Pretty (and Free!) Nature Prints for Your Homeschool

This year, I’ve been keeping an eye out for nature prints to use in our school/playroom. Nature prints make lovely decorations, but they’re also helpful when trying to identify a species or build background information before reading. The problem I keep running into, though, is that to find a broad range of prints, I’d have to invest a lot of money into multiple sets. That just isn’t going to happen right now. So I decided to hit the Internet and look for free printable nature images. I’ve rounded up some pretty images that I think you’ll love to display in your school or play space.

These nature prints are licensed for your personal use, but check the copyright information before other usage.  

This is a roundup of pretty and free nature images to be used in your homeschool, playroom, or living space.

Botanical Prints

Plates from Kohler (Botanicus.org) 

This site features scanned in pages from classic botanical books. Here, I’ve linked to just one particularly pretty book. You can find directions about how to download the prints at Honey and Fitz. 

Free Botanical Prints from Poppytalk

These prints aren’t labeled or vintage, but they are beautiful! I think I’ll skip them in the school room, and put them right in our living room.

Leaf from the Graphics Fairy.

This is a single, heart-shaped leaf that’s full of whimsy. I love how it’s so appealing to little ones, but lovely enough for everyone to enjoy!

Daisy from the New York Public Library Digital Collection

This print reminds me of how Charlotte Mason described the daisy in Home Education:

But the mother seizes the happy moment. She makes Margaret see that the daisy is a bright yellow eye with white eyelashes round it; that all the day long it lies there in the grass and looks up at the great sun, never blinking as Margaret would do, but keeping its eye wide open. And that is why it is called daisy, ‘day’s eye,’ because its eye is always looking at the sun which makes the day.” Page 140.

Amaryllis from The New York Public Library Digital Collection

This one has pretty spring colors.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. Chrysanthemum maximum (Ox-eye daisy) (King Edward VII). Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-21ab-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Birds and Nests

This spring, we’ll spend lots of time observing birds. Having  these beautiful prints on the wall will be so inspiring! Some of these prints don’t have the birds labeled. Miss H would have so much digging into bird guides and figuring out which bird is which.

Bird Nests and Eggs from the Graphic Fairy

The Graphic Fairy called this the “best nest and egg print ever” and I definitely agree!

Natural History Bird Lithograph

This print is more colorful than many vintage prints.  It has a really cheerful feel!

Peacock Print

Our local zoo has peacocks wandering around, so Miss H loves to spot them and observe them. She would love to have this gorgeous picture hanging on our wall!

Assorted Birds from the New York Public Library Digital Collection

We printed this one on high-quality paper, and I love everything about it- the illustrations, the colors (and ours even printed out to look matted.)

Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1833 – 1841). Various Birds. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-3f83-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Insects

Antique Butterflies and Moths from the Graphics Fairy

This is such a pretty print, and it’s in the style of the biology prints that are everywhere these days.

 

A Variety of Nature Prints

Teachers Pay Teachers Free Download from I Believe in Montessori

These prints are some of my favorites. You can download prints of flowers, butterflies, a cow, a mushroom, and more.

Montessori in Nature

Not all of these prints are inspired by nature, but there is a lovely insect, plant, and two beautiful bird prints available.

Fall Nature Prints

Who doesn’t love autumn? Nature prints make a beautiful fall decoration.

 

Which one of these prints is your favorite? Are you going to use any of these in your play or learning space?

 

*Main Image Cited* George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. Chrysanthemum maximum (Ox-eye daisy) (King Edward VII). Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-21ab-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Making the Most Out of Outdoor Play During the Early Years

Last summer, we went on a nature walk at a nearby garden.  The flowers were blooming, the robins were skipping around, and the beautiful sound of flowing water was heard around every corner. Suddenly we had been there for an hour and a half, and it was time to get home so Baby E could take a rest and we could eat lunch.  These are the moments that send a whisper through my heart that says, “This is a beautiful childhood.”  Spending time outside, so lost in nature that time surprisingly slips away is what Charlotte Mason had in mind for little ones when she recommended 4-6 hours of outdoor play while the weather is nice.

*Updated July 2018

Outdoor Play Is the Best Possible Thing

And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five, six hours the should have on every tolerable fine day, from April to October. ‘Impossible!’ says an overwrought mother who sees her way to no more for her children than a daily hour or so on the pavements of the neighboring London squares. Let me repeat, that I venture to suggest, not what is practicable in any household, but what seems to me absolutely best for the children, and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them. A journey of twenty minutes by rail or omnibus, and a luncheon basket, will make a day in the country possible to most town-dwellers; and if one day, why not many, even every suitable day?” Charlotte Mason, Home Education, pages 43-44

In the winter, she recommended two or three hours outside each day: an hour outdoors in the morning, coming in to warm up and eat lunch, and then heading back out in the afternoon. Modern research supports this. Lack of outdoor time is linked to many childhood problems, like Sensory Processing Disorder, obesity, and even ADHD.

Related: The Complete Charlotte Mason Preschool Guide

Playing Outside In All Weather?

Charlotte Mason often wrote with the highest ideal in mind. She said that we as mothers can make miracles happen if we know that miracles are expected of us.  While I think that it is possible to be outside for 4-6 hours each day, especially in nice weather, I think we also need to give ourselves some grace.

In Ambleside, England, where Charlotte Mason lived, the temperatures throughout the year range from a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This is much more temperate than my Colorado home, which ranges from about 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Charlotte Mason did not coin the phrase “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” I can’t imagine that she’d advocate taking very small children out in weather that could potentially be dangerous for them!

I think we can free ourselves from the guilt of not getting our children outside when it’s miserably hot or intolerably cold.

Related: Easy Clean-Up for Messy Outdoor Play

Follow this simple rule:

Never be within doors when you can rightly be out. ” Charlotte Mason, Home Education, page 42

This frees me from the guilt of not getting outside when it’s cold, or the baby needs to sleep, or we have errands to run. I have to find a maintainable balance. If I know that being outside is the absolute best for my children, I’ll try to be out there every chance I get; but I also have duties  in order to keep everyone fed and healthy.

 

Charlotte Mason, Home Education

What should this outdoor time look like?

What Does Outdoor Play Look Like in the Early Years

The mother is not the entertainer

They’re outside!  They don’t need to be told stories, played with, or entertained in other ways. There is so much for them to do and observe!

In the first place, it is not her business to entertain the little people: there should be no story-books, no telling of tales, as little talk as possible, and that to some purpose.” Home Education, page 45

It might take some time for your children to learn how to entertain themselves with nature and their own made-up games. You might want to ease into it, instead of immediately expecting hours of child-led play outside.

Related: The Indoorsy Mom’s Guide to Getting Outside

Sightseeing

Ask the child to go observe a tree, flower, or other interesting feature. Have them come back to report what they have seen.  This helps increase their vocabulary, ability to remember, and ability to recount without exaggeration (which is necessary for the habit of truthfulness). Don’t tolerate a lazy description!

…she sends them off on an exploring expedition–Who can see the most, and tell the most, about yonder hillock or brook, hedge, or copse. This is an exercise that delights children…” Home Education, page 45

Mental Picture painting

Ask your children to describe to you a landscape that they have seen.  This is a tiring task, but it can be enjoyable when presented as a game. I think that this could be extended by actually painting a picture of a flower or another thing seen in nature. This would be fun and meaningful for a young child.

The children will delight in this game on ‘picture-painting’ all the more if the mother introduce it by describing some great picture-gallery she has seen– pictures of mountains, of moors, of stormy seas, of ploughed field, of little children at play, of an old woman knitting,– and goes on to say, that though she does not paint her pictures on canvas and have them put in frames, she carries about with her just such a picture-gallery; for whenever she see anything lovely or interest, she looks at it until she has the picture in her ‘minds eye’; and then she carries it away with her, her own for ever, a picture ‘on view’ just when she wants it.” Home Education, pages 49-50

Object Lessons

Object lessons encourage a child to use their five senses while viewing things in nature, or objects around the house. I wrote more about these lessons here. 

 An Hour or Two of Vigorous Play

We love playing at the park, riding bikes, or playing tag outside. Charlotte Mason recommended 1-2 hours of vigorous exercise each day for children.

Related: Schemas of Play in the Great Outdoors

Do Not Send Them, Take Them

In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them; for, although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air.”

I love that Charlotte Mason said this, because sometimes I think people want to create the 1980’s childhood where children played outside by themselves for hours without a grownup around. This ideal doesn’t fit in well with life today. However, there is a difference between supervising and hovering!

 

These hours that we spend outside are sure to make up some of my children’s most treasured memories of childhood. What a gift that we’re giving them!


What should those long hours outside look like during the #charlottemason #earlyyears ?

 

 

%d bloggers like this: