Find a special place outdoors where you and your students can observe nature throughout the school year. Your county conservation board naturalist is a great resource to help you find the perfect spot and that spot doesn’t need to be far from school. Visit this same place each season and observe the changes.
Let each student identify their own special spot within your selected area. To help students select their personal space, play one or both of the following games:
- Eagle-Eye Game – Close your eyes and pretend to be an eagle soaring over the area. The eagle needs a place to land that is its own special place – find a place to land.
- Cat-Walking Game – Walk as if you are a cat. Slip along quietly in the shadows on the edge of cover. Walk a few steps and then stand still to sense danger. Turn your eyes and whiskers left, right, behind, and up. Use your “body radar” to feel which way to go next. Walk a few more steps, the again stop, look, listen, and adjust your course. Keep walking with cat-like awareness until the perfect spot attracts you – settle in.
- Write down what you see, hear, smell, or feel.
- Draw what you see, record how many you see, was their more than one animal?
- Can you tell the story of what happened when they walked by?
- Write down what sounds you hear, where do you think they are coming from?
Notable scientists, naturalists, and philosophers such as Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and John Muir were all known for keeping journals of their observations, poems, and discoveries. Many of their famous literary works and groundbreaking observations were published from their journals.
Looking for activities to jump-start nature journaling?
- Project WILD’s Surprise Terrarium (K-2) would be a great activity for nature journaling. Make the outdoors your terrarium!
- Project WILD’s Wild Words (3-5, 6-9, 9-12) helps students create journals.
- Aquatic WILD’s Aqua Words (K-2, 3-5) is an activity where students brainstorm water words.
Also check out Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies!