Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Keep a Naturalist's Journal and Tin Cups & Tinders plans


Bugle Boy working on his field bag

We are beginning a new "rabbit trail" here and I thought I'd share my plans with you, dear readers.  Being a nature notebooking dunderhead, I purchased for myself the book  How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook (see links below).  I already had Tin Cups & Tinder, but had not used it yet, so I combined these two resources into a unit on nature notebooking.  The plans I have are below.  Please know I have only just begun this unit, so I might find ways to improve these plans as I go.  I will make changes as I see they are necessary to this plan.  Have fun and happy Easter!

How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook   and Tin Cups & Tinder  Lesson Plans

(I'll keep on adding pictures and info as we progress)

1.   In How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook (HKNN), read pp. 1-4, through section on “Field Bag”

2.   Following  directions on p. 69ff in Tin Cups & Tinder (TCT), make a haversack. 

                        Materials needed:
                                    Old, baggy men’s  jeans
                                    Two buttons
                                    Needles, thread, scissors

Bugle Boy with finished nature bag!
We decided to add an extra pocket to the inside of the haversack.  You could also put this on the outside of the front flap.  Just cut out one of the back pockets on the jeans, allowing about 1/2" of extra fabric around all the edges.  You can zigzag around it, or sew it by hand.  I turned the top flap backwards (away from the pocket opening) and sewed it down by machine.

3.    Following directions on p. 89ff in TCT, make a few small field notebooks.  You can also just buy one if you prefer, but it is fun for the children to make one as well.

Work in process...
            Materials needed:
                  Plain paper
                  Needle, waxed dental floss
                  4 clothes pins or clips
                  Thumb tack and craft glue
                  Labels in book

The finished product!

Another use for duct tape!
4.   Read pp. 4-7 through Pencil Case or Box in HKNN.  Decide what you want to keep in your field bag in the way of pencils, erasers, etc. and collect those items.

Our list of "essentials":  mechanical pencil, waterproof black pen, white soft eraser, watercolor pencils (Prismacolor and Crayola are two brands I have already on hand), and a waterbrush.  I hope we can come up with a pocket on our pencil case for the eraser!
       We decided to make a two-color duct tape pencil case.  You will need to click on the link up near the top right-hand side to get instruction on how to make "duct tape fabric", if you don't already know how.  I'm linking here so I don't lose this link! Will post photos when we finish this project!

Mad Muncher and his flames!
This was a fun project!  Only my 10 yr old could really do his fairly independently, but the younger children helped assemble and made design decisions.  I found I didn't quite follow the directions correctly the first time, but duct tape is very forgiving! I abandoned the idea for an outside pocket because I felt the eraser would just keep falling out.  We ended up putting the eraser inside with the pencils and brushes.

Bugle Boy's Camo Case

5.  Read pp. 7-13 in HKNN together with your student.  Decide on whether you want a compass, hand lens, or binoculars.  If using binoculars,  turn to pp. 20-22 for detailed instructions on how to use and focus them.

6.  Read pp. 13-19 in HKNN.  Add the Beaufort Scale and measuring scale to one of your field books.  Add a pocket in the front for sketch frames.  Make/collect sketch frame rectangles.

7.At this point, we are making a few “extra” items for our field bags from TCT:
                        Tenner, p. 82, see directions for sacrifice beads at
                                     I like these because it is easy to keep your place if you are interrupted.
                                     Links for supplies:
                                             Miraculous Medals ($0.45 each)
                                             Bronze Rosary Crucifix from Holy Land ($1.93 each)
                        First Aid Kit, p. 83
                        Sewing Kit, p.61

8.  Read  pp. 23-29 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 29.

9  Read pp. 29-33 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 31.

10.  Take a nature walk and practice sketching.  Take a camera on the walk to photograph birds and squirrels that you can try to sketch later at home.  Use what you learned in the two sketching exercises to sketch.

11.  Read pp. 34- 36 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 36.

12.  Make granola and bag from TCT (pp. 41 and p.79) for your next nature outing.

13.  Read pp. 36-45 in HKNN.  Do exercises on p. 45. 

14.  Optional:  Build a bird feeder.  I like the information and easy milk carton bird feeder on this
       You could also order a nice wooden kit (which is probably what we will do).  Here's an
       inexpensive choice: Wooden Bird Feeder

15.  Take another nature walk, eating your granola and using what you have learned about sketching

16.  Read pp. 47-51 in HKNN.  Do Watercolor pencil exercises on pp. 50-51.

17.  Read pp. 52-55 in HKNN.  Do exercise on p. 53.

18.  Read about layout pp. 55-64 in HKNN.  Discuss the sample notebook pages.  View the video  Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, which contains information about the Golden Square and Fibonacci sequence.

19.  The rest of the sketching information in HKNN will be used depending upon the age/ability of your children.  I have one artist with whom I will cover the perspective drawing section and other tips for drawing in the field,  the other children will just not do this material for a few years yet.

20.  Make the plant press in TCT, p. 95ff to add to your field bag.

21.  Read HKNN pp. 97-102 (through section on System of Taxonomic Classification).  Memorize the mnemonic “Kings play chess on fancy glass sets” to help you remember the order : Kingdom, Phyla, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

22.  Read HKNN pp. 102-108.  Copy the wildflowers identification charts on pp. 117-118 and add to your field book, reduce in size if necessary.

23.  Select a few small field guides for your field bag.  We focus on one kind of thing at a time so the bag doesn’t get too heavy with lots of books.  So one week we’ll focus on flowers, another on trees, etc.

I like to take along a few Folding Guides.  They are very light weight and portable, have good pictures of common fauna and flora, and are waterproof.  Each guide costs $7.95.  Full-length guide books have tons more information, but are pretty heavy to carry along on a walk.

24.  Take another walk.  Try to identify some wildflowers.

25.  Read HKNN about bird identification pp. 108-113.  You might want to copy the list of identifying marks on p. 112 for you field book.

26.  Read HKNN pp. 113-116 to complete the information on bird identification.

27.  The last chapter of HKNN is good to use for children who are interested in adding more written notes to their field books.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Caroline, I'm sorry we missed each other at the conference. The baby had a cough, and I wasn't comfortable subjecting him to such a drive. But, I got Tin Cups and Tinder and How to Keep a Naturalist's notebook in the mail today! Thanks for the inspiration!