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Fun with Phenology Wheels!



Hello everyone, how are you? I hope you are well and that you are enjoying the last few weeks of winter, or summer if you are on the other side of the world to me.


Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we have just passed the Celtic festival of Imbolc, and signs of spring are starting to emerge. You may not see them just yet, but beneath the earth the energy is beginning to shift, you might be able to sense it. I am certainly beginning to feel an air of excitement and newness and I have definitely noticed a shift in the light when I have been outside.


As you know, I am a nature nerd and I really love wandering in nature and noticing the little shifts and changes that are happening around me. I like to watch the birds, study the bugs and learn about the plants and trees. Those that know me will tell you that I also love being creative, so you can imagine my joy when I discovered a new way to combine the two using something called a phenology wheel!


If you follow any home educators on Instagram, like me, you may already know about these beautiful little study tools, but I will endeavour to explain.


A phenology wheel is a circular chart, where we can record the little things that we notice in nature each month. It’s a lovely way to connect with nature and is an invitation to get outside, even in the colder, darker months to notice what is happening.


Each month you can draw something that you have seen, and maybe make a note of the weather or a predominant colour you have noticed and record them on your wheel. By the end of the year, you will have a beautiful, illustrated record of the nature and seasons in your local environment.

If you are feeling really inspired, you can also make a phenology wheel each month, where you can include things like the phases if the moon, the type of weather, temperatures, and illustrations of things you have noticed around the edges of your chart.



So why is this activity so good for us?


You may be reading this thinking, well yes, Sarah, that looks lovely, BUT I am extremely busy, I am very stressed, and I don’t have time for this. (I hear this a lot.)


If this is you, and you are feeling super stressed, anxious, low, angry, tired and fed up, then this activity is certainly for you. I have even made the wheels for you so all you need to do is print them and you’re ready to start.


As a species, humans have become so disconnected from the natural world and so caught up in the material, it has caused us, and nature, to become out of balance and unwell. People spend billions of pounds every year in the pursuit of happiness and well-being - searching for that missing piece of themselves, when, in reality, its available day and night, and it’s totally free.

Connecting with the natural world around us, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day, has a deeply profound effect on our stressed and tired minds and bodies.

It can:


·        Lower blood pressure and heart rate.

·        Help you to improve your sleep patterns.

·        Regulate hormones.

·        Improve mood.

·        Help you to connect with your local community, be it humans or animals and plants.


Being outside or even looking at images of nature, also has a very deep healing effect on us as humans. So even if you don’t want to sit outside to draw, taking a photo of an image to draw at home later is still very therapeutic.


Research amongst Cardiac patients in New York, showed that those people who were exposed to pictures and sounds from nature every day as they were recovering, had a significantly reduced stress and anxiety levels.

And lastly creativity and nature are deeply intwined with each other, being in nature inspires creativity in us, whether it’s drawing, writing, singing, photography, cooking, dancing or something else, being outside seems to activate the creative part of our brains, and it also gives us space to think and reflect.


In his article for The Arts Council, The Power of Nature and Creativity (2021), John McMahon writes:


“We’ve seen an explosion of evidence too, over the last 10 years in particular, that shows how both nature and creativity respectively can not only serve as foundations for positive mental and emotional wellbeing, but also how they can support people experiencing both chronic and acute mental ill-health.”


“But Sarah, I CAN’T draw!” is usually the next refrain I hear from people! Shall I tell you something? I can’t draw either, and I am married to an artist who finds my attempts highly amusing! So, do you know what I do? I trace pictures using baking paper, I copy things and cut out images from magazines, all of this has also helped me to learn to draw slightly better.


But you don’t have to draw on your phenology wheel, you could write, you could only use colours you have noticed that month or you could photograph things you have seen, print them and stick them onto your wheel. This is your record, nobody else has to see it, it’s just a personal diary of your relationship with nature throughout the year.


So, if you would like to give it a go, here are two different phenology wheels that you are very welcome to print and use. If you would like to share your creations with me, I would love to see your work. You can email me: rewildyoursoul8@gmail.com or tag me on Instagram @rewild_your_soul .


Enjoy! Sarah.


phenology wheel year
.pdf
Download PDF • 122KB

phenology wheel monthly
.pdf
Download PDF • 128KB

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