If you love the great outdoors and want to share this love with your children, get out the hiking boots and hit the trails. But before you go, head to the art supply store and pick up a blank journal to record your adventures and discoveries. You’ll use this blank journal as the foundation for your family’s personal field guide.
First, you’ll need a sturdy journal that’s not too big. It needs to be small enough to slip into a backpack but not so small that you’ll outgrow it too soon. Eight inches tall by six inches wide is a good size. Select a hardcover or leather-bound version for durability. You can create different sections by adding tabs. For example, you might want different sections for:
- Field notes
- Rock hunting
- Favorite hikes
Customize the tabs to meet your family’s interests. The whole idea is to create a living document that reflects how you enjoy the outdoors. When making your field guide, let the kids get involved. This project is as much theirs as it is yours. Even the little ones can participate. Years from now, you’ll look back on the crayon drawings and scribbled notes with fondness.
Use the field guide before, during, and after your camping trips or day hikes. Beforehand, you can enter maps or write checklists of things you hope to see. For example, if you’re going rock hunting, have the kids research the areas of your destination where they might find a certain type of rock and let them record trail information in the field guide. Once at the destination, let the kids enjoy their hunt. They can take photos, draw maps, describe the setting, jot down notes, write out theories, and so forth. Once home, they can print the photos and paste them into the journal. They can also research questions that may have occurred to them during the hunt and update the field guide once they discover the answers.
Science can be fun! The journal that you create together will evolve as you go. You can use it to record notes, jot down your thoughts and feelings, sketch interesting plants, or log your trips. Use it wherever you go whether it’s the coastline, forest, desert, or mountains. By creating a field guide and sharing it with your children, you will set the stage for a lifelong love of learning.
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