It seems like in our busy, stressful world we have less and less time for the outdoors and things that were just commonplace to our ancestors. For example, can you walk out in the woods and identify the different trees and shrubs you encounter? Can you identify wild edibles in your yard? Can you make a quick poultice for a bee sting from a plant growing wild? If the answer is no, but you'd like it to be yes, then read on. Or perhaps you'd love for your children to learn these things and have no idea how to teach them, read on too!
First off, you should buy a good tree and plant id book! There are several out there to choose from (simple to elaborate) but get one and learn to use it. Start with the plants and trees nearest you. Can you find out what they are? Ask questions of someone who is knowledgeable about them. Find out if there is plant id workshop in your area or a nature trail with the different trees and plants identified for you. Once you've got a few to work with then start really studying them (or have your kids study them). What makes them different? What kind of bark, berry, bloom, leaf ect...do they have? Take pictures, make drawings and visit them at different seasons to see the changes they go through.
The most important thing with studying nature is to actually get out there and do it with a curiosity. But it also helps to be prepared. First learn any toxic or poisonous plants in your area. That way you don't pick poison ivy to take home and id (lol). Don't be afraid to try new things and to broaden your and your children's horizons.
Here's a few of my favorite trees for you to start with if you'd like: white oak, red oak, sassafras, hickory, walnut, maple, red bud and dogwood. Plants: plaintain, dandelion, butterfly bush, toothwort, wild ginger and soapwort.
So get out there and explore! Its good for you :) You get fresh air, exercise and a chance to experience some of what our great-grandparents took for granted!