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I’m excited to share with you something Rebecca has been working on for 4-H. She is a student member of the 4-H Plant and Environmental Science Team and she’s taken on the task of creating a journal calendar for each month. I thought it would be fun to post it here so you can follow along with us.
How to Use the Nature Journal Calendar
Rebecca designed the calendar to be used as a nature journal especially those just starting out or those who are not already regular journalers. So, you won’t find a ton of content filling each square. She’s given you some ideas for things to observe and do this month and the rest of the squares are for you to record the things you see and doodle your observations. Like most things here at Blog, She Wrote, this is meant to be made your own. What will you try in January? (download the calendar here)
Need some additional ideas?
- Winter Animal Survival– How do animals prepare for winter? Do cold blooded and warm blooded animals winter over in the same way? List some examples.
- Outdoor Walks– Take a walk in the snow or on a still day. What do you see? Is there evidence of animal activity?
- Indoor Observations– Is the weather too cold or windy? Pick a spot with a window in your house and take a look outside. What’s happening? Look for details and record them.
Books for Studying Nature
These are some of our favorite nature activity books and field guides useful in the winter. There’s no shortage of books devoted to helping your family enjoy any time of year outdoors.
- Winter Tree Finder– A pocket sized dichotomous key to help you identify trees in the winter with no leaves.
- Winter Weed Finder– A dichotomous key which helps you identify weeds in the winter using the characteristics of the plant
- Smithsonian Bird Watcher– A year round bird watching activity book
- Book of Seasons– I love the way this book gives you ideas for year round enjoyment of the seasons and nature from star charts to crafts to observations.
- The Nature Connection– A year round workbook and journal on studying the natural world over the course of a year
- Keeping a Nature Journal– A lovely book on what to keep on hand and how to approach organizing and keeping a nature journal.
- Handbook of Nature Study– The quintessential book on equipping adults to lead children on nature studies. Written to the teacher and not meant to be used directly with students, this book is a gem. At first it can be overwhelming and dry, but the author’s voice is delightful and she makes everyday items around us very accessible to study.
- Animals in Nature– An elementary book on how animals prepare for winter. I love this book for a good look at different sorts of animals and how they spend the winter.
Websites That Encourage Winter Nature Study
Here are a few sites which will inspire you to enjoy winter nature studies. There are so many wonderful places to visit, but these stuck out in my mind.
Handbook of Nature Study Blog– This blog has it all when it comes to nature study. You can follow along with Barb’s prompts for each month or you can see what she’s studying day by day. In addition, she has a membership for those who want access to all her great nature printables. Sign up for her newsletter. It comes out monthly with great ideas and I often have the privilege of contributing to them. They will give you lots of tangible support in your efforts to be intentional about observing nature.
Snowflake Symmetry at Triumphant Learning– This is a great lesson in observation focusing on some math skills, but it’s also a great snowflake round up post.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology– If you’ve never been to this site, you’ll enjoy a look around. They have the largest files of bird calls in the world and you can find any bird fact you’d like. Look up those birds coming to your bird feeder or learn how to attract more birds that winter over in your area.
Winter Literature Connections
In addition to enjoying the quiet of a snowy afternoon outdoors or watching your backyard from the comfort of your living room window, winter is a great time to read with your kids. If you are looking for winter themed stories which have a wintry back drop, then you’ll find some good titles here. Which are your favorites?
- Snowflake Bentley– A picture book biography of an early photographer who took thousands of very detailed images of snowflakes.
- Owl Moon– The story of the first time a child gets to join his father on an owl hunt.
- Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening– A poem by Robert Frost
- Katy & the Big Snow– A long time favorite of our preschoolers. She can move any amount of snow!
- Stranger in the Woods– A photographic fantasy book about how the wild animals come to a snowman that children have decorated with food for the animals
- The Snowy Day– A primary picture book all about a boy’s walk in the snow
- Tea with Lady Sapphire– Another photographic fantasy as tea drinkers await a special visitor
- The Long Winter– Autobiographical fiction by Laura Ingalls Wilder in which she describes the harsh winter of 1880-1881 when the town they lived in nearly ran out of food when the railroad was blocked with snow for months.
- White Fang– A story of a dog which is part wolf and how he adapts to circumstances. This novel is set in the far north and the harsh setting plays a big part in the tale.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe– from The Chronicles of Narnia. The story in Narnia opens while the White Witch still has power of the world and it is always winter and never Christmas.
- Winter Holiday– One of my most favorite series to read aloud is Swallows & Amazons. This is the forth book in the series and takes place in the depths of winter.
Other Nature Study Posts at Blog, She Wrote
- Implementing a Nature Study Watch Your Own Backyard– In this series on implementing a nature study, I give some suggestions that have worked for us including this one which is to observe your backyard. There’s a lot going on! And it’s a great winter spot to watch.
- Tips for Botanical Illustrating– Wonderful for any time of year.
- The Snake Project– Of particular note in this one is the way Rebecca prepared her snake to brumate (the reptilian hibernation). She monitored the temperature in our basement in order to see that it would be suitable for her snake for the winter.
Look for our next calendar available in February. This is a new project and it should be available on the first day of the month. If you print the calendar and record some simple observations, you’ll have a great journal of the natural world in a year. Thanks for joining us!