Contently Humble

A Charlotte Mason Homeschool in a Digital World

Nature Study: How a Homeschool Subject Turned Into a Hobby

We never saw it coming. Life was gracefully gliding by as bird feeders slowly entered our world.  Ultimately, we had to accept the consequences of their presence. We had to accept the fact we now have a hobby. Nature Study had introduced us to birding and there was no going back. Thanks to Thornton W. Burgess, our lives will never be the same.


Nature Study: How a Homeschool Subject Turned Into a Hobby


It started out simple. Read the Burgess Bird Book for Children. Linger in the pages of Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study. Tinker with the Manual of Bird Study. One thing led to another and the next thing I know bird feeders are aligning our backyard beckoning little beaks to eat.

My daughter is now a bird food connoisseur, she serves her guests safflower seeds and specially blended suet from a local birding store. The associates of the store are a wealth of knowledge and shopping there is a delight, especially since we get a free bird lesson with every visit!

Bird feeders, seed and an eagerness to learn. Now what? Field guides! Used bookstores are an excellent resource.  With guides at her fingertips, my daughter identifies each new visitor and teaches us her tricks of the trade. She is the teacher, we are the students.

We are also her students when she leads us on birding excursions. After attending a bird festival and going on an official bird walk with naturalists, the backyard is no longer large enough to contain our hobby. The larger world beckons. You might now find us in the forest, along a hiking trail, inside an arboretum. Bird field guides making way for hiking maps. Backpacks loaded up with gear such as sunscreen, snacks and water are our new normal. As I scan the sky for specs of color, I stand amazed at the power of a living book.

From the pages of a book, to now walking in a forest, I’m reminded of the words of Charlotte Mason:



As our lessons of Nature Study morphed into a hobby I experienced those words in action. My daughter’s relationship with nature is what propels us down tree lined pathways. She wants to learn about her new feathered friends, not because of a curriculum, but because her heart seeks to know. Yes, education is indeed the science of relations.

As you see, starting a hobby in birding can be unplanned. It can also be intentional. If you yearn for the great outdoors follow my Birding Pinterest Board for ideas and resources to get you started.


Follow Contently’s board Nature Study: Birds on Pinterest.

Happy Birding!


Hobbies are such a delight! For more hobby fun visit the Family Hobbies Link-Up.

Family Hobbies


7 Replies

  1. Paola Collazo

    Happy Birding!

  2. This is really great! What an encouragement, to see your daughter in love with learning!
    We have been dabbling in nature study lately, and it’s such a lovely break from regular studies.

    1. How exciting you are dabbling in nature study! We love relaxing and letting the world unfold around us. Enjoy the journey!

  3. This post could have been written about us! We are overcome with birding, journaling, pressed flowers, and butterflies. I can also thank Thornton Burgess, Anna Comstock, and Charlotte Mason Vol. 1. I must add Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie, and We have found our niche and I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog.

    1. You have inspired me with your pressed flower notebook. I love it! Finding your niche is indeed wonderful. Thanks for visiting!

  4. I love this! It is so wonderful when learning becomes more than just checking boxes off of a list. Thanks for sharing!

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