Category: nature (Page 1 of 27)

Ten Reasons to Start a Nature Journal

If you have been hesitating to start, here are ten reasons why you should keep a nature journal.

1.  It is an inexpensive hobby. All you need is a notebook, a pencil, and perhaps a few art supplies.

2.  If you record the world around you, you will see how it changes over time.  If you write the date and location on each entry, you will  remember when the blackberries were ripe or when you saw the first violets the year before. You will begin to spot patterns.

3.  Writing and drawing makes you observe more closely and notice details. It will help you remember what you saw, heard, felt, and even smelled.

4.  A detailed nature journal allows you to share your experiences with others. Your journals may become a treasure passed down to another generation or a useful tool for scientific studies.

5.  You will learn the names of natural features (mountains, rocks, lakes) and living things in your community, while building your vocabulary. You get to know your neighbors in nature.

bird drawings
Can you tell the great-tailed grackle from the curved-bill thrasher?

6.  If you are worried about your ability to draw or write, remember that regular practice helps build confidence and skill. You will improve.

7. Nature journals are great places to keep track of your ideas and questions as you process.

Touch Me Not (1915) by Hannah Borger Overbeck. Original from The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

For example, why is this plant called a touch-me-not? Where does it tend to grow? Is it the same as jewel weed?

8. Writing and drawing in a nature journal takes time. It is an opportunity to slow down, to focus, to relax.

9.  A nature journal is personal. It reflects your interests, your creativity, your personality. It can be funny (cartoon animals with speech bubbles), mostly stories (writings), or almost entirely art. You can focus on the big picture (ecosystems, habitats) or the the close up, macro view (what insects live in an acorn?) Or a mix.

You can also focus on one group, such as only birds or only wildflowers.  There isn’t one way to do it. See these examples of nature journal pages to see the range.

10.  Start a nature journal and it might change your life.

Keeping a nature journal is an activity that combines science, art, writing, and an opportunity to get outdoors. What could be better?

Do you keep a nature journal? What advice do you have?

Related Activities:

  1.  See the International Nature Journaling Week website for tons of information and ideas.
  2. Try making comparisons between similar plants as a way to get started (video has details).

Free nature journal to print mentioned in the video

Their book is full of ideas:

How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, Attention by John Muir Laws, Emilie Lygren and Amy Tan (Foreword)

Or look for books by Clare Walker Leslie:

The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You by Clare Walker Leslie

Disclosures: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles, covers, or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

STEM Friday #Kidlit The Nest That Wren Built

Today we are featuring a lovely STEM picture book that has made many of the best of 2020 lists, The Nest That Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine and illustrated by Anne Hunter.

This gently rhyming book about Carolina wrens building a nest follows the style of “The House That Jack Built.”

This is the bark, snippets of twine,
spidery rootlets, and needles of pine
that shape the nest that Wren built.

The text goes into detail about how the wrens gather materials to make the nest. Some of the ingredients are expected, like soft moss for a lining the inside. Others are very surprising, like draping a snakeskin on the outside (to ward off predators). After the nest is built, the story follows the eggs and baby birds through development.

Anne Hunter’s illustrations are a fascinating combination of whimsical and realistic. Young readers will have fun looking for little things hidden in each page.

The back matter includes a glossary and additional interesting facts about wrens.

The Nest That Wren Built will enchant nature lovers, especially budding ornithologists. Surprise yourself with a copy today.

Related STEM activities:

1. Child-sized Bird’s Nest

Let your young makers assemble their own child-sized bird nest. (This is best as an outdoor activity, although some of the materials could be used inside.)

Gather materials to create nests, using items you can recycle or compost. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cardboard strips
  • Hay or straw (pet supply or craft stores)
  • Grapevines (craft stores)
  • Shredded paper
  • Fallen leaves
  • Branches

Show the children some photographs of nests or the real thing if there are some nearby. Always leave the nests where you found them. Even if they are empty, birds can reuse the nesting materials.

This one fell out of a tree after a wind storm:

bird nest

Talk about some of the reasons birds build nests.

  • Place to raise young
  • Shelter from adverse weather
  • Place to rest

Now have the children build their own human-sized nest. They can work in groups. Young children may need some adult assistance. Be prepared for messy fun.

Note:  If you are working with a number of children, they may remove materials from the nests of others. Decide how you want to deal with this in advance. I told them that birds in nature really do take materials from other birds’ nests. Eventually they decided to leave one member of a group in the nest while the others went to gather supplies, just how birds sometimes handle the problem.

Make sure you have your camera ready. You will find there are many creative ways to make nests. Take pictures of your “birds” sitting in their nests.


2. See our previous post with several nest-related STEM activities

3. Consider joining the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb 12-15, 2021. Share It Science has a free bird counting printable.

4. Want to find out more? Over at Science Books for Kids, we are building a list of children’s books about Animal Architects.

Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : Candlewick; Illustrated edition (March 10, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1536201537
ISBN-13 : 978-1536201536

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

#KidlitSTEM Marjory Saves the Everglades Giveaway

We haven’t offered a giveaway in some time, so in honor of STEM Friday one lucky winner will receive a copy of the new picture book biography Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (U.S. addresses only, please. See Rafflecopter for entry below).

About Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Marjory Stoneman Douglas grew up in Taunton, Massachusetts with her mother, but a one-time visit to her father in Miami sparked her lifelong interest in Florida.

In fact, she moved there after college to become a reporter for her father’s newspaper.

After serving in the Red Cross in Europe during World War I, she returned to Florida where she found, much to her dismay, acres of wild land had been drained and burned to build tracts of homes and businesses. She saw how all the unique plants like ghost orchids and Florida Scrub Ziziphus, plus animals like roseate spoonbills, storks and even manatees were disappearing as the Everglades were being destroyed.

Roseate Spoonbills (Public Domain Image)

Marjory realized how important wetlands like the Everglades were both for wildlife and also for replenishing fresh water supplies. She knew she had to act to save this precious resource. Would she be able to make a difference?

About The Book

You can see how powerful and inspiring her story is in this book trailer:

Sandra Neil Wallace has distilled 108 year’s of Marjory’s life into 56 pages of essential reading. The back matter is so full that it has spilled into the end papers. There’s an author’s note with more facts, resource lists, source lists, and an extensive timeline. Plan to linger there.

Rebecca Gibbon’s illustrations capture the lush green vegetation of Florida as well as Marjory’s lively disposition. Young readers will delight in finding all the hidden animals and plants in her illustrations of the Everglades.

Marjory Saves the Everglades shows how one person really can make a difference. It will delight both young historians, ecologists, and conservationists alike. Wade into a copy today!

The STEM Connection:  Ecology

How does the biography of a reporter from Miami fit with STEM? Actually, much of the book is about the Everglades, which are a special kind of wetlands ecosystem. As Marjory wrote, “There are no other Everglades in the world.” Let’s learn more about it.

Ecology Vocabulary

Ecosystem – A community of living things and their distinctive environment

Wetland – Ecosystem covered at least parts of the year with either freshwater, brackish water (partly salty) or salt water. Types of wetlands include:

  • Swamps –wet areas with trees
  • Marshes – Low-lying wet areas dominated by grasses and some bushes rather than trees. Can be found at the edges of lakes or streams. Salt marshes occur along oceans.

River – A large volume of water that runs downhill.

Rather than a swamp or a marsh, the Everglades is a meandering river that is roughly one hundred miles long and fifty miles wide.  Marjory described it as a “river of grass.”

Many one-of-a-kind animals and plants live in the Everglades, which can vary between wet and dry from season to season and place to place. Some of the animals found there are land creatures, like the marsh rabbit. Some animals are equally at ease both in the water and on land, like otters. Other animals found in the Everglades are water creatures, such as manatees.

Make a list of some of the animals mentioned in the book or the Everglades park website. Decide whether they are land animals (terrestrial), live both on land and in water (semi-aquatic), or only live in the water (aquatic).

Then make a picture or diorama featuring the animals in their preferred habitats.

White peacock butterflies live in the Everglades.





Grade Level : Preschool – 3
Publisher : Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (September 22, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1534431543
ISBN-13 : 978-1534431546

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: This book was provided by Blue Slip Media for review. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. If you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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