Living here in Ohio is wonderful because we have four seasons and we can take advantage of the days by observing how plants, animals, and weather changes as the seasons pass. I think it is important for children to be outside as often as possible, for as long as possible.
One idea for your children to do something outside is to keep a nature journal. These journals are a way to not only observe, but also to write, take notes, draw, and respond to the world around them. This can be done seasonally, weather permitting. I found some great resources to help you get started with this and explain it in more detail.
Keeping a Nature Journal, Clare Walker Leslie
Here is a blog post that describes what a nature journal is and how-to steps by Rhythms of Play
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make a journal, you can also purchase one. This is a nice journal to get you started. My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People, Adrienne Olmstead
Nature journals can be for ALL ages, including you! You think you’d like to try it? Here are some ideas and tips that will come in handy! click here
One thing you will need in addition to a journal and items to sketch with and perhaps color are some pocket guides to have on hand or take along if you go somewhere. I have a variety of them ranging from wildflowers to rocks and minerals to animal tracks. In this electronic age, you can even get Ipod/smart phone apps such as bird or leaf identification. I love it! When I went out west my husband I took ibird with us and were able to identify scrub jays and ospreys. There were some small birds we were unsure of so we played the call of a warbler and you should have seen all the birds come near the feeder where we were for a closer look to see what strange bird was making that sound!
Here are some various paperback guides that are compact and lightweight. Golden Guides are easy and will help you get started with nature journaling. I only listed a few since there are many to choose from and it will depend upon what you want to study.
And here are resources to use when you get further along on your nature observations and identifications.
Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock This book has been in use for a long time and has recently been reprinted. It has fantastic descriptions of the plants as well as observations that can be modeled for younger children by reading it aloud. This can be used independently by older students. Look at the Handbook of Nature Study blog that uses this book for its newsletters and ideas.
The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors, Ernest H. Williams- actual photographs and ecosystems where you would find them
Are your children unsure about how to draw something? Here are some books that will help get you started.
I Can Draw Animals, Ray Gibson (for beginning artists)
I Can Draw Animals, Tony Tallarico (for experienced artists)
Enjoy the nice days and feel to post a journal entry of what your naturalists (and you) chose to draw and study.