I don’t know about you, but I’m going just a little stir crazy these days. I’m lucky, though, to live close to the Ompompanoosuc River. After just a short hike through the woods near my house, I’m there, and it’s glorious. I can’t help but sit down on the rocks, close my eyes, and let the sounds take over. Then, I open my eyes and write. On the walk back, I’m calmer. Happier. And, I notice more – wild strawberry leaves, a pencil-tip tree stump sculpted long ago by an industrious beaver, a tiny fern tenderly unfurling. By the time I arrive home, I always have a few stones in my pockets, maybe a feather or two, and a lot less weight on my shoulders.
If you, too, feel a sense of ease when you leave the world of screens and enter the world of growing things, and if writing about or drawing the things around you sounds like it might be a bit of fun, then check out these resources.
Northern Woodlands Tic Tac Toe Treasure Hunt
Northern Woodlands Magazine (located in Lyme, NH) has been posting a new series called “This Week in the Woods” with spring sites you can find right here in the Upper Valley. Take a look and see how many you can find!
Cedar Circle’s Nature Journal Club
Cedar Circle’s Nature Journal Club is a new program to encourage nature connection and social connection. Every Monday they share a prompt video, and during the week, kids do that prompt in their journal (along with anything else they’re inspired to do). Join in live with fellow nature journalists every Friday at 10am, (email Meredith for the invitation link) or simply visit Cedar Circle’s Facebook page where you can send in pictures of your journal entries, ask questions and talk about the things you’ve noticed.
How to Keep a Nature Journal
A lovely, simple blog post at MMN (Mother Nature Network) on how to start your own nature journal.
The Nature Journal Club
The Nature Journal Club is a diverse community of artists and naturalists, of all levels, who meet together through Facebook to connect to nature through art. Though centered in the San Francisco Bay Area it is open to anyone with a passion for exploring nature with a journal.
How to Teach Nature Journaling
If you or your children thrive on structure, consider downloading a free pdf of John Muir Laws’ and Emilie Lygren’s book How to Teach Nature Journaling. It’s aimed at teaching children how to keep a nature journal (but in learning how to teach others, you, of course, learn yourself). It’s beautifully laid out and is bursting at the seams with great ideas. You’ll need to add the book (and, if you like, its free companion book Opening the World through Nature Journaling: Integrating Art, Science & Language Arts) to your cart and then input your name and address (even though it’s a digital download). No credit card is requested. This resource is highly recommended!
Looking for something to keep the kids entertained (dare I say enthralled)? Perhaps a podcast is just the thing! Podcasts for kids have come a long way. Here are a handful that run the gamut – from science to mindfulness, old-timey radio to ethics, and even (since this is a library website, after all), a book club!
Book Club for Kids
A free, 20-minute podcast devoted to middle grade books and readers. Each show features a trio of students discussing a favorite book, an interview with the author, and a celebrity reading. The Times of London named the program one of the “Top 10 Podcasts for Children” in the world.
An award-winning science podcast for kids and curious adults from American Public Media, Brains On has already produced over 100 episodes. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world with topics like “Can you dig to the center of the earth?” “How scientists are working to stop the coronavirus” and “Mary Shelley and the science of Frankenstein.”
Eleanor Amplified is an adventure series for the whole family. Listen together as our hero, the world-famous radio reporter Eleanor Amplified, foils devious plots and outwits crafty villains, all in pursuit of the big story… Eleanor will spark laughter and conversation the whole family will enjoy, while preparing kids to appreciate journalism and make smart media choices in the future.
Andrew & Polly and their friends consider music, science, art and culture in a fun-filled family-friendly podcast that parents enjoy and younger kids eat right up.
These short stories are meant to help children calm down and relax by guiding them through visualization and breathing exercises. Peace Out was created as an accessible resource to teach children about their emotions and social skills as well as finding calm and peace in their daily lives in a fun and relaxing way.
Short & Curly
SHORT & CURLY is a fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents, with questions and ideas to really get you thinking. It asks curly questions about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future.
And finally, who couldn’t use a little nostalgia, these days? If you’re somewhere around my age (forty-ahem), you probably remember ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock with fondness. Well, you can watch every short episode (and share them with your kids) for free! Check them out on ABC’s website.
As always, stay safe and healthy, everyone,