We continue our theme of discovering plants during spring during our second Emerging Naturalists post, with the creation of a “Flora Explora” notebook. Spring time offers wonderful opportunities to learn about the plants, or flora, that live all around us. This activity is designed to help emerging naturalists closely observe and record plants that are sprouting and flowering at this very moment. By focusing on the very tangible changes that are happening to plants this time of year, you develop a personal connection with the natural world that is all around us, while becoming an expert on your local flora! All that is needed is a note pad, pencil, and enthusiasm!
1) The Journal:
Start by making a personalized “Flora Explora” journal- decorate with markers, pictures, stickers, etc.- maybe even bind your own! Whatever you choose to do, make this a journal you want to write in, draw in, and one that you can easily tote around with you.
2) Begin by exploring a section of your yard, park, school grounds, etc. and note the location (so that you can find the same plant again). You could also record the weather, time of day, and date of observation of at least two plants that you find interesting.
Record any characteristics that stand out to you when you observe individual plants. For example: height/leaf-length, color(s), shiny/dull, flowers, buds, scents, etc. Trees are particularly interesting this time of year because leaves are emerging or about to emerge…very cool to watch in action. You can record as many as you wish, just try to use a new page for each new plant. Keep in mind that these plants will revisited and new observations will be made upon each new visit to the same plant.
3) Continue to do this each day (or when possible), recording new observations upon each visit. You will be able to watch plants grow over a period of time.
4) Throughout your discoveries, try to use field manuals and your recorded characteristics to identify these plants. Maybe you can answer the following question- what are some differences between evergreen and deciduous plants? After several weeks, or once you feel that the plant’s growth has slowed, you can bid your plant farewell until next year.
5) Save this note book, and see if you find the same plants next year- did they emerge/flower at the same time? Why do you think this is so?
6) Take pictures if you can, and paste them into your journal. Wouldn’t it be fun to create a flipbook using your pictures?!
7) Enjoy your time outside!!!