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Nature Friend Magazine and Study Guide

Nature FriendAs a part of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received two issues of Nature Friend magazine to try out in our homeschool at the House of Hope.  I put it off looking at it with my girls for a while, although I did look through it numerous times myself, enjoying the beautiful photography and the artwork.  I thought it would probably be way over my girls’ heads, since I have a kindergartener and a preschooler.  I knew, though, that I needed to put it to the test in order to write a balanced review of this resource.  As I was looking through the September 2009 issue, it finally registered with me that the first article in it would be a perfect place to start.  You see, a few weeks ago, this fellow somehow found his way into our home:

 walking stick

We spent a good deal of time capturing this walking stick and observing him. Lulu even took him to our homeschool group for show-and-tell. I’ll admit I was not too thrilled with the idea of capturing him (especially the second time 😉 )–something about these critters really gives me the creeps–but my girls were non-plussed by him. I knew, then, that Sharon H. Anderson’s article in the September 2009 Nature Friend, “Sticks That Walk,” would likely be a hit with them. I was right. Written as a short story in which a girl and her mother find a walking stick and discuss it, this article is full of facts about walking stick insects: they like certain types of leaves better than others, they can regenerate parts of their bodies, they molt, and it is usually only the males that have wings (which is how I knew to refer to this one in the masculine!). My girls have listened attentively as I read this article aloud twice already, and I’m pretty sure they could tell almost any layman a thing or two about the walking stick insect by now.

Nature Friend magazine has many features that are appealing to younger students, as I found when I opened to magazines to my children. The very first feature in each issue, a hidden-picture puzzle called “Invisibles,” was a real hit with my girls. They enjoyed searching for the various animals hidden in the picture, and they were able to find some of them with no help.  They enjoyed looking at the various readers’ submissions to the “You Can Draw” gallery, and they were particularly interested in the entries by children close to their ages.  In addition to the features I’ve mentioned in this review, any given issue of Nature Friend might contain 

  • Reader submitted “Pictures and Poems”
  • Puzzles and riddles
  • “Wondernose,” articles in which nature questions are discussed in depth
  • “The Mailbox,” in which reader-submitted letters, questions, and photographs are published
  • “Creation Close-ups”–more reader-submitted photographs
  • “You Can Draw”–step-by-step drawing lessons in which the subject is something from nature
  • “The Story Behind the Photo”–reader-submitted photographs with the details behind how they were captured
  • “Learning by Doing”–step-by-step activities in which some aspect of nature is observed and recorded

As the girls looked through the magazine, the beautiful photographs really caught their attention.  In fact, Louise requested that I read an article about a snapping turtle (well written by a twelve year old reader, I might add) based on the accompanying picture.  Obviously, photography is a big part of this magazine; each issue is full-color and contains many reader-submitted nature photographs.

If you’re a regular reader here at Hope Is the Word, you know that I enjoy nature photography, so this aspect of Nature Friend really appeals to me.  The magazines that I received for review also contain an additional feature:  a Study Guide, which is available by subscription for an extra $2 monthly.  One part of this Study Guide is a feature called “The Photo Critique.”  This feature provides helpful hints for taking better nature photos.   The Study Guide also includes puzzles, research questions, writing instruction, and even recipes!  For older children especially, I think the Study Guide would be an excellent and cost-effective additional resource.

The subtitle on the masthead of every Nature Friend magazine is “Helping Families Explore the Wonders of God’s Creation,” and this is a very accurate description for two reasons.  First, this is a Christian magazine written from an obviously Creationist viewpoint.  A Bible verse might be on any page, and each issue contains a “Motto for the Month,” which is a Bible verse superimposed over a beautiful nature photograph.  Second, this truly is a magazine the whole family can enjoy together.  Although according to the website the target age is 8-16, both my young children and I (well past my teens 😉 ) enjoy it. 

A year’s subscription to this monthly magazine is $36; including a year’s worth of the Study Guides would bring the yearly price to $48.  Although I would not consider such a resource as a necessity to a successful homeschool, I do think that it is extras like this that often “light a fire” in some students and give them the extra boost to pursue a passion.  If there is a little breathing room in the homeschool budget, I would consider Nature Friend magazine and its accompanying Study Guides as money well spent.  I even think Nature Friend would make an excellent birthday or Christmas gift, if it’s not in the education budget.  This magazine has been going strong since 1983, and it has many additional online features that would be helpful in determining if it would be a good fit for your family.  You can also view sample issues or even check out more TOS Homeschool Crew reviews for more opinions about this resource.

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4 Responses

  1. Hello Friends,

    Thank you for posting this review of Nature Friend. If I may make an observation, the article in the Nature Friend magazine was of a walkingstick. This insect in your home is a praying mantis. The two insects look similar, but they are different insects. The July issue of Nature Friend had an article about praying mantises.

    Thank you.

    Kevin

    • I stand corrected, Kevin. 🙂 Maybe I need to go back and study up a little more on these insects myself! 🙂 I love the magazine!

  2. I was searching for photography tutorials when I found your site. Good post. Thank You.

  3. I was searching for photography when I found your site. Great post. Thank You.

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