How can iNat be formalized for homeschooling?

I am a homeschooler and my mother tries to make basically everything I do count for schoolwork. Lately she has been asking and asking how the use of iNat can formalized for school. Does anyone know how it can be done?


Most teachers start a private project for the students’ observations.

What grade level (difficulty)?

9th grade. I do not work in groups.

Part of the point of homeschooling is that a lot of it is informal. You don’t get a grade for going to the park and looking at birds and dragonflies for an afternoon, you just do it and hopefully learn from it. If you’re using INat and learning from it, that’s all you really need to be doing. I’m not sure there’s any way to make it more formal. There wouldn’t be any point in starting a project just for your observations, since you can easily enough just go to “your observations” and see them.

I suppose you could set a goal of trying to make a certain number of observations in a week? But if you do too much of that, you risk turning a fun nature thing into an obligation that you have to continue even after you lose interest.


i found you learn quite allot when iding? other than that i have no idea?

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You can use goal species from the app as part of your classes, so learn where to find them and then tr to search them, certain number of them could be enough for good grade (it’s hard to find all, but possible over long time). Then using techniques regular teachers use on iNat: certain number of species, list of groups to observe, knowing what can be find locally from certain groups.


I have no answer to your question, but would surely love to know if there is any possibility of it being “formal”. As a homeschooler, I’ve been quite shocked at the amount of other homeschoolers on the site. Perhaps we could start a project??


Loads of ways to do this! The City Nature Challenge folks (among others) have put together these ‘education toolkits’ that are used during the city nature challenge, but you can incorporate it with some modifications for any time.

Also, there are education resources on the inat help page too:’s+guide
Many of these examples can be easily modified for the homeschool environment.


Thank everyone! I am not sure any of these would work for me, but I want to leave it at “Nope, no way to formalize it” anyway. I do not want it to turn into another school project. I can say I tried:)


My friend home schools her children, and she just recently started using iNat; her kids are much younger, but nonetheless … she told me she is going to require them to complete a checklist of observations. They must observe a certain number of birds, a certain number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians etc. And they must add their own IDs (as opposed to only letting the community ID). Since birds of prey are their favorite organism, she also signed them up for a one-time raptor workshop at a local nature center.

I guess she’s doing something right, because about a month ago the oldest child excitedly interrupted me and pointed up over my shoulder, “Look, a Turkey Vulture!” I turned my head and sure enough, it was. Impressive.

What I’ve seen from public high school students on iNat varies greatly depending on the teacher and school. But the class with which I’m most impressed periodically takes mini field trips (not too far from the school), and each student observes as much as they can within the time period. Those particular students also always add IDs before uploading.

Some teachers require their students to write information about the species as a note on each observation, including sources.


As someone who was home-schooled their whole life, I would not recommend it. Labeling something as school will always make it seem less fun. One example of this is the reading I did for school. I enjoy reading a lot, but I always hated what I was assigned. We did this reading program, but did not go all the way through, stopping at like 10th grade. After I finished, I went and read some of the books I had not done for school on my own and enjoyed them all.

It’s just people’s natural tendency to not like being told what to do. I know that if I had been forced to do inaturalist I would have grown to dislike it and certainly would not be doing it now.


As an educator, I’m not keen on integrating making iNat observations into coursework. If it’s done well, it can be effective but based on the comments in this forum and personal experience, doing it well is the exception rather than the rule.

The number one variable as to whether iNat is effective for school is the teacher’s familiarity with iNaturalist. With all due respect to your mother as a teacher, if she wants to leverage iNat as an educational resource, she needs to get an account, make the observations, become familiar with platform and design the lessons. There are a lot of topics iNat can teach: habitats, ecosystems, biomes, trophic levels, biodiversity, taxonomy, physical and even social geography (and more!) but the teacher really needs to take the lead. This is fairly time intensive as there are a few activity resources out there but I have yet to see any that address the meatier high school topics.

If she’s insistent, I really like the idea of a homeschool iNat project. I think that’s a great service learning project where you and whoever else decides to start such a thing can be the project admins and create a community of iNat homeschoolers. Then, when you are ready to hand it off you can do so by changing admins and can continue along with the parts of iNat you really enjoy which is usually either observing or identifying.


In education where I live, “formalizing” something as part of an education generally means finding something in the state-mandated learning standards for your grade, and saying, “doing this helps me meet that learning standard.” So rather than approaching this as “how can I put more structure on my use of iNaturalist to meet the objectives” I would recommend asking, “what in the standards I am supposed to be meeting can I interpret to include what I’m already doing?”

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Thanks for the responses everyone! What my mother really needs is just some sort of valid proof that I am doing it(like a certificate or something, except I know I definitely cannot get those for iNat). I do not think I can get what she needs, but again, I do not want my iNat hobby to turn into a school project. An obligation. Really, I just had to ask the question, but this discussion also helps other homeschoolers that want to use iNat for school:) I have a couple of friends who homeschool who might be interested in something like this.

OOhhhh — that’s super easy! Just help her set an achievable goal for either new observations added per month and/or IDs made for others per month. Make sure to choose a number (for the goal) that will ensure it’s still fun for you! She can learn to filter your observations via date/month, to easily verify your “work”.

And she can check on/verify your IDs made for others via this tool.

Hope that helps.

As far as an actual certificate, I think you’re out of luck. She would have to be willing to verify your observations herself. — Unless, of course, @gatorhawk starts his homeschoolers project and sends your mom certificates once and a while LOL!! Just kidding.

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Oh and keep in mind that there are summary stats under your username for the forum, such as days visited, read time, recent read time and topics viewed. You could provide your mother with a screenshot of these stats once a month, so she can verify your time on the forum (if she thinks forum time counts).

I’ll also add that if you start a project for something that really interests you, and it becomes a helpful, popular project, I personally think that would look great on a college application.


Thanks thanks! My college application is what she has in mind. I am going to pursue a degree in zoology(a Ph.D in animal behavior, but right now we are just focusing on my bachelors degree in zoology). I am already working on collecting credits.

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I suggest you set a goal of some sort of project or learning goal or something… something like ‘help this local park inventory the bee species’ or ‘document all inavsive species along this trail’ or ‘inventory all species in our backyard that got here on their own’. That serves as the ‘assignment’. iNaturalist isn’t itself an assignment it is a tool. Saying you want a formalized use of iNaturalsit for schooling is kind of like saying you want to formalize pencil use for teaching. The pencil isn’t the lesson, it is the tool. This way iNat is just a fun tool you are using, and you also set learning goals. A lot fo the time local parks, towns, etc would appreciate this sort of thing. But it sounds like maybe you don’t want to be doing it? If so, probably better not to, because iNat under duress doesn’t work too well. It tends to result in types of data that aren’t compatible with the medium.