The Joy Of Field Guides
We have been living our last 4 years of homeschooling blind to the wonders around us. We’ve been studying amazing places, fascinating exotic birds, and learning all about life outside Florida.
We didn’t pay much attention to the crazy giant grasshopper that liked our front door plant. The only reason I googled “army worms” was because they had eaten 14 tomato plants in my back yard! I ignored the wild flowers in the backyard and if it wasn’t for my husband I would have assumed the flowering tree next door – an oleander – was safe. (fyi – oleanders are poisonous to animals and humans if ingested)
I had heard some brainiac homeschoolers mention “field guides” and was immediately intimidated.We were not picking up bugs and playing detective trying to figure them out. Besides, field guides sounded a bit more like ‘unschooling’ and this fill-in-the-blank momma needed structured learning. I felt confident we didn’t need field guides – we weren’t hiking the Appalachian Trail. We live in manicured Suburbia – we had no real need for a field guide.
Out of curiosity I looked up the price of a field guide – just for fun – and was shocked they cost less than $4. So I purchased one – just for fun. When the Trees field guide arrived I was so impressed I raced to the golf course where my children were practicing with their dad. We pointed to every single tree and looked every single one of them up in our field guide. Then we quizzed my (certified) landscape architect husband on all of their Latin names – he did above average. Our excitement over trees was a bit ridiculous. So we raced home and purchased more field guides!
We take them everywhere with us – playgrounds, hiking, golf courses, even out of town on family visits! God made this amazing world and all the things inside it … and we’re just starting to pay more attention to what is here right where we live! No leaf goes unnoticed … Things we’d normally have passed by grab our curiosity … finding a fully intact dead owl and figuring out if it was a horned owl or a screech owl – thankfully our “birds” field guide arrived the day before! We are noticing even the littlest of bugs. You do not have to travel across the world to be impressed; you can pay just a bit more attention to what is around you now. Field guides have not only made science come to life in our homeschool, but they’ve removed the blinders of the every day routine. We’ve become curious … we’re becoming scientists!
Stef Layton homeschools two nature loving boys in Florida and blogs about it at Educating Laytons. She is the co-founder of The Homeschool Village.
Here are some of our favorite field guides. (affiliate link)