NOTICING NATURE: Nature Prompts – October 2017

Noticing Nature: Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families - October 2017

“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.”
–  Nathaniel Hawthorne

This quote expresses how I feel about fall and this month in particular. It lays between the blur of September – full of transitions – and the delightful, although busy, holiday season. It is quieter, cozier, slower and full of colorful fall beauty. I hope the prompts for this month help you slow down and notice some of the splendor of the season.

Track the changing temperature

The temperature can shift quite drastically this month. From day to day and even hour to hour. Today in Maine the temperature reached near 70°F in the afternoon and is supposed to dip to the low 40s tonight. That’s a big change! Use our weather log to track the temperature and weather throughout the month and see what a difference a day can make.

Life of a log

Even after it’s life, trees continue to be a crucial element in the ecosystem. They help lessen erosion and provide shelter, food and nutrients. Examine a fallen log and you’ll see that it’s full of life. Search for signs of animal activity and fungal growth. What did you observe? Why do you think they were in, under or around the log? What role do these things play in the cycle of life?

*Note: While observing fallen logs, please be very gentle and careful. This is a living habitat.

These are some of our favorite books to accompany the exploration of fallen logs…

Go on a bark scavenger hunt

The outer bark serves the same function for all trees but there is a lot of diversity in how it looks.  So many different patterns and textures and colors to notice!  Your young naturalist will gain a greater appreciation for trees with this scavenger hunt.

bark scavenger hunt

You can take this activity further by adding some sensory elements.

  • Ask your child to feel the difference of the barks.  Do they feel rough or smooth?  Are they thick or thin?  Take some bark rubbings too.  They will aid in remembering the experience and serve as prompts for reflection and further discussion.
  • Try smelling the bark. Go ahead, don’t be shy. The bark of some trees have very distinct odors. Sandalwood, red cedar, yellow birch and ponderosa pines are some.

Notice the night sky

This month is the perfect time to get outside after dark and observe the night sky. It’s getting dark before bedtime, still warm enough to not have to bundle up too much, and the skies tend to be clear.

While time spent together simply gazing at the night sky is a wonderful thing, you can make it engaging and educational by doing a little prep work. I like this short video for generating some ideas: Stargazing with Kids.noticing the night sky

Here are some other resources you may want to have at the ready…

Happy October. Have fun exploring and noticing nature!


NOTICING NATURE: Nature Prompts – November 2016

Noticing Nature Nature Prompts for Children and Their Families - November 2016

Some people say that this time of year can be bleak.  The temperature is dropping.  Many birds have migrated.  Flowers have gone by.  Trees are bare.  The landscape is turning brown.  There doesn’t seem to be anything exciting happening.

Let this month’s nature prompts motivate you to get outside and notice what nature does have to offer.  There is still much beauty to be found if you shift your perspective a little.

Noticing Nature Nature Prompts - November 2016

Seeds Uncovered

Bare stalks and branches mean that you are now more able to observe what was once hidden from view.  Take this opportunity to notice the variety of seeds and seed pods in the landscape around you.  You may be surprised at what you notice and once you start, you might not be able to stop.

Investigating Further

Visit an earlier post to learn about seed dispersal.  It includes a printable for an activity and plenty of resources.


Noticing the Night Sky

It’s getting darker earlier and earlier which means it’s a good time to get out at night with the kids before bedtime.  The sky also appears clearer as the temperatures drop, making the stars seems more brilliant.  Why not bundle up and take advantage of it?

Learn to identify a few constellations.  Go on a full moon walk (the next full moon is on the 14th).  Use an app to find out which stars are really planets (we use Star Chart).

This is also the perfect time to learn more about the moon start a moon journal.  I created one for my kids some time ago that we use over and over.  If you’d like to use it, you can download the cover and observation pages (print as many of these as you think you might need).  Please note the printing directions below:

  • Cover – Print the two sheets back to back on the same sheet
  • Observation pages – Printing is easiest when downloaded and printed from Adobe Reader.  Choose “multiple” with 2 pages per sheet.  Print in portrait on both front and back sides of your paper.


Before all the leaves have dropped from the trees, take the opportunity to observe their symmetry.  Use this printable to practice bilateral symmetry and then collect some leaf samples from different types of trees to explore further.  Are they all symmetrical?  If not, what makes the two halves different?  Sort the leaves in to symmetrical and non-symmetrical groups to compare and contrast.


Weather Tracking

The weather can change quite drastically this time of year and there is often a significant difference in temperature from the beginning of the month to the end of it.  Print off this weather log to record the daily weather and temperature throughout the month.  Review the log at the end of the month.  What do you notice?  Are there any patterns?  Did one type of weather occur more frequently than the others?  How much did the temperature change?  What predictions might you make about next month’s weather?

You can get the printable version of the November prompts here.

Pop over to the Green Acorns Facebook page and share your experiences with them throughout the month.  I’ll be sharing ours there too.  If you’d like to follow our other nature experiences, I post regularly on Instagram – like about the Ruffed Grouse that was in our yard or this epic find.

Have fun noticing November nature!


Four Fun Explorations For Fall!

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsMy kids and I usually do some activities together to observe the autumnal equinox but this year I wanted to plan out activities to do throughout the season to fully celebrate fall.  Here is a sampling of some of our investigations…Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsMUSHROOMS

Mushrooms can be found year round but are most plentiful in the fall, making it a perfect time to do an investigation.  We are just starting our mushroom explorations.  These are some of the resources that I’ve rounded up:

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsPHASES OF THE MOON

This is something that we visit over and over because as the kids notice more they want to learn more.  I think it’s a fascination that can last a lifetime.  Don’t you?  And with it getting darker earlier, fall is the perfect time to get outside before bed for some moon spotting.

  • We shared some activities and resources for learning all about the moon in this previous post and talked about moon spotting in this post at Playful Learning.
  • You can download our moon journal with an updated cover. The inside of the cover includes the monthly full moon names and phases of the moon vocabulary.  You can print as many observation pages as you need.  Please note the printing directions below:
    • Coverprint the two sheets back to back on the same sheet
    • Observation pages – choose “multiple” with 2 pages per sheet.  Print on both front and back sides of your paper
  • We like this phases of the moon flipbook and game idea.

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsSQUIRRELS

Whether you live in a rural area or an urban one, squirrels are a common critter and easy to observe and are especially active this time of year as they prepare for the winter ahead.  All the resources you need to learn more about squirrels can be found in our previous post:

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsBIRD MIGRATION

You may know by now that my children LOVE birds (they have started a bird-feeding sanctuary in our yard), especially my son who has become quite the knowledgeable young birder, so learning about bird migration is a must.

What are your favorite ways to commemorate the autumnal equinox and celebrate fall?  We would love to hear about it and please do share your favorite resources!

Happy fall!  Have a wonder-filled day…


Nature by the Numbers – September 2015

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015 | Green AcornsHow are we so far in to September already?!  No worries.  There’s still plenty of time left to fit in our nature journal prompts for the month.

Nature journaling has so many benefits: improving observation skills, increasing awareness of the surroundings, and developing a sense of connection and appreciation for nature.  It also helps heighten one’s awareness of the rhythms of nature and the interconnections of life.

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015As we approach the next equinox, use our nature journal prompts to encourage your child to take notice of the changes occurring and what they may mean.  What changes are taking place in trees and other plant life?  Leaves may be changing colors or just unfurling.  Some plants may be dying off while others are emerging.  Are the colors of the landscape shifting?  What does this mean for the animals that rely on those plants?  Perhaps it means the need to rely more on camouflage to avoid predators.  With some practice, it’s amazing what details can be noticed and what connections can be made!

Click the image below to download a copy that can either be pasted into your child’s journal or pinned up to refer to throughout the month.

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015Once your child has recorded all of her observations, review them with her.  Ask “I wonder” questions.  With some encouragement and practice she will begin seeing the connections.

Bonus: Don’t forget to include the word of the month as an extra journal prompt!

Have a wonder-filled weekend!