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May 27, 2020
Well hello fellow journalers! Today we are going to embark on an adventure like no other, an adventure that will take us deep, deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep into……………the inside of a loop of string?! Yes, that’s right folks! We are going to venture into a loop of discovery, or a string safari!
This prompt is very cool and like the previous Zoom In, Zoom Out prompt, will allow us to focus in on one particular area outside. First things first, we will need to grab a string. Feel free to make it as long or as short as you would like, although I do recommend making it at least a few feet. You will then need to tie the two ends of the string together to form a loop. Once you have your loop, grab your journal, your drawing tools and head outside to your favorite spot in nature. Your best choice when scouting a spot to set out your string is to choose an area where you can capture different ground cover. The border of a forest or an area where you could view many different species would be great spots to setup your string. When you have finally found the perfect spot, set your string down in a circular shape. Now, it’s time to capture the magical wonder of what’s happening inside your string! Inside your string, observe everything you see happening. Use words, numbers and drawings to record plants, animals, rocks or other natural objects within your string loop. Include any interactions you see occurring within your loop. Take your time to notice everything happening in the small space you sectioned off. Don’t feel obligated to draw everything you are seeing but also use words and numbers. You can even create a “map” of everything inside your string and use text and numbers to label the things you see. Stay and observe for as long as you would like and be sure to notice any changes in your string safari from the beginning of your stay until the very end. Once you feel like you are finished, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
If you set up a camera to record your area over one year, what changes would you expect to see?
If you could set your string up anywhere in the world, where would it be? What do you think you would observe?
What thing in the area you observed would change the most? What would change the least?
What was the most interesting observation you made? What questions do you have about what you found in your loop of string?
May 13, 2020
Well hello there! Another Wednesday and another wonderful day for a new prompt for your nature journals! This week’s prompt will be Animal Encounter. Now, when we think animal encounter maybe your mind goes to that time when you were hiking by yourself and a squirrel scared you silly because you thought you were being attached by a giant bear….oh wait that was just me…sorry! Anyway, this animal encounter should be scare free because we will be observing a critter in their space from a safe distance (getting used to that by now, eh) to prohibit harm to the critter or to ourselves.
The first thing we will need to do for this prompt is head outdoors and search for an animal. Your animal can be a bird, insect, mammal, amphibian or reptile and should be visible enough for you to make sufficient observations. Upon your first observations, I encourage you to say everything you are witnessing about your animal out loud. This could help you to remember more details about the critter. Also, we don’t want to forget to mark down the date, time and weather. Since the animal may be on the move, it may be easier for you to start a few different drawings, perhaps in different poses, and focus on the position the animal is in the longest. You do not need to finish all of the drawings, just focus on the one where you can get the most detail. We will want to use everything we can, numbers, text and pictures to document everything the animal is doing. Record the shape and other details of the animal and along with any unique markings while also leaving room for notes that dictate anything the animal is doing or behavior it is exhibiting. You may also want to note the specific environment the animal is in. Stay and observe the animal for as long as possible or until the animal leaves. Make any more notes or drawings that you feel necessary and once you are finished, we encourage you to use the questions below to reflect on your experience.
What patterns did you observe?
What does that remind you of? Where else have you seen similar patterns?
Did you find any evidence that the animal may be affected by living or nonliving things in the environment?
How do you think the animal might affect the living or nonliving things in the environment?
How might the interactions we observed be affected by the time of day, year, weather, or location? What kinds of things might cause this animal’s behavior to change?
How did you see the animal moving? How did its specific structures help it move?
May 6, 2020
Our next activity for our nature journals is called, “Zoom In, Zoom Out.” Your task is to find any natural object/area and look at it from three different perspectives. First, you’ll draw your subject from a distance. This is so you can get an idea of how your subject is a part of the “bigger picture” and the role it plays in the environment. Add notes about anything you notice, identify, or are wondering about.
Next, you’ll “zoom in” on your subject so it is more like life-sized. If it is larger than the drawing space you have (see my example), just draw part of it. Again, add notes to your page about what you observe.
Finally, you’ll zoom in again and look at your subject up close! At this point you may have noticed a few things that you didn’t from the previous perspectives. Make some more notes in your journal, and then consider the following list of questions. These questions are meant to help you focus and think a little more critically about your subject, but feel free to write them and your answers in your journal if you wish.
Questions to Consider
What kinds of details do you notice when up close? Far away?
How does shifting your perspective on something change the way you think about it?
What structures would you be able to see if we had better magnification?
Are there structures or patterns of shapes you see in the magnified view that are similar to structures you see in the distant view? How are they alike and different?
What things in the surrounding environment might impact or influence the subject of your journal entry?
Is there any evidence you see of organisms that might have interacted with the subject of your journal entry?
Can you come up with any explanations based on evidence about how the environment influences and interacts with your subject?
From a Distance
Zoomed In Once
Zoomed In Again
Prompt #1 and Intro to Nature Journaling
Hi friends! One of the main goals of our work as environmental educators is to help people of all ages connect to nature in a way that is meaningful to them. Since many of us are spending more time outside these days, we thought it would be fun to guide you through a virtual nature journaling course. Nature journals can be powerful tools when used in science to record and collect data. We’re going to use our nature journals to help us develop our observation skills, build a sense of curiosity and wonder, and connect to a place in nature on a deeper level. Remember, and I cannot stress this enough, you DO NOT have to be an artist to create a nature journal. John Muir Laws, a naturalist, artist, and educator, co-authored a nature journaling curriculum that we’ll be using for our course. In his words, “The goal of nature journaling is not to create a portfolio of pretty pictures but to develop a tool to help you see, wonder, and remember your experiences.” So, don’t start off worrying about your drawing skills. I certainly don’t consider myself an artist either. But Kettle Creek will be your guide as we make mindful observations in nature. If you’re interested in following along on this journey with us, keep an eye on our Facebook page and our website for our weekly prompts, which will be posted everyWednesdayaround 11:00am. You can even sign up via email (below) and we will send you a link to the latest prompt. Check out our first video, which will show you a simple way to make a nature journal with supplies you have at home and will also include our first drawing activity. We hope you enjoy journaling in nature!
Thanks again for joining us for this series! Please share your journal entries to our Facebook! We look forward to seeing your drawings.
*Prompts and questions derived from the curriculum “How to Teach Nature Journaling” by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren.