Homeschooling in Texas

Nature Studies

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Nature Studies
 Things to See & Do in Texas
 Activities & Experiments
 Nature Studies Curricula
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Things to See & Do in Texas Back to Top
Abilene Zoological Gardens
The Abilene Zoo is located in Nelson Park and maintains a collection of both plants and animals. The animal exhibits are surrounded by plants native to Texas. Highlights include a Discovery Center, the Hyena Exhibit, and the Black Bear Exhibit. Also offers educational programs, tours, and special events.
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
For thousands of years, people came to the red bluffs above the Canadian River for flint, vital to their existence. Demand for the high quality, rainbow-hued flint is reflected in the distribution of Alibates Flint through the Great Plains and beyond. Today this area is protected by the National Park Service and is the only National Monument in Texas. The monument can only be viewed by ranger-led guided tours. The Monument is located 25 miles north of Amarillo and 7 miles south of Fritch.
Amistad National Recreation Area
Situated on the United States-Mexico Border, Amistad NRA is known primarily for excellent year round, water-based recreation including: boating, fishing, swimming, scuba diving and water-skiing. Amistad NRA also provides opportunities for picnicking, camping and hunting. The reservoir, at the confluence of the Rio Grande, Devils and Pecos rivers, was created by Amistad Dam in 1969. In addition to excellent recreation, this area is rich in archeology and rock art, and contains a wide variety of plant and animal life. Amistad NRA lies in southwest Texas, west of San Antonio between Del Rio and Langtry, downstream from Big Bend National Park.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is one of the largest and least visited of America’s national parks. Over 801,000 acres await your exploration and enjoyment. From an elevation of less than 2,000 feet along the Rio Grande to nearly 8,000 feet in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend includes massive canyons, vast desert expanses, and the entire Chisos Mountain range. Here, you can explore one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States, and experience unmatched sights, sounds, and solitude. Big Bend National Park also marks the northernmost range of many plants and animals, such as the Mexican long-nosed bat. Ranges of typically eastern and typically western species of plants and animals come together or overlap here. Here many species are at the extreme limits of their ranges. Latin American species, many from the tropics, range this far north, while northern-nesting species often travel this far south in winter. Contrasting elevations create additional, varied micro-climates that further enhance the diversity of plant and animal life and the park’s wealth of natural boundaries.
Big Thicket National Preserve
The Preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 97,000 acres. Big Thicket was the first Preserve in the National Park System established October 11, 1974, and protects an area of rich biological diversity. A convergence of ecosystems occurred here during the last Ice Age. It brought together, in one geographical location, the eastern hardwood forests, the Gulf coastal plains, and the midwest prairies.
Caldwell Zoo
The Caldwell Zoo in Tyler has over 2,000 animals representing 250 different species. Visitors to the Zoo are provided with a close-up experience with lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras grazing in natural East Africa habitats. The natural rolling topography of the zoo provides a breathtaking glimpse of these magnificent animals with barriers virtually hidden from view. Visitors can dine with the animals at the Chakula Café and watch in wonder how lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras live in natural habitats in predator/prey relationships.
Cameron Park Zoo
You'll find many rare species living together at the Cameron Park Zoo, the nation's newest natural habitat zoo, located in Waco. At the zoo, you'll see zebras run with giraffes and antelopes as they would in the wild of the African Savannah. Perhaps you'll even watch as a playful White-Handed Gibbon taunts a pair of black swans, just as he would in his native homeland.
Dallas World Aquarium
The aquarium features more than 85,000 gallons (321,800 l) of saltwater with marine life from around the world. Walk through the 22,000-gallon (83,280 l) tunnel to experience a panoramic view of reef life. Many animals found at the top of the food chain can be seen in the Predators exhibit. Ten 2,000-gallon (7,571 l) displays present marine life from around the world - Palau, Southern Australia, Lord Howe Island, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Bahamas, British Columbia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Japan. Representing the waters of four continents, three oceans and various seas, the aquarium gives a glimpse of the underwater world. The South Africa outdoor, lagoon-like exhibit represents both plants and animals from the southern tip of the African continent. The Orinoco - Secrets of the River rainforest exhibit represents the relatively unknown South American Orinoco River basin.
Dallas Zoo
Founded in 1888, the Dallas Zoo is the oldest zoo in the state of Texas. Encompassing 95 developed acres, the Zoo offers a look at animals exhibits throughout the park. The Monorail Safari takes visitors on a one-mile tour, lasting about 20 – 25 minutes, through the six habitats. Passengers have the sense of gliding through the wilderness. Live educational narration during the ride adds to the sensation of being on a real African Safari. Also offers special events and educational programs.
El Paso Zoo
The El Paso Zoo is an eighteen-acre home to more than 600 animals of over 250 species in a variety of natural habitat exhibits including a Reptile House, South American Pavilion, Americas Aviary, Paraje, Birds of Prey, American Biome, Forest Atrium, Asian Grasslands, Asian Endangered Walk, and an Elephant Complex.
Ellen Trout Zoo
The Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin offers animal exhibits, special events, and educational programs.
Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo has more than 5,000 native, exotic and endangered animals from 435 species, all in a lush, beautifully landscaped environment. Also offers special events and exhibits, and educational programs.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Just 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, visitors to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center can observe over 1100 animals representing 50 species and from five continents roaming free over 2700 acres. It is a safe haven for some of the worlds most endangered species including a host of native animals.
Gladys Porter Zoo
The Gladys Porter Zoo is a visitor oriented zoological and botanical park dedicated to the preservation of nature. The Gladys Porter Zoo is located on 31-acres in central Brownsville. The Zoo's living collections are comprised of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates from most major ecosystems. There are over 1,500 animal specimens, representing approximately 400 species, 47 of which are listed as endangered. The botanical collection is comprised of over 250 species and subspecies of tropical and neo-tropical plants.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Rising from the desert, this mountain mass contains portions of the world's most extensive and significant Permian limestone fossil reef. Also featured are a tremendous earth fault, lofty peaks, unusual flora and fauna, and a colorful record of the past. Guadalupe Peak, highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet; El Capitan, a massive limestone formation; McKittrick Canyon, with its unique flora and fauna; and the "Bowl", located in a high country conifer forest, are significant park features. While scenic driving in the park is limited to one 4X4 road, there are over 80 miles of trails that offer a wide range of opportunities for exploring. Other available activities include: backpacking, camping and wildlife viewing. Visitors may also see ruins of a stage station, or visit the Frijole Ranch History Museum (open intermittently).
Houston Zoo
Founded in 1922, the Houston Zoo is an exciting live animal adventure that provides a unique educational and conservation resource serving 1.5 million guests annually. Set in a 55-acre lush tropical landscape, the Zoo is home to more than 3,500 exotic animals representing more than 700 species.
International Exotic Feline Sanctuary
The inhabitants include bobcats, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers, among other species. Sixty-six felines call IEFS home, with spacious habitats, pools and houses. A visit to IEFS includes a guided tour, during which your guide will share stories of how each feline came to IEFS and fascinating facts about similarities and differences between each feline. Your guide will also assist you with the privilege of up-close photography with some of the world's most fabulous felines.
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Contrasting spectacularly with its surroundings, Lake Meredith lies on the dry and windswept High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. The lake itself was created by Sanford Dam on the Canadian River; it now fills many breaks whose walls are crowned with white limestone caprock, scenic buttes, pinnacles, and red-brown, wind-eroded coves. Lake Meredith’s shores are dotted with mesquite, prickly pear, yucca, and grasses of arid plains. Up the sheltered creek beds stand cottonwoods, soapberry, and sandbar willows. The 50,000-acre national recreation area includes a 10,000-acre reservoir where visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities for a day or an entire vacation.
Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore, encompassing 130,454 acres, is the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as recreation.
Rainforest at Moody Gardens
Moody Gardens in Galveston offers a rainforest in a 10-story glass pyramid. It features a 55-foot tall canopy of tropical foliage, which blocks out much of the blazing Texas sun. The Pyramid is a verdant jungle full of Tarzan-type air-root vines, vibrant flowers and luscious fruit such as bananas and papaya. Explore the mysteries of science at the Discovery Pyramid, and take a rocking and rolling ride through the universe at the Ridefilm Theater. See spectacular images leap from the screen of our six-story IMAX 3D Theater.
Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, or El Rio Bravo del Norte, provides protection and maintenance of the pristine character of the Rio Grande from the Coahuila/Chihuahua, Mexico, state border upstream from Mariscal Canyon to the Terrell/Val Verde County line in Texas downstream. The Wild and Scenic River designation extends for 196 miles along the river’s course. Approximately 69 miles of The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River designation lies within Big Bend National Park, and an additional 118 miles borders the Park. The National Park Service manages both the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, and the Rio Grande along the park’s boundary for recreation and preservation.
San Antonio Zoological Gardens & Aquarium
The San Antonio Zoo is located at the headwaters of the San Antonio River -- just minutes from the Alamo and the Riverwalk. Artesian water flows through the Zoo grounds, an abandoned rock quarry where tall oak, pecan, and bald cypress trees provide cool summer shade. Limestone cliffs surround the naturalistic enclosures and make dramatic backdrops for many of the animal habitats. Along the riverbank, humid, tropical conditions prevail, while a short distance away, semi-arid hillsides dominate. San Antonio's temperate climate makes it possible to keep most animals in outside enclosures year round.
SeaWorld San Antonio
SeaWorld San Antonio, the world's largest marine life adventure park and family entertainment showplace, presents a splashy lineup of more than 25 sensational shows, thrilling rides, animal attractions and educational experiences for all ages. It's actually four parks in one on 250 acres: a show park, a rides and slides park, a water park and an animals park.
Texas State Aquarium
The Texas State Aquarium is located in Corpus Christi. Your experience begins on the walkways which feature images of whales, rays, dolphins, sharks, and the Gulf of Mexico itself. You enter the building by walking under our ignature "waterfall" representing a full submersion into the Gulf of Mexico. Volunteer guides are stationed throughout the Aquarium to explain exhibits and answer questions. You not only travel an aquatic journey from the shore to the depths of the Gulf but also have the opportunity to observe dive shows, feeding demonstrations, and have a "hands on" experience with sharks, stingrays, hermit crabs, and more.
The Texas Zoo
Located in Victoria, The Texas Zoo features animals exhibits, educational programs, and special events.

Activities & Experiments Back to Top
Arbor Day National Poster Contest
Join over 74,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in the Arbor Day National Poster Contest. The theme chosen will increase your students’ knowledge of how trees produce and conserve energy. The free Activity Guide includes activities to use with fifth grade students to teach the importance of trees in producing and conserving energy. These activities correlate with National Science and Social Study Standards. The Guide also includes all of the information you need for poster contest participation.
Handbook of Nature Study
Based on Charlotte Mason's method of education, this website offers ideas and resources for incorporation nature study into your homeschool.
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: Science
Family style learning is a great way to tackle lots of different subjects, including science.

Nature Studies Curricula Back to Top
Apologia Educational Ministries
Apologia publishes several science textbooks that are especially suited to the homeschool environment. They are filled with easy to understand lessons and experiments which can easily be performed at home. The curriculum is also backed by a question/answer support system. This set of textbooks is written under the "Exploring Creation" name. There are three elementary level texts: Their middle school and high school texts include:
  • Exploring Creation With General Science
  • Exploring Creation With Physical Science
  • Exploring Creation With Biology
  • Exploring Creation With Chemistry
  • Exploring Creation With Physics
  • The Human Body: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  • Exploring Creation With Marine Biology
  • Advanced Chemistry in Creation
  • Advanced Physics in Creation
  • Plus other texts
    Considering God's Creation
    Considering God's Creation is a creative in-depth encounter with natural science from a biblical perspective. It is adaptable for grades 2-7. This is a large 272-page book that comes with a Teacher's Manual with audio CD.
    Great Science Adventures
    Great Science Adventures is a series of books that offer a creative approach to learning science. Each one showcases the series' method of using creative, hands-on activities to enhance exploratory learning. Each book contains 24 lessons, with 2-3 lessons completed each week. The unique format contains activities and basic content appropriate for grades K through 8. Perfect for multilevel teaching or if you want to challenge your advanced students individually. Titles include:
    • Discovering the Human Body and Senses
    • The World of Tools and Technology
    • Discovering Earth's Landforms and Surface Features
    • The World of Space
    • The World of Insects and Arachnids
    • The World of Plants
    • The World of Light and Sound

    Nature Studies Books Back to Top
    A History of Science
    A History of Science is not a textbook, but is a guide to help parents and children study science through literature. It is intended for children in elementary grades.
      
    Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Published: 2002

    With Jim Arnosky as your guide, an ordinary hike becomes an eye-opening experience. He'll help you spot a hawk soaring far overhead and note the details of a dragonfly up close. Study the black-and-white drawings -- based on his own field research -- and you'll discover if those tracks in the brush were made by a deer or a fox.

    In his celebrated style, this author, artist, and naturalist enthusiastically shares a wealth of tips. Jim Arnosky wants you to enjoy watching wildlife. He carefully explains how field marks, shapes, and location give clues for identifying certain plants and animals wherever you are. He gives hints for sharpening observational skills. And he encourages you to draw and record birds, insects, shells, animal tracks, and other finds from a busy day's watch.



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