As commuters put down their car keys and people generally slow down amidst the Coronavirus shutdown, quiet is settling in.

Suddenly, birds passing through are audible in the early morning – their song replacing rhythmic engine noise. The jingle of collars pulling solitary dog walkers – the meow of a cat across the street – gives audible life to the streetscape.

Nature is creeping back into our cities. It’s an opportunity for our children.

What if our kids could bottle this fleeting moment in history? Somehow record the everyday, out-of-the-ordinary?

We figured out a way – with the help of some great advice from a well-known educator. Scott Sampson, the presenter of the popular Dinosaur Train educational kids show and author of Raising a Wild Child, advocates using a “Nature Journal”.

The idea is to give kids a way to record what they see, hear and feel outside in nature – even if it’s in their own backyard. Simply pick a spot, head out at roughly the same time every morning and listen, write, draw, take notes and be in nature.

You don’t have to have a big yard – maybe there’s a scrap of green down the street. Or a quiet apartment window overlooking a garden.

We made a nature journal with Cricut Joy™ in less than 30 minutes. Here’s how!

Materials needed:

  • Four sheets of paper (any kind will do)
  • Stapler
  • Cricut Joy, but you could also make with Cricut Explore machines or Cricut Maker
  • Roll of vinyl – pick your kiddos favorite color!
  • And of course, don’t forget, a kid who is game for some making!

Step 1: Click into the Design Space Canvas and tap Images.

Step 2: Search for things that you’ve seen in your area – in our case, snails, birds, ants, cats and dogs topped the list. (Pro tip: look for solid shapes that will be easy to cut out!) Also, you can customize the journal by adding in prompts like glasses, to encourage kids to write what they see, or ears, to write or draw what they hear in nature.

Step 3: Insert them onto the canvas (use color sync if you only have one color of vinyl)

Step 4: Cut them out with Cricut Joy, weed them and place them in your journal. Here’s where you can get creative with your kid – in our case we lined them up in grids to allow for checking off of animal sightings.

Now you’re ready to get outside! And you’ve got a scheduled, daily activity you can mix into your new educational routine. This exercise integrates art, writing and the learned skills of observation and interpretation.

It’s also an opportunity to create a memorable moment with your child – a time they may remember after the busy world ramps back up to its frenetic pace. Our advice: take a cup of coffee out there with your kid one morning. Listening to the birds and watching for movement in the grass will take you back to a simpler time.

Tell Us… What activities are you doing with the kiddos to keep them learning and using their imagination?