Turning Observations Into Tales
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Grade: 3rd Grade
Class: English Language Arts
Author: Sarah Bencze
Tupper Lake Central School
NYS Content Area Standard:
English Language Arts:
Standard 1: Language for Information and Understanding
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Culture & The Arts
Performance Indicators:

ELA 1: Language for information & understanding - use details, examples, anecdotes, or personal experiences to explain or clarify information

Keywords: journals
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: How can you record your observations, thoughts, and feelings about an adventure you have had in the Adirondacks?

Note from the author: I would like to teach journaling beforehand, illustration techniques, noting details, drawing a map and showing important landmarks. This could be done right outside of a school, down in the woods and various places to get different perspectives.

My artist in residence was Liza Frenette, author of "Dangerous Falls Ahead". We complete several challenges based on her book when learning about the Raquette River. She did some journaling lessons, and writing with the students, teaching them to share their observations. She has a wonderful knack for storytelling and making characters come to life.

The Challenge:

Using materials provided by your teacher,and decorative items you have collected, create a journal that you will use to record observations, thoughts and feelings about an adventure you have had in the Adirondacks.  

After participating in chosen adventure with class (ie- nature trail walk, hike up mountain, snowshoe , cross-country ski, visit to Visitor's Center, etc.) record entry into nature journal. Entry must include:

  • date, weather, time,
  • illustration(s) with labels,
  •  descriptive words, details about habitats you observe,
  • a map drawing of where you went in relation to where you started, and
  • anything else you wish to include in your journal entry. 

You will be asked to reflect  on your journal observations and share with class.

An Arts Forever Wild 2 Artists-in-Residence Project challenge

Quality Standards:

Journal is created and decorated in class Journal entries include:




-illustrations with labels

-descriptive words

-details about habitats you observe

-a map drawing of where you went in relation to where you started

-anything else you wish to include to show your thoughts, feelings, and observations about the adventure

Reflect on journal by answering the following:

a-What were the most interesting things you learned?

b-What big ideas have you learned from this journal entry?

c-What skills do you plan to improve upon over the next set of entries?

d-Which observations and comments would you most like to share with others?

e-How can you incorporate more details,descriptive illustrations or words into your journal entries?

f- What are some other important things you can keep a journal for?

Journal entry is shared with class

Product Quality Checklist
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Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

Journal cover is decorated with collected items


Journal entry is dated, time and weather


 Illustration is included with labels


Descriptive words are used


Entry include details about any habitats observed


Journal entry is student's own work


Entry includes a map drawing showing where you went on adventure in relation to where you began


Journal Entry is reflected upon by answering the 6 questions:

  • most interesting things you learned
  • big ideas you've learned from this journal entry
  • skills to be improved upon
  • observations and comments you are willing to share
  • how more descriptive details, illustrations and words can be incorported into future jour
  • nal entries other important things to keep a journal for


Journal entry is willingly shared with class


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