Week of June 1, 2020 Prompt: Herbarium Project
Create your own herbarium! An herbarium is a great way to creatively engage with nature and learn more about the plants around you at the same time.
Here are a list of steps to get you started:
1. Check out our
Herbarium How-to presentation on the
Educational Resources Page of the Gillespie Museum site. This presentation explains the history of herbariums and how to create one.
2. Find a plant you want to catalog and take a picture of it.
3. Procure your press materials and begin processing your specimen(s). Make sure to take pictures along the way!
4. Mount or frame your pressed plant and make a tag with info about the plant and take a picture of the display.
5. Since the pressing process takes a few weeks, we hope that you will submit photos of your project to us along the way so we can share how your project is progressing. You can upload your images through our
submit page. For an example of how to photograph the process, see below.
For help identifying plants, check out these resources:
Atlas of Florida Plants
The Atlas of Florida Plants is a joint effort by the Institute for Systematic Botany, the University of South Florida, and the USF Water Institute to provide a comprehensive searchable database of plants in the state of Florida. Click ‘Herbarium Specimen Search’ to find images of thousands of mounted specimens.
University of Florida Herbarium
The University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS) is the oldest (est. 1891), largest, and most comprehensive botanical collection in Florida with almost 500,000 specimens from around the world. It is the 4th largest herbarium in the southeastern United States.
Plant Snap is an app that allows you to take/ upload images of plants for identification suggestions.
iNaturalist is a nature ID app that, with an uploaded photo will ID animals, plants, and insects.
USDA Plant Database
The USDA Plant Database (https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/java/) information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories.
Week of June 8, 2020 Prompt: All About Butterflies
Head out to your backyard or local natural area and keep an eye out for butterflies! Capture the beauty of a butterfly you observe by snapping a photo or by creating a nature journal page with a sketch/ painting of the butterfly and brief description. Feel free to include creative writing in your nature journal page as well! You can submit what you create here.
An example drawing of a swallowtail butterfly by Michael Hill:
Week of June 15, 2020 Prompt: Poetry about Florida's Geologic Past
Imagine what Florida used to look like millions of years ago as the sea levels rose and fell with changes in climate. Think about the animals that used to roam the land, the different plants that flourished throughout the region, what living during any period of that changing time would have been like. Then write a haiku, a short, 3 line poem that follows the structure 5-7-5 (5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and back to 5 syllables in the third line) that brings your imaginings to life. Feel free to add an image as a background for your haiku! For an example, see the image below.
For inspiration and information about Florida’s history, check out the background story of the museum's Florida Formations exhibit, either through the condensed overview
here or the full exhibit text
Week of June 22, 2020 Prompt: Nature Journaling
Nature journaling is a great way to record your field observations as it combines sketching or painting with written descriptions of what you see. Head outside and sit for 5 minutes, observing pollinators like butterflies, bees, beetles, and flies. Then pick your favorite pollinator and create a nature journal page with sketches and writing that records your observations. See below for an example.
For an activity sheet with information about common Florida pollinators, click
Week of August 10, 2020 Prompt: Photography
Grab your camera and head outside to capture nature from an interesting perspective! This could be the underside of a leaf, a view from ground level, or catching an insect with the camera from an unusual angle. We would love to see your unique perspective of the outdoors!
Week of August 24, 2020 Prompt: Birdwatching
Sit outside somewhere for about 20 minutes, in your backyard or local park or on the museum grounds. Look for birds! When you spot a bird, try to identify it based on its distinguishing features, habitat, and size. Then pick the most interesting bird you observed and do a watercolor painting or sketch. Feel free to add the name of the bird species, the habitat you found it in, and any other description of the location to your page. Then send us a picture of your sketch and information!
For help with ID, check out the free app, called Merlin, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to identify a bird based on region, color, size, and habitat.
Week of August 31, 2020 Prompt: Nature Storytelling
Write a short story about you favorite outdoor adventure and share it with us! Think about a time you were outside (walking, hiking, camping, birdwatching, kayaking, etc.) that was particularly funny, intriguing, beautiful, or memorable. This could be a time with friends, family, or by yourself and could have taken place anywhere (don’t limit yourself to Florida locations!).
Have fun and remember to submit a document with your writing (and an image if you want) here!
Week of September 7, 2020 Prompt: Exploring Colors
In honor of native landscapes, we invite you to take a close look at and appreciate the colors of native ecosystems. Find native habitat near you (don't forget about the Volusia Sandhill if you are nearby!) and record the colors that you see in that landscape (see example above). If you aren't close to a native landscape, pick a native plant and take a close look at its colors!
Don't forget to submit a picture of your art to the gallery
Week of September 14, 2020 Prompt: Graphic Novel Page
Create your own graphic novel page that reflects something about environmental justice or social justice in the outdoors. Download a template of panels
here or create your own!
This prompt was inspired by Christain Cooper's new graphic novel about his experience with racism while birding in Central Park. Find out more
Week of September 21, 2020 Prompt: Sunrise or Sunset
As we begin to close on the summer months and transition into fall, we invite you to share a picture of a sunset or sunrise as an emblem of change! Feel free to include with your picture a short paragraph with information on the place or why that sunrise or sunset was important to you.
Week of September 28, 2020 Prompt: Nature Poster
Create a digital poster (in Canva, Word, Illustrator, or other platform) that shows off your favorite place in nature (you could opt to hand draw too if you prefer). The poster could reflect a park, preserve, your backyard, under the canopy of a specific tree, anywhere outside! When creating the poster, you could think about things like why you connect to that place, environmental issues that place is facing, or a joyful, fearful or sad experience you had in that location.
For more examples, take a look at the posters for all the National Park
Week of October 5, 2020: Land Art
This week we invite you to get outside and create land art! Land art is a form of art created within the landscape, often using natural materials such as sticks, rocks, and leaves to craft patterns, designs, and 3D pieces. A land art piece can be as simple as stacking rocks in a pattern or writing a word with sticks or leaves or as complex as building a large 3D form. To see some examples, check out artist Andy Goldsworthy. A reminder to please be mindful of nature and respect the land as you create your art!
Week of October 12, 2020 Prompt: Botanical Illustration
In the spirit of botany, try your hand at botanical illustration. Pick your favorite Florida plant and create a drawing of it (in color or black and white) and then label it with its common and scientific name!
Week of October 19, 2020 Prompt: Plant Poetry
Write a poem about your favorite native plant! Some things to help you get started: think about colors, structure, pollination strategy, size, its value for wildlife, etc. For a list of some Florida native plants, click here.
Week of October 26, 2020: Halloween Leaf Painting
This week's prompt focuses on a Halloween theme, inviting you to find a downed leaf and draw or paint a spooky face on it! Or (a slightly less spooky option) create a pattern or design with fallen leaves!
Week of November 2, 2020 Prompt: Shadows
Shadows can be an interesting way to look at form and see how the sun interacts with the landscape. For this week's prompt that a photo of an interesting shadow in nature and send it in!
Week of November 9, 2020 Prompt: Plant Nature Journaling
Find a native Florida plant and make a nature journal page with a sketch or sketches of the plant and different parts of the plant, paying special attention to how that plant spreads its seeds. Feel free to also add written descriptions for your sketches (see example below).
Week of November 14, 2020 Prompt: Listening to Nature
As you walk through a wild space, a park, or your backyard, listen carefully to the sounds around you. Capture a natural sound you find particularly beautiful or interesting with your phone or a microphone and send your audio recording to us! Feel free to also send us a picture from the landscape you recorded in! Please keep sound clips to 30 seconds or less.
Week of January 25, 2021 Prompt: Identifying Natural Colors
While exploring a natural landscape, pick a plant you find interesting and try to identify all the different colors that can be found in that one plant. To do this you could try taking a photograph and identifying colors digitally or by painting the plant and making a color pallet from the colors you used to paint the plant.
Week of February 8, 2021 Prompt: Field Journaling
Sit in a natural space (your backyard, local park, nature preserve, natural area, etc.) for 10 inutes, observing the life around you. Pick an organism of particular interest and create a field journal page that reflects this organism.