Monday, March 18, 2013
Nature Walks with Purpose
Are you on Instagram? Who isn't right? One of my absolute favorite "IGers" is Kristin Rogers (@kristinrogers). She is such an inspiration. She is a homeschooling mom and often posts pics of their nature group's outings and their nature journals. We live in a home that has a VERY tiny backyard and even then it's just dirt and weeds. Kristin has really inspired me to go seeking nature, not just taking Makenzie to the park to get her outside but to find places that allow for exploration. What's so cool, is that since we've started doing this, even walks around our neighborhood have picked up so much more meaning. Makenzie stops and collects all sorts of things and pays attention to things she used to just walk right on by.
Our first outing was to the UCR Botanical Gardens. We've been here several times before but always with an agenda. This time I just let her loose and followed her wherever she wanted to go.
Along the way I pointed things out to her, like vibrant flowers and unusual plants. After awhile she got excited about things on her own and would call me over to take look. She would collect some things and others she used my phone to take pics of the things she wanted to remember. We saw a lot of animals like turtles, fish, lots of lizards, a squirrel and a rather large spider. I loved watching her little self explore and the questions that came with the exploration. She wanted to know what each animal eats and where they sleep. Why the leaves fall to the ground on their own, etc. These are things she would never have thought to ask had we not been out exploring.
Then it was time to fill out her nature journal. Ideally I think this would take place at the area your exploring but it was past nap time and I knew we wouldn't get very far without a full blown meltdown, she is only three, so we headed home, she napped and then we looked at all of the things she collected and the pictures she took. This is another example of not underestimating what your child is capable of, I had very low expectations for what she would put in the journal but she surprised me. I set out the watercolors and colored pencils and told her that she was going to paint or draw what she saw today. We went through the things she collected and the pictures she took and she drew or painted some kind of representation of each.
Here's the pink tree she saw and how she painted it.
Here's a picture of the turtles and fish and how she portrayed them...
Our main focus was the conversation about what she saw and using the correct colors to portray what she saw. She LOVED doing this. On the left you'll see a big orange oval. There was one really large fish and she said that one fish was SO big that it needed it's own page. :) As she finished each page, I wrote down what she dictated to me and labeled each animal for her so that she can go back to it and "read" it or have us read it to her. Drawing or painting the items also led us to talk about how fish breathe underwater, and that spiders have 8 legs.
This is such a simple and fun thing to do. All you need is a place to go explore, the beach, gardens, even a park with a variety of greenery. A watercolor tablet, watercolors, and colored pencils. Some additional fun things to add are binoculars, a magnifying glass, camera/camera phone and a tote bag to collect fun things. Remember to respect the wildlife you're around. Since we were at the gardens we made a point to only collect things that had already fallen off the tree or plant, you don't want to harm the nature around you. I already have a list of local places to take her to, to explore. I can't wait to try them all out!