Woods to Words – A Summer Adventure

Next month is July, when we’ll be deep in that magical, lazy time of summer. I can just picture it. Watermelon juice dripping down my chin as I sit, feet kicked up on the deck rail, tall glass of iced tea at my side, and the grid map and binoculars in my lap. Wait. What?

It’s okay, stay with me here! I’m still talking about that magical summer, and some of it might be lazy, I promise! Let me share with you my kind of summer fun this year.

It’s Woods to Words, a science and poetry summer camp. Though it’s offered for a range of ages, I dreamed it up to delight middle grade students in particular.

The school’s camp description is pretty spot-on:

Join our literary nature-lover Mrs. Stein for a week of scientifically-inspired creative writing!  Develop an appreciation for nature as you map the woods, watch wildlife through binoculars, and hunt through the forest with a magnifying glass in hand. Hear the world like never before as you use onomatopoeia to produce nature soundscapes. Writers will have an opportunity to share their hand-crafted books at the end-of-week author celebration.

Yes, that’s right – our lazy days of summer will be spent in the school’s forest making scientific observations – and making poetry! On day one, we’ll create a site map and a shape poem. An “onomatopoetical” exercise and an art project for our book covers will stem from the sound maps we’ll create. I’m excited to build a team word bank from our square-foot observation exercise, which we’ll continue to use for inspiration as we write each day.

Young people are natural observers and I can’t wait to harness their innate curiosity in a camp setting, tapping into their drive to learn new things. Add nature read-alouds and fun games like “Whose Dinner Am I?” and we’ll have a well-rounded camp experience. Anyone know any fun science songs?

My own writing and art are driven by the observations I make, and its a natural leap to blend one passion for another. I’m excited by the opportunity to incorporate these passions into an informative, fun and relaxed camp setting.

So how about you? Will you kick back this summer and gaze at a site map while sipping your iced drink and writing poetry? I can’t wait to start.

For further reading:

What Schools can Learn from Summer Camps

What is STEAM?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Education

In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, The Best of It: A Journal of Life, Love and Dying, was published in 2009.  Both her current work and an upcoming middle grade series are historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press and blogs at The Best of It.

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Valerie Stein
In fourth grade, Valerie Stein touched an ancient artifact from an archaeological dig. Though she never got to travel the world in search of buried treasure, she ended up journeying to new and exciting places between the pages of books. Now she spends her time researching history, in museums and libraries, which is like archaeology but without the dirt. Valerie’s book, THE BEST OF IT: A JOURNAL OF LIFE, LOVE AND DYING, was published in 2009. Her current work focuses on historical fiction set in Washington State. Valerie is proprietor of Homeostasis Press, and blogs at The Best of It. She manages Gather Here, an online history site for middle grade readers and teachers.

One response to “Woods to Words – A Summer Adventure

  1. I sure wish they had had things like this when I was a kid. Sounds like a great way to develop talent and engender curiosity in young people. Enjoy your summer.