I am excited to bring a new series to my blog! Noticing Nature is just that. Geared toward teens, the goal of this series is to simply look and notice the world around you, wherever you are!
I have vivid memories of a bad case of poison oak as a little girl. I don’t remember the itching as much as I remember how I got it. My dad showed me how to make a circle with my fingers, lay a leaf on top of my circled fingers, and with the other hand give it a hard, even slap! It makes a loud popping noise, and would only work if your hand was just right. I was so proud of my new found talent, pulling leaves off trees and popping them for months to follow. And of course, you know where this is going – that’s how I got poison oak.
I’ve always enjoyed being outside and taking walks in the woods. I should have paid more attention to leaves that were poisonous when I was younger! I want my teenage kids to continue to love the outdoors as much as I do. We currently have a small group of homeschooling friends that we’ve enjoyed short hikes with over the past several years.
I remember a few short years ago, the kids and I used to do scavenger hunts, leaf art, and other crafts related to things we saw on our walks. While I may never get tired of making coffee filter butterflies, my teens have. Our walks are different now. They are growing up, and not everything needs a unit study and a craft (well, maybe a just one simple craft). But, I do want to them to see and appreciate what’s going on in the great outdoors.
Are they noticing?
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I purchased a book this summer, The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs. I thumbed through, and saw things that I never knew. I’m sure most of this information was common knowledge just a generation or two ago. Unfortunately, our society has gotten lost in electronics and other distractions in our fast paced lives to notice the awesome world around us. I want more for myself and my kids. I want to know what my grandparents knew about nature.
In my quest to find occasional activities they would enjoy, I came up short. Many resources seemed too much like preschool, or the other extreme of a semi-professional naturalist, complete with artistic drawings and pages of field notes. I pulled together a few resources I had, choosing small bits of information, a teen-friendly activity or two, and a simple list of things to notice when we are outside each month.
Things to look for in September
The following list is a few small things to take notice of. Use any of the links as a jumping off point for further study if you so choose. There’s also a free printable of the list at the end of this post!
- Autumn begins on September 22.
- Harvestmen they’re most conspicuous in the fall, at harvest time!
- Look for autumn wildflowers such as Goldenrods and Asters.
- Watch a sunset. Find out why autumn sunsets are so vivid!
- Seeds have several ways of getting around – see how many types you notice.
- Burdock was the inspiration behind Velcro!
- Mushroom spore prints make for an easy art project!
- Little Brown Bats are very busy this time of year.
- Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars forecast winter weather?
- Flying ants are on a nuptial flight this time of year.
- Take a closer look at the leaves, you may see a gall.
- Ladybug masses are starting to form. They are getting ready to hibernate.
- Keep your ears open for crickets.
- Look for Monarch butterflies migrating.
- Dare I say hurricane? Peak season is now. Track them on a hurricane chart!
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of things to notice in nature, I hope it will give you and your teens a good starting point for taking notice of the things outside and what’s going on in the world around them. This is the first in what I hope to be a great series, and I’m learning as I go. My goal is to perhaps spark an interest in the great outdoors, and give teens an opportunity that often gets overlooked with their other academic studies. Some of my ideas came from The Kids Nature Book, and The Nature Connection. Be sure to check out my Pinterest Board – Let’s Get Outside in Nature for even more ideas. If you would like this list in a free, pretty printable, it’s just below!