Discovering Nature

How to Make a Sketchbook

education.com

Spring and Summer seasons always invite fun-filled outdoor play and exploration.  Enhance your young child’s experience with nature by creating garden journal sketchbooks.  This project is an activity that allows children to combine artistic techniques, visual aesthetic explorations, and literacy skills while being introduced to basic nature concepts.

The initial lesson focuses on the construction and decoration of the journal/sketchbook.  Using printing methods, children will create individual garden themed covers.  Then your child will get a chance to develop her fine motor skills by “sewing” the books together.  The finished product will allow for extension and continuation into outdoor sketching activities and letter writing development.  This is a great project to do with your child during those warm Spring and Summer months to get her outdoors and keep her mind active!

What you need:

  • Construction paper (enough for a cover, back, and at least three interior pages)
  • Pipe cleaners (cut in half)
  • Tempera paint
  • Natural materials (i.e. leaves, flowers, twigs, acorns)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Hole punch

What you do:

  1. Punch holes in the construction paper.  One near the top and one near the bottom making sure both holes are close to the same edge of the piece of paper.  Align all the holes for each journal/sketchbook together; these will be used when sewing the book together.
  2. If possible, take a field trip outdoors to gather natural materials with your child.  Ask the children to choose a few different items from the materials found to use in the printmaking process.
  3. Your child can dip each material into the tempera paint, then press onto the construction paper cover.  This time can also be used to introduce the concept of multiples (each child should make more than one print from each object).
  4. Label with your child’s name, and set aside to dry.
  5. After the print cover has dried, invite your child to sew her book together using the pipe cleaners.  She can do this by threading the pipe cleaners through the aligned holes, then twisting together.
  6. Go outside!  Venture into nature and bring along the journal/sketchbooks and markers or crayons.  Allow the children to draw what they see.  Encourage your child to label her drawings with words (if they re too young to do this an adult can help).

Keep the journal/sketchbook for an extended period of time and add to it.  Your child can add to it over the course of several different seasons if she likes.  The pipe cleaners can be undone to add extra pieces of paper.  Have your child continually add to the sketchbook as time goes by.  When she’s done, she’ll have created a memorable work of art that will last for many seasons to come!

Discovering Nature

Green Thumb

PBS Parents

Grow beans from the ground up

Materials

  • beans (pole, lima, or snap beans are easy to grow)
  • fork
  • marker
  • masking tape
  • paper cups
  • potting soil
  • shallow tray

Directions

grow and care for plants with your children.

  1. Prepare:  Soak the beans overnight so they will grow faster.  Poke holes in the bottom of the cups with a fork.
  2. Plant:  Talk with your children about plants, explaining that they need water and light to live.
  3. Nuture:  Show children how to water their beans, and discuss how the plants change as they grow.

Discovering Nature

Animal Habitats

PBS Parents

Learn about animals and where they live

Materials

  • art supplies
  • child-safe scissors
  • drawing paper
  • glue
  • paper (large sheet)

Directions

Invite your children to learn more about animals (maybe even about aardvarks like Arthur!).

  1. Prep:  On a very large sheet of paper, draw a map showing trails that wind through forests, fields, deserts, ponds, and oceans.
  2. Discuss:  Display the map on a tabletop or floor.  Ask your children to name some animals and insects that live in the different environments.
  3. Illustrate:  Distribute drawing materials so each child can draw an animal.
  4. Populate:  As you cut out the animals, engage your children in a conversation that will help them share and build knowledge.  Ask:  Where do rabbits live?  What do squirrels like to do?  If you see a baby mouse on the ground, should you pick it up?  Have children glue their animals to the appropriate habitats on the map.  Label each cut-out with the name or first initial of the animal.

Take It Further:  Plan a trip to a nature site or city park.  Have a picnic, sit quietly, listen and look for animals.  Your children can count the ones they see.

Discovering Nature

Walk Like Animals

PBS Parents

Imitate animal movement

Materials

  • art supplies
  • marker
  • music
  • paper (large piece)

Directions

Children love animals, so they’re sure to enjoy this fun movement activity.

  1. Brainstorm:  How many different pets can your children name?  Write the animal names across the top of a large piece of paper.  Put the paper on the floor and invite your children to draw pictures of the animals.
  2. Move:  Have children imitate the motions of each pet on your list.  Say: Let’s take fast little steps like a hamster.  Let’s waddle like a duck.  Music adds to the fun!

Talk About It:  Using your brainstorm list, lead a discussion about the care of common pets.  For instance, ask: How do you take care of a cat?  How do you keep it healthy and happy?

Take It Further:  Provide construction paper and markers for kids to create posters of pets they have or would like to have.  Ask each child to dictate the name of the pet or additional information (e.g., color, size) for you to write on his or her poster.

With a Group (if applicable):  Play a guessing game in which one player acts like a certain pet, and the rest of the group has to guess what animal the player is imitating.

Discovering Nature

Day Two

Step 1:  Read a picture book about spring aloud.

Step 2:  Use the Venn diagram on the chart paper to compare and contrast fall and spring.

Step 3:  Have the children go to their seats and cut out pictures from the magazines that correlate with spring.  Then repeat the rest of the steps from Day 1, this time with spring and the “spring” letters.

Day Three

Step 1:  Sing this poem to the tune of “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”:

Oh the leaves turn red and yellow in the fall.
Oh the leaves turn red and yellow in the fall.
Oh the leaves turn red and yellow,
The leave turn red and yellow
Oh the leaves turn red and yellow in the fall.  Yee-Haw!

Step 2:  Squirt a little red and yellow paint on a paper plate.  Let the children guess what color will result when the two colors are mixed.  Mix the two colors.

Step 3:  Have the children go back to their seats.  Hand out the sheets of construction paper with leaves traced on them.

Step 4:  Have children squirt a little bit of red and orange tempera paint on the leaves.  Let children use their fingers (it’s best to have them use one hand only) to mix the two colors.  Have them cover the whole lear with paint.  Set the pieces of paper aside to dry.

Step 5:  Have the children write this sentence independently on strips of writing paper: “In the fall, leaves change colors.”

Step 6:  When the artwork is dry, have children cut out the traced leaves.  Then have them glue their writing strips to their leaves.

Day four

Step 1:  Read The Tiny Seed  by Eric Carle.  Discuss how flowers bloom and trees blossom in the spring.

Step 2:  Hand out the pieces of 10 x 10-inch white construction paper.  Have children put on paint smocks.

Step 3:  Have each child pick any color watercolor paint to make a medium-sized dot in the middle of their paper, forming the center of a flower.

Step 4:  Have children use another color to paint the outline of the petals.

Step 5:  Have children use another color to paint the inside of the petals.

Step 6:  Have children use another color to paint the stem of the flower.  Set the finished pieces aside to dry.

Step 7:  Have the children write this sentence independently on strips of writing paper:  “In the spring, flowers blossom.”

Step 8:  When the artwork is dry, have children choose a piece of colored construction paper and glue their flower painting to the larger paper.  Add the students’ writing samples underneath the flowers paintings.

Discovering Nature

During Instruction

Set up

  1. Draw a Venn diagram with the words “Fall” and “Spring” on a piece of chart paper.  Set this aside for a discussion.
  2. Set aside four pieces of the construction paper, then cut out one letter of the word “fall” from each piece.  For example, trace a large “F” on one of the pieces of paper and cut it out.  Next, cut out an “A” from another piece of paper, etc.
  3. Repeat the above step for “spring,” using the remaining six pieces of construction paper.
  4. Draw or trace a large leaf on a piece of white construction paper for each child.

Lesson Directions

Day One

Step 1:  Read a picture book about fall aloud.

Step 2:  Discuss the different characteristics of fall.

Step 3:  Have the children cut out pictures from the magazines that correlate with fall.  Have the children place their fall pictures on a paper plate set in the middle of the table.  They will need enough pictures to fill the four pieces of construction paper that spell out “fall.”

Step 4:  After children have accumulated a substantial pile of pictures, have them glue the pictures in collage form to the “fall” construction paper pieces.

Step 5:  Display the collage

Continued…

Discovering Nature

Fall vs. Spring

Scholastic

Preinstructional Planning

Objectives

  • Identify pictures of fall and spring
  • Compare and contrast fall and spring
  • Engage in a color science experiment
  • Identify the different characteristics of a flower
  • Participate in independent writing

Materials

  • Chart paper and markers
  • 10 sheets of 18 x 11-inch construction paper, any color
  • Scissors
  • 18 x 11-inch sheets of white construction paper, one per student
  • Optional:  Leaf stencil
  • At least one picture book about fall (for example, Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell)
  • At least one picture book about spring (for example, It’s Spring! by Pamela Chanko and Samantha Berger or Spring by Maria Rius)
  • Magazines (You want magazines about food, clothing, animals, and plants.)
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Red and yellow tempera paint
  • The Tiny Seed  by Eric Carle
  • Paint smocks, one per student
  • Strips of writing paper, two per child
  • Pencils
  • 10 x 10-inch pieces of white construction paper, one per child
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water and cups for painting
  • 18 x 11-inch sheets of colored construction paper, one per child

Continued…

Discovering Nature

Lesson Directions

Day One

Step 1:  Read a picture book about winter aloud.

Step 2:  Ask the children which images in the book let them know it was winter.  List their responses on the T-chart.

Step 3:  Have the children cut out pictures from the magazines that correlate with winter.  Have the children place their winter pictures on a paper plate set in the middle of the table.  They will need enough to fill the five pieces of construction paper that spell out “winter.”

Step 4:  When children have gathered a substantial pile of winter pictures, distribute the construction paper with the “winter” letters cut from them, and invite children to glue pictures in collage form to the paper.

Step 5:  Display the collage.

Day Two

Step 1:  Read a picture book about summer aloud.

Step 2:  Using the Winter/Summer T-chart, list the children’s responses to the book that depicted the summer seasons.

Step 3:  Have the children cut out pictures from the magazines that correlate with summer.  Then repeat the rest of the steps from Day 1, this time with summer and the “summer” letters.

Day Three

Step 1:  Pull all the winter and summer clothes in a big pile in the middle of the carpet.  Have children sit in a circle around the big pile of clothes.

Step 2:  Ask the children what type of clothing they see in the pile.

Step 3:  Tell the children that they are going to sort the clothing into two groups, winter and summer.

Step 4:  Have the children sort the clothing.

Step 5:  Have each child select an article of clothing.

Step 6:  Have the children who selected a winter clothing item sit at the table.  (The other children may go to a center or do another activity.).  Hand each winter-clothing student a sheet of writing paper and have them write these words:  “In the winter, I wear __________.”  Have them sound out and write the name of the article of clothing that they selected in the space provided.

Step 7:  Now have the groups switch.  The children who chose summer clothing should sit down at the table and write these words on writing paper: “In the summer, I wear_________.”  Have them sound out and write the name of the article of clothing that they selected in the space provided.

*You can choose to have the two groups work at the same time.  You can also adapt the exercise for one child – by having that child choose first a winter piece of clothing and then a summer piece of clothing doing the writing exercise in between choices.

Step 8:  Have all the children go back to their seats.  Give each child a picture of his or her face and have them glue the photos to the tops of the writing paper.  Have the children draw self-portraits of themselves wearing the article of clothing that they chose.

Step 9:  Display the Winter/Summer T-chart, which children can reference to add details to their pictures, such as snowfall for winter or a bright sun for summer.

Continued…

Discovering Nature

Winter vs. Summer

Scholastic

Preinstructional Planning

Objectives:

  • Identify pictures of winter and summer
  • Compare and contrast winter and summer
  • Sort and classify winter and summer clothing
  • Participate in independent writing

Materials

  • Chart paper and markers
  • 11 sheets of 8 x 11-inch construction paper, any color
  • Scissors
  • At least one picture book about winter (for example, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats)
  • At least one picture book about summer (for example, Summer by Maria Rius)
  • Magazines (about food, clothing, animals, and plants.)
  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Winter and summer clothing, such as mittens, ski coats, bathing suits, shorts, etc.
  • Writing paper
  • Pencils
  • Picture of each child’s face

During Instruction

Set up

  1. Draw a T-chart with the words “Winter” and “Summer” written at the top on a piece of chart paper.  Set this aside for discussion.
  2. Set aside five pieces of the construction paper, then cut out one letter of the word “winter” from each piece.  For example, trace a large “W” on one of the pieces of paper and cut it out.  Next, cut out and “I” from another piece of paper, etc.
  3. Repeat the above step for “summer,” using the remaining six pieces of construction paper.

Continued…

Discovering Nature

Lesson Extensions

Families can take their children on nature walks throughout the year to notice how the environment looks different as the seasons change.  Suggest that they keep notes in a journal to look back on or share in a group setting.

Science:  Learn about other trees/plants/flowers and how they change as the seasons change

Social Studies:  Show pictures of seasons from places all around the country and around the world, demonstrating that the seasons can look different depending on where you are.

Language Arts:  Make up a story about a tree and how the tree changes through the seasons.

Art:  Make a larger version of the four trees project using sheets of colored butcher paper.  You can have children cut out an actual leaf, flower petal, and apple shapes from construction or tissue paper.  Label the trees and hang the mural up.