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 Illinois
Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum was founded to house the biological and anthropological collections assembled for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Includes a world-class natural history library of more than 250,000 volumes. The Field Museum is the permanent home of Sue, the world's largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex.
Glen Oak Zoo
The Glen Oak Zoo is an AZA accredited facility located in Peoria, Illinois, and is home to more than 175 animals from around the world.
Scovill Zoo
From cheetahs to spider monkeys, giant toads to pygmy goats, you can journey around the world at Scovill Zoo. See animals on the verge of extinction as you take a spin on the Endangered Species Carousel, journey through the zoo on the Z.O. & O. Express train, feed the goats in the petting area, and search for the glass lizard in the herpaquarium. Located in Decatur.
Cosley Zoo
Located in Wheaton, the Cosley Zoo is situated on five acres and exhibits domestic farm animals and native Illinois wildlife. You can enjoy sitting by the picturesque duck pond, get close to a 2,000 pound horse, and if you're lucky, hear the coyotes howl. The 1887 railroad station, antique caboose, and a 125-year-old barn provide visitors with a piece of local history.
Henson Robinson Zoo
The Henson Robinson Zoo is located in Springfield. More than 300 animals from Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America find refuge at the zoo. Come and view the naturalistic exhibits that house more than 90 species of native and exotic animals. Enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the lagoons and watch mischievous spider monkeys at play on monkey island. Delight at the river otters. Marvel at the grace of the cheetahs and the deceivingly cuddly appearance of the Asiatic black bear. Then take a walk on the wild side with cougars, gibbons, lemurs, and more.
Miller Park Zoo
Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo features a walk through Wallaby exhibit, the new ZooLab exploration center, which includes an indoor butterfly and birds exhibit (butterflies from April-October), sun bears, snow leopards, red wolves, Sumatran tiger, a Children's Zoo, and a rain forest exhibit.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is one of the nation's oldest zoo and one of the last free zoos in the country. More than 1,000 animals make their home here. Rare and exotic species, as well as more familiar animals, are exhibited in environments that reflect their habitats in the wild.
Chicago Area Homeschool Field Trips
A group of homeschooling parents dedicated to providing local field trips and group classes in the Chicago Metropolitan Area by taking advantage of discounts and special privileges given to groups versus individuals. Parents volunteer to organize events geared towards the age, interest and benefit of their students. Each event or part of it is usually aimed at a specific age or grade range. Any member may organize trips, and post events sponsored by other groups.
Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is home to animals representing more than 400 species. This magnificent collection inhabits nearly 20 naturalistic exhibits within the zoo's 216 acres.
John G. Shedd Aquarium
The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is the world's largest indoor aquarium. The facility houses nearly 8,000 aquatic animals representing some 650 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from waters around the world. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium attracts nearly 2 million visitors a year.
Resources
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.
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.
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.
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Featured Resources

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Homeschool Open House
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Montessori Reading
Montessori Reading is a beginning reading and writing program for elementary aged children. This series of books introduce phonetic letter sounds, phonogram combinations, reading simple sentences, and reading and writing words that name everyday objects, animals, etc. A teaching guide and a child's journal are included.
Help for the Harried Homeschooler : A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child's Education with the Rest of Your Life
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America's National Parks for Dummies, Second Edition
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