Last spring, while thumbing through The Old Homeschool magazine, I saw an ad for Nature Friend magazine. Being a huge nature study fan, I thought it looked like a super magazine for our classroom. I tore the page out [with intentions to order a subscription], put it in a 'safe place' and forgot about it. Well, you can imagine my excitement when I found out I was going to have the opportunity to review this magazine! Nature Friend sent both the August & September magazines & study guides for me to review [Nature Friend provided me with two free copies of their magazine for me to test and use in order to write this review].
Nature Friend magazine is in its 27th year (began January 1983). Kevin and Bethany Shank have owned Nature Friend since May 2006. From the website:
We are a children's magazine the whole family, including the grandparents, can enjoy. We publish twelve issues per year, six of which are gently nudged towards an older age. They are the January, March, May, July, September, and November issues. This is easiest to observe by the two-page art lesson that goes a bit more in-depth than the one-page lesson. While 8-16 may be a nucleus, we publish drawings by 3-4 year olds and quotes/writings from parents and grandparents.
The first thing that caught my eye was the incredible photography! Both covers have awesome pictures that create great curiosity...we could not wait to look inside! Once inside Nature Friend, I noticed right away that this is a magazine that honors God! It is the publisher's desire to encourage children to believe in God as their Creator and to seek out, recognize, and appreciate His handiwork.
Special features include:
- 'Invisibles' ~A drawing with numerous objects hidden within the drawing (similar to Highlights Hidden Pictures, which was a favorite of mine when I was a child). My 8-year-old wanted to find the hidden objects right away!
- 'Articles' ~ Character-building, Creator-honoring stories that both teach and delight the reader.
- 'Puzzles' ~fun, nature-related puzzles that educate.
- 'Scavenger Hunt' ~hidden objects (two or more) somewhere in the magazine. My son loves this feature, too!
- 'Learning By Doing' ~ an educational science feature that reinforces the lesson.
- 'The Story Behind the Photo' ~photographers capture a stunning photo and tell about the events leading up to the incredible photo.
- 'Caption This' ~ Approximately every other month a photograph is featured and readers are invited to submit a caption for the photograph. One or several of the captions are featured in a later issue on the back cover.
Children enjoy seeing children's work and they get excited about the possibility of having their work published. Here are some of the many ways Nature Friend offers reader/student contributions:
- The 'You Can Draw' feature is a monthly art lesson. Each month the magazine features artists from previous 'You Can Draw' lessons. My daughter completed the black bear lesson (from the September 2009 issue) and we submitted it for possible publication in a future issue.
- 'Pictures & Poems' features nature-related artwork and poetry.
- Reader submitted photography is featured in the 'Creation Close-ups' section.
- 'Nature Trails' has stories/photos about activities that readers like to do each year in a particular month, or something they did one year and enjoyed (children are welcome to submit to this feature as well).
- The 'Readers' Issue' is published twice a year and features, cover-to-cover, material from Nature Friend readership.
A Study Guide is also available to the Nature Friend readers. The Study Guide is a wonderful resource! The Study Guide ships with the magazine, and is 8-12 pages in the center portion of the magazine. It features the following:
- Exercises that reinforce what can be learned from that particular issue of Nature Friend. Exercises may include crossword puzzle, acrostic, fill-in-the-blank, true and false, etc. Several research questions are also included... “For You to Research,” challenges the student to go even deeper into the topics being discussed.
- “A Study in Nature; a Lesson in Writing” teaches creative writing using a nature study as a springboard.
- “The Photo Critique” teaches nature photography tips.
Using the Study Guide, from the August 2009 issue, I planned an 'end-of-summer' walk. The Edge of Autumn article helped me plan a fun, educational nature study that we all enjoyed immensely! We took a walk and used our five senses to look for signs of summer coming to an end. We made an entry into our nature journal and took pictures of some items we found. We read the poem and the prayer (also included in the Study Guide). I'm very excited about the Study Guide...excellent resource! Check out a sample HERE.
Overall, we LOVE this magazine! I'm on my way to subscribe right now...don't want to miss a single issue! I know you will love it as well! Want to 'try before you buy'? The website has 3 sample issues for you to view...look HERE.
Ready to order? Go HERE!
1yr subscription- USA- $36.00
2yr subscription-USA- $68.00
You will want to add the study guide for $2.00/ issue [this is not a separate feature...it is included as an insert in the center portion of the magazine, if you subscribe to it].
*Nature Friend is currently offering a promotion, BLOG93 can be used to save $3.00 off of any new subscriptions and this promotion is valid until November 30, 2009.