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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Naturalist Learning Styles

Naturalist – Individuals with this learning preference learn best when collecting or analyzing things close to nature.

I recently attended a workshop on Differentiated Instruction which included a great deal of information on Learning Styles. I watched as the educators took various learning styles exams, but none of them included the questions involving Naturalists. I remember reading the Wikipedia article on Learning Styles and the controversy over the Naturalist style that was added in 1997. Detractors say naturalism is an interest rather than an intelligence. I suggest those people think anyone who is grounded in reality or in the world around them are not as sophisticated a learner. I disagree. I greatly respect those who learn through nature and through their hands. So many educators lump all students with ADHD into the "bodily-kinesthetic" category as if asking them to do a few jumping jacks in the middle of class will enable them to master the learning a teacher insists they obtain.

There was very little information in our workshop on how to include nature in the curriculum to appeal to naturalist learners. What a shame! More of our students need to be exposed to books that are set in realistic nature settings and that involve a serious exploration of the world around us. One of my top picks for elementary is Mike Graf’s series Adventures with the Parkers which is available from Fulcrum Publishing so click over to my review blog post. 

When I was a student at Buena Vista College (now University) in Storm Lake, Iowa, I worked in the library for a year; however, when I returned from an overseas study in Taiwan, there were no positions left for me that summer in the library. Instead I worked in the science department learning about lab rats, cleaning, puttering, and teasing the piranha. I greatly respect the scientists who taught there.

A British training site Inspiring Breakthrough suggests that people with a preference for Naturalist Intelligence:

Think:  Through nature and natural forms 
Love:   Playing with pets, gardening, investigating nature, raising animals, caring for planet earth 
Need:   Access to nature, opportunities for interacting with animals, tools for investigating nature (e.g., magnifying glass, binoculars)

They suggest you Develop Your Naturalist Intelligence by:

  • Creating observation notebooks
  • Describe changes in the local or global environment that affect you
  • Become involved in the care for pets, wildlife, gardens, or parks
  • Use binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, or magnifiers to see things differently
  • Draw or photograph natural objects


  1. Mona Batchelor says:

    Thanks, Diane, for bringing the Naturalist learning style to the forefront. This week, I was able to view some facebook photos(one of those friend of a friend situs) of an autistic child and his mother visiting a local river and walking bridge with the child’s caregiver.

    Interestingly, the caregiver mentioned more than once the calming effect of the journey upon the child and the keen observations he made regarding things in nature.

    Although I have no personal or professional experience in this area, I feel it important not to discount the value of the Naturalist learning style too rapidly.

    As always, thanks.