Nature Study Lesson Block
You can do this one every day if you’d like and each day will be different. Try making a sky observation lens with a piece of paper. Remember, our Nature journals are 8.5×11 sheets of paper. How you choose to record what you see is up to you! I like combining watercolour with crayons so the crayons can act as a resist. Even the side of a candle works well for making the clouds I see.
Mapping our Environment
To put a city in a book, to put the world on one sheet of paper, maps are the most condensed spaces of all. They make the landscape fit indoors, they make us masters of sights we haven’t seen, and spaces we can’t cover. In the fall we made a birds eye view map of the school and we made travel maps of our route to school in groups. I’d like to encourage everyone to make a map of their house and yard, send me a photo and I’ll share them in our photo album so everyone can see where everyone else lives.. Those of you on farms and in forests have a big job and your map might be less detailed than someone who lives in town in a small house or apartment. if you live in town and are going out for walks you might want to include things in your neighborhood too. Lets visit each other through a map!
One Small Square
This a project you can visit over and over again. All you need is some string (about 4 metres) and 4 rocks. Choose a place somewhere in your yard where you won’t be disturbed and lay out the string to make a square. Put a rock in each corner to hold the string down.. Do you still have your magnifying lens? Bring it outside and spend time examining what you find in your square. Get right down in the dirt. Draw what you see, make a list of the things you find – plants, stones, insects, tracks. Leave no stone unturned. With it being spring the changes should be pretty much daily!
On the Hunt for Worms
With the rain this past week it would be a good time to see how many worms live in your square. Would you like to meet them? Well you need to become a worm grunter.
A worm grunter?
What is worm grunting?
I’m so glad you asked!
Worm grunting is mimicking a worm’s predators so they think it is safer on the surface than deep in the ground. Worms are terrified of moles and worms can tell they’re nearby through touch. They feel the vibrations the mole makes as they dig towards them. When they feel these vibrations they head for the surface as quickly as they can. We need two sticks and maybe a bit of whittling to worm grunt.
You drive one stick into the ground and then you rub another stick up and down it to make vibrations. The bumpier the stick the better, which is why you might want to whittle notches into the stick that you drive into the ground.
Professional worm grunters (yes there are professional worm grunters)use metal and wood because they feel the sound works better. A piece of hardwood rubbed with a heavy piece of steel has a sound that will carry as vibration through the ground for about seven metres. It sounds a bit like a bullfrog or a grunt.
Some grunters think a small engine works best and use a chainsaw sitting on a post or stump!
Try it out!
Drawing Birds To Us So We Can Draw Them!
Now is a great time of year to start bird watching. They are everywhere and busy with nesting right now. You can encourage them to sit a spell so you have time to draw and identify the species that visit your yard with a bird feeder.
Here are a some examples that you can make with stuff from the recycling bin or with scraps you might already have lying around. The suet bag is a favorite here. You only put out suet in the winter and spring though.
Here is a recipe for suet balls. We like to add dried fruit to it too.
You need a fat that is solid or firm at room temperature. We save animal fats for this but you can also use plant based fats. The hard cakes of suet you can get at the store are usually beef tallow which is very hard.
1 cup rendered (melted) fat
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups ground cornmeal
1/2 cup flour.
Mix it together form into balls and put in the freezer.
Or hollow out an orange or grapefruit and fill the halves with this. You can string up the fruit rind as a feeder then.
If there are cardinals around they’ll come find these!
Make Like a Bird and Nest
This is a great project that gets you thinking as birds do, and in the process, you get to make something interesting.
How do you think a bird makes its nest? Would you like to make your own nests?
While exploring your own backyard, gather the items you think a bird would need to make a nest. This is a nature only project! You must not use glue (but spit is allowed!)
What You Need:
Trash you find floating in the yard
Pen or pencil
I will allow a tool like a stick or chopstick or tweezers (after all, you lack a tiny pointy beak) and scissors (which a beak is pretty good at being too).
What You Do:
What do you think goes into making a bird’s nest? Write the items down on a piece of paper. Think outside the box.
Go outside, and start scavenging for the items you thought of. Think about what in nature is pliable, what it is sturdy, and what a bird has access to out in the wild. If you discover something you didn’t write down, grab it and add it to your list.
Bring the items inside and place them on a newspaper (or, weather permitting, set up outdoors). Try to manipulate the grass and twigs and other items into a bird’s nest shape. Work to weave items together, like the pine needles and grass.
To take this activity a step further, check out some books at your local library about birds native to your area. See what kinds of things they use to build a nest and how they put them together. Why do they build them high up in a tree? Is that a key element to keeping the nest together?
Display your nest outside in a tree. Are your neighbourhood birds visiting it? Are they borrowing from it?
The Lost Words Project
HAPPY EARTH DAY!
I hope you’re enjoying our nature hour activities. A beloved book in our classroom is The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane. It is a big, beautiful, book of poetry. it is filled with sacred gilded artwork as a tribute to the words that were purged from the children’s dictionary in the 21st century. They were seen as irrelevant today, words like otter, bramble, acorn. Well our class disagrees. Many of the songs we’ve sung in class come from a folk album that was inspired by The Lost Words – The Lost Words Spell Songs – bringing nature back to life through the power of poetry, art and magic. here is the full album which they’ve published on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mEFahhzSZ_N85pfkKA2jYmslwI2aOJldc
This is the song we have been singing each morning – The Lost Words Blessing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyL-ZLn3omY
This assignment, like all others , is completely voluntary.
Make your own spell book. The lost words can be your inspiration. The idea though is to find what inspires you in the natural world and give it some sacred space. What this will look like is completely up to the individual making it. So I’m offering suggestions here – follow your heart, my little silver seekers.
- You might want to get a special little notebook and fill it with words you think are too important to be lost. Find your wonder words in books, in poetry, in nature. Just as dragons collect golden treasure, words can be a treasure – a hoard – a word hoard. (maybe you write them down with a special gold pen) Hmm you might want to research what a word hoard is too.
Refer to this special little book whenever you need ingredients for a spell – a poem, a song, a drawing, or painting.
Here are some musical words from the natural world you might want to explore in field , forest, dictionary, and thesaurus:
ascending, atmospheric, beat, building, cadence, calm, chord, clang, clashing, clatter, climbing, crescendo, discordant, dissonance, droning, drumming, dulcet, emotional, emphasis, evocative, expressive, forceful, frequency, gentle, glossolalia, harmony, harsh, haunting, heartfelt, humming, inflection, intonation, knock, lilt, lyrical, mellifluous, melodious, metre, modulation, moving, notes, pause, passionate, peaceful, pitch, poignant, powerful, pulse, reverberation, rhythm, rise and fall, rising, rocking, roll, silence, silvery, soothing, stirring, stress, surging, sway, sweet, tempo, timbre, thrumming, trill, tuneful, variation, vibrating, vocal, whistling.
- You might prefer to make mood boards for each spell you’d like to cast., An arrangement of found images, materials, pieces of text, drawings, photographs to evoke or project the essence of natural words you love. Maybe it’s a bird, or an insect, a special plant, a weather phenomena, anything that inspires you in the natural world. Maybe these mood boards fit in a book, or maybe a small box, maybe they’re so big and complex you fill a wall in your bedroom. It is what feels right to you.
- Make a nature table that is dedicated to your very favorite things in nature. It could be inside or outside. it could be a shelf or a garden bed. it could be a stump in the woods. It could be tucked in a pocket or pouch around your neck. Visit it daily to add things, to nurture it. Do you like a nature table that is raw things from the natural world? Do you like collections? Do you like making your own art or writing to add to it? Does it change frequently? Is it quiet and still, or is it loud and dynamic?
- The Lost Words was a protest against the idea that children no longer needed nature. How would you protest this idea through art?
What stories can you conjure up? Try out a range of ideas orally, then write down any that you feel work well.
- Decide on the type of story you wish to create: a quest, a losing tale, a wishing tale, a fantasy tale, a warning tale, overcoming evil tale, a transformation tale, a tale of suspense.
- Plan the characters, setting/s, problems and resolutions, keeping your final destination firmly in mind. Make a map as a visual story board to help you tell your story.
- Remember that little details are where we often feel the most connection with nature so use the poems, paintings, and songs as inspiration. capture the atmosphere and events and how you felt in your own mind’s eye before writing.
- Find a response partner, when you have finished your tale and done revisions and editing. See if they can make any constructive suggestions as to how you could further polish your work.
- Decide how to publish your work – is it an oral performance, in written form (what sort – poem, picture book, short story) play format for people or puppets, a song or a combination? Sound effects and music can add to the atmosphere. Is it a painting, a sculpture? A combination of all of these? You may not be ready to “publish” yet, keep your spellwork in a safe place. Sometimes it takes years for it to be “finished” – like the cicadas that sleep beneath the roots of trees for years before waking up and bursting into song.
Whatever you choose to do, you are honouring the world we live in, are a part of, and deserve to know. Let your spells heal the divide!