Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nature Journals for Little Ones

All kinds of homeschooling activities are much more enjoyable (and more practical) when you can get all of your children participating together.  Our nature studies are typically something we all do together, but lately my oldest has been recording, labeling, and sketching in her little spiral book.  My four-year-old has been feeling a bit left out.  Of course, she's always welcome to participate, but she's painfully aware that she can't do things exactly like her big sister, and it frustrates her sometimes.  So we came up with an activity just for her.  Something she can do alongside her sister.  Something that also appeals to her need to collect everything she sees.

First, we made a blank book for her.  We always keep several blank books of different sizes on hand, and there are many different ways to make these.  I keep them simple.  I fold several sheets of paper in half, with a folded piece of colored card stock over top of them.  Then, I staple three times, right on the edge of the fold, and cover the edge with a pretty piece of duct tape.  (Be on the lookout for another really cool duct tape project we did recently.)  That's it!  Of course, if you make one book, you might as well make a bunch of them.  You can also cut the sheets in half before you fold them to make smaller, pocket/purse-sized books.  Really, they're so much fun to have around the house.

Once you have your book, your child can decorate the cover or you can label it as their nature journal.  Then, on the blank pages inside, your child can keep all of their "treasures."  You can make a page for each month or season, leave space for them to draw or glue pictures of animals they see, or simply leave it all blank.  This particular book is blank inside, and whenever Ella gets busy scribbling in her big kid nature journal, Harper hunts down the most impressive sample of each flower or weed or grass she can find to include in her own journal.  Some clear tape pressed over her treasures keeps them in place.  Later, when she's just starting to read and becoming more interested in words and labeling things, I'll help her label those treasure.  For now, it's her space to do with as she pleases.

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