Today my sons and I spent the day in Cromwell Valley watching birds. We found a Robin nest. We watched as mother bird swooped in and out of the nest with treats for her babies. If you were quit enough you could hear the little tweets from the chicks. We also say Golden Finches, Mocking birds and various other birds swooping in and out of the trees near the meadow. Two large Turkey Vultures circled over head then disappeared over the hill. We found half a dozen nest tucked up in the trees.
While on the trip the boys created a small pocket nature journal with notes about what we saw. We also took pictures of the nest, the birds and the bird watchers. We did not do this all alone we were with a knowledgeable naturalist and anther homeschooling family. After the others left we found a quit space to connect with nature by seating quietly in the grass under some old willow trees. I am a firm believer in allowing time for my children to connect with nature. When you allow time for your children to bond with nature They develop a concrete understanding of what is going on in the part of nature they are studying, for example, the impact of global warming on animals which live in a specific ecosystem.
Many Nature centers in the area offer workshops on the weekends. Today’s special was What’s that Tweet? A few weeks ago it was a geological study called Cromwell rocks. As homeschoolers it is important for us to go into the community and join them when they offer these workshops. It allows time for “socialization” with people of all ages and backgrounds interested in the same subject we are. Most Centers also offer field trips to groups of homeschooling families on topics you choose.
The education did not end when we left the park. The kids and I used our notes pictures and observations to create an online blog/ nature journal. “Wait a minute you mean you use technology when talking about nature? Isn’t that contradictory?” No not at all we humans are part of nature and so is our technology we just need to use it in a responsible manner so we do not hurt the other creatures we share this planet with.
A nature journal allows kids to make observations and make connections about the natural world in which they live. By developing their own nature journals as blogs on line. Kids learn how to create and develop their own nature journal using technology and non-technology resources as they follow inquiry-based learning. Kids also build upon their experience, remember a certain order of recorded events, and link data with events to develop relationships. Kids look closely at nature and then look again as they recall patterns and motions, along with considering the weather, sky, sounds, and temperature as they reflect upon nature’s disposition.
Writing in a Nature Journal
Nature journals assist Kids with learning how to write about science as they follow this formula. Begin writing and often. Do not be too critical or edit writing at the beginning to let the writing flow naturally. Encourage kids to write as if writing a letter to themselves, a close friend, or family member by creating a narrative account. Complete sentences are optional; the important point is to record pictures, observations, and data. Parents remember even though this is great writing practice this is not English class. Draw pictures or incorporate photographs. Don’t hesitate to experiment and incorporate many forms of media.
Nature Journals and Technology
Why should you consider using technology when studying nature ?
Developing a nature journal using a free blog or wiki allows kids, parents, co-op leaders and other teachers to view and make comments. Using these free sites to engage kids by integrating technology provides them with their own online journal page in the to update and maintain. Five good reasons to go for the blog or wiki journal.
- Kids have the ability to embed links to online resources to support their journals.
- Kids can upload images into their page.
- Kids can work collaboratively to complete a group journal.
- Kids can access and update their nature journal from anywhere they have Internet service.
- Parents can monitor their kids’ progress at their convenience.
Examples of Nature Journals
The options for developing a nature journal are unlimited. Kids can create a nature journal focused on their neighborhood’s ecosystem, specific insects, animals at a local or national zoo, nature trails, local parks, nature centers and more.
Migrating Animals Nature Journal
Kids select a specific migrating animal to track during the animal’s migration. Each student keeps an online journal, much like a blog. Kids collect data during their animal’s migration, such as interesting points along the migration route and migration route weather. There are many animals both land and sea that migrate, which Kids can select. Examples include all types of whales, wildebeests, sea turtles, birds, elephants, seals, polar bears, etc. to do this project your kids will need to find a web site to support there research.
An exciting tool on line is Animals in Curriculum-based Ecosystems Studies for tracking migrating animals in ocean environments. Kids are able to use this website to track animals during migration periods. Google Earth is another tool. It is free and provides resources for Kids to capture and download images of land animals as they migrate.
Using the resources we have our metro area like nature centers to help our children develop a love for nature just makes sense. Using Wikis or a blog site is a secure method for allowing Kids to create a nature journal that they can share with friends, teachers, coop leaders, parents, and anyone else the parent provides access. As Kids create and develop their own nature journals, they are following inquiry-based learning. Kids are asking their own questions, designing their own investigations, formulating their own explanations, and more as they focus on the topic of their nature journal.