Two lesson plans provide opportunities for students to practice making and recording observations about animals using pictures and live video webcams.

Students studying should be encouraged to keep a notebook or nature journal to capture their observations, questions, and ideas as they explore the natural world and connect what they see and learn to possible design solutions.  Introduction to the Nature Journal includes two classroom activities that provide a great introduction to the practice of making observations and keeping a nature journal.

In the first activity, “Words for Birds,” students use evocative language to describe pictures of birds from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Then peers try to guess which bird photo the description goes with. The activity includes a handout to help students hone in on important details and s.

In the second activity, “Nature in Motion,” students go on to record observations and to make hypotheses as they follow the behavior of animals on the National Zoo’s live webcams. The animals may include elephants, naked mole rats, pandas, lions, and others as they are available. They’ll look also at a scientist’s field journal and discuss what a journal is. A student handout introduces three Smithsonian journal keepers who offer their own tips about field journaling.

Image: Smithsonian / Copyright © - All rights reserved

Lesson cover page

The activity can be accessed by downloading the 16-page Introduction to the Nature Journal booklet and/or by visiting the Smithsonian Learning Lab online collection, which includes additional media.