Nature Journals are a popular way to engage children in the great outdoors. The flora and fauna of your local neighborhood become the teachers in the ultimate open-air classroom. Detailed nature studies are exciting, but can also be a good deal of work. As a summer alternative, try a tiny square nature journal. It has all the benefits and enticements of a full-blown nature study, packed into one little square. This makes it easier for kids to do on their own, and leaves plenty of time for summer fun!
For added learning, visit your local library or pick up this fantastic series of books called, “One Small Square.” These books feature beautiful illustrations of diverse flora and fauna tucked inside a small square picture of different habitats, and your children will be enthralled by them!
Find Your “Square”
The first step to this type of study is locating a spot. This is where the entire study will take place. It should be a spot that is easy to get to frequently. One in your backyard or a close by a park that you frequent would be perfect.
Your spot should be on the small side, only 2-4 feet wide and long. It should be compact enough for a child to do a thorough investigation in a matter of minutes. Try to pick a location that has a variety of vegetation.
Make a Habit of It
The purpose of a tiny square nature journal is observing changes over time. It invites the children to take a very close look. When observing large areas, it is easy to miss so many details. The larger trees, animals, and insects grab your attention. However, even the smallest of squares is teeming with activity.
Decide how often you will visit your little spot. Every day? Once per week? Make sure you will get in enough observations to see the smallest changes, but remember it is summer. This activity should not add stress to your day. Regular visits are crucial to this project, so think of how you can make them part of your routine this summer.
The Big Picture
A little square can be packed with big life. Observing the changes each visit, and recording them in your journal, will help children understand the bigger picture of your eco-system. So many tiny creatures, subtle changes, and little food chains keep the environment healthy and growing.
Drawing or photographing your spot on visits or at different times of the day can offer a deeper appreciation of what happens when we aren’t looking. By comparing photos or drawings from early summer to early fall, or early morning to late at night, your child will grow in his appreciation and understanding of the world around him.
Establishing Some Roots
A one tiny square nature journal inspires ownership. This is your child’s special spot. He will be more inclined to protect it and learn from it long after the project is over. Just like the roots of trees stretch far down below the soil where we can’t see them. Having a vested interest in a tiny eco-system will extend far past the summer project. This is a chance to really connect with nature on a deep level with a project that takes just minutes per day.
Free Nature Journal Printables:
Use these free printable Nature Journals to track your Small Square!