Nature Friend Magazine – Review

An amazing photo of a screech owl inches away from snagging his dinner, instructions for drawing a sunflower, an article on the American Walking Stick and a magazine that was created with the desire to “encourage children to believe in God as their Creator and to seek out, recognize, and appreciate His handiwork”, this is Nature Friend Magazine.

The Magazine:

Nature Friend is a monthly, full-color, advertisement-free magazine with activities, quizzes, experiments and articles about all things nature.  What impressed me about Nature Friend is how it encourages the children to get involved.  This is not merely a magazine that children sit down and read from cover to cover, although it is that.  It doesn’t merely introduce children to new and amazing creatures and places, although it does that.  It beckons children to get up and take part, it introduces them to things that they can find in their Sunflower drawings from nature friendown back yard and it encourages them to go outside and discover something new.  It does this by featuring reader photographs and stories, by introducing experiments and inspiring the children with what God has created.  There are also puzzles and fascinating articles in addition to the lovely photography.

Each issue of Nature Friend includes a drawing lesson using different media (paints, pencils, etc.).  The children are taught how to draw a scene from nature and then are instructed step-by-step how to add details with color.  It’s an art lesson in every issue.  For testimonials of how these art lessons have inspired some of the children and truly astounding examples of art work check out this link.  There is also an opportunity for the kids to submit their artwork to be published in the next issue of the magazine.

Each issue includes a hands-on activity designed to reinforce what your child is learning.  Casting animal tracks to preserve them and making a chromatograph are just two examples of the types of activities included in this section that focuses on science.

Readers also have the opportunity to submit nature related poems and art work, photographs and articles for publication.  There are a few sections of the magazine dedicated to reader submissions each month.  In addition there is one complete issue each year that is comprised exclusively of readers contributions.  The interactive nature of this magazine is what makes this publication stand out from other offerings.  My children all want to be featured in the magazine now.

The Study Guide:

To make Nature Friend Magazine even more interactive and useful, you can purchase the optional study guide ($2 per issue).  The study guide is an 8-12 page insert that is bound into the magazine.  The study guide offers more puzzles, instructions in improving writing skills and a photography critique.

The photography lesson is to the study guide what the art lesson is to the magazine.  Instructions on catching birds on film, arranging your composition, even specifics on cameras and lenses are some of the things that were covered in the two issues that we reviewed.  Not only will these photography instructions help to improve your children’s skills, they will also give them ideas for how they can make better use of their cameras in studying nature.  This section is an easy, practical way to help your children become more aware of the art of photography or to improve the skills that they already possess.

The writing portion of the Nature Friend Study Guide begins with a writing sample.  Then the children are given instructions to complete their own similar piece.  These are instructions about interacting with nature in order to be inspired to write.  They are a starting point, telling the children how to use their senses, their words to convey what they are seeing and experiencing as they interact with nature.

Our thoughts:

Love it, love it, love it!  This would be a nice supplement to any homeschool program or even a stand alone science guide for younger grades.  Nature Friend inspired our children in their efforts with their nature journals and while our children have always enjoyed nature this provided them with more direction.  You can see some of the pictures that our children created using the art lessons.  (My favorite aspect of the magazine.)  I am planning on using the writing assignments for all of the children.  I enjoy how they are laid out and how open ended they are, while still giving the kids enough direction.  The photos, articles and activities are all appealing, I don’t know who wouldn’t love this magazine.   Nature Friend Magazine gets our full endorsement.

The Nature Friend website offers sample issues of the magazine and study guide for  you to look over to see if this magazine is something that would be useful to your family.  Nature Friend also offers a years worth of magazines bound together in a hardcover book.

A one year subscription to Nature Friend Magazine is $36,  and you save $4 if you purchase a two year subscription.  Don’t forget that the study guide is an additional cost of $2 per issue.

You may read more of Raising Olives’ homeschool curriculum reviews.

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10 Responses to Nature Friend Magazine – Review
  1. Anita Chamblee
    October 2, 2009 | 9:34 am

    After having this on our “this would be nice to have but not necessary” list for several years, I finally subscribed this year. I am hoping the children will start the art lessons soon. We are also developing an interest in nature journaling. Hubby recently had Barry Stebbing here for a week filming for a series on The Homeschool Channel and HE is interested in nature journals. Stebbing sent his current journal home with hubby for us all to look at…it was very inspiring!! One son has recently taken off with photography, so I am hoping this magazine will offer him some inspiration! I totally agree with your review!!

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  2. Kim
    October 2, 2009 | 12:47 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have been looking for a magazine for my girls to read and enjoy and this one sounds perfect! I can’t wait to subscribe.

    Do you know of any other great magazines? My mom would like to do Highlights, but I think the stories can be inappropriate. I’ve searched the web and can’t find a Christian version.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Kim – I’m not really in the loop for Christian magazines. I only know about Nature Friend thanks to being part of “The Old Schoolhouse Crew”. You may be surprised to find out just how sheltered I am. :) If you find some, I’d love it if you would share.

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  3. Stephanie
    October 4, 2009 | 6:17 pm

    This sounds like a great magazine, I am definitely going to check it out.

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  4. Brenda
    October 4, 2009 | 10:18 pm

    Focus on the Family puts out magazines for kids up to teens. The kids one we get is similar to Highlights, stories, kid’s art and hidden pictures, but all the stories are Christian based.

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  5. Amy
    October 5, 2009 | 4:30 am

    We LOVE Nature Friend here too! My mom got my daughter a subscription for her birthday last year and just resubscribed for another year. Fantastic, unashamedly Christian publication for those children in your life who love animals!
    Amy @ Raising Arrows

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  6. Jamie
    October 5, 2009 | 5:25 pm

    Kimberly, would this be good for younger kids, too? I’m looking for something to use for a “science/nature” type of thing. Usually I do “hands on” stuff, as they are in kindergarten and first grade. I know I won’t feel like carting them all around to nature centers and taking walks in the cold to look at stars and whatnot (at least until the baby gets a little bit older). I’m looking for something that we can read together with good pictures, but that they will understand and hopefully enjoy. The toddlers would listen in whether they fully understand it or not, but I’m curious if it’d be good for the older two. Thanks!

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Brenda.

    Jamie – I think that your kids would like the magazine. They publishers say that every other magazine is “nudged” toward older children, but I would say that it would still be useful for kindergarten and first grade. I do think that for those ages I would skip the study guide. They have several complete magazines available for you to look at online to help you make that decision and I suggest you take a look and see what you think.

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  7. kristen
    November 7, 2009 | 9:23 am

    Thank you Brenda! After reding your review, I purchased Nature Friend for my 12 yr old daughter and we LOVE it!! I am using it as her nature curriculum. This magazine is definatley worth the money. It is stock full of information. Thanks again!!

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  8. kristen
    November 7, 2009 | 9:30 am

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes above, I could not figure out how to edit my comment. Anyway, I wanted to add that we did also purchase the study guide and it is definitely worth the extra $2 each month!It is a fun,thorough review of what they have learned.

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