Outdoor Hour Challenge #3: Now is the Time to Draw

“Outdoor journaling is something a family can do together, and it offers reason and focus for being in nature. Linda Chorice, assignment manager at the Missouri Conservation Department’s Springfield Nature Center, points out that journaling demands no special equipment, only a pad of paper or a spiral notebook, several pencils, and a pencil sharpener. ‘While your journal may never be published as a historical document, it will serve as a personal record of your outdoor experiences, allowing you to accurately relive your memories each time you open its cover,’ she says.

All of these activities can teach children patience and respect for the other creatures on the planet, even if the lessons take a little time to accrue.”

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv


Outdoor Hour Challenge #3 Now is the Time to Draw
1. Read pages 16-17 of the Handbook of Nature Study. (These pages cover the sections “The Correlation of Nature Study With Language Work” and The Correlation of Nature Study and Drawing”.) Highlight or underline those parts that will help you understand better the connection between nature study, language arts, and drawing.

2. This week take your 10-15 minute nature walk.
If you have tired of your own backyard, venture down your street, around your block, or to a near-by park. Remember Anna Comstock’s words, “Nature study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand.” (page 5) Don’t worry about taking any equipment with you this time. Continue working on being quiet and observing things with your senses. While on your walk, be alert to new subjects for your further research.

3. Follow up with discussion and the opportunity for a nature journal entry.

“Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so.”

“From making crude and often meaningless pencil strokes, which is the entertainment of the young child, to the outlining of a leaf or some other simple and interesting natural object, is a normal step full of interest for the child because it is still self-expression.” (both quotes from page 17 of the Handbook of Nature Study)

These quotes are important to remember when we are discussing journals. The purpose of a nature journal is to record a memory of the experience and have a place to keep track of thoughts or observations. It can be as simple as a single drawing with a date and a label to start off with.

Discuss your nature time with your child and again try to draw out some words from your child’s experiences. Keep in mind what you read about the connections between nature study, words, writing, and drawing. Your child might need help deciding on a subject to record in their nature journal. You should explain that you would like them to start making a book of with their experiences from their nature study. If they make a page for the book each time they have nature time, they will have a whole book filled with their own words and drawings to look at by the end of the year. If they are reluctant, write down their descriptive words on a sheet of paper and leave a blank space where they can come back later and draw if they feel like it.

Here are some easy ideas for nature journal pages other than drawing:
1. Make leaf rubbings.
2. Tape small flat things into the nature journal. (leaves, flower petals, seeds)
3. Print out a photo that you took while on your nature walk and let the child write the caption.
4. Press flowers or grasses between pages of a book and later add it to the journal. (We will learn more on that in a future challenge this spring.)
5. Outline an object with a pencil and then color it in.

Nature journaling is meant to be a follow-up activity and not a replacement for your time spent outdoors. Please feel successful in this challenge whether you end up with a nature journal page or not. If they don’t draw this week, maybe they will want to make a page next week.


Optional assignment for parents:

Take a look at your attitude towards outdoor time. Has it changed since starting these challenges? Are you committed to keeping up your Outdoor Hour time because you see the benefits stacking up in your family? Have you started keeping your own nature journal or photo album of your experiences outdoors with your children?


I have truly enjoyed hosting these challenges and reading your experiences. Some of your entries have made me smile, or do a happy dance, or even shed a few tears. This is so much bigger than nature study.

I would like to share a quote with you from Laura’s daughter. (The World is Our Classroom) When she was asked to give three words about what she felt on her nature walk, she said, “My daddy’s hand.” Or how about one last quote from Judah (Judahmo) with his three words, “I had fun.” That about sums it up.

This challenge is found in the Getting Started ebook which is included in every level of membership. The ebook provides the challenge as shown above as well as custom notebook pages for your follow up nature journal if desired.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

Jerusalem Cricket: Our Outdoor Hour #2

This morning we had our official Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 time outside in the sunshine…we had a whole weekend of rain and wind making the sunshine all the more inviting.

My son found a “huge, ugly, insect” on the pavement and he wanted me to come and share in the ugliness. I am not a bug person. I am an outdoor nature-loving person, but definitely not a bug person. I am learning to not be so disgusted by insects and usually make friends with whatever we find after learning about it. If you are squeamish, close your eyes to the photos below.

J Cricket 2
Top View
J Cricket 1
Bottom View

Here are his words for the assignment:

  • Chirping
  • Fascinating Alien (bug)
  • Shiver cold wind


We came in and used our Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders to identify the insect.

It looked like a grasshopper to my son so we turned to the section for grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas. What do you know? It was the *first* insect in the section. Bingo! Then we turned to the page that gave the description of the Jerusalem cricket and we found that we are within the range and habitat for this insect. After reading the size and brief description, our identification was verified. This one was easy. Insects are not always that simple to put a name to. I must admit that my older son said that it looked like a potato bug. Guess what? He was right too, Jerusalem crickets are also known as potato bugs.

Here is his journal entry.
J Cricket Sketch

To make up for the really yucky bug photo, here is one of violets we saw growing in our lawn.
Violets

So I think we were successful this week in our assignment. I did all my reading and enjoyed it very much as expected. We actually had quite a bit of outdoor time this past week cutting a tree down in our backyard. We also identified two new birds this past week.

http://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2010/08/ohc-summer-series-10-crickets.html

 

Evening Grosbeak in My Feeder and How We Identify a Bird

Very little compares to identifying a new bird in your feeder. This one was so unusual that we just couldn’t stop looking at it.

The photo does not do it justice. It is bright yellow, with distinct markings of black and white. It was fairly good size so we got a pretty good look at it.

Although the photo didn’t turn out well, the memory will be forever with us.

We identified this bird as an Evening Grosbeak.

Yesterday we saw a bunch of blue birds that we had never seen before. We were out driving in the car when we saw nesting boxes all along a fence. We saw flashes of blue and realized that they were birds fighting, not only in the air but on the ground. The birds were very aggressive. When we got home we pulled out our field guide and identified the birds as Western bluebirds.

I shared the following information with a friend about how I identify a bird by explaining how I identified the Evening grosbeak. I personally like using the Audubon Society’s Field Guide to Birds.

Steps I Use To Identify a Bird
1. When I am trying to identify a bird, I rely heavily on color. The bird we saw in our feeder was a bright yellow so that narrowed it down as far as identifying it. The Audubon guide that I suggested for birds is organized by type of bird (clinging, perching, duck-like, etc) and then by predominant color. This makes it fast to skim through a lot of birds visually.
2. After I look at color and general type, I look at size. (sparrow-size, robin-sized, goose-size, etc) The Aububon guide does group from smallest to largest.
3. After color, type, and size, I look at beaks. This is really easy in the Aububon guide because on the photo pages there are three bird photos on a page so there are less pages to look through.
4. If I hit on the right bird by doing that method, I usually do a Google image search on the internet to confirm my findings. If I missed and didn’t get the right bird but I am in the right ball park, I go to whatbird.com and do a search there.

That pretty much sums it up. I know that others have different methods for identifying birds with a field guide but this works for our family.

It was a big bird weekend around here. I love it.

http://handbookofnaturestudy.com/2009/04/outdoor-hour-challenge-birds.html