3 nature-inspired writing projects

Do your children tell you they hate writing?

Because kids learn differently, traditional writing assignments may not turn the crank of an artistic, kinesthetic, or logical learner. If this describes your child, maybe it’s time to take a break from book reports and essays and try a few project-oriented writing activities instead.

Kids can explore the natural world through nature inspired writing projects such as nature notebooks, nature crafts, and life-cycle mini books

Projects that spring from a child’s interests—or that tie writing to other topics—add extra meaning to subjects like science or geography. To a reluctant learner, writing becomes less intimidating when it takes a back seat to an art activity or walk in the woods!

Nature studies should be an integral part of every homeschool. This week, let your kids explore the natural world through activities that are long on fun and short on writing. These nature inspired writing projects, which appeal to struggling and enthusiastic writers alike, make a great place to start!

1. Make a Nature Notebook

Charlotte Mason enthusiasts are especially fond of nature notebooks, but any student who is attracted to wildlife—or who loves to explore sand dunes, gardens, or woods—will enjoy creating a nature notebook.

Kids can explore the natural world through nature inspired writing projects such as nature notebooks, nature crafts, and life-cycle mini books

Take the kids on a nature walk, or visit a botanical garden or zoo. Encourage them to observe and sketch plant or animal life and jot down rough notes or interesting facts they learn from posted signs or docent talks.

Later, beneath their sketches, your young naturalists can write captions or journal entries listing observed details, facts gathered from trusted sources, and their own impressions.

If you spend a weekend at the beach or mountains, the nature journal might be a thematic, one-time activity for your kids. But it can also be an ongoing, evolving project they add to regularly.

2. Make a Nature Craft: Explaining a Process

Invite your children to make a craft from items found in nature. Using their imaginations, they can create whimsical or practical items such as:

Painted rock animals
Eggshell garden
Seashell jewelry
Leaf prints
Picture frame
Diorama of a jungle, forest, or beach scene
Wind chime
Pressed-flower greeting card
Leaf collage
Living terrarium

Kids can explore the natural world through nature themed writing projects such as nature notebooks, nature crafts, and life-cycle mini booksTake a photo of the kids as they complete each step of the process. Then, using the photos as a guide, let them write the steps they took to make the craft.

Younger children can write simple, basic instructions. Older students’ directions should be clear enough that someone could follow the steps and make a similar project.

Kids who are totally into this activity may have fun printing out the photos to make an illustrated instruction manual or turning their how-to instructions into a mini book.

Check out these links if you need craft ideas:

Nature Crafts for Kids – Martha Stewart
10 Nature Crafts for Kids – Spoonful
Crafts Made from Nature – Kids Activities Blog

3. Make a Life-Cycle Book

Kids can explore the natural world through nature themed writing projects such as nature notebooks, nature crafts, and life-cycle mini booksIf you’re currently studying about the life cycle of a plant, butterfly, frog, or other growing thing, your children can make a life-cycle mini book.

You will need a sheet of computer paper or cardstock, drawing pencil, colored pencils, and a book with pictures the kids can use as a reference when drawing.

STEP 1: CREATE THE BOOK

Make a simple 8-page mini book according to either the video or diagram below:

Video Tutorial: Make an Instant Book
PDF Diagram: Make a Folded Mini Book

STEP 2: DESIGN THE COVER

On the front cover, draw and color a picture that tells something about the subject of the mini book. Alternatively, cut and paste a photo to the booklet’s cover. Add a title, such as “Life Cycle of the Frog.”

STEP 3: ILLUSTRATE THE BOOK

On the inside pages, adding one illustration per page, draw and color up to 6 pictures to show each stage of the life cycle.

Leave room at the bottom of each page to write information. For example:

Apple: 1) seed, 2) seedling, 3) tree, 4) bud, 5) flower, 6) fruit
Moth: 1) egg, 2) caterpillar, 3) chrysalis, 4) moth

STEP 4: WRITE DETAILS

Younger children can write a word or two below each drawing. Older students should write 1-2 sentences that explain the life stage shown.

Enjoy getting out in nature this week and dabbling in one of these fun projects. Your children will be writing, but they’ll be smiling all the way!

Photos: Randen PedersenJimmie, and naan, courtesy of Creative Commons
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