Activity 1: Preparing Observation Journals
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Blank journals for all participants
- Drawing and writing implements, such as pencils, markers, or crayons
- Arts and crafts materials such as glue, glitter glue, felt, construction paper, scissors, stickers with plant and animal images
Preparation for Activity
- Purchase or make journals of unlined paper, one for each participant. Leader Resource 1, Making Nature Journals, offers two ways you can make journals.
- Gather arts and crafts materials for participants to decorate their own journals.
Description of Activity
Children will explore the practice of picture journaling. Tell the group, in your own words:
Today we will talk about a man who had a special relationship with nature. Henry David Thoreau left his home in a busy town, and went to live in a cottage in the woods all by himself. Today we will try some experiences to help us imagine what Henry David Thoreau did, and what he thought and felt about nature. Thoreau also took long trips into the wilderness of Maine and New Hampshire, keeping a journal of what he saw in the woods and mountains.
Hold up a blank journal. Ask participants whether they know what a journal is and what it is used for. Affirm their responses. Mention that people use a journal to write or draw about what they see, think, and feel.
Explain that while he was alone in his cottage in the woods, Henry David Thoreau spent much time watching nature quietly and writing in his journals. Say in your own words:
Henry David Thoreau's journals hold many wonderful observations about nature. The things he saw and thought about in nature gave him ideas for how he could live every day in his home in the woods.
Today we will observe nature, too. And we will each have a journal to draw pictures about what we see.
Distribute journals to all participants. Invite them to decorate the cover of their journals. Be sure each child includes his/her name on the cover. You may need to write some children's names for them.
If you have time and the weather permits, take the group outside to sit and draw. If your meeting place does not have its own accessible green space, determine ahead of time where you can take the group to sit and draw trees, grass, or a landscape view. Make sure you have enough adult supervision and any necessary permissions if the group will leave the premises.
If weather is inclement or you lack a suitable outdoor setting, arrange a substitute natural setting such as a planter with plants. You may want to play nature music in the background if you need to be inside. Ask children to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and record in the journals pictures of what they see.
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