Are you feeling adjusted to the back-to-school routine yet? This is our second week and we have been slowly finding our way. We are settling in to a new routine and working out our homeschooling schedule. For us, nature time is a priority and like any other priority, it has become a part of our daily and weekly rhythms – from our walks after lunch or dinner to unstructured playtime outside to nature studies and nature journaling. Including it on our written schedule is a visual reminder that it is just as important as anything else we do to feed our bodies, minds, and spirits. After awhile it becomes a habit and a natural part of what we do, who we are. Even so, it still holds its place of honor on our schedule.
That’s partly why I write out monthly nature prompts. They can be printed out and serve as a reminder that taking time to intentionally notice nature is important. And sometimes we all need a spark of motivation – some fresh ideas to enliven a sense of curiosity, to incorporate more nature in your life and to find a greater appreciation of the natural world. I hope these will help you and your children do just that.
The prompts for this month were inspired by The Wander Society by Keri Smith (of Wreck This Journal fame). I have been enjoying revisiting this book since a member of Noticing Nature 2017 mentioned it a few weeks ago (that particular week’s prompt was “wander”). “Wandering is not about a specific place or destination, getting from one place to another, or movement as a means to an end. Instead, it’s about letting the soul and mind roam… It involves a complete immersion in the current situation, a willingness to be open to whatever comes up, whatever you find in front of you at the moment. It is to exist in a state of naivete in the truest sense of the word, making no assumptions about what it is you are looking at”. Sounds wonderful, right?. I also highly recommend that you check out her book How to be an Explorer of the World.
Now on to the prompts…
Choose a different color for either each week this month or for different outings you take and notice all the different things in nature of that color. Record what you observe to help you remember. I highly encourage you to take photos if possible. The photos can be added to your nature journal or used create a collage to display (a wonderful way to revisit the experience and share with others). It may also serve as inspiration for an art project (like mixing paint to match the different hues) or a creative writing session.
There are two ways you could do this one…
The first is to simply take notice of all the sounds you hear while you’re out for a walk. Be mindful about tuning into your sense of hearing. If you’d like to take the activity up a notch, bring a notepad and pencil to record them during your walk. Do your best to record where precisely you are when you notice each sound (standing under the oak tree that’s two houses down, the corner of Main and Elm, etc).
The second option is to choose one sound in nature to track (the wind, water, bird calls, etc.). Listen for it during several different outings. Notice the similarities and differences of each instance.
Choose one thing in nature (a tree, daily temperature, bird or bee activity, etc.) that you can observe or visit easily and regularly. Track the changes it goes through during the month. This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the use of charts (like this one for tracking weather), graphs and other recording tools.
Choose a route that you can walk several times throughout the month (your daily walk to the bus stop, a walk around your neighborhood, etc.). Begin each walk with the intention of noticing something different in nature from the time before. Be sure to walk the same exact route each time.
Before you go, download the prompts so you can print them and pin them up where they will remind you to get out and notice nature.
“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”
– Thomas Berry