Up to now we have approached nature study as a visual experience. During and after a nature walk, we talked about what we saw but their nature journal entries were still visual. I asked the girls to each choose something they found interesting and draw a picture. I now realize we were missing a wonderful opportunity to build on their language skills. This week I asked them to use words to describe nature.
Anna Botsford Comstock says,
Nature study should be so much a part of the child’s thought and interest that it will naturally form a thought core for other subjects quite unconsciously on his part. (Handbook of Nature Study, page 16)
The purpose of a language is after all, merely to convey ideas. (Handbook of Nature Study, page 16)
Why should you use words to describe nature?
- allows the child to build a thought library to draw upon in the future,
- builds a working vocabulary as he seeks to express what he heard, saw, felt, and smelled,
- provides practice in conveying an idea.
How we use words to describe nature
This week our assignment in Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 was to use our words. We were to go on a nature walk in our own yard and use all of our senses, then write a journal entry describing what we heard, saw, felt, and smelled.
The girls were playing the front yard, digging near a favorite tree. Because they were already using their sense of touch, I let them keep doing what they were doing instead of “taking a walk.” I did add one instruction to their digging: they were to be aware of what they heard and saw as well and we would discuss their observations in a little bit.
After awhile of digging and finding just the right materials, I called them over and asked them to describe to me what they were creating and what they experienced. I learned that they were creating a bug hospital. (This is actually an important place in our yard for those creatures unfortunate enough to find their way into little girl hands.) As they described what they saw, heard, felt, and smelled I wrote it in their nature journals. Then they were off to play with the bug hospital some more.
This was a short and sweet experience that allowed them to use their words to describe what they were experiencing in nature.
You might also be interested to learn about the resources we use for nature study.
Bird Nature Study Teaching Points
This bird nature study teaching points printout will provide you with the key points to share with your students as you observe and study birds.