Friday, September 21, 2012

September's Nature Journal

Since fall is the time of the harvest, what better way to do a nature journal entry than to do a search for different "fruits" in the wild. 

Botanically speaking, fruits are the swollen ovary that provides an additional covering over the seeds. This would include things like, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, seed pods, rose hips AND the things we typically think of as fruits such as apples and pears. 

After you've gone on your hunt and found seed containers of all kinds (pine cones aren't officially a fruit but they sure do contain seeds), have fun drawing their outsides, pulling them apart and drawing the seeds and comparing all the different ways seeds can be protected as well as the different colors and shapes of the seeds.

Art and Observation:

The really cool thing about this one is that for older kids they can practice their drawing skills by sketching the seed container from different angles BEFORE opening it up and the also sketching the seeds and interior of the fruit.
This Poster botanical print is from
Alice's are not nearly this sophisticated (nor mine),
but I have known highschoolers capable of this kind of work.

For your beginners they can practice their shapes by sorting their fruits into fruits with circles, rounded triangles, rectangles and ovals (and whatever other shapes you might find).  Then, they draw the shapes and color in the shapes to match the color of the fruit or seed container they are trying to depict.

Science and Math:

Try to hypothesize about how the seeds travel.  Are they the kind that catches on fur and clothing?  Are they the kind that travel great distances on the wind?  Do birds eat it and then "plant it" the fertilizer they provide when the seed comes back out?  Kids should describe what evidence they see in the seed that makes them believe their hypothesis is correct.  Make a table in which they can actually tape samples of seeds (and/or fruits) when small enough, or draw what they are seeing.  Maybe later you can even do a little research and confirm or rule out the accuracy of their hypotheses.


The key to really great fictional writing also often lies in the descriptive passages in the writing.  Emotion is often demonstrated through describing the things that characters keep around them, where they live and in expression rather than stating emotions and feelings of characters directly.  Nature journaling is a GREAT place to practice descriptive writing.  Have your kids choose one "seed container" they'd like to describe.  For your preschoolers, ask for a verbal description of smell, sound, feel (texture), and visual characteristics.  Simply take a dictation.  Your Kindergartners should be able to write 2-3 sentences and older kids can write even more. 

Bonus Follow-Up Possibility:

Collect a few samples of each type of seed you find and bring them in to compare to the seeds of fruits you cut open to eat over the next month.  Kids can practice comparing  and contrasting their "wild seeds" with the more familiar domestic seeds.  You can also take a look at, "A Seed is Sleepy" by Dianna Hutts Aston.  The book is full of beautiful examples of the huge variety of seeds there are in the world and how they spread. 


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