Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Review: Nature Friend Magazine and Study Guide

We have always enjoyed nature walks and nature journaling.  So I was excited when I received a complimentary two-month subscription to Nature Friend magazine, so that I could review it here as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. 

My first reaction to the August 2009 issue was, "Oh my, this is a beautiful magazine!"  And it is.  Both issues I received have so many beautiful photographs.  I was really attracted to the photos.  The layout of the magazine is really attractive to the eye, as well.  The pages are colorful.  The text is easy to read in size and spacing.  The pages are thick and the magazine is well-constructed.  It feels like a quality product in your hands. 
These magazines are chock-full of activities.  There are puzzles, such as crosswords, hidden pictures and word searches.  There is always a "You Can Draw" feature that teaches you how to draw an animal or flower.  But, for additional activities, you can also receive the Study Guide.  With a magazine subscription, you can purchase a study guide for an additional $2 per month.  Each study guide is 8-12 pages in length with additional puzzles, writing prompts, and ideas for hands-on activities.  I have to tell you my favorite part of the Study Guide is the "Motto for the Month."  This is a beautiful, frame-able picture with a verse of scripture super-imposed over it.  I love these and plan to cut them out and hang them somewhere in the house.  The study guide is an excellent addition to the magazine. 
When the boys and I sat down to work through the first magazine, I portioned it out over several days.  I read an article and the boys would do a puzzle each day.  We were told that we could make copies of the puzzles for our homeschool, so that made the magazine even more useable in our home.  The boys found some of the puzzles to be pretty difficult.  We had to look up some words for a matching activity before we could complete the activity, and the word-search was a challenge.  I also found the You Can Draw feature to be best for older students.  Our middle-school aged boys did not have the art skills for the shading and other techniques used in the You Can Draw feature.   One really cool thing did happen.  A few days after we read an article in the August edition about cicadas and how they shed their skin, we found a cicada skin attached to a tree while walking in the woods.  It was so cool to have God reinforce what we read!  The article was very timely.
One of the great things about Nature Friend is that there are so many ways you and your children can contribute to the magazine.  The editors accept original artwork and photography with a nature theme, as well as puzzles and stories submitted by readers.  It's really appealing to present your children with a magazine in which they can take part.  Once a year, Nature Friend is entirely composed of reader's submissions, but beyond that, every issue has many pages filled with reader's entries.
Although there are lots of beautiful things about Nature Friend magazine, the most beautiful thing to me is their mission to proclaim God's creativity.  This quote is taken directly from the Nature Friend magazine: 
Since the doctrine of Divine Creation is the first and foundational one of Scripture, our children must be able to stand on it securely to withstand the undermining influences from our culture.
Nature Friend has something for every child, but from my review of two of the monthly magazines, I would say that most of the articles and activities are for those in upper-elementary grades and above.  As I mentioned earlier, our boys who are grades 7 and 6 found many of the puzzles challenging.  Most of the articles are non-fiction and, therefore, I could see that it would be difficult for a young child to pay attention to the reading.
A one-year subscription to Nature Friend is $36, with the additional study-guide costing $2 per issue.  To order your subscription on-line, go here:  You can also order by phone toll free at: (877) 434-0765.
Nature Friend carries many books in their bookstore which you can access here:   Take some time to peruse this bookstore.  They really have a lot to offer.

You can read more reviews by my fellow crew here:

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