This week we’re at the beach on an imaginary family vacation! Today we’re adding in a few learning activities. Nothing school-ish, just fun. This time we’re doing science and nature.
Be considerate. If you try any of these fun projects, won’t you leave a nice comment for the blogger who posted it? We bloggers live on comments.
Science is great when you get to see the “why” and the “how.”
This simple lesson shows shy poor little Woodstock needed Beak Lotion. Suncreen Science is a simple project from the blog Playdough to Plato and any parent can carry it off with their kids. Here’s a great Ted-ED Talk on Why Wear Sunscreen
What does water do to the shore line? Scientific American has a great lesson for kids.
There are countless other great simple science experiments to illustrate all kinds of things related to the beach, the ocean, marine life and related topics.
Family Service Project
Today is World Oceans Day! It is focusing on the problem of plastic trash killing oceans. Why not make a family service project and take a beach walk and pick up trash? Don’t worry if you are reading this after the actual day–service projects like this are needed 24/7/365 worldwide. Here’s the Twitter hashtag, too, if you’d like to learn more or see what others are doing. #WorldOceansDay
Part of the joy of any outdoor time is exploring the sights, sounds and yes, even the scents, smells and sounds. Time outdoors spent enjoying the natural world reduces stress. While there may be complaints, there maybe eye rolls, there may be downright hostility…at first…but when they realize there is no escaping the family’s plan to be outdoors, they may actually begin to enjoy it. With the teenagers, remember, this is vacation–bribes are OK!! Peace is what we want. They can have their screens when the family is done.
The beach has more “nature” to offer than just sand, water, shells and driftwood. There may be feathers, rocks, fish bones, insects and plants–plants both in the water and on land.
One way to explore them is Nature Study and Nature Journaling. Kids are naturally curious–let them collect shells and rocks and whatever. Don’t try to encourage or force it. Just let it happen. Collecting, observing, recording are essential science skills. The collecting won’t be a problem–I promise! Observing likely won’t either. Recording–well, use your own judgement, part of the problem with recording may be not having yet learned to draw or not understanding what to draw. They can record by pressing & drying plants or by collecting postcards, by making prints or rubbings or by making a craft, too. But take a tip–try to avoid glossy packaged kid’s nature journal kits. Let the child’s own work and words be the beauty of the book. And, don’t get too hung up on appearance–any old notebook will do to see if you like keeping a nature journal.
All of these books are available on Amazon
Tip: Young parents–Ask for Field Guides as gifts. They are a great source for nature study and just for wiling away a dull raining afternoon. They cover plants, animals, sea shells–even weather.
Here are some examples of children’s Nature Journals entries found on the blog Our Journey Westward. It’s very important that you study these before moving on the my Pinterst Nature Journal
Porn Board. Remember, many of these were done by artists–the kind who make money off their art! If you have Nature Journaling Envy, I’m right there with you. On my short-term bucklist list is to take one of these online drawing classes.
First a few resources for parents–you can skim before your trip and read over the next year if you find your family really enjoys nature study, nature walks and/or nature journaling.
Keeping a Nature Journal or the Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling both provide a good introduction to nature journaling. Basically you pick a plant or animal or flower or a scene that interests you. You study it, examine it, feel it, observe its habitat then draw or paint it (or represent it in other ways) you may add a sample by drying and pressing a flower, for example, or a small rock sample in a ziplock bag. You might make a shell collection in a shadow box, draw or photograph it, then correctly label the shells on the page in your journal. Most nature journal-ers label things accurately–some even with the Latin names. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this–just get out and enjoy and enjoy doing a journal.
Tip: If I said “Let’s go on a nature walk” my kids would flee. If I said “Let’s go on a drawing hike,” they scrambled to find colored pencils and sketchbooks! A fun way to get them drawing was to buy a post-card sized watercolor sketch pad. Much more fun when you can draw, then drive the Post Office lady crazy picking out a stamp and then send it to Grandma! Even better–the paper clutter is at Grandma’s house then! Be sure to take a picture!
Here are some other ways to represent the plant or rock or whatever in your journal. Obviously, clay and similar would work best if a photograph of the original creation went into the actual journal. But the same principles of classifying the item, noting the date, time and other factors could still be carried out with the photograph on the page.
Options for Little Children
Won’t you visit these blogs and leave them a nice comment on their great nature study ideas? Things to Share and Remember, Nurture Store (She has a Garden Art E-book!) and the Artful Parent (she has two books out!)
For Older Kids and Adults
Book of Firsts
This journal is just what it sounds like “the first corn plants are up,” “the first geese flying south,” “saw Orion,” etc. Very simple. It’s a fun family activity and can be a useful dinner-time conversation starter. You could even just note them on your calendar, but the journal is even nicer–it keeps multiple years together. Add in drawings, photos, whatever you like. Here’s my friend Jeanne’s book of firsts on her blog, A Peaceful Day.
Tomorrow we wrap up our vacation!