The Nature Journal

Is there anything more beautiful than the first almost lime-colored spring green that appears on the willow trees of New York City at the end of March?

Playgrounds may be temporarily closed, but we can still take walks outside (with caution, masks, and social distancing), pass street trees and community gardens, and visit our neighborhood parks. Spring has always been my favorite season to observe the flora and fauna in New York City rapidly shift as the (nearly garish!) yellow Forsythia bushes make way for pink Magnolia blossoms.

This is when the redbuds trees bloom in little buttons of blossoms down their branches and the sturdy London Planes start to wake up from their winter dormancy. The first Spring Bulbs, the daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinth, burst through the soil, and delicate blue violets appear in clusters in the park. The morning doves, sparrows, bluejays, and mockingbirds all take their posts in the shrubs and trees, proclaiming that yes indeed, Spring is Here!

Here are some tips and ideas for incorporating a Nature Journal into your day, whether you’re a parent homeschooling, an adult who just wants to take a stroll to tap into Spring, or a teacher providing trainings and resources to families at home:

  • Creating a Nature Journal
    • Gather a few supplies, like a spiral notebook or blank paper folded into a book shape, a pencil, crayons or markers.
    • If you’d rather journal on your phone, upload your pictures to a document when you get home, and type your notes up there.
    • You can list observations with just a few words, sketch what you see in drawings, write long descriptive paragraphs, or create poems about what you see on your walk.
    • Don’t forget to date your observations so you can see how the season changes from day to day.
    • Tap into your senses: What can you hear from your windowsill or walking around your city block? Do you notice anything new when you crouch down  low or look straight up? Do you notice new scents or a change in temperature when you step into a park? Do you feel different after your walk?

       

  • Learn more: Labeling what you see can be a great way to learn more about the wildlife in your city. If you’d like to brush up on your local Flora and Fauna, learn which blooms are native, or figure out which bird is signing which song, we’re lucky to have some incredible illustrated field guides of the plants and animals that share our city. Here are a couple of my favorites:
  • Send us what your Nature Journal entries! Send any sketches, poems, and observations to Tiffany.Briery@tpl.org We’d love to gather your observations and share them on this site to inspire others! Extra credit if your able to spy into the garden (through the gate of course, be sure to socially distance!) of your school’s playground. =)
  • Stay tuned to this site for more seasonal highlights from my own (socially-distanced) nature walks around NYC!

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