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No Sweat Nature Study LIVE Review by Kari Lynn Hoffman

Cindy West
Our Journey Westward

Learning about nature is an area of science that I strongly believe is important for our children to immerse themselves in. We have had the opportunity to review a one-year membership to No Sweat Nature Study LIVE Membership from Our Journey Westward. This membership has been an absolute blessing for our family. The course is taught by Cindy West, who is passionate about nature.

No Sweat Nature Study LIVE membership includes two monthly live online courses taught through Zoom by Cindy West along with access to all the past recordings. Each video session has a different theme about nature and then the children work on a nature journal activity towards the end of the session. It is geared towards grades 1-8; however, other ages can listen in and benefit from the lesson. Your child does not need any prior knowledge of the subject and it is not specific to where you are in the world or your current season. Some sessions also include extension activities such as an experiment or activity that can be done at home. It costs $14 per month but there is also the option to purchase by 3 months or 12 months.

The forty to sixty-minute lessons are very well organized and Cindy provides you with the necessary supply list and some short reading material prior to the lesson. This is great so that your child can be prepared and can refer to it during or after the lesson. Your child usually only needs a nature journal (or plain white paper) and colored pencils. Sometimes Cindy will suggest some other items to help expand learning, but they are not required. The downloadable reading material includes a brief overview of the topic, a list of important vocabulary, an image of at least one item that is used during the nature journal portion of the lesson, and a few extra learning ideas you might like to use. The course material is diverse and is great for all learning styles and learning abilities. Since the class is taught through Zoom, it allows for interaction between the children and Cindy via chat, including some quiz questions. This helped to keep my son’s attention through the lesson. 

Along with the live video lessons, you also get access to the entire No Sweat Nature Study curriculum for free, a regular email newsletter to keep you updated on the live lessons, and a 25% off discount on the Our Journey Westward shop. 

As a family, we took part in the Zoom classes and we cannot wait for future lessons. Each week, we would try to tie our weekly science lessons around the lesson topic. We also worked through some of the recorded lessons on weeks when we did not have a live lesson. I would try to choose a topic that was relevant to what we were currently studying. Our first lesson was about the water cycle and my son drew a diagram about the water cycle. Then we learned about bird nests, followed by hopping insects. Some of the topics we are going to learn about later in 2020 are night views, vines, patterns in nature, hay bales, bats, and animal tracks. I often read the reading material provided by Cindy West to my son prior to the lesson to help him prepare. However, this is not necessary. After each session, I helped to expand my sons’ learning by adding some books to our weekly reading list and applying what we learned outside when we are in nature.

We believe that this membership has added a significant benefit to our science lessons. My seven-year-old loved each lesson and could not wait for the next. He says that he learns so much in each. It was neat to watch my son get enthralled in the nature journal drawings. His nature journal is going to be a keepsake for him to treasure. I think my 4-year-old will be ready to join in within the next year. Right now, he just listens in on some of the lessons.

I highly recommend No Sweat Nature Study LIVE Membership from Our Journey Westward. It is an incredible program for encouraging children to learn and expand their learning about nature in a fun and interactive way. 

Product review by Kari Lynn Hoffman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2020