Walking fieldtrips to draw nature

A walking fieldtrip can bring much needed outdoor time and opportunity for scientific observation to a class schedule. The objective can be to view the sky, look for birds, find seeds, or to inventory the surrounding environment.

Whether just a walk around the school building or to a natural area several blocks away, a walking fieldtrip is most successful when materials for dealing with unexpected discoveries are brought along.

Here’s a short list of what might be useful:

  • Emergency supplies including emergency phone numbers, cell phone, information on student allergies, non-latex disposable gloves, anti-biotic wipes, band-aids, and a trash bag.
  • Each student should have drawing “pad” of several sheets of paper folded together, and a pencil, for drawing what they see.
  • Students should dress appropriately—wear sunscreen and hat in the middle of the day, and boots and gloves on cold days, for example.
  • Identification books or handouts that may be needed, for birds, trees, insects, clouds, or others.
  • For looking closer bring magnifiers, and for holding small animals (such as insects) bring small clear containers with lids such as carry-out cups or baby-food containers.
  • Young children enjoy using pretend binoculars, made by taping two cardboard tubes together and attaching a wrist loop of yarn with a staple. (See photo below.) Looking through these tubes at objects at any distance will help children focus on details.
  • To make your walk more enjoyable, pack a simple snack such as graham crackers and apple slices.
  • A camera can be used to document the exploration and discoveries.
  • Bring a change of clothes that will fit most children, just in case.

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