Backyard Homeschool "Science" - Foxes & Squirrels

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "In the woods we return to reason and faith." I've learned that a backyard can be the greatest curriculum for homeschool science.

In fact, with my 2 youngest I have found the confidence to move away from textbooks and toward a more delight-driven, exploratory approach for nature science and investigation.

There will be PLENTY of time for the textbooks in later years. In these elementary years the seasons and their surroundings offer a springboard to all sorts of study.

Why study nature?  
Nature Links 
THIS BLOG and it's use of Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study have become our favorite guides.

We've seen foxes in our backyard, so we loaded up on library books about them.  We also watched some Youtube videos about them.
 This one is not as pretty as the larger one we've seen, which had a bushy tail.
 This fox, we've learned, has mange. That is why there is no hair on its tail and hindquarters.
What we'd really like to see is a bunch of baby foxes!

To assuage that need for cuteness, we rented the adorable film Fantastic Mr. Fox.

To sum up what we've learned, I found this free lapbook on foxes to complete. Lapbooking is a clever take on notebooking or journaling in which the student creates a document/craftbook on a topic learned. It's like educational scrapbooking.

My 10th grader is also studying Natural Science and conducting an experiment on our backyard friends, the squirrels. He's always loved our squirrels and watched them, fed them. So there was already an interest in their habits. He googled to see if there was a believed favorite food of squirrels and decided to test that theory.

We've been watching, notetaking, making adjustments, testing theories and photographing our adorable subjects.

Would love to hear how you use your surroundings as inspiration for homeschooling, please comment!

For more -

 More on Pinterest - Backyard Nature Pins  - Science Pins


Chris said...

What a wealth of wonderful info, ALlison!
AND I cannot believe you actually have foxes in your YARD! YIKES.
Astounding ! The closest we come to wildlife around here is an occasional bunny and a few drobins!

Thanks for the great lapbook ideas. I will def check back to see more of your dd's fox lapbook b.c my little guy and I are going to do some animal life research. I need to investigate some lapbook sites/blogs that discuss lapbooking to get some good ideas om how to structure a book. with him.

Have a great night, Allison!

Charlotte said...

Question: Will a fox attack and/or bite a human? I had a red fox chase me in a cemetery and it really freaked me out.

Allison said...

Thanks, Chris. I think lapbooking might be a great way to begin the writing process. It's organizational and visual. I'm hoping it lights the light bulb in their minds that there are components and how they fit together to inform the reader.

Charlotte, that would freak me out, some omen jackal in a cemetary! I had read that a fox, during the daytime, either felt really comfortable in the surroundings OR was sick, mange or rabies. Thankfully, they've never approached us when we are in the backyard and don't seem to notice when we photograph them from the deck sliders. We are not trying to befriend them but all the same, your story gives me reason to remind the kids to come inside if they see them while they are playing.

Nancy Shuman said...

My initial reaction was just like Chris'... Foxes in the yard!!! Ah, but what grand opportunities you have all around you to teach the wonders of nature! And such stunning photos.

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