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My Nature Story
You can tap into children’s natural curiosity about the living world with the My Nature Story project. It not only will get them outside, but will help them to develop their observational and creative writing skills.
- You’ll need a notebook, pencils, blank sheets of paper, construction paper, and coloring supplies.
- Start by asking some questions that will get the child thinking about what you might see when you go outside and that also fire up his or her imagination. For example, you might ask “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a beetle?” Ask the child to jot down a few notes or even draw a picture of what they imagine the world looks like from a beetle’s point of view.
- Visit a nearby green space. This could be a park or even your backyard. Ask the child to pick out a living thing: an animal, insect, or plant. The child should spend at least five minutes sitting as close to it as possible, watching it and imagining what it’s like to be that thing.
- Help the child take notes about the living thing. Encourage them to write about what it looks and feels like, what it does, what happens to it, and what it might say if it could talk. For example, you might say something like “I'm looking at an earthworm. I think the worm is thinking, 'Boy, it sure is dark down here.'"
Try to get the child thinking about the “what,” “how” and “why” of the thing— why it is shaped and colored like it is, how it gathers food, and where it lives. It might be helpful to have him or her draw a picture of what he or she sees.
- Print out the My Nature Story page and help the child use it to write and color a five-page story based on his or her findings. Make sure you ask the child to look at his or her notes and to use them to add details when you are filling out the page and when you are working on the book.
- Once the story is done, have the child use construction paper and coloring supplies to create a cover page. Staple or tie the pages together.
- Read books together about nature that include both facts and fiction. In a Nutshell by Joseph Anthony or Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, or Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin make good choices.
- With your child or a group of children, gather natural things from around the neighborhood and view them under a magnifying glass or microscope. Items could range from a leaf to water from a puddle to an insect. Have them write about what they discover when they look at things up close.
- Check out a flower, tree, insect, or animal identification book at the local library. Walk up and down your street or around the block and help the child use the book to identify what he or she sees. Have the child bring along a notebook to log what he or she has seen, how many there were, and the location. This activity also can be done with a group of children.