Water Birds Nature Study

Water Birds.JPG

Printed Resources:

Other Resources:


Snakes Nature Study


Printed Resources:
Additional Activities:
  • We used play dough and designed a bunch of our own snakes
  • We also visited a snake exhibit at our zoo to see what we were learning about
  • But, really what prompted this study was that we kept seeing snakes near our house!

Seeds Nature Study


Printed Resources

Seeds 2.JPG

Other Activities:
  • Grow some seeds and observe them at various stages (pictured are bean plants grown from a lima bean). If you have never grown a bean seed indoors this post from Playful Learning is helpful!
  • Explore and sort a wide variety of seeds — this free Seed Matching worksheet from Playful Learning can be a great starter.
  • Find seeds during a nature walk

Freshwater Fish Nature Study

Freshwater Fish

Printed Resources:
Other Resources:

Turtles Nature Study



I also love the Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians (Eastern & Central)

Printed Resources:

* I got this pack as a part of a bundle. There are other great free printable versions out there like this one.

Other Notes:
  • One topic that my son enjoyed was understanding the different types of turtles — like why sea turtles are not the same as the turtles we see in our woods!
  • I said this on my Instagram but I had the idea to do a Mossy art creation (either using one of our turtle shells or a giant rock, decorating it with flowers), but neither of my kids wanted to do it. So now my hope is someone else out there will do it with their kids. Please!

Also: yes, those are real turtle shells! The big one my husband found for me and it’s one of my favorite nature treasures!


Snails Nature Study



Printed Resources:

Other Activities:
  • Hunt for snails and spirals outdoors, of course!

Moths Nature Study



Printed Resources:

Other Resources:




Favorite Bird Books for Children

Favorite Bird Books.jpg

About This List

*List Updated July 18, 2019

Below I provided separate lists for fiction and nonfiction books about birds for children. Within each of those lists I also created sub-categories and a few favorites based on age level of the child. Nonfiction books are divided up by learning category (e.g. nests & eggs).

There is no book on this list I (and my kids) don’t enjoy. At the end of the post I did list out a few bird books that are out there which I do not care for, and why.

Happy birding!

Bird Narratives for Children

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

A beautiful and simple tale of a young girl who goes “owling” with her father one night in winter. Owl stories always seem to contain a bit of magic and this one does not disappoint. Owl Moon is easily one of my favorite children’s books, not just favorite bird book.

Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Follow Mr. and Mrs. Mallard as they figure out how best to care for their 8 ducklings in the bustling city of Boston. A fun tale containing the best kind of human-animal friendships. The simple line illustrations are perfection.

Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco

A charming story about Babushka, who wants to enter an egg-decorating contest (in traditional Ukrainian style), and an injured goose she cares for named Rechenka, who plays her own part in the contest.

Henny Penny by Paul Galdone

A classic tale about some gullible bird friends (Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurky) that get outsmarted by a Fox. Paul Galdone is a favorite for these types of classic tales — see also The Little Red Hen.

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen

The author of Owl Moon wrote On Bird Hill, On Duck Pond, and On Gull Beach for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Each of these three books does a wonderful job exploring birds in their natural habitats through a child’s viewpoint.

On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen
On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen
Bird Watch by Christie Matheson

A playful book that introduces a variety of birds and includes counting along with a look-and-find element that is perfect for young preschoolers!

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies has a talent for combining narrative with facts & information. Kids can follow this sweet story of a girl who keeps track of her neighborhood ducks but also learn about Mallards along the way.

There’s a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems

You might be surprised I’m including and Elephant & Piggie book in my list, but I love how simple and funny this is and it still manages to introduce even the youngest readers to the lifecycle of birds (though, it happens MUCH quicker in this book, obviously).

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray

A lyrical story follows children as they listen to the calls of a variety of birds they encounter.

One Dark Bird by Liz Garton Scanlon

A gorgeously illustrated lyrical story of a starling murmuration. Counting up from 1 to 10 and more, the murmuration builds. This is so much more than a simple counting book and will invite a wide range of ages from around 0 to 8 to enjoy this simple wonder of nature.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

An absurdly cute story of three baby owls as they discuss where their mother went one night (to hunt for food for them, of course).

Little Bird by Germano Zullo

A sparse text (mostly wordless) picture book depicting a lovely friendship between bird and man. A book that feels like it needs hours to sink in after you read it — and I hardly can get through it without crying!

Mama Built A Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

A fun way to introduce the variety of nesting birds through a rhyming story and inviting illustrations. A nice variety of birds are represented. There is also included on each page a bit of extra facts to go back and learn about.

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins

This is a simple tale of a bird building a nest — great for the youngest readers. Cute and fun with illustrations that are not meant to be realistic.

White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies

Another Nicola Davies (see Just Ducks! above) — the wonder of owls is represented so nicely through story, but the book also includes true facts to glean.

The Barn Owls by Tony Johnston

A lovely story that takes us through the lives of Barn Owls that live in a 100+ old barn and repeat the same rituals for their livelihood that their ancestors di.

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel

True to any Arnold Lobel story, these stories of Owl at Home are utterly charming and hilarious. What a fun friend to have through story!

The Burgess Bird Book for Children

Learn real information about birds through story. Thornton Burgess is just the best — on any “living book” must-read list for sure.

Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

For all the kids who have dreamed about flying. The line illustrations are wonderful enough to earn a Caldecott honor, but the story told through prose is equally notable.

Favorites for the Youngest Preschoolers: There’s a Bird on Your Head!, Bird Watch, Mama Built A Little Nest, Owl Babies

Favorites for Preschool & Kindergarten:Make Way For Ducklings, Rechenka’s Eggs, Henny Penny, Owl Moon

Favorites for Early Elementary: The Burgess Bird Book for Children

Bird Nonfiction Books For Children


General Bird Learning
The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer

A new book that’s a lovely introduction to birds. Provides general information about birds in a fun way and dives deeper in to a range of bird species throughout the world. I think there could be more here, but overall this is fun and engaging! The kids love all of Yuval Zommer’s “Big Book” books.

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Birds by Jim Arnosky

I love all the Crinkleroot books but this one is my favorite. It’s just a really fun way to present a learning topic to children–by following a trusted guide (a gnome named Crinkleroot who was born in a tree and raised by bees)

National Wildlife Federation World of Birds

A fantastic resource for bird lovers! The amount of information presented on a given bird species is fun and inviting to read.

Fly With Me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories

This book has a lot of content — stories, poems, quotes, real facts about specific birds, information to learn about birds as a whole. A great reference to have around. It also uses real photos!

General Bird Learning – Best for Toddlers & Preschoolers
About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill

About the simplest book version of what a bird is out there. The illustrations are lovely and I think this is so great for the youngest readers. Cathryn Sill has a whole series of “About” books for the natural world worthy of checking out as well!

A Bird is a Bird by Lizzy Rockwell

A fun introduction to birds! I love the diversity of birds represented and this is a fun an engaging read.

Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen

An A to Z book that includes charming and amusing illustrations. Great for preschoolers learning their alphabet!

Biography & True Story
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davis

A lovely account of the life of Audubon and his contribution to the world of ornithology.

Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feathered Friends by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Love the illustrations and the way the story is presented here on the citizen science practice of bird counts!

Nests & Eggs
A Nest Is Noisy* by Dianna Hutts Aston

This book is just a must-have for any young naturalist’s library. The illustrations are just beautiful and the poetic language is engaging. Along the journey, real facts are included to learn more.

An Egg Is Quiet* by Dianna Hutts Aston

Similar to above — just a super engaging way to explore the beauty and wonder of eggs!

Even An Ostrich Needs A Nest by Irene Kelly

Explores a wide variety of materials and function of bird nests. There is a decent amount of text here so A Nest Is Noisy would be better for younger readers. One thing I absolutely love about this book is the map provided at the back showing where all the birds represented in this book live.

All Kinds of Nests by Eun-gyu Choi

Another beautiful introduction to a wide variety of bird nests! The style here is a bit more playful than A Nest Is Noisy.

Take-Along Guide: Birds, Nest, and Eggs by Mel Boring

A reference guide that’s not meant to be thorough — only 15 birds are represented. That said, this is such a great reference for kids if you are learning about any of the species in here.

*Book also depicts animals other than birds.

Fiction stories that fit in with the Nests & Eggs theme: Mama Built A Little Nest, Bird Builds a Nest, and an honorable mention to The Apple Pie Tree (which really is about following an apple tree through the seasons but also features nesting Robins).

Beaks & Feet
Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III

I love this book so much! The diversity of beak adaptations are well-represented and detailed.

Unbeatable Beaks by Stephen Swinburne

A simpler version of Beaks! by Sneed B. Collard III — just less text overall but still does an excellent job covering the subject matter. It’s out of print and hard to come by!

Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet Are Neat by Laurie Ellen Angus

Simple text and illustrations — a fun introduction to the diversity of bird feet! Contains a nice summary table in the back of the book.

Wings & Feathers
Wings* by Sneed B. Collard III

Similar format to Beaks! — lots of great detail provided on the topic. Note that other animals with wings are represented.

Feathers Not Just For Flying by Melissa Stewart

This is a fantastic book on feathers! The illustrations are wonderful and I think all the information is presented in a meaningful way. New vocabulary terms are well defined. A nice variety of bird species are represented.

*Books also depicts animals other than birds.

Honorable Mention: The Book of Flight is a fun book about flying but also represents other animals besides birds.

Bird Sounds
The Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs

House Wren, American Goldfinch, Red-Winged Blackbird, Killdeer, House Finch, Great Horned Owl, Blue Jay, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove

The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs

Red Crossbill, Hermit Thrush, Black-Capped Chickadee, Common Loon, Red-Eyed Vireo, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Purple Finch, Barred Owl, Wild Turkey, Downy Woodpecker

Sounds of Nature: World of Birds

Bird sounds are presented by habitat — Rainforest, Mountains, Desert, Prairie, Woods, Ice, Wetlands, City, Ocean, Bush

Love the diversity represented here — so many birds to learn about!

Narrative that fits with the Bird Sounds theme: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?

Specific Groups of Bird Species
Watching Water Birds by Jim Arnosky

Loons, Grebes, Mergansers, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, Gulls, Herons

Thunder Birds by Jim Arnosky

Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Owls, Vultures, Herons, Egrets, Pelicans, Loons, Cormorants, Gannets

A few life-size fold-out pages are includes. Excellent life-like illustrations!

All About Owls by Jim Arnosky

For narratives about owls: Owl Moon, Owl Babies, White Owl, Barn Owl, The Barn Owls

Owls by Gail Gibbons

For narratives about owls: Owl Moon, Owl Babies, White Owl, Barn Owl, The Barn Owls

Ducks! by Gail Gibbons

For narratives about ducks: Make Way For Ducklings, On Duck Pond, Just Ducks!

Birds of Prey by Robert Bateman
Soaring With the Wind: The Bald Eagle by Gail Gibbons
Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner

Grosbeaks, Buntings, Gray catbird, Hummingbirds, Orioles, Tanagers, Wren, Swallows, Eastern Phoebe, Bluebirds

Tips on attracting birds to your yard.

Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner

Chickadees and Titmice, Cardinal, Blackbirds, Carolina Wren, Thrushes, Sparrows and Juncos, Rufous-sided Towhee, Jays, Crows, and Magpies, Finches

What I Did Not Cover:


I feel this deserves it’s own category because there are SO MANY penguin books out there. For nonfiction, my favorite is Penguins! by Gail Gibbons.


I honestly do not own any books on migration, but here are a few on my wishlist:

Bird Books I Do Not Care For:

The two Britta Teckentrup books both feel more like adult coffee-table books than children’s books. The information, while interesting, is not presented in any meaningful way. Plus, the illustrations are not realistic.

Bird House is a life-the-flap book which I typically do not enjoy — especially in a book like this with so much information. I have trouble determining what age group this book is aimed at.


Bird Field Guides

Last but not least I’m going to share a list of our favorite field guides:

I also recommend trying to find a state- or region-specific guide. For example, we have this Birds of Indiana field guide and Birds of Indiana book.

Sibley also makes postcards and flashcards which are lovely companions (I use the postcards as flashcards for my 5 and 4 year old because they are simpler than the flashcard design).

I also highly recommend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds Website as a fantastic learning resource.


Morning Time & Morning Menus



“Morning Time is very much like a big group hug at the beginning of our school day. It sets the tone and atmosphere for learning. It gives us something to contemplate and mentally gnaw on for the rest of the day. And most importantly, it puts us in a right relationship with each other and with God.” -Pam Barnhill

Here’s the short version of what Morning Time means to me:

  • Liturgy
  • Knowledge of God
  • Community
  • Formation of Character
  • Living Book Read Alouds
  • Appreciation of Beauty

There are a wide variety of Morning Baskets out there and everyone approaches this a bit differently. What is most important to me is that our Morning Time be anchored in God. And anchored in simplicity. I do not want our Morning Time to be bogged down with lacing cards and copywork and “activities” or curriculum (though those things have their place). I want our hearts quiet, ready, and willing to receive. I want us to focus on God and each other and enter in to the liturgy of those precious 30 minutes.

By the way, regarding time — I see this lasting between 20-45 minutes for us. I think as kids get older this time can be built upon for more family learning like nature studies composer studies, history & geography, etc. It could last 2 hours or more! Right now, keep it short and rich is my goal. While “enjoyment” is not my highest priority, I do want the kids to value it and want to show up again the next morning.

The other thing important to me is that this should not require a ton of prep. It’s all just there and ready in the basket so I do not have to scramble. Bookmarks are kept in every book we are going through so I do not have remember where we were. The Morning Menu (more detail below) contains all the sheets of paper in an easy way and does not require me to change it more than once a week.




I’m using these FREE floral calendar printable pages because (1) they are pretty and (2) they are free. The kids just circle or highlight the day. I will say doing this consistently helps ALL of us keep track of the date. Such a simple thing.

This sheet goes in the front of our Morning Menu — more details on that below.

Everyday Learn + Play has these traceable calendar pages that would be great option as well!

I also included the following page you can download for free in our Morning Menu:

In this file I included 3 pages: one for 2019, one for 2020, and one where the year box is left blank.

The kids circle or highlight the Month and Day of the Week, then we work on writing the date in the boxes above.

We also talk about the weather using the following:

Our wood clock is from Treasures From Jennifer.



We are currently doing the St. Francis Prayer. I recently came across this Litany of Thanksgiving and think we’ll do that next. The kids already know The Lord’s Prayer but that might be a good one to do if you are just starting out!

We also pray more personally for our day and also for others. For me, I really love Prayers rooted in church history and want to share those with my kids, BUT I also value personal prayer and want my kids to feel comfortable being conversational with God. I think how you approach this time will vary — just wanted to share what we do.


If you aren’t sure where to start with what verses to choose this list is helpful (from Simply Charlotte Mason). I also think it’s great to use verses that are personally meaningful to you!


I mostly use Happy Hymnody as a source for hymns because I love the printouts, but I do not always follow that same order.

Note: I’m not a super musically-inclined person but I do not feel it matters. I do love singing hymns with my kids and we keep it simple. Usually the first time I introduce a new hymn we use the Happy Hymnody YouTube Channel to watch videos or listen. Sometimes I rope my husband in to singing with the kids with his guitar (he, unlike me, IS musically inclined!)


“Their Bible lessons should help them to realize in early days that the knowledge of God is the principal knowledge, and therefore, that their Bible lessons are their chief lessons.” (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 251)

Right now we are using The Jesus Storybook Bible. I will read one story during a Morning Time. Probably 2-3 times a week.

I recently tried to crowd-source ideas for Bibles on my Instagram that have (1) a storybook style, (2) correct brown skin tones in any illustrations, and (3) relatively thorough. I say thorough because I do feel like there are a lot of great stories not covered in The Jesus Storybook Bible. Though, by far this is still my favorite children’s Bible, especially for ages 4-7. I designed my Bible character peg doll set to match!

Other Bible options to consider are below.

Youngest Children:

Early Elementary:

I do think the Catherine Vos one runs older than where my kids are right now.



Right now we will be going through Leading Little Ones to God. I’ve heard mixed things about this but still think it will be a a helpful starting point for some bigger-picture ideas beyond just learning stories from the Bible. I plan to do this in order once a week.

Other options to use:


This might be a Habit we are working on or just a more generalized character lesson. Lisa includes a weekly character trait with her A Year of Tales curriculum so I’m excited that will already be planned out for me.

I love this resource: Habits for the Early Years from Leah Martin at My Little Robins.

If you want to dive deeper, Laying Down the Rails from Simply Charlotte Mason is a thorough and excellent resource. I have this an do not go through it page by page with my kids, but I definitely use it as a resource.

Another great book we have for this is The Children’s Treasury of Virtues by William J. Bennett. This book is just wonderful and I have only had it for a month! I like the idea of learning character through story. Which basically happens every day whether we pre-plan it or not.



We will be using A Year of Tales and there is a poem included for each week with that.

I currently enjoy reading from Sing a Song of Seasons each day.

We do a separate Poetry Tea Time where I usually read several poems so I do not feel like Morning Time has to have a ton of poetry. My favorite books of poetry are listed below:


I love using Rooted Childhood for this! Meghann includes several seasonal songs each month (and links to helpful videos) that are so fun to learn and sing.

This time could also include a composer study, though I do this kind of differently right now. I honestly do not see myself including this in our Morning Time right now. Those following Ambleside will likely include this.


I’ve found that I just like to do this on a whim, whatever strikes me for the month. However — we will be doing A Year of Tales and Lisa included a Picture Study for each week so I plan to put those in to our Morning Menu (see below).




My favorite sources for Chapter Book ideas are The Read Aloud Family, Honey for a Child’s Heart, and this list of 50 Chapter Books for Preschoolers.

Some all-time favorites of ours that are easy to revisit: Thornton Burgess, Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, and Elsa Beskow


When we do A Year of Tales we will follow the suggested picture books used for each week to pair with the Beatrix Potter story.

You also know I’m a huge fan of any nature-inspired books.


We will one story from one of the following on a rotational basis:


Cindy Rollins includes a simple benediction at the end of her Morning Time and I love this so much!


Basically after breakfast and self-care and saying goodbye to Dad, the kids play. When I’m ready, I invite them to morning time (in our living room, on the couch, because I’m never comfortable sitting on the floor). I have seen a variety of ways others go about signaling the beginning of MORNING TIME: light a candle, play a song, ring a small bell, etc. Do what makes sense to you.

Immediately after morning time we do something physical like dance or do yoga or just play. Gotta get the energy flowing again after sitting and attentively listening.

For my Kindergartener: Math, Language Arts, and Handwriting are done separate from Morning Time. This means even on non-school days (maybe we have an outing planned), we can still do Morning Time! Lastly, any other life skills, projects, handcrafts, nature studies, etc. will widely vary from day to day as to when they occur!



I created this blank template for a weekly plan. This allows me to see our Morning Times but also a breakdown of lessons for my Kindergartener and Preschooler together.

You are welcome to use it as well. Here is the free PDF version:

Remember I am NOT filling in every box for every Morning Time.

Also, for rotational readings I just write in the book but not what specific story we are on. That way I’m not having to keep track of too many details. So, for example, I’ll just write “JSB” for The Jesus Storybook Bible, and when we go to read I just find where our bookmark is.



I saw the idea of a morning menu several places on Instagram and thought it would be a great way to help organize our Morning Time and to have something for each of my kids to have ownership of.

What I’m Using:

A Restaurant Menu (one for each kid; there are 8 possible spots for printouts)

What Goes In the Menu:

  1. Monthly Calendar
  2. Date Worksheet (Month, Date, Day of the Week, Year)
  3. Memory Verse
  4. Prayer
  5. Hymn
  6. *Optional* Copywork Page (First & Last Name, Address, Mom & Dad’s phone numbers) — my kids are 5 and 4 currently so copywork is optional. I use the font KG Primary Dots
  7. Art Study printout page
  8. Music Appreciation – lyrics or composer info page

For older kids than mine you might include more copywork pages in the Morning Menu — for example, a copywork page of the Memory Verse you are working on.  You might also have  a vocabulary or spelling list from whatever book you are going through. A preschooler could have a letter-of-the-week page. Basically — you have lots of options to play around with what goes in your Morning Menu!


There are also lots of other examples of Morning Baskets out there on other blogs!


Favorite Nature Journal Supplies & Resources



For Young Children

I use these notebooks for my 5 and 3 year old, and they illustrate with either colored pencils or crayons.

If you have older children than mine, investing in a watercolor journal for them would make some sense!

Phenology Wheel Resources

My Phenology Wheel How-To

I first use a compass with a HB pencil to construct my phenology wheel circles. I find the center point of my page with a ruler to set my compass to. The outermost circle is 3.75″ diameter and the innermost circle is 0.75″ diameter. I have a circle for each of the following:

  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Low Temp (actual, not predicted)
  • High Temp (actual, not predicted)
  • Weather
  • Moon Phase
  • Date

Once the circles are drawn in pencil, I use a ruler & pencil to divide the circle into 32 wedges. No month has 32 days so you will always have at least one wedge that is grayed out. Some people use that wedge to write the month in it.

Once I have everything created in pencil, I go back over it freehand (no ruler, no compass) with a Micron 005 Pen (be very gentle if you use this pen). Then, I erase my pencil lines. Why do the pencil first with a rule if I’m just going to freehand the pen? Because I want the wedges proportional! I like the style of a freehand ink line but I don’t want the overall wheel to be sloppily shaped & proportioned.

After that, I do some initial watercolors for most of the circles, write in my dates, and illustrate the moon phases for the whole month. The sunrise/sunset, temperature & weather data I wait to do until *after* that day has occurred.

The illustrated journal items on the outside of the wheel I do whenever I feel like it! I may write down some notes from a few days of nature exploration, and then sit down to illustrate a few things at a time.


Books to Inspire Nature Journaling

Related Books for FUN