Having a few handheld nature observation tools for when the kids are a bit nature weary can really make a difference. There are plenty of bug collector type tubs that have a lens on the lid for close up looking. Or a simple good quality magnifying glass will improve observation skills and invite them to look closer and examine. Once you see leaf pattern detail or the hairy stem of a plant it encourages you to keep going.
My top 3 nature observation tools
- lens magnifier
- smartphone camera attachments
If you want to go one step further from a magnifying glass, then have a look at the small lens magnifiers. ( I bought one cheaply online) Its intended for coin inspection yet I find this can be a handy pocket sized micro viewer to check out your nature finds on the go and easier than bringing them home to look under a desk based microscope. It is a great nature observation tool that transforms ‘looking’ into a critical analysis and recording exercise suitable for any budding naturalist.
Also easily and cheaply available are camera lens attachments for smartphones that can take ultra close up photos, wide angle or fisheye. we generally use the close up lens as its great for seeing tiny details like the shape of grains of sand.
Use of screens and technology as nature observation tools doesn’t stop there. I try to encourage their use as tools to assist in investigations rather than distractions from where we are.
Or use them to access webcams. Explore.org is an app that contains links to webcams in a host of wildlife places all over the world. It includes a look inside a playpen at a cat rescue home or live footage from a treetop nest of a bird of prey or night time bat caves. we really enjoyed it for checking out the nightingale nest.
Easy nature observation activities
The objective with all of the small nature observation activities set out in the 365 Nature Journal is that the observing may become a type of study or analysis of what is seen. What is the point in looking if we don’t question, analyse or compare from time to time. Don’t push for this. At this young age it is about building up the experiences so there is a wealth of visual knowledge to call up at a later age.
Observations can easily grow into a type of nature study, which may be simple enough as recording what is seen and when. e.g: Bird watch diary, recording times of darkness or amount of rain falling. Visualising the data collected into bar charts or graphs is a simple science objective that would support this type of desk based study in school curriculum at ages 8 or 9.
Nature – Keep it personal
But that is only if you want to take it to a home study sort of level. If you do the supporting info is part of the 365 Nature Journal package. But if you don’t want to, just embrace the sensory nature observations which is what connects us to nature. It is a personal thing i want to encourage. More about these sensory observations are in Me and my World.