You’ve probably seen intricate and colorful phenology wheel images floating around Pinterest and Instagram. Phenology involves systematically observing plants’ and animals’ life cycles and behaviors in response to seasonal changes, weather patterns, and overall climate changes. Phenology wheels are a great, hands-on way to document nature and the environment around you in your homeschool. They are the perfect complement to a nature study or the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling.
A phenology wheel starts as a blank circular template. The phenology journal or calendar becomes a canvas for your observations and discoveries about nature. The Monthly Phenology Wheel Template from The Art Kit focuses on your monthly observations, allowing you to document the subtle and not-so-subtle changes in the environment around you.
Ways to Use a Phenology Wheel
There are many ways to integrate a phenology wheel into your homeschool lessons. The phenology wheel template from The Art Kit can be used for various ages and alongside multiple subjects.
Phenology Wheels for Science
Not only can phenology wheels be used in nature studies or for nature journaling, but you can also use them for other sciences like zoology, biology, or botany. Document plants, animals, or landscapes during the different months of the year.
You can even work on multiple wheels at one time. Start a wheel for the plants you find in your backyard each season. Create a wheel for the different species of birds you see most frequently each month in your oak tree. Document the view out your window each month to record the changing of the seasons.
Take your phenology wheel to the next level by incorporating weather patterns. Document the view out your window each month to record the changing of the seasons and how the climate affects the plants. This enhances meteorological awareness and provides a broader context for understanding how temperature influences the flora and fauna in your local environment.
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Emphasizing Art with a Phenology Wheel
Get creative and put an emphasis on using multiple types of art mediums or tools for your phenology wheel. Grab the colored pencils, watercolor paints, or fine point markers for your older children and let them explore using different tools on their wheel.
Assign a different color to each month and send your children on a scavenger hunt to locate a plant or flower for that color.
Adding a Phenology Wheel to Your Unit Studies
Try using phenology wheels to niche down and study a specific species of animal, plant type, or outdoor area more closely. They’re great for unit studies and will help your children retain information and stretch the lesson throughout the year.
Pairing Phenology Wheels with Living Books
You can use a phenology wheel outside of science and nature lessons in so many ways. If you’re following the Charlotte Mason method for homeschooling, you’re probably using lots of living books. These very descriptive books will give your child plenty of subjects to journal on their wheel. Research the setting or location of their favorite or current book. Document that area throughout the months on a phenology wheel.
Sharing Phenology Wheels
Encourage your child to share their phenology wheel designs with their siblings or family members. Let them describe what they drew or created. As the phenology wheel unfolds over time, it becomes a narrative of the changing seasons and the life cycles of plants and animals. This storytelling element aids memory retention by providing a chronological and cohesive structure and helps them practice oral communication skills.
If you haven’t introduced phenology wheels in your homeschool, they’re a great way to add a hands-on, creative element to your homeschool lessons. Regularly observing and recording changes in nature and the environment helps develop active observational skills. As kids actively engage with their environment, they form a deeper connection with the subject matter. Plus, they’ll have a blast getting creative with their observations and have a keepsake to look back on month after month!
Phenology Wheel from The Art Kit
The Art Kit has an amazing phenology wheel template you can grab to use for your next nature study or science lesson!
This printable includes a one-page phenology wheel template with the months of the year. A title is also included to make it easy to cut and paste into a journal if you’d like.
How to Create Your Phenology Wheel
- Print out the phenology wheel template. If you’d like your wheel smaller, you can print two sheets to a page. Or, scale the size down.
- Print on cardstock for added durability.
- Decide what you want your monthly nature observations to be – nature in general, the trees, a particular tree, etc.
- Draw your observations each month. Then, color or paint them in if desired.
- Once your phenology wheel is completely filled in, either laminate it or cut it out, along with the title banner, and paste it into a spiral notebook along with your other printables or work.