Nature Study As a Part of High School Biology

Nature Study and High School Biology

I often receive email asking me how to include nature study in the high school years. I really think it depends on the family and how much nature study you have time to fit in with your high school age children.

There are two ways to approach the study.
1. Start with nature study and supplement with a text.
2. Use a text and supplement with nature study.

If you decide on approach number one, take each area of focus in the Outdoor Hour Challenge and add in supplemental information from a textbook.

We used Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology.

OH Challenge: Garden Plants =Text Module 8 and 15
OH Challenge: Insects =Text Module 3 and 12
OH Challenge: Trees =Text Module 14
OH Challenge: Mammals =Text Module 10 and 16
OH Challenge: Flowerless Plants =Text Module 4 and 14
OH Challenge: Birds =Text Module 16
OH Challenge: Crop Plants =Text Module 8 and 15

For the second option, here is how I enhanced the Apologia biology text with nature study ideas…many of these ideas are on my Biology Squidoo Lens :

Note: There are affiliate links in this post for

Module 1:
Read biography of Carl Linnaeus
Read Microbe Hunters, chapter 1 Leeuwenhoek

Module 2:
Read Microbe Hunters, chapter 2 Spallanzani and chapter 3 Pasteur
Start a pond study to complement the study of microscopic organisms-protozoa
Use A Golden Guide to Pond Life
Read biography of Louis Pasteur
Field trip to a pond: Complete nature journal pages for things observed in real life.

Module 3:
Continue pond study-algae
Handbook of Nature Study section on insects of the brook and pond
Examine pond water under the microscope.
Complete nature journal pages on pond insects you observe.

Module 4:
Nature study focus on mushrooms and other fungi
Work with yeast
Work with molds
There are some ideas for study in the flowerless plants section of the Handbook of Nature Study.
Take a nature walk to look for mushrooms and then complete nature journal pages for each one identified.

Modules 5-7:
The Biology Coloring Book by Robert Griffin-color appropriate pages to help visualize the abstract concepts in these modules
During these modules we used local field guides to identify various subjects from our nature walks each week.

Module 8:
Growing pea plants to support Mendelian genetic study (just for fun).
Read a biography of Gregor Mendel.
Grow radishes as part of experiment 8.4
Worked on a garden plan for the following summer.

Module 9:
Read a biography of Charles Darwin
Handbook of Nature Study section on rocks and minerals
Using a field guide we identified several local rocks and made nature journal entries for each one.

Module 10:
Identify a local mammal and then draw where it fits in the food web.
Learn about your local watershed and then diagram it or draw a map for your journal.
Complete nature journal entries for mammals observed during this module.

Module 11:
Dissection of an earthworm
Nature study focus on Invertebrates-garden snails, earthworms
Handbook of Nature Study section on invertebrate animals other than insects
Complete nature journal entries for invertebrates observed during our Outdoor Hour time
Complete a “one small square activity” and look for invertebrates or signs of invertebrates in your own garden or yard.

Module 12:
Nature study focus on arachnida (spiders) and/or insects and/or lepidoptera
Dissection of a crayfish
Handbook of Nature Study section on insects
Complete nature journal entries for insects observed during our Outdoor Hour time.

Module 13:
Dissection of a perch and a frog
Nature study focus on amphibians
Handbook of Nature Study section on fishes
Handbook of Nature Study section on amphibians
Keep an aquarium and use the HNS suggestions for observations.

Module 14:
Collect leaf samples and make a pressed leaf collection
Nature study focus on flowerless plants
Handbook of Nature Study section on flowerless plants

Module 15:
Insectivorous plants-observe a Venus Flytrap or Sundew
Nature study focus on garden flowers-parts of a flower
Collect and press flowers
Germinate seeds
Handbook of Nature Study section on plants/garden flowers
Start a seasonal tree study for a tree in your own yard

Module 16:
Nature study focus on birds, reptiles, or mammals
Handbook of Nature Study section on birds
Handbook of Nature Study section on reptiles
Handbook of Nature Study section on mammals
Keep a pet and make observations based on suggestions in the Handbook of Nature Study.
Hang a birdfeeder and keep a log of birds that visit.
Go bird watching and make journal entries for each bird you identify.

You can see how you can take an idea and then expand on it using nature study. If you use the basic ideas I have illustrated with the biology topics, you can make a study of nature high school level. Keep everything relevant to your local area and it will be a joy to work on each week. Your family will learn so much together as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenges.






  1. Do you have a module for using the elementary Apologia combined w/ nature study? Thanks Friederike

  2. Hi Friederike,

    I don’t have a plan for using those books that correspond with the Handbook of Nature Study. It would be fairly easy to do though using the Handbook. You could take your topic and use the table of contents to find subjects to incorporate. If you are using the Flying Creatures book, glance down the birds section, the insects section, and then read the bat lesson when you are working through those pages in Apologia.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Hi, I have the HNS and we are planning to go through Apologia Biology using your ideas. Do I need to buy the OH challenges listed? If so, or if not, how do I find those specific ones? Also, the biographies and chapters mentioned in your lineup, do you have specific titles?

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