Here’s a May Nature Calendar to help you be intentional in getting out in Nature. I’ve also created nature journaling pages to go with the activities on the calendar where your child can record their observations and begin a habit of keeping a nature journal.
Scientific research proves that active learning through nature journaling can change the brain and boost intelligence. It makes sense. If kids are free to wonder aloud without feeling dumb or tested, they remain engaged. If they are happy in what they are doing, their attention span grows. By noticing how they feel when they experience something new, they absorb ideas more quickly. By being excited with what they’ve created, their memory expands and becomes the wellspring for future learning.
I believe this applies to making observations in nature as well. I see this in my daughter as we work our way through the calendars. She is so excited about each new observation. She can’t get enough. And I’m privileged to see the world through the eyes of a child again.
Encourage your children to observe, to ask questions, to be curious about the world around us. God has filled this world with so much beauty and creativity.
His fingerprints are all over His creation, and it’s so beneficial to my soul to spend time in his artwork.Sally Clarkson
I hope this calendar and activities helps you and your children to do just that.
31 Days of Nature Activities
Items in this list with an asterisk next to them have corresponding journal pages.
1. Keep a list of new birds that you observe.*
2. Taste fiddlehead ferns. The tightly coiled tips of ferns are called fiddleheads. In North America, the fiddleheads from ostrich ferns are often foraged and eaten. You may wish to try this with your child. Of course, make sure that you are able to positively identify the fern from which you pick the fiddleheads. Another option would be to observe the fiddleheads in the wild, and then buy a few at a farmer’s market for a new experience. I’ve found that children love to see connections about where their food comes from and they love to be involved in the process. You could substitute fried dandelion blossoms for today or day 14 if ferns are not available.
3. Test the Ph of your soil.* You can do this using either baking soda and vinegar or red cabbage.
4. Grow fresh herbs.
5. Go on a listening walk.*
6. Make imprints in mud using objects from nature. You could also make clay impressions using clay from the dollar store. Why not do both? One as an outside activity and then one later with objects you’ve collected.
7. Observe the new wildflowers blooming.
8. Bring a dandelion inside and watch it develop. We found it works best if you place the flower in a small vase.
9. Make a list of fruit trees in the order they bloom.
10. Observe birds building their nests. You may wish to participate in the citizen science Nest Watch program. Check out the Nest Watch website to find out how to participate and to learn about which birds they would like more information on.
11. Keep record of a flowering tree.* If you don’t have a fruit tree to observe, pick a different tree or bush that is undergoing change at this time.
12. Read about fawns.
13. Bring in something from outdoors to decorate your table.
14. Make dandelion honey. You can make dandelion honey with this dandelion honey recipe. For a simpler project make a smaller amount. You could also cook dandelion greens. Children enjoy foraging and using what they’ve gathered in cooking. You might also try this dandelion dyed playdough.
15. Observe leaf venation patterns.* Bring at least two different leaves inside. Place the stems in small bowls of water dyed with red food coloring. Examine the spread of the red dye over the next few days. You might have to be creative if your trees aren’t leafed out yet. You could use weed leaves and also fallen leaves from last fall. I’ve also included a sheet on leaf vein patterns in the activity pack.
16. Go on a “five senses” walk.* What can you find to see, hear, touch, feel, smell, and taste? Of course, make sure that your child knows that before he tastes anything in the wild, he needs to be sure it is safe. Some options would be something growing in your garden like chives or parsley. If berries are in season, that would work as well.
17. Learn a new constellation.
18. Look for shapes in clouds.
19. Calculate a tree’s age. You can tell the age of a tree by its rings. Find the stump of a tree and count the rings to tell its age. Read this post on Tree Rings and Dendrochronology for more information.
20. Find monarch butterfly eggs on the bottom of milkweed.* You may wish to collect the leaves and watch the eggs as they develop.
21. Go on a bird watching walk. Pick a set amount of time and record how many and what kind of birds you saw.
22 . Observe leaf edge shapes.* Leaves come in different shapes including lobed, notched, serrated, and smooth. How many can you find? You may wish to do leaf rubbings with them. Leaf shapes and leaf vein patterns play an important role in identifying trees.
23. Dry petals and leaves. With the dried petals you can make nature bookmarks or sun catchers. Here’s how we made bookmarks and a free printable that you can use.
24. Fly a kite.
25. Continue observing your fruit tree.
26. Learn to identify a new tree. We really like the book What Tree is That? for identifying trees.
27. Go on a camouflage insect hunt.*
28. Observe an ant hill.
29. Learn about June bugs. June bugs start their lives as grubs underground. They surface when they are one to three years old. If you can find dead one, your child might enjoy examining it under a magnifying glass. Its antennae look like moose antlers.
30. Watch a sunset.
31. Observe a spider web.