Welcome to ON(line)SC's Virtual Learning!
Good morning naturalists,
Welcome to our sixth week of ONSC Online! This week, we'll be exploring writing about nature, as well as some of our reading recommendations. This week, we'll be doing a lot of reading and writing, so go ahead and get those pencils, pens, or keyboards ready!
As we'll be doing a lot of writing, a fun activity that you can choose to do to get this week started is to make a naturalist journal. This can be:
Several pieces of paper stapled together
A binder with your works
An old journal or class notebook
A bullet journal full of stickers and fun-colored pens
Decorate however you want! It's your journal!
Here's some samples from one of our staff journals. These journals have been used by staff to track nature sightings at the science center, as well as to record favorite nature quotes and interesting information about favorite species. You can make yours however you want!
When you sit down to read a book, most of the time you'll be picking up a piece of literature - a made up story. Take some time to think about your favorite book, and why you like it. Was it due to the characters? The storyline? A popular style of story loved by children and adults are fables, which are short stories with a lesson at the end.
Listen to this story, that originally comes from a Native American legend. Think about the characters, their relationships, and what lesson the story ultimately teaches us.
If you cannot listen to the story, or prefer to read along, the story can be found here:
From here, we are going to write a fable of our own. The best part about these stories is that animals are the main characters, and they get to be funny! For today's fable, let's choose some animals that we can find in our own neighborhood.
Let's think back to last week's theme of being a superhero for nature. What were some lessons we can take away from those activities? This can be a great main idea for a fable. For example, maybe I decide that my fable's main point is “we should waste less food to keep it out of landfills”. From here, I can think about a story that would teach that lesson at the end.
Now, we get to decide who is telling the story. This involves both perspective - who is telling the story, and point of view - are we writing in the first-person (“Today, I saw a deer in the yard and wondered where it lives”), the second-person (“Today, you see a deer in the yard and want to find out where it lives”), or the third-person (“Today, Josie saw a deer and wanted to know where it lives.”). The easiest stories to follow will try to stay in the same perspective and point-of-view.
From here, you can design the plot of the story. What will happen in your story? When writers start out writing their own story, they often start with an outline - kind of the “skeleton” of the story. Just like our bones help support and connect the various parts of our body, the outline provides a basic structure for the story. It helps keep your thoughts in order, as well as making sure that you get to use all of those fun ideas you have! It is also helpful to decide on the setting - where the story takes place, and the characters.
For my fable, I might write my plot as “Josie the goose and Thomas the deer have been throwing away their unused food over the fence into each other's yards, each not knowing the other lives there. As the trash piles up, each one begins throwing more and more food over the fence, making the problem worse. Eventually, the trash piling up causes the fence to break, and both animals discover that they have been hurting each other. It takes time to re-build the fence, but the animals share meals while rebuilding it, and discover that sharing food produces less trash for everyone.”
Every skeleton needs muscles, fat, and other tissues to work-a skeleton doesn't just move on its own. Likewise, our story needs to be more than just an outline. This is where you get to write your story. It can be as long or as short as you want, based on your outline. This is where you can be creative and have fun! You get to give the characters their personalities. What are their goals? How do they relate to each other? What are their likes, their dislikes?
Once you've finished your story, take some time to re-read it to see if you made any errors in spelling, and to add other needed details. When you edit a story like this, it makes it easier for other people to enjoy your work! If you have someone else who likes to read, maybe they can edit your story too! I like to think of this final step as kind of like the skin, hair, and clothing of your story.
If you enjoy drawing, you can illustrate your story too. Drawing out important or fun scenes of your story can be a way of making your story interesting to read.
In “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, illustrations are used to add to the feel of the story.
You may be inspired by a nature memory of your own, or want to continue the adventures of a fun character. Try to include good descriptions - colors, smells and textures, for example. Good descriptions bring a story to life, and make it real. If you know anything about the real-life adaptations or characteristics of these animals, it can make it more fun to write them! Maybe you're writing a story about an owl, and you've heard that these animals can't move their eyes without moving their whole head. You can include that detail in your story for more realism!
One of the most fun ways to become a better writer is to do a lot of reading. Dr. Joanie, one of our amazing Teacher-Naturalists here at the science center came up with a list of her favorite reading recommendations. These are timeless stories that will delight readers of all ages.
If you enjoyed writing your story, feel free to share it with us! We'll be doing our weekly find-out Friday at 11:00AM CST!
If you enjoyed watching today's lessons and would like to purchase one of our ONSC Virtual Merchandise Packages, which includes an ONSC Program T-shirt and field journal, click to go to our Online Store.
During this time, we only have limited amount of merchandise available for purchase.
Merchandise orders will ship First Class USPS every two weeks on the following dates:
May 14 & May 28