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 New Jersey
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
This park preserves 40 miles of the middle Delaware River and almost 70,000 acres of land along the river's New Jersey and Pennsylvania shores. At the south end of the park, the river cuts eastward through the Appalachian Mountains at the scenic Delaware Water Gap. A one-day auto tour of the park can include waterfalls, rural scenery, and historic Millbrook Village. Visitors can also canoe, hike, camp, swim, picnic, bicycle, crosscountry ski, and horseback ride. Fishing and hunting are permitted in season with state licenses.
New Jersey State Aquarium
The New Jersey State Aquarium, located on the Delaware River Waterfront in Camden, offers more than 4,000 aquatic animals of some 500 species in over 80 individual fresh and salt water exhibits. Our 760,000 gallon Ocean Base Atlantic Tank has two dozen sharks, giant stingrays, sea turtles and 1,400 other aquatic animals. We also have a 170,000 gallon seal pool, which is home to eight gray and harbor seals, a touch-a-shark exhibit, and a new permanent, outdoor exhibit called Inguza Island, featuring African Penguins.
New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
The Pinelands National Reserve includes portions of seven southern New Jersey counties, and encompasses over one-million acres of farms, forests and wetlands. It contains 56 communities, from hamlets to suburbs, with over 700,000 permanent residents. In 1978 it was established by Congress as the country’s first National Reserve -- a Reserve being an area of nationally significant resources that are protected through a program of local land use management supported by federal financial and technical assistance. In the Pinelands, specific areas have been designated for environmental protection, forestry and agriculture, with growth being directed and encouraged in and around areas capable of accomodating further development. Its people are distinguished by a unique relationship with their environment, and the environment is distinguished by being habitat for over a thousand species of plants and animals--almost 100 of which are threatened or endangered.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a 2,180-mile footpath along the ridgecrests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in northern Georgia. It traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Conceived in 1921, it was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. The trail traverses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
Cape May County Park Zoo
The Cape May County Park Zoo is located in the beautiful main county park in Cape May Court House. Near the New Jersey Shore and Historic Cape May. The Zoo has 200 species of animals and over 500 specimens from around the World and includes a reptile house and a free flight aviary. Admission is free.
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route was established in 1988 "to provide for public appreciation, education, understanding, and enjoyment" of significant natural and cultural sites associated with the coastal area of the State of New Jersey. The Coastal Heritage Trail is divided into five regions linked by the common heritage of life on the Jersey Shore and Raritan and Delaware bays. Five themes define different aspects of coastal life: Maritime History, Coastal Habitats, Wildlife Migration, Historic Settlements, and Relaxation and Inspiration. The trail is intended primarily for vehicular tourism. The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route extends south for nearly 300 miles from Perth Amboy to Cape May and westward along the Delaware Bay to the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
Great Egg Harbor National Wild & Scenic River
Starting as a trickle near Berlin, NJ, the Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River gradually widens as it picks up the waters of 17 tributaries on its way to Great Egg Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Established by Congress in 1992, nearly all of this 129-mile river system rests within the Pinelands National Reserve.
National Parks of New York Harbor
The National Parks of New York Harbor represents a collaboration, or organizational network, of these parks: Gateway National Recreation Area, Governors Island, Manhattan Sites and Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island, as well as one affiliated site, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. These remarkable places include Jamaica Bay, the largest continuous piece of open space in all of New York City and icons such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, recognized the world over. The parks also include the cradle of our nation at Federal Hall on Wall Street, places in Manhattan where Presidents have lived and breathed and been interred and memorialized, and Governors Island, the newest national park on New York Harbor.
Lower Delaware National Wild & Scenic River
The lower Delaware River region contains immense resource diversity, combining an area of high population density with a wealth of natural, cultural, and historical resources and recreational opportunities. The river valley houses cliffs rising 400 feet above the rivers that provide for magnificent scenery and habitat unique to the region. The south-facing, desert-like slopes are home to the prickly pear cactus, while the north-facing slopes display flora and fauna usually only found in arctic-apline climates. The river itself provides habitat for American shad, striped bass, and river herring and is an important component of the Atlantic Flyway, one of four major waterfowl routes in North America. From a historic veiwpoint, the river is one of the most significant corridors in the nation, containing buildings used during Washington's famous crossing, historic navigation channels, Native American and colonial archeological sites, and 19th century mills.
Maurice National Wild & Scenic River
The Maurice River and its tributaries drain the southwest portion of the Pinelands National Reserve, providing a critical link between the Reserve and the Delaware Estuary. The Pinelands Commission considers the entire Manumuskin watershed an ecologically critical area, with the vast, unspoiled Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer underlying most of the region. State and local governments, and conservation organizations own significant acreage for preservation purposes. The rivers and associated wetlands serve as nurseries for ocean-going wildlife, offering food and habitat for resident and migrating species, many of which are considered endangered. Each year, huge flocks of birds alight within the watershed to enjoy the area's natural bounty. The Maurice River corridor is rich in natural, cultural and historical significance. Its tributaries, and the bay beyond, not only shaped the lifestyle and livelihood of the region's past inhabitants, but they continue to support the areas' economy and the lifestyle of many residents today. Early industries relied on the river water channeled swiftly into flowing mill races. Some residents built dikes so they could farm the often boggy land close to the river. Others worked in maritime occupations. Local ship builders provided vessels for fishing and for carrying local products to distant markets. The region's entire glass making industry emerged because of, and still depends on the sandy deposits found throughout the watershed. Cumberland County's heritage is steeped in the history of the Lenni-Lenape people, a nation that numbers some 6,000 inhabitants at the time of the earliest colonial explorations of the Delaware Bay region.
Gateway National Recreation Area
Gateway NRA is a 26,000 acre recreation area located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area. The park extends through three New York City boroughs and into northern New Jersey. Park sites offer a variety of recreation opportunities, along with a chance to explore many significant cultural and natural resources.
Delaware National Scenic River
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area encompasses 70,000 acres of ridges, forests, lakes and rivers on both sides of the Delaware River in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Delaware River, the only remaining undammed river in the eastern United States, is part of the National Wild and Scenic River system; its exceptional quality waters provide both recreation and drinking water for millions of people in neighboring metropolitan areas. With habitats ranging from rivers and ponds to dry ridge tops, Delaware Water Gap is home to a variety of animals, from black bears weighing up to 800 pounds to ruby-throated hummingbirds, only 3-4 inches long. The Delaware River and its tributaries are home to more than 60 fish species, including both species that make the park their permanent home and migratory species such as eels and American shad that travel between the upper reaches of the river and the Atlantic Ocean. Great blue and green-backed herons wade in shallows looking for fish, frogs, and crustaceans for a meal. Otters glide silently through the water. On the river's floodplain, rich soil supports bountiful farm fields. Visitors can commonly see white-tailed deer and wild turkey searching for food. After nightfall, the park comes alive with a whole new set of animals: foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, and, in the night sky, owls, and six species of bats.
Bergen County Zoological Park
The Bergen County Zool is located in Van Saun County Park in Paramus, and is home to a wide variety of wild and domestic animals, living in recreated habitats natural to each species. The zoo has many different species of birds, some exotic and rare, such as the endangered Andean condor. Reptiles, like the Red-footed Tortoise, the Green Iguana, Boa Constrictor, and American Alligator will be found here, as will mammals such as the Ferret, Opossum, Arctic Fox, American Bison, Mountain Lion, Golden Lion, Tamarin, and many, many others.
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
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.
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.
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