April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate with a study of nature poetry! Start by reading nature poems. Depending on the age and level of students, make a study of the mechanics of poetry and how to write different kinds of poetry. Check out the list of books tagged ‘environmental writers‘ in our book database to find additional resources.
Creating a Nature Journal
A nature journal is a place to record your thoughts, feelings, and observations about nature. It is a place to reflect and interpret your inner thoughts on the natural world and to develop a greater awareness of both the natural world and your own thoughts and feelings. Many nature journals contain drawings, pictures, and specimens (such as leaves, feathers, or other small objects).
You can help your students build observation skills. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies developed a guide “Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills” to get you started on using science notebooks (also called a field journal) and using “sit spots” to build your student’s observation skills! Look at Unit 1 of this guide – you can download the “Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills” guide here.
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.
Take students outside or even to a natural area. Have each student find a quiet place to sit, reflect, and observe. Students should record their feelings in a notebook or a nature journal created for nature observations (see below). While sitting quietly, students may write poems to reflect their feelings / observations OR record their feelings and observations to use to create a poem later. Allow students to draw observations as well. Many nature journals and poems are illustrated with the author’s artwork.
Activities to use during a nature poetry unit:
- Animal Poetry – recognize and experience the inspirational value of wildlife
- Wild Words – How do naturalists use words to record nature?
- Aqua Words – describe the reasons that water is important to all living things
- Acorn Naturalist: All Weather Student Journals
- Opening the World through Nature Journaling (includes instructions for drawing birds and flowers)
Cross-reference to these units for additional information:
- Project WILD – Iowa’s Wildlife Habitats, Wildlife Management
- Aquatic WILD – The World in a Pond