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A Weekend Nature Journaling Lesson Plan Day Two

Updated on May 27, 2014

Learning outdoors can be a beautiful experience

Learning outside can be a rich experience, full of sensory data and possibilities.
Learning outside can be a rich experience, full of sensory data and possibilities. | Source

Weekend Nature Journaling

This lesson may be a stand-alone lesson with modification or may serve as a continuation of the first lesson meant to be done on the same day. The lesson begins with a nature walk meant to heighten awareness of the local ecosystem and to reinforce definitional information provided in lesson one. This is a hands-on lesson and is to be done outside, preferably at a state park or some other equivalent location where there is variety of vegetation.

Nature Journal Critical Thinking Question

  • What types of plant life exists in the local ecosystem?
  • How can the local plant life benefit the environment?
  • How can human activities become harmful to plant life? animal life?
  • How can the local environment/environmental activities become harmful to animal, plant and human life?

Lesson Objectives for Nature Journal Activity

  • Students will use new environmental terms in their journaling process.
  • Students will deepen understand how the food web functions.
  • Students will learn how plants, animals and humans are connected in chosen environment and how they affect each other.
  • Students will explore and record elements of the local ecosystem including observations on plant, animal and human aspects in order to gather information for further research and discussion.

National Standards Addressed

  • Life Science
  • English and Writing/Language Arts
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Geography

Key Concepts

Environment, ecosystem, imbalance, pollution, food web, living environment, humans and society, analysis and investigation.

Materials Needed for Nature Journal, Day Two

  • A journal and writing instrument is required for each student.
  • Post-Quiz Handout: reviewing terms listed above to check for prior knowledge.
  • Post-Quiz Answer Key: provided to students for self-grading.
  • Journal Example: example of possible entry into nature journal. Discuss how this can vary widely depending on what a student chooses to record.
  • Blindfolds: used for the What Is It Game.

First Hand Observation is Key

Activity One (Outside)

(15 minutes)

Students are instructed to gather their journals and index cards provided to them for the nature walk. Safety will be reviewed prior to leaving classroom site. Handouts may be taken along and placed inside the journal provided to each student.

Activity Two (Outside)

(60 minutes)

Students are asked to locate 1-2 plants and record observations. These observations may include texture of leaves, color, shape of flower and/or stem, smell, etc. Students are asked to provide any and all information that they feel important to remember about the chosen vegetation. How the vegetation fits into the food web should also be recorded.

(15 minute break for hydration and safety check)

(30 minutes)

Students continue research on chosen vegetation and gather a sample if possible to show the class.

(15 minute break for hydration, snack and safety check)

Activity Three (outside): What Is It Game?

(60 minutes)

Students are asked to divide into groups of four and blindfold one member (each will take a turn). The blindfolded individual is taken to vegetation chosen by other group members and allowed 5 minutes to gather information about it (touch, smell, etc.). After 5 minutes the blindfolded student has the blindfold removed and attempts to find the vegetation they were taken to. Only the other 3 members know which vegetation it was. They are asked to verbally narrate as they are trying to find the vegetation repeating what they felt, smelled, etc. while they were blindfolded.

(10 minute break to hydrate and check for safety)

Activity Four (outside)

(60 minutes)

Students are asked to discuss what they found to put into their nature journal. Additionally the results of the game are discussed and those that were able to locate the vegetation once the blindfold is taken off are asked to discuss how they did it.

The instructor reviews all vocabulary and asks students to discuss the critical thinking questions as a group. As students share what they found, have them discuss how each is connected to others and even themselves. Refer to some of the critical thinking questions posed earlier in this article.

** Ask students to leave journals, writing instruments and chosen index cards until they return the following day.

Nature Journal Example Handout

Touch/Texture-rough leaves, hair like extensions on underside of leaf. When leaves are rubbed they have a grainy feel to them.

Appearance-white flowers, square stem, leaves are opposite one another.

Smell-has a minty, grassy smell.

Location-growing in partial shade.

Other-flowers are open and the size of half my palm. Bees were on it.

White spaghetti like structure at soil level.

(note that this is most likely a form of mint plant because of opposite leaves, hair like extensions, location growing and smell; the spaghetti like structures may not be related and may actually be a fungus that is invading it or surrounding plants)

Modifying & Using the Nature Journaling Plan

Please feel free to use the ideas in this article and the other article on nature journaling. Please give credit including the web page you found the plan on whether you use this all or in part. Modifying this activity may easily be done for a variety of ages and locations. I wish you well on your journey in leading an outdoor activity.

Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold makes excellent journal entries on his experiences in his book that I have listed for Amazon. He uses all senses to describe his nature experiences.

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