Updated: Feb 2
From the woods Trillium, to birch bark, to the Indian Paint Brush, to the salamander, and the Red-Tailed hawk, there is much to be said about nature’s inspiration constantly around us.
Why nature inspired creative writing lessons? People constantly write about nature, so why just add another written piece to the stack?
Nature is always changing. But on the other hand, nature is always predictable as well. Nature is God’s gift to us. We should never get accustomed to the beauty and the gift of nature. Stopping to notice the simple but complex things of nature is good for children and adults. Focusing a few lessons on nature brings a lot of joy. These lessons give students some tools on how to notice nature and write about it.
As a young girl I loved nature. I remember one autumn when my sisters and I arranged little decorative platters of nature items using pinecones, leaves, moss, sticks, etc. We had a dandy time collecting our items and posing for a picture that mom took of us.
Knowing tree and plant names and species, identifying harmful and beneficial plants, and identifying insect, bird, and animal names are important to me. People have often asked me (including my husband!) how I know all this information. I have absorbed it over the years, but I am not a David Kline, Henry Thoreau or Wendell Berry who know nature inside and out. 😊 While its good to know information about nature, it does not take a specialist to be able to introduce nature themed creative writing lessons to your students. Just get out in nature and for the sheer joy of it, write about nature.
I always like to bring my agate collection along to class when I’m introducing a nature lesson. Our family had a friend named Mark Kuhns that was an avid rock hunter. He taught me how to identify agates and took me rock hunting in the fields around our property.
The following lesson plans are not included in our creative writing books. Perhaps they could be done for an art project, or instead of story time one day a week in the autumn.
Have students take their notebook and pencil outside. Assign spots for each child, so they cannot communicate too much. Instruct student to write down everything he hears and smells in ten minutes. This lesson is purposely trying to help the students use varied functions and skills. Encourage them to sniff the earth they scratched up. Or tell them to rub a leaf in between their hands. Ask them if they can write one thing down that nobody else heard or smelled. Come back into classroom and have students read off their lists.
Tell the students to go outside. Have them group together in pairs. Send them out to find eight different green things (or brown, orange, etc.) that are in different categories. Either by size, shape, variety, etc. Have them bring their items back into the classroom and use the names of their items in a paragraph.
Have them observe ants for fifteen minutes. Read some poetry about ants to them while they observe. Also while they are observing have them jot down descriptive phrases and actions and comparisons. The next fifteen minutes have them compile a four-line poem about their ant. You could do the same things with clouds.
Take a nature walk. Have them gather a leaf or fern. Have the students place a paper over the leaf and use a crayon to color over it to make a leaf rubbing. Then take a black pen or marker and trace the outline of the leaf. Write the word “leaf” in fancy letters in the middle of the leaf. Then have the students write descriptive words about fall leaves and their woods walk. Hang them up on display for several weeks.
For a group effort, have them write a nature story to place along a path outside for the younger students. It should have a two-page spread, six or seven times. Slip the pages and illustrations into sheet protectors and place the story pages at intervals along a path to be read while taking a walk. The younger grades would enjoy their work.
Encourage your students to continually be students of nature. Tell them stories from your own childhood that included nature. Whether it was watching Robin eggs hatch, or watching Monarch butterflies emerge from their cocoon, or watching a cicada or snake wriggle out of their old skin, or just how you used to have a collection of pretty rocks.
Nature is a worthy, beautiful, safe subject for students to write about. You as a teacher will be inspired as well.