Nature Journaling with Preschoolers

 

dsc_0557

Recently I started nature journaling with my two oldest kids, Timmy (4) and Vera (3). This has been so much fun for all of us- not only do we get to spend time exploring the great outdoors, but it allows my kids to SLOW DOWN and observe the beauty of God’s creation. As they observe the intricacy of the natural world, they will hopefully grow in appreciation and awe of its beauty.

HOW WE NATURE JOURNAL

The actual journaling process is usually done in nature. We don’t bring our nature journals with us outside, mostly because I have three under 5 and if my one year old has anything to say in the matter, a peaceful sketch in nature isn’t happening. I find it much more enjoyable to walk and explore with my children as they collect treasures in buckets they carry.

We love to go on ‘nature hunts’, as we call them! We’re fortunate to live on a rather large piece of land full of wooded areas, gardens and wildflowers and there is a bay beach within walking distance. A local park or walking trail would be great, as well. As they gather, we talk about how things smell, feel, look and even sound. Even a tiny bug on a leaf is so fascinating for naturally curious kids!

With full buckets we head back indoors to more closely examine what we found. On our most recent nature hunt, my kids collected all shapes and sizes of rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, bark, berries and wild flowers. .

dsc_0561

Timmy’s bucket.

 

dsc_0554

Beautiful flowers, specifically collected by a three year old.

 

dsc_0549

Vera is obsessed with flowers lately. I get a bouquet of flowers picked from our garden daily.

Their finds are removed from their buckets one at a time and examined. Again we talk about what it is, how it looks, how it feels, how it smells. Magnifying glasses are always fun to use, too!

Anyone with little ones knows just how many questions they ask and they had plenty of questions for me while examining their finds. So, out come nature books, field guides and Google. During our last journaling experience, my three year old learned the different parts of a flower, we researched names of some local wildflowers and my son learned the different parts of a leaf and what purpose the veins of a leaf serve. I love all the learning that naturally takes place!

Then the sketching happens. It’s during the sketching that even the smallest details do not go unnoticed

dsc_0559

dsc_0557

Vera’s sketches of wildflowers.

 

image

Timmy’s sketch of berries.

 

dsc_0555

Vera’s sketch of a vinca from the garden.

Nature journals don’t necessarily have to be kept in an actual journal. A notebook would work just fine. I prefer to let my children sketch on pieces of white paper and then store them in a three ring binder. Each has their own nature journal to add to after each nature hunt.

Allow your kids to be creative! Leaf rubbings, nature stamp-art, sketches, observations, pressed flowers and photographs are all great things to include in nature journals. The most important rule is that there are no rules!

dsc_0546

Pressed flowers, included in my daughter’s nature journal.

 

dsc_0556

Timmy’s leaf rubbing.

Make time for nature journaling with small children frequently and see for yourself the wonderful learning that ensues. Enjoy the time outdoors and memories made through nature journaling! I would love to hear about your own experiences with nature journaling with young children.

 

Ripped and Torn Paper Collage

DSC_0583

I LOVE open-ended art projects for my toddler and preschooler. Sure, I love watching my kids paint pictures I draw, or color in their coloring books, or make things out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes, but there’s something so wonderful about watching them create when there is no expectation of some pre-determined outcome. Not only do  they get the chance to work on some important skills while creating art, but they are given the opportunity to be truly creative. Keep reading!

No Bake Cinnamon Ornaments

DSC_0358

Want to fill your house with the delicious scent of cinnamon, have fun with the kids and make some simple Christmas ornaments? Then give these No Bake Cinnamon Ornaments a try!

This is a wonderful recipe- it requires NO BAKING, only four ingredients and takes only minutes to whip up a batch of dough. And the absolute best thing about this recipe is that the dough will make your home smell divine!

Keep reading!

Apple Stamping

image

My nearly four year old son isn’t always excited about painting. If I substitute a stamp for a brush, however, his little face lights up and he can’t wait to tackle the project! As part of our fall theme week, I thought doing some apple stamping would be a fun idea! This art project can definitely be done by both toddlers and preschoolers- my two year old did a great job as well! Keep reading!

Perfect Jello Playdoh

Two things my kids and I enjoy doing on rainy Pacific Northwest days are cooking and playing with playdoh. Making homemade playdoh combines the two! The jello adds vibrant color and a pleasant smell to the playdoh.

Here’s what you will need to make a perfect batch of play dough. This recipe makes one nice size ball of play dough for each color.

  • 1 cup of  flour
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • 2 Tbs cream of tarter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 Tbs oil (most recipes call for 2 Tbs but I happen to find it a little greasy)
  • 1 3oz. pack of Jello in the color of your choice
  • food coloring (optional)

First, mix all your ingredients in a medium saucepan.

DSC_0196

Mix in your jello and watch it turn a bright color! My oldest loves to add the jello.

playdoh

After it’s mixed, stir the mixture constantly (you don’t want it to burn!) over medium-high heat.

DSC_0197It will start smelling great! After about 2 minutes or so, your mixture will start to thicken and clump together.

DSC_0198

Once the playdoh has formed into one ball, place it on wax paper to cool.

DSC_0199

You may need to knead it with some flour once it has cooled. Go ahead and add a few drops of food coloring if you want more intensely colored playdoh.

Store your playdoh in an airtight container in the fridge and it should last for quite some time.

Start playing and enjoy! I went a little crazy one day with the playdoh making and made a whole rainbow! My kids love playdoh, so all this effort has kept them busy for hours.

image

playdoh3

playdoh2