What do I need?
- A booklet with preferably drawing paper, but other light coloured paper will work too. You can make it yourself like we did for CWCN school holiday activities, you can buy it in a stationery or art shop, you can also use a drawing pad.
- Pencil, colour pencils (most kids are likely to also need an eraser and a sharpener on standby). Of course, you can use crayons as well, and water colours etc. That’s entirely up to you.
- Glue may be good to have, especially if kids start collecting, for instance leaves.
- A jar with lid may be a beneficial too, just in case an insect is caught and requires looking at for a little while before being sketched and released again .
Who can do it?
All ages because the activity can be adapted (yes, mum and dad can do it too).
How does it work?
We all feel better when we interact with nature every single day. It relaxes us, puts our mind at ease and gives us joy. No matter whether we sit in our garden, explore a creek line on our walk, or bushland and open space, there is always something to see and explore for all age groups. Birds are there with their calls, butterflies flutter about, a wallaby leaves a dropping, a bandicoot leaves a conical hole, bees visit the newly flowering wattles, ants hurry up and down the dimpled bark of a spotted gum, dragonflies rest on a lomandra leave, possums and gliders as well as goannas have left scratch marks on the bark of our most loved tree, and hollows in old growth trees may host lorikeets, kookaburras or a furry animal. If we listen carefully, we may hear the wind make a melody, see the sun allow leaves and branches to shadow-dance across rocks, and we may see tiny plants push through the soil to unfold their leaves and grow into strong plants, or —after rain— see a mushroom emerge, open its umbrella cap and whither again.
To create a Nature Diary is a wonderful family activity. Allow your children to explore your garden or your neighbourhood park, gently guide them in observing nature, in looking closely and following animal trails, in discovering signs of animal life. Tell them to close their eyes and listen, to smell, to feel...
Take them for a walk to local bushland, to the lagoon at Biami Yumba Park or to the little lake at Anzac Park, let them discover waterfowl (who knows they might even see a Royal Spoonbill and observe how it uses the ‘spoon’ to find food). At the same time they may hear a frog call and even see a little frog in the waterside vegetation. They may find flowering trees and shrubs on the way, or discover and collect oddly shaped seeds or tiny and very large leaves. If they are like the group members depicted here, they will be thrilled to discover a spider on a tree trunk and nearby a caterpillar, and shriek with excitement when the spider attacks the caterpillar. They may observe a leafcutter ant at work, a bee covered in pollen….. Everything they see makes for ample conversation and discussion. Once they had their walk and exploration, they will love to sit on a picnic rug or a camping chair, or at a table and sketch a picture of their adventure, approach what they have seen as budding scientists with detailed information, or just collect leaf shapes and glue them into their book or place them below the paper with the underside up and do some leaf rubbing with a crayon. Or they may lie on their picnic rug first and guess why this cloud looks like an elephant and the next one like a very hungry caterpillar, and then add them to their observations in their little journal.
All children no matter the age are perceptive. They observe nature with all their senses and are amazingly focused when it comes to reproducing their impressions. This activity is equally exciting and calming. Why not repeat it over time and have children create their very own nature journal.