Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beach Journaling

I just got back from a short trip to Florida--and our annual day on the beaches of Captiva and Sanibel Islands. If you love shells, I would recommend a day on either island! There is also a great wildlife sanctuary on Sanibel that is worth a visit! In this picture, my daughter is holding her favorite find of the day, though we left it at the beach...

Anyway, spending the day combing the beach reminded me of one of my favorite beach books, Out of the Ocean, by Debra Frasier. This book is written from the perspective of a young girl, whose mother tells her that if you ask the ocean to bring you something, it just might. The rest of the book highlights things the ocean might bring...from shells to glass and feathers to turtle tracks. The backgrounds of the pages look like sand, and Frasier uses her own photographs of the items she mentions alongside cut paper illustrations. At the back of the book, she also includes what she calls an ocean journal, that identifies, in detail, items that are found (by her and others) at the beach. She provides additional information about sand, water, waves, and both the sun and the moon. And, she reminds readers not to forget the plants that are often found at the beach, providing a little bit more information about them, as well.

I wouldn't call Frasier's book a beach journal, but Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini has two books, Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal and Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal, that could serve as models for one! These two are presented as journals created by young people and are appealing ways to show students the variety of items that might be included in such a journal. Of course, Sally Wolf's book (highlighted in one of our first entries) provides another perspective on nature journaling.
Maybe if I would've started a beach journal when we began our now annual trips eight years ago, I would've had enough material to write my own book! I guess there's always next year...


  1. Patricia Bricker also notes the usefulness of Salamander Rain in her article "Reinvigorating Science Journals." She describes using the journal entries to discuss observation and identification strategies. For first time journalists, I think having an already published source to reference is a great, helpful idea. It also can be encouraging to students to see journals created by other students.

  2. The two published journals mentioned in this post can be extremely helpful for teachers and students when they are trying to understand the concept of journaling. These journals can provide strategies for my students of how to keep a journal, and also ideas for them to include in their own journal. In the article by Bricker (2007), he discusses numerous journaling strategies. I could see the magnifying strategy come into play in particular with beach journals. Zooming in on a specific part of a shell that might be a fossil imprint can really intrigue a child. Paying close attention to the details of the shells can help them form questions of inquiry like: "What kind of animal lived in the shell?" "How far down in the ocean was this shell?" and "How old is this shell?"

  3. Megan--You are absolutely correct that magnifying could be a great strategy to use in journaling. You should probably note, though, that the "Bricker" to whom you referred is my dear friend (and Kristin's), Patricia. Of course, this means that "she," rather than "he" is the correct pronoun to use when referring to her. :)

  4. I think the idea of a beach journal is awesome! I spent the first week of June babysitting four young kids at Pawleys Island in South Carolina. The beach is an amazing place to explore for kids and adults both! Looking back I realize how much science we actually partook in- hunting for sharks teeth, watching crabs dig holes, hunting for starfish (that blend into the sand), timing sunset, digging in the sand until we found water, predicting when the tide would come in or go out, the list goes on. On rainy afternoons the kids often drew pictures- usually of what they saw on the beach. It seems like a true testament to the joy of science that these kids (all under 11 years old) were naturally inclined to explore, observe, and document what they saw, for fun! After reading this post I think it would be a natural extension of what is fun for the kids to add journals to our daily activities. I'm excited to try this out.

  5. I don't have a lot of experience with science journals, so I think that books like "Salamander Rain" and "Saguaro Moon" would serve as helpful models for my students and myself. In her article, "Reinvigorating Science Journals", Patricia Bricker recommends "Sagurao Moon" to teach students about the importance of detailed observations (2007). After hearing so many great things about this book, I definitely want to pick up a copy for myself! I think that I would benefit from being able to look at examples of science journals before I start writing in my own, and these books look like a great place to start.