I love how summer learning kind of takes on a rhythm of its own. We don’t have any formal “school” going on just yet, but as we wrap up this season, I’ve loved watching spontaneous learning just happen. And nature study is one of my favorite ways to watch learning happen naturally. It’s such a fun activity to encourage curiosity, exploration, and research. This summer, we’ve been noticing dragonflies and damselflies. The result has been an informal dragonfly summer nature study that has lasted all season.
Our Dragonfly Summer Nature Study
It all started with a dragonfly on our outside patio.
As we “oohed” and “ahhed” over it, I asked the kids if they knew any differences between a damselfly and a dragonfly. We consulted some nature books and Google Images and observed some basic differences: dragonflies have larger wings that spread out when at rest, thicker bodies, and eyes that are closer together; damselflies typically have wings that fold when at rest (many times, it looks as though they only have two wings), thinner bodies, and more distance between their eyes.
Honestly, my kids took it from there. We observed dragonflies and damselflies on every nature walk for the rest of this summer. They even built damselfly and dragonfly lego creatures.
They watched a swarm of damselflies mating and laying eggs in our favorite pond. And they picked up a dead dragonfly in a parking lot to observe at home under our microscope.
Tips for a summer nature study (or any nature study)
- Take a walk and see what catches your child’s attention.
- Ask some questions and find some answers together. Google it, or check out a library book. But make sure that it’s answering your child’s questions and feeding his interest in the topic.
- Allow your child to “narrate” or put the new info to use—whether that’s teaching the new info to you on the next nature walk, drawing in a nature journal, or playing with legos!
I love having a time of the year to take a break from our classical/charlotte homeschool and to enjoy some summer spontaneity. And while I’m looking forward to adding some structure back into our lives and am excited about our new books and fresh supplies, I also love that learning can happen without those lesson plans, too. Learning happens anywhere!