Fun With Nature Notebooks

By Charmaine Wistad

Would you like to include a little bit of fun “school” during the summer months? Summer is the perfect time to start your children (and yourself!) on a nature notebook.  In the summer, your family will probably  spend a good amount of time outdoors – so why not take advantage of it and use the time to observe and draw nature.

Drawing notebooks can be readily found at just about any discount or variety store (including many large grocery stores). They come in various sizes, but I found that a 6” X 9” spiral bound sketch diary works best.

Start your nature notebook project by taking a little time to decorate the cover. Cut a piece of white paper the size of the cover. Have the kids cut out pictures from magazines of their favorite animals, plants, flowers, tress etc. and glue them on to the paper. Leave room at the top to label the book with permanent marker or a computer print out i.e. “Anne’s Nature Notebook”. Once the paper is decorated to the child’s liking, glue it to the book cover then cover both front and back with clear contact paper.  This will help keep the book in better condition when you get it outdoors and into some “natural” situations.

What to put in the nature notebook? Start by taking a little walk around the yard. Ask the child to simply look for something they find unusual or interesting. Then, date the first page and ask them to draw it in their notebook. You can use carbon pencils, colored pencils or both.  Later, as everyone becomes more comfortable with the notebooks, you can look up the item in a field guide and perhaps label the parts or write a little bit about it.

Be sure to take your nature notebooks with you when you:

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Visit a city or county park
  • Go hiking
  • On vacation

Visit Home-School.com for more ideas on nature notebooks.

Nature notebooks are a fun and easy way to encourage close observation of  the beauty that surrounds us everyday.  As your children add to their notebooks over the years, they will be creating a keepsake of not only what they’ve observed but of many good times together as a family.


Charmaine Wistad has successfully homeschooled her own two children from pre-school through high school.  Now she is turning her attention toward helping other homeschool moms. Through personal coaching, Charmaine helps homeschooling moms thrive… not just survive! Visit her website to try a complimentary no-obligation telephone coaching session.

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Plotting a Hurricane

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, this activity has real relevance for you.  Use it to practice before plotting some real hurricanes.

If you live inland, out of the path of hurricanes, this activity will lend impact to the weather news you hear about and overlook.

Either way, this plotting exercise is good practice for the scientific skill of recording!

Purpose

To practice locating coordinates on a map and to learn to predict the path of a storm.

Materials

Procedure

  1. On your map, make a small mark for each coordinate set from 1 -4 (below) showing the location of a storm named Kelly.
  2. Connect the marks with a dotted line showing the motion of the storm.
  3. Draw small arrowheads showing the direction of motion of the storm.
  4. In another color, predict with a dotted line where you think the storm will go.
  5. Look at the coordinates 5-10 to see if your prediction is correct.
  6. Finish plotting the coordinates 5 – 10, connect the marks, and draw the arrowheads showing direction.  You have completed your plot of Hurricane Kelly.
  7. Using a compass, draw a circle centered on coordinate 5.  The circle should be scaled to 100 miles in radius according to your map.  This circle shows the area which is affected by the hurricane directly.  Of course, the area of rains and slight winds will extend beyond this circle.
  8. To show the affected area of the hurricane at landfall, use coordinate 7 as the center of the circle.  All of the coastlines within this circle will undergo flooding.  Outlying areas will experience heavy rains and less flooding conditions.
  9. At the center of the circle, draw another, smaller circle of 25 miles diameter.  This smaller circle represents the eye of the storm at landfall.

Questions

  1. Where would you expect there to be the greatest flooding?  Highest tides?
  2. What is the direction of the wind at landfall?  Does this ever change?
  3. Where was the hurricane when it became a tropical storm? (This occurs when the wind speed hits 39 miles per hour)  An official hurricane?  (74 miles per hour).
  4. What happened to the hurricane after it reached land?

Time and DateNorth latitudeWest longitudeWind spd
1.Tuesday, Aug. 815°72°36 mph
2.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 8am14°75°40 mph
3.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 6pm16°77°52 mph
4.Thursday, Aug. 10, 8 am18°81°65 mph
5.Thursday, Aug. 10, 6 pm23°87°76 mph
6.Friday, Aug. 11, 8 am27°88°93 mph
7.Friday, Aug. 11, 6 pm29°92°112 mph
8.Saturday, Aug. 12, 8 am30°94°107 mph
9.Saturday, Aug. 12, 6 pm32°94°85 mph
9.Sunday, Aug. 13, 8 am38°95°35 mph

Now you are ready to plot some real hurricanes! Once again, you can download a hurricane plotting chart here.

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Seedtime and Harvest

zucchini

Ready to take a quick spin around our garden?  I’ve posted about building the garden and planting it and the challenges associated with growing ANYTHING along Colorado’s Front Range.  This month I’m posting about our harvest!

Our garden is completely walled for wind and rabbits.  Unfortunately the birds are left as the sole garden predators, and they are decimating our strawberries.  The good news is, the strawberries are growing like crazy.  The bad news is, all the ripening ones have bites out of them.  My chicken wire cover does have some gaps and as I get some time I will get the gaps closed off.  I’m amazed at the tenacity of the birds, low-crawling under the low hanging chicken wire.  Strawberries are a BIG hit with them. 

The persistence of the birds with the strawberries makes me wonder how our raspberries will fare when they eventually start to produce.  I haven’t even looked it up to see if these healthy bushes will produce this year or next, but when they do, we will have to cover them.

The tomato plants went from hanging in there to growing like mad.  I have not measured them as I intended to do as a science project with the kids, but next year, we will definitely be measuring and charting the growth.

Most of the tomato plants are now bearing, and they’re all still green.  Again, I have no idea when these guys will turn ripe, so every day is a surprise to go see what is happening in the garden.  Are they red yet?  no?  maybe tomorrow..

Bell peppers are doing great, little tiny fruit is showing on the plants.

Tomatillo peppers, likewise.

Zucchini squash are growing huge, which I am very interested in.  My favorite vegetable is going to be in abundance very soon!

Look at these little guys in there!

Little jalapeno plants planted at the end of May have started slow after some initial cold weather, but they appear to be doing great now.  I actually have two tiny seedlings that survived the post-Mothers’ Day cold rain deluge.  They are clinging to life and may not bear at all through frost, tough to say.  I’m not betting on it.

And my cilantro bed.  Lovely to look at.  The birds like it too, since I have been planting more seeds every four weeks since the beginning of May.  Hopefully they’ll miss some of the seeds so I can have a continuous supply of cilantro all summer.

 

Here is our first harvest.  Fresh cilantro for tacos.  Yum!

My kids have been learning along with me out in the garden.  They know that plants need sun, water, room to grow, protection from pests and the elements, and good soil.  They know which of our garden is fruit and which is vegetable.  They know the parts of the plants.  They know that birds like to eat seeds and berries.  Lots of good science to learn out in the garden!

For more great garden photos and stories, check out the rest of the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge linkup below!

HSV

And if you have any bird deterrence hints, please leave a comment and share them with me!

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