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Nature journaling, a powerful experiential learning journey
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Nature journaling, a powerful experiential learning journey

Landscapes have always offered me an embodied experience to cultivate the more holistic aspects of self and I intentionally seek them. I first started a nature journaling practice in Costa Rica and I would visit the same spot for an hour day-after-day and observe things big and small in the dynamic interplay of what’s ‘out there.’ Nature journaling involves the regular recording of observations and experiences with the natural world. As time slows down, you become attuned to your surroundings and take notice of the different sounds, play of light, and shades of colour. Since returning home, I have taken up nature journaling with my family, as an activity that can be enjoyed outdoors and indoors, especially in the winter months! Here are some tips on how to nature journal with kids:

  • Nature journaling can take on many different shapes like drawing, painting, writing poetry, or recording detailed observations. There is no wrong or one right way to nature journal.
  • Anything can be a topic for drawing such as a spider in her web or even a household companion.
  • Nature journaling can be as simple as observing birds that come to your bird feeders and drawing a particular bird’s postures. What is that bird doing? What does their call note or song sound like?
  • Topics of discussion with your children can be about the relationships between the different ecologies like for example, between a bumblebee and a flower.
  • Sound mapping involves paying attention to what you hear. This activity can involve closing your eyes, and drawing and locating the different sounds with different colours on paper. What do you hear? Why do certain sounds seem louder than others?
  • Nature journaling is an activity that can be enjoyed during Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter! We especially enjoy noticing the birds during their annual migration. Which birds come back first and which ones arrive later?
  • Notice the changes that are happening as you are observing the environment. Draw the position of the clouds. Do they stay in the same spot or are they moving?
An excellent book “Keeping a nature journal: Discover a whole new way of seeing the world around you” written by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth offers a detailed account on how to nature journal throughout the seasons. This blog post dedicated to Leesa Fawcett who taught me about nature journaling for environmental education.

Mom Approved: Nature-Based Activities to Get Outside this Winter!
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Mom Approved: Nature-Based Activities to Get Outside this Winter!

I've been thinking a lot about winter activities as I find, as a mother of a four-year-old, that winter can be a more challenging season to get outside and explore. Some of the best nature experiences that I've had with my daughter have been just exploring in the forest and seeing what emerges. Here are some nature-inspired activities for enjoying the natural world during the winter season Make a healthy homemade suet as a fun activity to feed those backyard visitors. Even when it's difficult to get outside, we still observe what the birds are doing. Break out those binoculars to identify the birds and look at their field marks or coloration. Snowshoeing is a healthy, fun way to explore the forest and get some exercise in the winter months. Tracking is an engaging way to learn about wildlife to demystify where they’ve been, where they’re going, and what they’ve been doing. By looking at tracks, you can identify which animals made these tracks or try to trace the origin of the tracks by following them. Nature journaling can direct our attention to ‘place’ and changes over time, and can be done indoors and outdoors. It’s a way to cultivate our inner naturalist or those feelings of feeling connected to the natural, more-than-human world.


Additional Resources: There are many cities that offer free nature-based programming. Wildchild which is London-based encourages child-led, outdoor free play. http://childreach.on.ca/wild-child/

Making your own suet for birds this winter!
Photo by Barb D'Arpino
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Making your own suet for birds this winter!

Making your own suet for the birds visiting your backyard during winter is a wonderful way to stay connected to nature while still staying warm! This is a simple way to provide another food source for birds to help them out during the long and cold Canadian winters." Below is a simple recipe for suet that will bring feathered friends to your NatureHood! Note that the temperature needs to be cold enough so that suet does not melt.

Simple Suet Recipe for Wintering Birds

Ingredients

2/3 cup coconut oil 2/3 cup black oil sunflower seeds 3 tbsp peanut butter with no salt added 3 tbsp cornmeal

Oats, corn kernels, peanuts out of the shell, and unsalted almond butter can also be added to the mixture.

1) Melt the coconut oil on a saucepan over low heat. 2) Add peanut butter, stir well until blended 3) Turn off stove, add other ingredients and mix well 4) Pour into a low profile pan 5) Once suet is cooled down, cut into cakes that will fit suet feeder 6) Wrap cakes individually to store in freezer.

Et voila! Enjoy the company of nature from the comfort of your home! To learn more about the birds that stay in our backyards over winter, check out our Winter Birds e-Book today!

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