Nature Walks and Journaling

While I am a strong believer of free play, both my son and I are needing some structured activities during the day. I have this fabulous book I just found in all my teaching materials collecting dust in the garage: 365 Days of Creative Play: for children 2 yrs. and up. It is full of simple things to do each day. Most are pretty straight forward and some are easily modified for your own family's needs or the materials you happen to have on hand. 
While I've always planned on creating a nature journal with my little guy it was the extra boost I needed to get going. The prompt was simple - collect things outside and glue them to a piece of cardboard. The teacher in me took it a little further. Journaling and scientific observation require a few mandatory steps:
  1. Date, time, location
  2. Drawings, glued in specimens, photos or written observations
  3. Labels

We collected our specimens on our 10 am amble down the Chester Creek Trail near our home. I initiated collecting the first few items and modeled putting them in our collection container (aka bucket). Soon the bucket was full. We stopped to watch a Stellar Blue Jay swoop through the under brush of the forest. A squirrel chattering high in a tree had us scanning the canopy until we spotted it. Many stops along the creek were made, but no fish were spotted. Some trees were rushing ahead of the rest to change color.

When arriving back home we took a break for a well earned snack and then went to work making our first entry into our ecology journal. We looked at the calendar to find the date and the clock for the time. I wrote that in. The little bear glued in his specimens and we labeled them. I wrote down a bunch of labels and he got the hang of it and started scribbling his labels next to his specimens. While labeling things we took a closer look at many of the leaves, the patterns of the veins and the holes where some sort of creature must have had a good lunch. We hypothesized about what type of animal might make such wholes and concluded it must have been a caterpillar like in Eric Carl's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I think we may begin trying to collect a few specimens from each Taiga Trek. It would be interesting to see the variety that comes from different locations and various seasons.


  1. We used thick pieces of water color paper. Card stock would work to. I chose a more rigid paper so it doesn't bend and bow when holding it up under the weight of the specimens.
  2. Elmer's Glue
  3. Nature specimens collected from our walk
  4. Pencil to label the specimens and record other pertinent info.
  5. Since each page is rather bulky with many 3-d objects glue to them we are using a box or an old rubbermaid tote to chronologically organize our entries. This way we aren't squishing everything every time the book is closed.

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