing. Each bird is described in vivid detail – its natural history, habitat, voice, range, and field marks – and illustrated in stunning color photographs. Range maps show where each species is found in different seasons. The audio CD features original high-quality field recordings of each bird’s songs and calls, which are track-coded for easy access.
Nature Log Kids: A Kid’s Journal to Record Their Nature Experiences can be the first step to keeping a nature journal. A colorful, spiral-bound 5″ x 7″ book that guides kids to record their nature observations. Pages have ruled spaces at the top to enter “What I Saw,” “Where I Saw It,” & “Observations” and a blank lower half labeled “It Looked Like This” for sketches. Interspersed between these log pages are blank pages for photos, clippings, pressed leaves, etc.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1606524917″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wnf0DXj3L._SL160_.jpg” width=”107″]Reader’s Digest Guide to North American Wildlife. Birds and butterflies, ferns and frogs, mushrooms and mantra rays, seashells and salamanders—this 576 page book includes more than 2,000 plants and animals of all types. North American Wildlife is both a valuable at-home reference and an extraordinarily usable guide to the most common and conspicuous wild plants and animals of our continent. Specially planned for quick and easy identification, if you’re only going to get one field guide, let this be the one.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”067972981X” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y%2BIegZqfL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]National Audubon Society Pocket Guides are smaller, child-sized versions of the bigger, complete Audubon Guides. We like pocket guides best for homeschooling ages 8 and under because they have color photographs instead of drawings, their compact size (4″ x 6″) appeals to children, and they cover only things a child is likely to see. Each guide is about 200 pages with each left side page a color photograph and each right side page a brief description of the animal or plant and its habits and habitat.
Pocket Guide to Familiar Animal Tracks ♦ Pocket Guide to Songbirds and Familiar Backyard Birds: Eastern Region ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds of North America, Western Region ♦ Pocket Guide to North American Birds of Prey ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Butterflies Of North America ♦ Pocket Guide to Clouds and Storms ♦ Pocket Guide to Constellations of the Northern Skies ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Dinosaurs ♦ Pocket Guide to Earth from Space ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Fossils ♦ Pocket Guide to Insects and Spiders ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Mammals ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Marine Mammals ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Mushrooms ♦ Pocket Guide to Planets and Their Moons ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Reptiles and Amphibians ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Rocks and Minerals ♦ Pocket Guide to Familiar Seashells ♦ Pocket Guide to the Sun and the Moon ♦ Pocket Guide to Waterfowl
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B0073PAX7A” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/313pCgFes7L._SL160_.jpg” width=”83″]Audubon Society Field Guides are the BIG, comprehensive field guides (5″ x 8″ x 1½” thick) with flexi-vinyl covers. You should buy as many as your budget allows, because you will use these all through the home schooling years and beyond. We like these better than the Peterson’s guides because they have photographs rather than drawings.
Birds, Eastern ♦ Birds, Western ♦ Fossils ♦ Butterflies ♦ Fishes ♦ Marine Mammals ♦ Insects and Spiders ♦ Mammals ♦ Reptiles and Amphibians ♦ Mushrooms ♦ Night Sky ♦ Rocks and Minerals ♦ Seashells ♦ Seashore Creatures ♦ Trees: Eastern Region ♦ Wildflowers: Eastern Region ♦ Trees: Western Region ♦ Wildflowers: Western Region ♦ Weather
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0544026950″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51F2Lp01J7L._SL160_.jpg” width=”125″]Field Guide Coloring Books. Based on Peterson’s field guides, these coloring books picture many of the most common animals and plants individually, or in woodland, desert, backyard, countryside, mountain, and swamp habitats to color. We have cut, photocopied, or traced portions to illustrate nature journals.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0679446834″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/618ZQF4EQ6L._SL160_.gif” width=”80″]National Audubon Society Regional Field Guides. The animals, plants, and natural environments of different regions of the United States are fully described in these nifty field guides. Each guide contains more than 1,000 accounts of local animal and plant species; clear explanations of each region’s natural history, climate, and night sky; information on all the best parks, preserves, forest, and sanctuaries; and nearly 1,500 color illustrations, photographs, maps, diagrams, and drawings. These are wonderful alternatives to buying separate field guides for birds, trees, wildflowers, night sky, etc.
National Audubon Society Regional Guide to the Southeastern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee ♦ National Audubon Society Regional Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States ♦ National Audubon Society Regional Guide to New England ♦ National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida ♦ National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States ♦ National Audubon Society Field Guide to California ♦ National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southwestern States: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah ♦ National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest ♦ National Audubon Society Regional Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0425111067″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51E2uLxzVBL._SL160_.jpg” width=”101″]Tom Brown’s Field Guides are written by the famous Tom Brown, who is America’s foremost authority on tracking and wilderness survival. His books mention Apache Indian beliefs, but there are no others that give such in-depth information about tracking and wilderness survival. Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children covers learning to observe the natural world, identifying animals and plants, lost-proofing, and ways to survive in the wild. Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking shows you how to move as silently as an Indian, how to spot and identify animal tracks and signs, and more.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”1559717025″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Qws3RB6IL._SL160_.jpg” width=”153″]Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide and More Fun with Nature. These are really neat “take-along guides” to exploring the outdoors. It covers the most common bugs, reptiles, amphibians, small animals, and trees, with full color illustrations of what it looks like, what it eats, and where to find it. Filled with fascinating facts and plenty of activities for ages 6 – 12. More Fun With Nature is the sequel.
Find the Constellationsdelights fourth through eighth graders with its interesting illustrations and fascinating stories about the stars and constellations and is a book to be used year around, indoors and out.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0062735241″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51JT-yx2TBL._SL160_.jpg” width=”110″]Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign by Paul Rezendes. “Our encounter with nature is largely a matter of seeing, and it relates to the quality of attention in our lives.” With full color pictures, the author not only teaches animal tracks, signs, and habits, but also teaches how to be attentive to what animal signs are telling you.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0316817236″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DRSC0YXAL._SL160_.jpg” width=”99″]Stokes Guide to Nature in Winter by Donald & Lillian Stokes. Winter can be just as rich a time for nature study as the other seasons. In-depth guide (over 400 pages) of things to look for and do in winter. It covers plants, animals, weather, and more. For parents with elementary ages, or middle schoolers up to use alone.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0746005636″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZXQ5STKBL._SL110_.jpg” width=”105″]The Usborne Complete First Book of Nature. This is one of the best introductions to nature study available for young children. It is an informative, brightly illustrated Usborne nature guide for preschool through grade 2 that covers trees, butterflies and moths, birds, flowers, fish, wild animals, and more.
The Kids’ Nature Book. A nature activity for each day of the year, grouped by week-long seasonal themes. (For example, a week in October is devoted to daily activities with autumn leaves.) Ages 9 – 14.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0794517382″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Rs66tGGKL._SL160_.jpg” width=”122″]Mysteries & Marvels of Nature. A lavishly illustrated, exciting, hardcover Usborne book written in a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” style. Teaching Home Magazine’s “Pick of the Crop” for best science resource. Contains Mysteries and Marvels of Plant, Animal, Reptile, Bird, Ocean and Insect Life. Boys love this book.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0671763423″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fw3MpiX9L._SL110_.jpg” width=”73″]How to Dissect contains instructions for dissecting earthworms, crayfish, clams, squid, starfish, dogfish shark, perch, frog, fetal pig, and gladioli. An excellent lab companion, covering anatomical systems with detailed drawings.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0395938473″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51IbI1z9haL._SL160_.jpg” width=”121″]The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay. A huge (400 pages) fascinating hardcover book that demonstrates not only how machines do what they do–from the simplest lever to the far-reaching capabilities of the Internet–but also shows how the concept behind one invention is linked to the concept behind another. Especially designed for those who find technology intimidating, the illustrations and explanations make even the most difficult concepts understandable. Recently updated and expanded. All ages.
Great Science Adventures by Dinah Zike and Susan Simpson. Many of you have attended Dinah Zike’s workshops and learned to help your children make all kinds of booklets, posters, hands-on activities, and displays of what they are learning. This series of science books uses the same fun, learning-reinforcing activities to teach science to grades K – 8. Each book has 24 lessons that thoroughly cover all that age group needs to learn about plants, insects, space, or tools and technology. In each lesson, students make an informative booklet about what they are studying using masters provided in the book, they perform lab activities and present the results in colorful displays, and they choose extra activities to broaden their knowledge. Teacher pages include vocabulary words, concept maps, assessments, assignments for all grade levels, and enrichment activities. Kids will love this approach, especially boys. The World of Plants, The World of Insects, The World of Space, The World of Tools and Technology.
Science Experiments and Lab Science
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0857926187″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41An84kBxVL._SL160_.jpg” width=”104″]Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. A huge book (887 pages) originally published in 1911 that gives lesson plans and background information on every aspect of nature study. Major divisions are Animals, Plants, Earth, and Sky. This book is the closest we’ve found to Charlotte Mason’s suggestions for nature study. The lesson plans assume you can actually go outside and look at or work with the subject at hand. For example, the section on birds has you teach using a live chicken, because everybody in 1911 had chickens handy. (Even a parakeet will do.) Great resource for the land-based, a challenging opportunity for city dwellers. All ages.
[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”1936959097″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VNKaNpmFL._SL160_.jpg” width=”123″]The Everyday Science Sourcebook. An unusual compilation of every conceivable experiment you can do to demonstrate any science concept you happen to be studying. All experiments use easily found materials. This is an invaluable tool for creating your own laboratory course of study to go with biology, chemistry, physics, or meteorology. All ages.
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B000V73BBM” locale=”us” height=”66″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21DhNlViqrL.jpg” width=”180″]Moody Science Classics: 19-DVD Set. The Moody Science Classics DVD set consists of 19 presentations linking creation, science, and the Bible. These DVDs cover a broad range of subjects and could become the core of science study in your homeschool. See galaxies and planets, find out about tornadoes and hurricanes, learn about the miracle of human life, and more with these Moody science DVDs. Topics range from earth science to astronomy, physics, and biology, with features for all ages. Grades K-12.