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.
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 own 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.
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.