Create Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month

Create a Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month via Green Acorns

It’s National Poetry Month!  You know how I love to incorporate nature into our learning so today I have a couple of nature-based poetry activities for you and your children.

Why should our children learn about and read and write poetry?  Poetry is a wonderful form of creative self-expression.  It can be a way to connect with the world and with others and a way to process emotions.  It encourages the writer to carefully consider the use of words and the reader to consider their interpretations.  Poetry can be used to foster the skills of observation and to heighten the use of imagery.  And often, poetry has rhythm that kids can relate to.

Now on to the activities…

Grow a Poetree: Nature-Based Poetry Activities for National Poetry Month

Grow a Poetree

This activity is an open, relaxed way to create poetry.  Similar to using magnetic poetry.  Print the provided activity pages and cut out the leaves.  For young children, you may want to fill them in with words yourself and leave them out as a provocation.  My eight year old used a combination of words I filled in and words of her choosing.  I have also provided a list of words for inspiration for your child.

There is no need to have a poem already worked out when choosing the words.  That’s the fun of it!  Think about nature-related words, move the word leaves around until you like the order, and place them around your tree.  Inspired by our walk around the neighborhood earlier in the day, here is what my daughter created:

Flowers grow
Buds turn into leaves
Birds sing, Sun shining
Melting snow drips

Think about other ways you might adapt this activity for your child.  Perhaps she would like to string the word leaves onto a garland and hang it up.  It could be used to decorate some branches in a vase or even temporarily on a tree outside.  Have fun with it!

Create a Poetree: 2 Nature-Based Activities for National Poetry Month via Green Acorns

Shape a Cinquain Poetree

Cinquain is form of poetry that is composed of five lines.  The most common version we see in more modern poetry was developed by Adelaide Crapsey.  In this form each of the five lines has a set number of syllables: 2,4,6,8,2 respectfully.  There is also a framework for the number of words on each line: 1,2,3,4,1.  These patterns lend themselves well to create shape poetry.  We thought it fit perfectly with our “poetree” theme but feel free to use any shape you’d like.  Maybe a flower or a fish or anything that you’ve been noticing in nature lately.

Think about what you have been noticing in nature lately, something you enjoy doing outside, or your favorite plant, animal or outdoor location.  Or maybe there is something you saw in a book or something from your nature collection that has sparked your imagination.  Use that to inspire a topic for your poem.  Simply follow the format provided on the printable to create your own cinquain.

Here is my son’s:

Moon
Bright, Round
Shining, Waxing, Waning
Sun of night
Satellite

I hope you enjoy these poetry activities.  If you are looking for more poetry inspiration, I share some of our favorite nature-related books in this post.

Poetree Printables

Fondly,
Monique

Noticing Nature – Nature Prompts: March 2017

Noticing Nature - Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families_ March 2017.jpg

Marcescent Plants

The nature word of the month is “marcescent” so your challenge is to take notice of the marcescent trees in your area.  Add some sketches of the leaves to your nature journal or take photos and display them on your nature shelf.  Don’t forget to add the date, the location you found the tree, and the type of tree (if you don’t know this would make a wonderful investigation activity).

winter shades of green

Shades of Green

Year after year my children and I are amazed at how many shades of green we notice during the winter months, even when there is a thick layer of snow covering the ground.  I shared this colors of fall color wheel as part of the October nature prompts and since it was so popular, I thought I would create one to use for a shades of green nature hunt.  How many can you match?  If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, going on a green nature hunt is a perfect activity to tie in to the day’s fun.

Download the Shades of Green color wheel, print it on card stock (for durability you could also laminate it or glue cut out wheel to an empty cereal box), and get hunting!

Winter Tree Bud Nature Hunt

Did you know that usually by mid-summer deciduous trees have formed their buds for the following spring?  Winter is a great time to get out and observe the variety of buds as they are easy to spot on the bare branches.  You might be amazed at the variety of shapes, sizes, colors and arrangements.

You can find some helpful resources in the ‘Identifying Winter Trees‘ post but here is some terminology to know before you head out:

Arrangement

Like the branches of a tree, its buds also grow in certain arrangements:

  • opposite –  structures (branches, buds, leaves) grow in pairs from opposite sides of the twig at the same level
  • alternate – structures grow singly from the twig without another leaf directly across the twig
  • whorled – three or more structures grow from the same level on the twig

The scales of a bud, if present, also have unique arrangements:

  • imbricate – multiple scales that overlap each other like shingles
  • valvate – 2 to 3 scales that do not overlap
  • naked – there are no scales covering the leaf bud

Shape

If you’d like to learn the specific names of the various shapes that tree buds, this is an easy to understand resource with drawings and matching photos.

Once you have reviewed this vocabulary, print off the ‘Tree Bud Bingo‘ sheet (we like to laminate ours for repeated use), grab your Bingo marker and see how many different tree buds you can spot.

winter tree bud bingo

You can build on this activity by trying this longer-term tree bud observation.

First Day of Spring Sit Spot

The first day of spring is March 20th and it’s the perfect time to (re)establish the routine of visiting a sit spot.  A sit spot is simply a special place in nature where you are comfortable sitting quietly and observing the nature around you.  It should be a spot you can access easily and regularly and have these qualities.  Right in your own backyard is a good place to start.

Once you and your child have found your special sit spots, spend some time just sitting quietly and observing.  Start with at least 5 minutes and slowly increase the time each visit.  If your child is quite young, sit with her.  Ask questions like: What sounds do you hear?   Do you notice any smells?  What’s the weather like?  Is there any animal activity?  What does the ground feel like?  What do you notice about the plants around you?  With practice, your child will become familiar with making these observations for herself.

Make sure that the sit spot is easily identifiable so that your child can return to the same spot each time.  Try to visit the spot once a month.  This will provide your child the opportunity to observe the changes that occur in nature throughout the seasons.  Through this practice, your child will feel a personal connection to the nature all around, will develop a strong sense of place and will have a sense of wonder that will be carried throughout her life.

Follow on Facebook and at Instagram to see what we notice from our sit spots on the first day of spring.

Download this month’s nature prompts here and print and hang them up where you can easily see them.  We post ours on our home-school morning board and review the prompts regularly.

Have fun noticing nature!

Fondly,
Monique

Nature Word of the Month – March 2017

Nature Word of the Month - March 2017: MARCESCENT

Have you noticed that some trees seem to hold on to their leaves throughout the winter?  We often notice how the golden and coppery colors stand out among the surrounding bare trees or against the backdrop of green conifers.  It’s common especially for oaks, American Beech and Witch Hazels.

Now is the perfect time to take notice of which trees and shrubs still have dried leaves or flower corollas clinging on, before the new spring growth casts them off. And because there are a limited variety with this trait, these trees should be fairly easy to identify.

Next time you are out, take notice of the trees and have fun pointing out any marcescent ones you see.

Fondly,
Monique

Delightful Nature Crafts & Activities for Valentine’s Day

Delightful Nature Crafts & Activities for Valentine's Day

OBSERVE

Look for hearts in nature: You might be surprised where you may see naturally occurring heart shapes – a patch of lichen, a rock, a hollow in a tree.  Keep a lookout for them whenever you are out.  You never know where nature hearts will reveal themselves.

PLAN

Creating a Bird-Feeding Haven | Green Acorns

Show your nature love by creating a wild-life friendly habitat.  These are great projects for your own yard or a local school/community garden:

MAKE

Leave some nature love notes: Linda shares a simple Valentine activity that encourages children to get out and notice nature.  They will be connecting with the nature around them as they create lovely heart land art.

Bring it inside: Make some nature hearts to hang around the house.

Pine cone fairies:  Spread the love with these adorable fairies.  There are nice examples and tutorials here and here.

Cupid’s arrows: These arrows could also be made with leaves instead of feathers and bits of bark for the tips.  Get creative with whatever natural materials are on hand.

Do

DIY heart bird feeder

February is National Bird-Feeding month.  Show your fondness for your feathered friends by making some hanging bird treats and learning more about common backyard birds.  This is a wonderful resource.

The Great Backyard Bird Count begins February 17th.  Consider participating in this citizen science activity and help researchers “learn more about how birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment we share”.

I hope some of these nature Valentine’s ideas spark your interest and that you’ll enjoy trying some of them out.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fondly,
Monique

Nature Word of the Month: SUBNIVEAN

Last winter, after warmer temperatures had melted the top layer of snow, we noticed a network of tunnels throughout our yard.  We soon realized that they were created by either mice or moles.  It was a fun discovery!

A couple of months ago my husband started reading Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich to our children.  He got to a section that talked about the subnivean zone and the kids realized that the tunnels we had seen were evidence of subnivean life.   My husband was fascinated and suggested that I use it as one of my nature words of the month.  Well, this is the perfect month.  I hope you enjoy exploring the subnivean zone!

Nature Word of the Month: SUBNIVEAN | via Green Acorns

Learn More

  • Northern Woodlands has a great article about these shelters in the snow.
  • This article by the National Wildlife Federation is very helpful and has a nice graphic.

Resources to Inspire

Fondly,

Monique

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NOTICING NATURE : Nature prompts for January 2017

Noticing Nature - Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families: January 2017 via Green Acorns

It can be a challenge to get out and notice nature during the colder months.  Frigid temperatures may zap motivation to get outside.  A decrease in plant life and animal activity may make it seem like there’s not much exciting going on.  Even so, getting fresh air and a dose of “Vitamin N” is important for our health.  Once you accomplish the hardest part of getting out the door, engage your senses and practice your skills of observation for “Learning to value even the most commonplace activities – and finding the teachable moments in each of them – has the potential to make the ordinary quite extraordinary” (Daniel Siegal, MD: 10 Mindful Minutes)

I hope the following prompts provides some inspiration…

Winter Buds

In late summer deciduous trees produce buds that will open the following spring.  Winter is the perfect time to take a closer look at some.  You might be amazed at the variety.  With a little practice you will be able to identify a leafless tree in winter by just its buds.

See more of our winter tree study and a list of resources here.

Winter Tracks

Winter can be a fun time to notice animal tracks.  When there’s snow on the ground, you may notice tracks that you wouldn’t otherwise.  We would never know about the opossums visiting our yard if we hadn’t seen it’s curious tracks in the snow.

If you would like to identify who made the tracks, this article has some good tips.

Resources to Inspire

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Winter Birds

As a fun family activity, try making your own bird feeders.  Peanut butter pine cone feeders and bird seed cookies are good choices for young ones to make for feathered friends.  Another  wonderful option is decorating a tree outside with feeders and edible garland.  Check out Rebecca’s post about her family’s After-Christmas tree tradition for ideas.

If you do choose to feed local birds, make a commitment to feed them all winter.  Birds need the extra calories and nutrients during this time of year when finding food can be difficult and they may come to rely on the food source you offer.

Winter Dwellings

Did you know that there are animals living in the snow during the winter?  There are hidden habitats in what’s called the subnivean zone.  You may have walked right over some without realizing it.

Why not take a cue from these snow-dwelling animals and build  your own winter fort.  Perhaps an igloo or a quinzee.  If there’s no snow, maybe a lean-to covered with branches and dead leaves.  My kids like to create habitats in the snow for some of their toy animals too.  It’s a great winter activity that utilizes creativity and problem-solving skills.

Resources to Inspire

Download and print your copy of the January prompts here.   Pin it up where you can easily see it for when you and your children need a little extra nudge to get outside and notice nature.

Have a wonder-filled week!

Fondly,
Monique

NOTICING NATURE 2017: 52 weekly prompts to inspire deeper personal connections with nature

Noticing Nature 2017: 52 weeks of prompts to inspire deeper personal connections with nature

A very happy New Year to you!  I hope that you are entering 2017 with optimism for the possibilities that lay ahead.

While I don’t make New Year resolutions I do feel a renewed energy and a restored clarity after the holidays – a great time to move ahead more mindfully and with stronger intention.

One thing I’ve been wanting to do is share nature experiences with you in a more personal way.  With this in mind I have created a private Facebook group called Noticing Nature 2017.  Every week I will share one word to serve as a prompt for noticing nature as you go about your days.  My hope is that you and your children will find inspiration for deeper personal connections with nature throughout the year.   My hope is that it will be a supportive community for people on the shared  journey of seeking a greater appreciation for nature and our place in it.  I hope you will join me there.

Noticing Nature 2017

Fondly,
Monique