As a family we spend a lot of time outdoors, observing the open spaces around us. Trees, animals, birds, insects what stood out for us as we watched the same space day after day for almost a year was that it was never the same. There was always something new – a flower, a pod, leaves turning yellow, different butterflies, moths one season, katydids / grasshoppers the next.
This led me to look for ways in which we could track and plot these findings to look back on while also being able to compare each season and each year. It also meant I would be able to tie together our two biggest loves for art and nature. This is when I chanced upon Sarah’s blog – The Silvan Reverie , I had been following her Phenology Wheel ideas on Instagram for a while and found it fascinating.
What started as just a project, became a full on learning experience for the kids and me. We first identified the aspects we wanted to plot and understand. We chose the following based on how it would correlate to our findings. The aspects that typically impact our environment are the Sun, the moon and the weather. These formed the foundational tracking points for our wheel. So we took –
- Sunrise times
- Moonrise times
- Hi and Lo temperatures
- Phases of the moon
These formed the circles of the wheel. I have used data from Accuweather.com and timeanddate.com for our region.
I used a compass and the angle in a compass box to make the circles and plot the lines, once we decided what aspects we would record this was easy. On the outside we used our nature journaling aspects which include details of the animals, birds or insects we had spotted in the month along with flowering, fruiting, leaving changes in trees / plants. This would tell you the seasonality of fauna and flora in the area you stay and are watching for this exercise.
The whole fun of this activity for kids is for them to keep noting what they spot, to collect flowers or feathers when they see them, to place with your journal or wheel to talk about how what this means for the seasons and where do birds go when they are not here? We also got intrigued by how the sunrise time changed by minute over the course of the month and nearly shifted by 10 mins between the beginning to the end of the month.
My older son is currently tracking the full and new moon phases since plotting it here and the younger one is intrigued that we saw so many animals in November. For me, discovering a new aspect of our world along with the kids has made my parenting journey a lot more fun and productive, it has kept me in the present and has opened a certain mindfulness in the time we spend together.
We definitely are going to be making one a month. Let me know if you’d like to start your own and I’d be happy to help any questions you may have.