Have you ever participated in the Great American Campout? Perhaps you plan to join this year on June 23 along with about 100,000 fellow campers. New and veteran campers from around the country share their love of the outdoors and camping as part of this annual event. Some campers pack up the RV for an adventure away from home; others pitch a tent in their backyard. However you choose to participate, the goal of this annual event is to encourage everyone to get out and enjoy camping all year long.
Last year I wrote a blog with ways to celebrate Great Outdoors Month. That blog includes several suggestions for enhancing the outdoor experience and sharing information with others. Many of those ideas work perfectly with the theme of the Great American Campout.
As you spend time outdoors with students or your child, a proven way to document learning is through journaling. Journals allow students to record many different aspects of their experience including sights, sounds, smells, and their reactions to the experience. This article from Connections Academy outlines five benefits of journal writing for students. Also, journaling over the summer months provides an opportunity for students to practice writing and observation skills outside of the classroom setting.
These sites share some unique nature journaling ideas for students of all ages:
- Berkshire Museum – this PDF provides a complete lesson for student nature observations and journal entries. Use these ideas for any outdoor location and adapt to all age ranges. The tips on page 2 are handy and provide ideas for creating journals and focusing on comments instead of artistry.
- Project Learning Tree – shares many ideas to include in journals. These ideas range from music (creating sound maps) to engineering (proposing ways to mitigate unwanted noises).
- Fish & Wildlife Service – this lesson is for students in grades K- 6 and offers an introduction to nature journaling. In addition to ideas for discovering and writing about nature, this lesson also includes book suggestions and an extensive resource list.
- Chateau Meddybemps (reviewed here) – this site shares many ideas for creating nature notebooks. Scroll through the website to view and visit online nature walks to lakes and beaches and to observe spring and fall colors. At the bottom of the site take advantage of the free printable journal pages to use for your nature journals.
If you want to try creating your journal online, there are many options. Try uploading images and writing responses to create a free web page. Make stunning journal presentations including video, images, and more using free tools like Sway. For a more personal experience, try using a free online diary like one of these listed below:
- The Little Memory (reviewed here) – this is a private, personal space for diary writing. The Little Memory encourages users to write daily by creating writing streaks to celebrate daily entries. Mark favorite entries to find and review at a later time. Add your photos to create lasting memories.
- Current (reviewed here) – Current is another online diary with a Twitter-like twist. Diary posts are limited to just 140 characters. Use Current as a perfect way to summarize your nature adventure into a few well-chosen words!
- MailDiary (reviewed here) – MailDairy won’t let you forget to write in your diary or journal. Each day MailDiary sends you an email asking about your day and your experience. Type your response and reply to the email to automatically generate your journal entry.
- Penzu (reviewed here) – Penzu is the most robust journal tool on this list. Penzu provides a fully customizable and private journal for use across any device. Choose backgrounds, covers, and fonts to fit your mood. Add tags to entries and easily find keywords. Penzu also sends custom email reminders to remind you to write as often as you choose. Another excellent feature of Penzu is their section with information on journaling basics. In this section, be sure to check out the examples and journal prompts to get you started.
However you choose to experience the Great American Campout, it is an opportune time to get outdoors and observe nature with family and friends. Take advantage of the many available resources to enhance your nature experience and focus on the sights and sounds around you.