Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nature Friend -- Helping Families Explore the Wonder of God's Creation


Click a magazine cover to visit Nature Friend magazine.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we were sent two free issues of Nature Friend magazine with the supplemental  Study Guide to review.  I've never had a chance to read Nature Friend magazine before, so my children and I were thrilled to be included in this review opportunity. 

The first thing I noticed about Nature Friend when it arrived was the wonderful nature photography on the cover.  Then my kids took it and ran off with it -- I had to ask for it back later that week.  We have seen other nature magazines, and although my children enjoy the photographs, only my oldest daughter ever reads the articles.  Nature Friend is written for the entire family, and the articles are small enough not to intimidate them.  The children can (and do) read the articles.

Magazine Features include:

  • Pictures and Poems from the readers

  • You Can Draw art lessons from nature

  • Invisibles -- hidden picture puzzles

  • Stories to learn more about creation and build character

  • Puzzles from readers

  • Scavenger hunts

  • Learning By Doing

  • Creation Close-Ups -- nature photos taken by readers

  • The Story Behind The Photo (how those stunning photos are captured)

  • Nature Trails for each month

  • Caption This contests

One of my children's favorite features was the You Can Draw tutorials.  When each issue arrived, they all gathered their supplies and sat down to try drawing the black bear and the sunflower.  They studied the examples of children's artwork from previous tutorials, rating them and pointing out the ones they liked best.  They hoped to get their own art included in the magazine, as well.

Although the magazine has fun features itself, there is even more in the supplemental Study Guide.  The study guide included two more puzzles, a writing lesson, a true-false quiz, ideas to research further, instructions for a guided nature discovery walk, and a great photography lesson.  The September study guide also had an additional art challenge.  Parents can use these lesson ideas in their homeschool each month. 

I didn't incorporate the study guide into my lessons.  I just considered them as more opportunities for delight-directed, discovery-based learning.  My children enjoyed the magazine enough that I didn't feel the need to assign it.  It wasn't an educational magazine to them ... it was a fun magazine on a subject they enjoyed learning more about.  Delight-directed learning at its best!

Nature Friend is a Christian magazine.  The cover of each magazine says "Helping Families Explore the Wonder of God's Creation" under the title.  God is proclaimed as the Creator, and the magazine praises His awesome design and plan for the animals.   It's a relief to not have to correct or teach-over a more worldly viewpoint of mother nature, improbable chance, and even evolution.

As a Charlotte Mason style home educator, I am always encouraging the exploration and study of nature.  I encourage my children to take nature walks, notice the changes around them, and to keep nature journals.  I collect nature guides and identification books so we can learn more about what we see around us.  We are not perfect and I'm afraid our nature journal entries are rather infrequent, but that is our goal and my heart for our homeschool.  Nature Friend magazine fits so nicely into that goal and our educational philosophy.

Several of my children have become interested in photography, and the nature shots in Nature Friend are inspiring and challenging to them.  The tutorials in the Study Guide would be helpful for furthering their skills in photography.  Each month, they include photos that children have sent in, and they critique them -- offering tips and suggestions for improving the shot.  I can see my older daughters looking for just the right nature shot to enter in The Photo Critique each month.

Nature Friend subscriptions cost $36.00 for 12 issues (1-year subscription) or $68 for a 2-year subscription.  The supplemental Study Guide costs an additional $24.00 for 12 issues.  The Study Guide sells for $2 an issue, and you can choose how many Study Guides you want to buy with your subscription.  There is a coupon code for $3 off a NEW subscription.  The code is BLOG93 and it expires November 30, 2009.

At first glance, I find myself thinking that $36 is high for this little magazine, and $60 for it with the study guide is really high.  But when I break it down into monthly issues, it's only $3 an issue ($5 with the study guide).   It isn't a quarterly magazine, but a monthly one!  When I divide that $36 or $60 out between the number of children I have, it seems like an even greater value.  I have 7 children, 6 who are preschool-aged or higher.  That's only $6 per child for a year of Christian education on God's creation ($10 per child with the study guide). 

I hope we can subscribe to the magazine for our family soon.  If all my children were younger, I'd probably skip the study guide.  But with my older children I think it extends the educational value of the magazine -- encouraging their writing, their study of nature, and their interests in photography and art.

We love Nature Friend magazine and I do recommend it!
  Because money is tight for many families, I suggest buying it as a Christmas gift to all your children, or making room for it in the curriculum budget.  It would also make a great family-gift idea from Grandma or other extended family members.  I personally don't feel guilty about buying educational items for gifts, as long as it is fun or encourages an interest.  I don't gift-wrap math workbooks -- but art supplies, educational magazines, or quality books are fair game, as far as I'm concerned.

Don't just take our word for it ... you can read some of Nature Friend's articles at the website, as well as view sample issues of the magazine,  and sample issues of the study guide to see what a great family magazine it is.  You can also see samples of some of their featured articles and art lessons HERE.

Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner at the top to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.

Trusting in Him,

1 comment:

  1. As usual, I think you've given more information and details than I did! I really agree with the points you have made and I'm also thinking "Christmas gift" for this one! ;)


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