One thing the majority of homeschool philosophies agree on is that children benefit when they spend the maximum amount of time outdoors. As your child grows and begins to take in more of the world surrounding them, a nature journal can be a rewarding way to teach them to notice, record, and remember the lessons they learn from the natural world.
In our Leaves Unit, we’re introducing a simple nature journaling idea that can get your child started in this fun practice.
What you need:
- sketch book (we recommend a notebook without lines, especially for non-readers who will be mostly drawing)
- colored pencils or drawing materials
- leaves, seeds, and other natural materials you collect on a nature walk or scavenger hunt
- tape, glue, or Mod Podge (optional)
What to do:
Before beginning to journal, take a walk outside! Many nature journaling homeschool families recommend having a certain path or park that you tour consistently so you can teach your child to look for the changing seasons or to understand the seasonality of their favorite finds (your own backyard could work for this!), but do what works best for your family and location. On your walk or hike, encourage your child to stop frequently and closely examine the trees, bushes, flowers, and even dirt in the area you’re exploring. Depending on the day, you might collect seeds, flowers, or rocks, but for this project, collect 4-6 different types of leaves. You might even take a photo of the full plant the leaves came from to look back on later or to add to your journal.
- Once you’re home, set up your child with their leaves, sketch book, and drawing materials. Explain that you are going to make a recording of what you found and look at the details of the leaves.
- Start by identifying your leaves. This blogger has created a beautiful guide of some of the most common types of leaves in the United States, or you can check out this version for a more in-depth look if you don’t see your type of leaf in the first guide. (+) As an optional upgrade, you could help your child create a chart on one page of their journal where you track the identities of the leaves you found.
- Next, introduce leaf rubbings to your child so they can document their findings. This post has great tips to get a successful rubbing. (Note: If your sketch pad’s pages are too thick, follow that blogger’s lead and make the rubbings on standard printer paper that you then paste into the journal.)
- Next, point out and label the different parts of each leaf. This post has a simple picture guide to help you identify the parts of a leaf. (Note: you will need to write in the parts for your child, but make sure they understand what you are writing.)
- (+) Ready for an upgrade? Encourage children looking for more of a challenge to try this leaf symmetry idea.
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