Keep a nature diary

There are infinite signs of life lurking at the bottom of the garden.

Spend a little time outdoors with your child, encouraging them to explore the terrain, and to write about it afterwards. The purpose of the exercise is to enhance your little explorer’s observational skills, and you’ll be amazed at the details they might notice once they get into the habit of jotting things down.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

Instructions

  1. Choose an outdoor space* to explore with your child.
  2. As you walk around, follow your child’s interests and instincts. Remind them to tread carefully, to listen, and to observe.
  3. When you return inside, grab an old notebook and encourage them to write down some of their thoughts about what they heard and saw.
  4. A good way to start is to get them to write down one word to describe something they heard, two words for something they saw, and three words for something they felt.
  5. This can be as simple as jotting down the date, a caption, and a quick sketch – or as elaborate as Darwin’s very own taxonomy tree!
  6. They can carry this notebook around in their bag throughout the summer, and return to it whenever the mood strikes.

Top tip*: If you have limited access to the outdoors, you can search for urban wildlife, or for signs of houseguests! You may also want to look out for…

Clouds

Cloud spotting is an aimless activity, but that’s precisely what makes it so worthwhile. Look up! The Cumulus could be a candyfloss stick, or a chubby bunny. The Cumulonimbus could be a sign of storms to come, or an invitation to dance in the rain. The Cirrus could be a lock of hair, or a writer’s quill – penning messages across the skies.

Animal Tracks

Slimy snail-trails on the pavement, paw-prints in the mud… these tracks mark the journeys made by creatures big and small, and they can be found in unlikely places. An upturned bin might be the work of a crafty fox, or it could have just been blown over by a gust of wind. It’s up to you to investigate.

Birds, Fish and Insects

Upturn garden stones, peer under the kitchen cupboards, peek into vents and radiators, or take a net to the nearest stream!

Further Resources:

Bumble Bee Identifier, from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Cloudspotting App, from the Cloud Appreciation Society

Kids’ Garden Bird Identifier, from The Woodland Trust

  • Cost
  • Free
  • Time Needed
  • 1 hour to create, to be completed over the Summer
  • You will need
  • Notebook, Pens, Glue (optional - to stick in any natural “clippings”, like leaves), Magnifying Glass (optional)
  • Skills developed
  • Observation, Planning, Commitment
  • Perfect for
  • Reflective Detectives