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The Handbook of Nature Study

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,303 ratings  ·  48 reviews
'A matchless handbook for decades, this classic has been the natural history bible of countless teachers and others who seek information about their natural environment. Written originally for those elementary school teachers who knew little of common plants and animals, and even less about earth beneath their feet and the skies overhead, this book is for the most part as ...more
Paperback, 912 pages
Published July 3rd 1986 by Cornell University Press (first published 1911)
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Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,303 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs, edu-hs
10 star worthy..
Carling Barker
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Currently reading this with my kids who LOVE nature and we are all going to start our own field guide books to keep track of what we have learned & seen :) ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best nature books for kids and adults! Great resource for parents, homeschoolers, or nature explorers!
Mary Mimouna
One of the best resources available for parents and homeschoolers, and primary teachers who are looking for useful, practical ideas in teaching about plants, animals, earth, and sky.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has already been a valuable resource, even in our beginning nature study. I look forward to using it more as we discover more!
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. I haven't finished reading it yet because it is the kind of book that is best read in little snippets, but I can't say enough good about what I have read so far. The book is a compilation of essays/lessons written by a female professor at Cornell back I the early 1900s. I love the old fashioned language and the author's unrestrained love for the natural world which spills over into everything she writes. Sometimes she is really funny even though she is not trying to be because ...more
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
Another wonderful book gifted to me by a wonderful sister. This is an extensive nature guide for the layman. I believe it was originally published in 1939 and Cornell University had something to do with it. Her writing on nature is witty and informative; I seem to recall a particularly funny description of a badger. The book is broken up by animal, and includes questions for review for those using it as a study guide or textbook.
Parks and Education
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A timeless classic that has been the preferred reference material for many decades among those seeking to delve into nature study. Originally written in 1911, Anna Botsford Comstock sought to inform other educators on how to incorporate nature study into their classrooms and cultivate a desire in their students to observe the natural world around them. Despite its age, The Handbook of Nature Study continues to be a source of relevant information on both the living and non-living specimens that t ...more
Summer Kartchner Olsen
I was impressed that my library had a 1960's edition of this century old book. I haven't read every single page, and I know that some of the scientific information is out of date, but this book is an absolute gem. Before reading, I didn't realize that it is geared towards school teachers. I am not a teacher, but as a parent who likes to take my kids outdoors I find this to be a great resource. I am so impressed by the author. What an undertaking! The writing is beautiful. And her philosophy for ...more
Jasmine Shadows
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has such wonderful lessons. I still to this day pull this from my shelves and research so many different things. This is one that all families with any interest in nature and the study of nature should add to their shelves. This is even a book that I think those who aren't really interested in studying nature should consider reading. It may just make you want to get out there and take a hike. There were even some lessons that would bring a smile as you read them (i.e. the one about the ...more
Amy Booth
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While I've only read the first part, and browsed the remainder, this excellent book serves as a teaching guide for nature study with basic information and questions regarding animals, insects, plants, etc. found commonly in North America. If you enjoy being outside and want to learn more about what you find in Nature, you can learn a lot from this book.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Essential Charlotte-Mason style companion, although I must push back against her constant fear of "teaching too much" and the specific (and exceedingly constrictive) restraints she specifies. To each (parent and child) their own, lady!
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom
We use this book as a reference and read parts of it when we study a certain item. Not a book you would read cover to cover. Good information but just a bit much that the kids don't even turn to it. I use it to read aloud when doing a nature study on a particular item...krb 9/26/19
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very detailed complete book of nature, great resource!
Aug 09, 2019 is currently reading it
Shelves: homeschool
I think we’ll be using this as more of a reference after our walks to look up what is interesting vs reading before.
Nelleke Plouffe
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I use the Handbook of Nature Study as a reference for our homeschool Nature Study. The ideas contained in the introduction alone are worth the price of the book. It amazes me how valuable the nature information in this book is, even in this age of the internet. I think it's because the author loved nature. This is more than mere information. This is a living book with perspective, wisdom, and interesting detail.
I would like to see this book updated with better binding (hardcover would be nice)
Laura Rogers
Excellent handbook for studying nature with your children (or by yourself) - I guess the title is appropriate, eh?
It might be a little tedious to those who don't like to or won't read the introduction. The beginning includes lots of lofty philosophy about how to do nature study correctly - all of it excellent, but non-bookish people might balk at the old fashioned language and sheer volume of text to wade through. It is worth the read. Apply the principles and you will have an award winning natu
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teacher-books
This is a great resource for nature study with children. It prepares the teacher to guide her students in developing obvservation skills via hands on exploration of nature. What I love about it is that the author doesn't come across as being didactic, but writes as someone who comes alongside the reader to share in the joy of discovery. The preface of the book, written directly to the teacher, is worth the price of the book. In it, she discusses the importance of nature study, not only for the b ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a great book. The way I read it is reading Part I to learn the concepts of teaching nature study and using the rest of the book as a reference. When kids are young, it is useless to feed them with knowledge. What is more important is to inspire their curiosity in learning the nature. I take my kid out for a walk and encourage discovery by herself, and reference back the parts of book that are related. I used a pretty old version, so pictures are black and white. I wish I could find a ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This is a classic. This is my new favorite book for Biology. I need to get a copy of this. This book will now be our family's scholor book to teach biology.

This book is descriptive and answers all the questions we could ask about nature. This book is black and white and certainly not entertaining. I'm trying to remove the books out of my life that are entertaining and provide only "good or fair" reading material. This book will actually teach us about nature and biology.
Chris Gager
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlikely that this is the book I'm looking for but at least it's old enough to have been on the family bookshelves in the 1950's. I found my first nature book there and found it to be reasonably kid friendly. The book I'm referring to was not 7-900 pages and was hardbound and bigger than an encylopedia volume and may have been only about animals. I don't remember. Very engrossing... Date read is approximate.
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-resources
I am in love with this book. It is a lot of information and can take a bit of time to figure how to use it and go through the information. I use it as background for me so I know how to guide things in our nature and science studies. It's been a staple in our home school since we first started over 10 years ago.
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While I didn't exactly read it cover to cover yet, it's just one of those books you know that while it would take years to "finish", it will be used and used often. The introduction on how to teach nature study is phenomenal and necessary as the entire book is a necessity for every parent who wants their child to have a great relationship with nature.
I'm starting the Green Hour Challenget and she directs folks to view or download the book here

Sep 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education, re-read
I just got this book before school started. I had heard and read so much about it, I had to have it. I'm glad I own it now. What an invaluable reference for our nature studies. I have caught myself going back to it again and again long after a lesson is over just to read some more.
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature-study
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. It is our go-to book for everything nature. We have a physical copy as well as the e-book (for taking out side on hikes). We will use this for many years to come. A great investment!
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Homeschoolers
Shelves: gabriels-books
Recommended for science by
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Great resource for nature study but it would be so much better with color photos.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature-study, math
We use this for school. It is full of great information for science and nature study. This is really a reference book. Recently, we have learned about wasps, spiders, and other invertebrates.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
love this book. a valuable resource for learning about the world around you--and then passing it on to your children, with lots of ideas on how to go about it.
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“Nature-study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful . . . a perception of color, form and music . . But more than all, nature-study gives the child a sense of companionship with life out-of-doors and an abiding love of nature.” 2 likes
“The child should never be required  to learn the name of anything in the nature-study work; but the name should be used so often and so naturally in his presence, that he will learn it without being conscious of the process” 1 likes
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