Now we reach our trip’s final bend,
Our show of colors nears its end.
It’s your turn to add some more.
Why not make a plan to explore?
Use this opportunity to create some activities or projects. The key is engagement. Once engaged, children become motivated to make progress and learning can happen very quickly. Set simple goals. Tasks that are too big or too complex may feel intimidating, and too hard to do. Aim to complete a task like some that are suggested in this book, but transfer them to outside with real organisms and not just photographs of them. How long before you can see an animal that is brown (or two). Ideas here can be reworked into different contexts, with the scale and complexity reset for different ages and particular children. We suggest that the activities are included in a notebook. Have some crayons or colored pencils so that if writing out words is not possible, at least you can ask for some coloring to show exactly what shade of brown was seen. Reward achievements, such as completing 10 pages (each should have one object). A good naturalist will make a note of where, when and how many of the organisms they saw.
Perhaps a walk with ROY G BIV
Around the area where you live.
You’ll not see a lavender field
But there is much to be revealed.
A list of colors seen is what we suggest
At the top, those that you like the best.
What is red, or brown, or green
Or any other color you have seen.
Add the date and tuck it away;
To read again on another day.
Whether in the country, in a town, or a suburban landscape, there are always organisms to find and to ask very simple questions about. Those that do not move are easiest. Perhaps a weed, or a bush, or a tree.
Perhaps, on an early trip, try to collect three different leaves or three flowers. Bring them home. And complete a page (or pair of pages) for each. Can you make an outline so that we know their real size? Then make a picture of it: shape, major features, and most importantly add colors. Don’t forget the date and place. With flowers or leaves, you can always make pressings.
Pressing is a process where a leaf or flower is placed between sheets of absorbent paper (clean kitchen towels will work), and then pressed in a way that will flatten the flower, and dry it out. Here are several ways to do it.
The simplest is to place the absorbent paper with the flower onto a newspaper or non-shiny magazine. The paper will help draw water away from the flower. Then add a pile of books. Their weight will flatten the flower. The process will take several weeks, and every few days you may need to change the absorbent paper. The flower will become very fragile, so slide it gently onto a thin card to lift it away from the old paper, and to put it on a fresh sheet.
If you feel confident, there is a much faster process, in which you iron the flower in its envelope of absorbent paper. Iron the flower like you would iron a cloth. Do it for about 30 seconds, stop, let the paper and flower cool down, check it, and repeat. You’ll probably be done after about 5 or 6 times.
Herbs, like lavender as shown here, will often preserve their fragrance after pressing.
After the first pages are complete, reinforce the initial exercise .. that is look for more examples of the first collection – leaves or flowers. Try visiting new places: large gardens, small parks, cemeteries, and so on. After this has become established, you can move on to something different – maybe an insect, perhaps some birds that are always around. You may need to take a picture to bring home, so that you have something to look at when you making the drawing and add the right colors.
If you chose something less easy to find (mushrooms for example, or insects, or birds, or fish), the task will be much more challenging. There are still tricks to make it easier, like visiting a fish section of a shop, or going to a zoo. You can always create new books for new places, such as the ‘seaside’ Just remember to take pictures that you can look at when you get home.
By keeping the notebook, you are showing that you value the observations. It can also be brought out, you can talk through each of the pages, and maybe suggest ‘Let’s go out on the weekend, and do another book’.
And lastly, a lovely green sweat bee, visiting the little trumpet-shaped flowers of the lavender for some food.
Consider the reason ..
This book is about helping kids to become more observant, and to develop an understanding of the real world. Teaching is a fairly slow way to make progress. The learning is usually quicker and deeper, when kids engage and want to complete a task. Our challenge is to provide the motivation that will begin this process. Most kids enjoy challenges that are reasonable. Reset goals so that the tasks are never overwhelming, or to redirect the activities if there is little enthusiasm. Have various forms of applause at your disposal …. a hug, a smile, enthusiasm cost nothing; give a little more time doing something they like; even a teeny gift. Younger kids enjoy doing things with those they respect and love and who love them. And if you get it right, exercises like this will motivate them to pursue agendas on their own. Your child will be on her or his way to being an observant, independent and respectful thinker.
If you have more ideas that you would like to share, please let us know below.