Nature Notebook for Kids

Nature Notebook for Kids.3

Written by Jenn, Contributing Writer

As the summer heat dies down and hints of fall are in the air, exploring the outdoors with the littles again becomes one of my favorite activities. The room to run and endless supply of objects to investigate always makes for a enjoyable outing.

In a beloved book on education, the author remarks that as we explore the natural world, “we are observing God’s handiwork. And it is spine-chillingly wonderful.”

This is the perspective I want to cultivate in my children, even if at one and three they simply enjoy digging in the dirt, picking flowers, and shouting about seeing the moon. “IT’S THE MOON, MOMMY! THE MOON! LOOK–IT’S SO BIG!”

Studying in greater depth will come later; for now I will do as 19th century British educator Charlotte Mason would suggest and just “involve them directly with the world, letting them enjoy, wonder, and question.”

With all of this in mind, we take our fair share of nature walks. Recently, I got all Charlotte Mason and decided we needed to preserve the bounty collected on these trips.

Making a real nature notebook might be a bit beyond my 3 ½ year old. But as I enjoy this sort of thing as much or more than her, I’m willing to endure a little glue mess and broken pressed flowers in the name of identifying and appreciating the flora in our little neck of the woods.

Frankly, I could probably do to say “yes” to a little more mess in our lives anyway. Which is why I encouraged the use of glitter in decorating our nature journal.

Making a Nature Notebook

Supplies:

Notebook with unlined pages
Paper towels
Heavy books
Basic Elmer’s glue or wood glue
Colored pencils/pens/crayons
Bits of nature

How To

1.) Go on a nature walk. Take it slow. Keep your eyes wide open.

City-dweller with not much nature to speak of? Find a pretty park or take a short drive to find a little more green space. You don’t need expansive forests and fields of flowers to make it an enjoyable experience of creation.

I had to force myself to slow down and let my daughter pick dandelion after dandelion. “LOOK MOMMY! ANOTHER YELLOW FLOWER! SO PRETTY!” What can I say? She has a zest for life.

flowerjrd1

2.) Point out all the plants and creatures.

Overlook the construction, stoplights, cars, and houses.  Look for what man didn’t create.

Trees, rocks, flowers, grasses, bugs, and small critters abounded. We threw rocks in the stream and ran squealing from hoards of grasshoppers in the tall prairie grasses.

3.) Let the littles pick their favorite flowers and leaves.

Ask them questions about what they see and help them find adjectives to describe their treasures.

Yes, that one has red berries. Yes, so pretty. No, don’t eat them. Or give them to your brother. I know he wants them, but he’ll just eat them/put them up his nose. Actually, it’s probably best that you don’t touch them. Here, give it to Mommy.

3.) Bring the bounty home to press.

Put the flowers and leaves between paper towels and carefully place them between the pages of a large book. Stack more books, canned goods, hand weights, etc. on top.


Nature Notebook.5

4.) Wait a few days for everything to flatten and dry.

I’ve read that it can take up to a few weeks for flowers to completely dry (and that you should change out the paper towels every few days), but our flowers were small and starting to dry out in the late summer heat anyway. It only took a couple days for them to flatten and dry.

5.) In the meantime, decorate a notebook.

I covered the front of ours so that my little big girl would have blank slate to decorate.

Nature Notebook.2

This is where I used glitter as a tool to combat my fear of mess. It was only somewhat effective.

Nature Notebook.4

6.) Glue the flowers and leaves into the notebook.

I advise using small drops of glue so you can do more pages at a time. We followed the “more is always better” philosophy on page one and had to wait a good hour to continue. The final results weren’t quite as lovely as these, but they served our purposes just fine.

Nature Notebook for Kids.7

7.) Identify and label each flower/leaf.

We picked up this helpful book from the library to guide us. But, being committed to accurate flower identification, I may also have consulted to internet to confirm my guesses.

8.) For further study:

Older kids or even eager young ones could write (or dictate) descriptions of their findings or a short poem about what they saw on their walk. I love Kristen’s free printable nature journal pages and accompanying poetry lesson idea.

What are your favorite outdoor activities now that summer is fading?

*this post is linked to: Encourage One AnotherTitus 2sdays, and WFMW*

About Jenn

Jenn is the mommy of two children and two obese cats and wife to the Hubs. She loves finding beauty and grace in the midst of daily life, gets excited about natural remedies, and thinks her home isn't complete without guests. Moving 11 times in 8 years has prompted her to embrace and find joy wherever she lays her head.
Jenn blogs at A Simple Haven.

Comments

  1. Love these tips, Jenn! I’ve been guilty of making nature study too complicated with my children, but this year I’m learning to relax more so that they can enjoy it more. It’s become our favorite day of the homeschool week!

  2. This looks like a really fun idea.

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