Nature Friend Magazine

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My husband and I have always enjoyed spending time together outside. We’ve spent many hours hiking in the mountains. It is a love that we have tried to instill in our children from an early age. That baby backpack has been used for all 4 of our children.

I also enjoy bird watching, and my children and I have fun identifying the birds that come to visit our backyard feeder. I’ve always wanted to implement more formal nature study in our homeschool, but I’ve never managed to make it a consistent part of our schedule. Frankly, I am plenty busy trying to make sure that everyone is learning what we consider the core subjects.

Loving nature as we do and failing to study it as much as I’d like, I was very excited to receive Nature Friend magazine to review. I was not disappointed.

Every issue of Nature Friend contains:

        • Stunning color photographs of a variety of wild life
        • Informational articles about fascinating creatures
        • How-to-draw instruction page
        • Puzzle section
        • Picture search activity
        • Learning by Doing section

All of this from a Biblical creation perspective!

I received the August and September issues. Within those two issues there are articles on locusts, soft-shelled turtles, screech owls, banana slugs, walking stick insects, malleefowl, Pacific golden plover, weaverbirds, and galaxies. There are instructions on how to draw a sunflower and a black bear. The Learning by Doing sections include instructions for preserving animal tracks in plaster and separating plant pigments.

I really love the interaction with readers that I observe in Nature Friend.  Children can submit their drawings from the how-to-draw section to be printed in an upcoming issue. The magazine also publishes letters to the editor and has contests to write clever photo captions for the back of the magazine. In addition, there are sections to publish pictures and poems submitted by readers, as well as nature photographs taken by readers.

In addition to the magazine, I also received the optional study guide. The study guides are inserted in the center of the magazine for those who subscribe. The study guide contains additional puzzles to reinforce the content of the magazine. It also has a writing section as well as another nature photography section that includes more information on photographic techniques and more reader photos along with critique.

So, how do my kids like it? My 9 and 7 year olds are my huge animal lovers. Both of the magazines disappeared into my daughter’s room soon after they were received. She read them cover-to-cover. My 7 year old son is not reading well enough to enjoy the content of the magazine on his own, but has spent a lot of time looking at the beautiful pictures. (When the magazine wasn’t being hoarded by my daughter that is.) My 11 year old son is not as keen on nature as the other children. (Not sure where we went wrong!) He was interested in photography sections though, because he loves photography, film making, and graphic design.

The subscription price for Nature Friend is $36 for 12 monthly issues. The study guide is an additional $2 per issue. I confess that does sound like a lot for a magazine subscription. But then I realized two things. First, $3 per month is really not much for the content in this magazine. Second, the reason the subscription price is higher than some other magazines is that there is NO advertising in Nature Friend. So when you consider that there is nothing besides subscriptions to cover the cost of production of the magazine, I think $36 per year is quite reasonable. The subscription with the Study Guide is $60 per year. That is a little tougher to swallow. I think the study guide is worth the additional price, but I also do not think the study guide is crucial to the enjoyment of the magazine. So if cost is a big issue, the magazine without the study guide is still great.

I think a Nature Friend subscription would be useful to supplement any science program, or, in a very relaxed homeschool, it could even serve as the science spine with students studying more on the topics that they found interesting in each month’s issue. This is a great gift idea to share with relatives. I’m thinking that Grandma and Grandpa may be giving us this for Christmas this year.

If you’re interested but would like to see an issue before subscribing, sample issues are available to purchase for $5 on their website. Also, for new subscribers, enter the code BLOG93 to save $3 off the subscription price. (Valid through November 30, 2009). To see more reviews of Nature Friend, visit the Crew Blog.

Disclosure: This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are our own

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