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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Hurricane Safety

Hurricane

Credit: NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

Hurricane season began on June 1st and runs until November 30th.  People who live near the Gulf of Mexico or along the Eastern Seaboard are very aware of the destructive nature of hurricanes.

Many people in the past lost their lives because they had no warning of the coming storm.  The Great Galveston Storm is one such storm in which thousands of people perished.

Today, because of satellite warning systems and rapid communication, we know almost as soon as a hurricane is born that it may be coming our way.  The U.S. Air Force sends specially equipped hurricane hunter planes out into the storm to measure it and bring back better information about its speed and winds.

One of my early memories is about sitting around the kitchen table with Dad and several siblings as the wind howled in the background.   My father was explaining how a hurricane was shaped using a tea cup with a spoon in it.  As he moved the handle of the spoon around in a circle, I could visualize the winds of Hurricane Audrey right outside our windows.  The center of the storm, the ‘eye’, was represented by the spoon bowl within the cup.   When the eye of the hurricane came through, we went outside and looked at all the downed trees, broken limbs, and rubble.  When the winds began again, they were going in the opposite direction as before in exactly the way predicted by the spoon in the cup.

A good activity for those homeschoolers living around the coastlines is to interview someone who has gone through a large storm.  There are many tales of storms and they are all interesting.

Tornadoes and hurricanes teach us that God is ultimately in control.  They also show us the strength of natural forces.  We can get complacent with winds and sea because they are usually so calm and safe, but when these forces are unleashed, nothing we can do can control them.  They can be a small picture of the forces unleashed during the flood of Noah when no small area was involved but the entire Earth.

Praise God for His control of the weather!

He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
He brings the clouds to punish people,
or to water his earth and show his love.  –Job  37:11-13

Hurricane Safety

1.  Before the storm, look out for branches or trees which are ready to fall.  If they present a hazard to the house, trim them away.

2.  Before the storm, check to see that you have fresh water, batteries, canned or dry food, candles, medicines, first aid equipment, etc.  Remember that you may lose electricity for a time.

3.  Before the storm, cover your windows or tape the plate glass in a large X across the window.  While this will not prevent your windows from breaking if they are going to, it may help contain the glass shards…

4.  Before the storm, check outside to secure any loose objects which could be damaged or be a hazard in the wind.

5.  Before the storm, check your property and possessions for safety from high water levels.  Ask yourself whether the property will be in a safe place if the water floods.  Remember past floods to determine possible high water levels.  Appliances in the garage, for example, may have to be raised to a higher level to make sure they stay out of the water.

6.  During the storm, stay inside in a protected place.

7.  After the storm, remember that the water supply may be contaminated, so you may have to use purification procedures.

8.  After the storm, remember that the snakes and other hazardous animals will also be out and in the water.  Wading in the water is not safe.

9.  Don’t interfere with emergency vehicles.  It is best to stay in your place of safety until the waters recede.  Don’t get out on the roads out of curiosity.

10.  Check with your neighbors to see if anyone needs help.

Note:  You can see that these procedures are for people in the path of the storm and who live on the coastlines.  People further away from the storm’s center will have things to do, too, but not all of these things will apply.  For example, flooding is much greater near the shore than 100 miles inland.

Do you have hurricane experience or stories to share?  Leave a comment and tell us your story!

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