Hello! I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Were you able to get outside? My family and I wandered through some trails to a pond that adjoins our neighborhood and we were out for nearly three hours. And my kids didn’t want to go home. It was a great way to start the day and set the tone for the week ahead.
We try to get outside every day, even if it’s only for a short walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to explore a little more. Our outing started with one of us saying, “We haven’t been to the pond in a while. I wonder what it’s like there right now”. Even an everyday neighborhood walk can be a bit more intriguing with some prompts to consider. I hope these will get you on your way…
Signs of the Season
We are approaching spring and we have been noticing some early signs (Did you catch our nature words of the month? This is a great opportunity to use one of them if it’s the spring equinox that’s approaching.) It’s a tiny bit lighter out when we wake up (yay!) and we have noticed the male goldfinches just beginning to get their brighter mating plumage. What have you been noticing? Different sounds, smells? Don’t forget to engage all of your senses when observing seasonal changes.
Patterns in nature is defined as “visible regularities of form found in the natural world” and can include symmetries, spirals, meanders, waves, tessellations, cracks and stripes. They can be found everywhere, high or low, big or small. Keep your eye out for some that interest you and peak your curiosity.
“This makes me think of…” is a great phrase to keep in mind when making observations in nature. My daughter peered inside a dead tree riddled with woodpecker holes and said that inside one of them reminded her of a rustic cabin we stayed in recently. Hmm. Could some animal have used this has a home? What kind of animal might shelter in there? The connection led to these and other wonderful questions. Maybe a connection will be made to some prior knowledge. Maybe some similarities will be made to another object. Even if it seems a little silly, state what it reminds you of. You never know where it might lead.
This month’s nature prompts can certainly be used as a one time activity but would be best revisited throughout the month. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to come easily at first. Curiosity and observation are skills that can be developed through practice. Keep getting outside and keep making and effort to notice. And remember, you are a powerful role model for your children!
“I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.”
—Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier
This month’s prompts are all about the trees. Download and print them to get started today.
Notice what’s going on in a tree as wind blows through it, whether it’s a gale or a gentle breeze. What do you hear? How does the canopy behave differently from the trunk?
Notice the signs of animal use. Has an animal used the tree for shelter? Food? Who do you think was there? Why that tree?
Notice the unique characteristics of some trees. Does it remind you of anything? Do you see any shapes? You may even see a face or eyes staring back at you!
Enjoy taking a closer look at individual trees and have a wonder-filled week!
P.S. Don’t forget to keep in mind the nature word of the month while you are looking at trees.
My children love being outdoors and even on days when they feel like they would rather stay inside, all it takes is a gentle nudge out the door and then I usually have a hard time getting them to come back in.
They also have enjoyed nature journaling since they were wee ones. After I had spent time marveling with them over something that had caught their attention, I made the simple suggestions that we might draw it so that we can always remember it. That was all it took. After that they wanted to bring their journals whenever we went on a nature outing or visited the botanical gardens. Although they still enjoy it, it does not happen as often as it use to and some months only with some gentle suggesting on my part.
I never want nature journaling to feel like a chore to them. It should be something that they are motivated to do on their own and for their own reasons. But we all need some encouragement from time to time. Even for things that bring us joy or help us relax or that fill us up in the best ways. Right?
That what our monthly nature journal prompts are meant to be – gentle suggestions to get us out the door and noticing the nature that surrounds us everyday. No pressure. No right or wrong. No deadlines. And for this month, no numbers. December can be a hectic month and making the time to appreciate nature’s gifts, large or small, can be refreshing in so many ways. I hope these suggestions will help…
I wish you all a holiday season full of love and laughter and a child-like sense of wonder!
Monique & family
This past weekend, my three children and I attended a family nature journaling/writing workshop led by Andrea of the lovely blog, Remains of the Day. We got reacquainted with blind contour drawing, which we haven’t done in a while. Here’s a sampling of ours from that day:
We also learned some new drawing exercises and about creating a sensory map. We were prompted to be mindful of our surroundings and awaken our senses as we moved to a different location. As we walked, we created a map on which we recorded the relative location of what we saw, heard, smelled, etc. It was a challenge and we all had to remind ourselves that it wasn’t about drawing just what we were seeing but to be aware of what our other senses were noticing. My youngest daughter and I made a map together and recorded observations like the call of a nearby bird, the direction of a cool breeze, and the sound of leaves crunching as we walked on them.
If you are new to this activity, I would suggest trying it from a stationary location like your sit spot, especially for young children. Like on a sound map, place an “X” on your sensory map to mark your location.
We have also been participating in Dawn’s “Fall Outside” and one of the recent daily activities was a color hunt. In the northeast the landscape has become quite brown and it seems like there is not much color to be found. But it’s amazing what color variety can be found when you are tuned in to it. Maybe you’ll notice a vibrant yellow fungus or a bright red berry or the blue of the sky reflecting off a leaf.
To help remind us that there is an abundance of color in nature we added some color swatches to a page in our nature journals and when we are outside, we’ll keep a look-out for those colors. The object we found and where we saw it will be recorded next to the coordinating color swatch. This is also a great activity to do with various shades of one color. Challenge yourself to notice and record the many versions of a color.
I hope you and your child will enjoy the prompts offered this month as much as my children and I are enjoying them.
If you’d like a copy to paste in your child’s journal, click the image below to download a printable version.
Have a wonder-filled week!
How 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.
As 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.
Once 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!
An acquaintance recently introduced me to the word ‘crepuscular’, using it in reference to her cat. I found the word fascinating and it made me want to research other unusual words that related to nature. I developed a list and decided to introduce one a month to my children. It could be fun to incorporate them into our nature journaling (as well as other home-education activities).
Would you like to learn along with us? Here’s our first word…
Even though I plan to start in August, we just happen to have Lizi Boyd’s book, Flashlight, checked out from the library. We loved her book Inside Outside (and were inspired to create this activity) so we were anxious to read this one. While flipping through Flashlight, we pointed out which animals we thought were crepuscular and discussed the possible reasons why.
Another good book to read with your children is Daylight Starlight Wildlife.
We’re looking forward to the fun we’ll have exploring crepuscular animals both near and far. My kids are already having fun just saying the word! We hope you have fun with it too and would love for you to share how you and your children explore crepuscular animals.
Happy April 1st! Here in Maine we are just starting to come out of a long and cold winter. We are all anxious for clear signs of spring’s arrival and so ready for some green. With the winter-like weather lingering, some of the early signs of the seasonal change are easy to miss. That is, unless one is curious and takes the time to notice. Unless one is connected to nature.
Wherever you live and whatever season you are in, I hope this month’s nature journal prompts will bring your child a little closer to the nature around her and inspire her to explore deeper. Click on the image below to download and print a copy to paste in your child’s journal: