{Day 5} Favorite Resource: The Handbook of Nature Study

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During this series of 31 Days of Nature Study for Young Naturalists, I will share some of our personal favorite resources along the way.

Are you familiar with The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock? You can order this jumbo paperback book (912 pages) from multiple online resources. Additionally, this resource is available online for free in various formats. Our family considers this book to be a must-have resource!

The Handbook of Nature Study (1911) was written by Anna Botsford Comstock to instruct elementary teachers and students in the study of science through direct nature observation. Comstock was the founder and head of the Department of Nature Study at Cornell University. Comstock was known for taking her students out-of-doors to observe the natural world.

This comprehensive study guide covers the teaching of nature study, animals, plants, and the earth and sky. This immense natural resource was revised in 1939 and reissued again in 1986. If you were to only have one nature study book at your disposal, this invaluable resource would be the one to choose!

The Benefits of Nature Study for Children


First, but not most important, nature-study gives the child practical and helpful knowledge. It makes him familiar with nature's ways and forces... -Anna Botsford Comstock

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Nature-study cultivates the child's imagination, since there are so many wonderful and true stories that he may read with his own eyes, which affect his imagination as much as does fairy lore; at the same time nature-study cultivates in him a perception and a regard for what is true, and the power to express it. All things seem possible in nature; yet this seeming is always guarded by the eager quest of what is true. -Anna Botsford Comstock

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Nature-study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful; it brings him to early a perception of color, form, and music. He sees whatever there is in his environment, whether it be the thunder-head piled up in the western sky, or the golden flash of the oriole in the elm;  whether it be the purple of the shadows on the snow, or the azure glint on the wing of the little butterfly. Also, what there is of sound, he hears; he reads the music score of the bird orchestra, separating each part and knowing which birds sings it. And the patter of the rain, the gurgle of the brook, the sighing of the wind in the pine, he notes and loves and becomes enriched nearby. -Anna Botsford Comstock

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But, more than all, nature-study gives the child a sense of the companionship with life out-of-doors and an abiding love of nature. - Anna Botsford Comstock

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What benefits have you found in your family studying nature?

This post is part of a series: 31 Days of Nature Study for Young Naturalists. You can find all of the daily posts linked on the introductory page. I hope you will continue to join us for this journey through October!

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