Standards: 4.8 Humans and the Environment
Duration: 20 to 40 minutes
Vocabulary: description, metaphor, simile
Summary: Students will write a short narrative about their favorite place in nature.
Objectives: Students will gain a deeper appreciation for nature in general and “their” natural place in particular. They will get more experience with using descriptive words and conveying their ideas to a reader.
Materials: paper, pencils, clipboards
Writing is an excellent tool that helps people better experience and connect to nature. It helps us look closely at a place and our emotions, and—if we want—convey them to others.
People have been writing about the environment for a long time. When we write, we want to think about descriptive words that really convey what we think and feel. We want the reader to be able to imagine the place clearly, and understand what it means to us. One of the best ways to help conserve nature is by showing people why they should care, and we can only do that if we create a connection with nature.
In order to write accurately about nature, we have to think of it in terms of all of our five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.
Ask students to close their eyes and take a few deep breaths slowly in and out. Ask them to imagine their favorite place in nature. They can take a few moments in silence to decide in their head what it will be. It could be a tree in their backyard, a beach house they sometimes go to, a camping or hunting spot, etc.
Have students keep their eyes closed and think of their answers to the following questions:
When they are in their special place, what do they hear? Birdsongs? Crashing waves? Rippling water? Wind moving through the leaves?
What would they feel if they put out their hands? The bark of a tree? A gravel path? Cool water?
What would they smell? Wet soil? The salty smell of the ocean? Decaying wood?
Would they taste anything? Fresh berries? Honey suckle?
And finally—try to ask this last because we are so used to putting it first—what would they see? What kind of plants and animals are there?
Have students open their eyes and write down a few descriptive words they thought of for each of the five senses. This can also count as a brainstorm, preparing them for the actual writing. Ask them to try to be as descriptive as possible.
Finally, have students write about their special place! If they want, they can also draw a picture that helps explain it. Have them include the words they thought of for each of the five senses in their story. At the end, have the students name their place. It is okay if it already has a name—they should make up their own special name for it as well.
If there is time, have students share their stories about their favorite outdoor places.
Ask students why they think writing about nature is important. Ask students if they feel any closer to their favorite place because of writing their story.
Have students write a final copy of their story along with an illustration and compile them into a small booklet to send home to parents.
Have students write about the same place using a different writing style, like a poem, fictional story, or field guide.