There are many versatile uses of notebooking pages when paired with a nature study. From literary expression to scientific facts, these pages can easily turn a nature walk into a literary and scientific unit study of unlimited possibilities.
To prepare properly for an adventurous study of our natural world, we must arm ourselves with the necessary equipment. For our family, that was a small backpack per child filled with the following nature study items (some in my own pack):
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- Nature journal/notebooking pages
- Colored pencils (erasable)
- Assorted grade pencils
- Mini binoculars
- Assorted small field guides or pocket cards (topics included trees, wildflowers, birds, rocks, insects, animal tracks, clouds, plants, fish)
- Trail snack
- Small bottle of water
- Bug spray
- Plaster paris
- Baggies (if leaf, rock, seed pod collection was permitted)
Fully equipped during our walks, we focused on a variety of things depending on what we were studying or what we were interested in that day. If it was a walk we frequently took during different seasons, we would discuss changes we observed since our last walk. On our notebooking pages attached to our clipboards, we might sketch something that caught our attention. We’d identify it with our field guide and write its name with the sketch and any interesting facts we wished to include, maybe its location and the date as well. Our Nature Study, Nature Journal and Poetry Through the Year nature study used with notebooking pages equips you with everything you need for four seasons.
(To try out a sample of a nature study, sign up to receive a free Summer Nature Study and More with studies for June, July, and August.)
Other times, we placed our notebooking page against the bark of different trees and made rubbings, labeling each with the name of the tree. Or we made a rubbing of a hardened track in the ground, consulting a pocket guide of animal tracks. If we felt ambitious, we made a cast of the track out of plaster of Paris. Leaf rubbings were also a big hit, as we examined the veins and leaf tips to identify their sources. On our notebooking page with the rubbing we’d identify the classification of the tree and then explore the area for signs of seed pods.
Any detailed labeling of parts of birds, plants, or animals observed would be done later at home when consulting diagrams. Nature centers with live animals were a wonderful way to study classification of animals as we filled out a notebooking page for each animal, its eating habits, natural habitats, and its predators and place on the food chain.
Literacy elements were brought into our nature study when we copied fun poems about the seasons or things we observed on our walk. We studied poetry forms, practiced writing similes and metaphors, and wrote our own poems from haikus to diamantes to acrostic poems – all as a part of our nature journal/notebook.
Another use we found for our notebooking pages was science lab experiments based on observations we made during a nature walk, such as a water boatman scurrying across the top of a pond. This led to a discussion and experiment demonstrating the concept of surface tension. We sketched out the experiment, wrote the procedure, recorded the results and explained the scientific theory that allowed this insect to walk on water.
This adventurous notebooking routine allowed my boys to refine their observation skills and attention to detail, and gave them the opportunity to practice organizing their thoughts and putting them down on paper using their spelling, grammar, and writing lessons. These notebooking journals solidified for them all they were learning on our walks and served as a record of their adventures in the natural world, just like Lewis and Clark.
They are almost grown now and go on their own walks, calling them “hikes.” But, they still put on their backpacks of supplies, including maps and phones to take pictures, and record their adventures in notebooks.
There are over 600 samples in this Sample Set! (affil. link)