Nature journaling is something that I wanted to start doing in our homeschool when I first read about it, but we didn't really start keeping nature journals consistently until I realized that being in nature and referencing our field guide as needed wasn't connecting my kids to nature the way I wanted. Read that storyhere.
At first, I considered incorporating nature journals the way I thought that we were supposed to. This involved packing each kid a small, hard backed sketchbook along with pencils, colored pencils or watercolors, field guides, water, snacks, and toys for the three year old. I thought about packing all of these supplies in a backpack and then going for a short nature walk to try out nature journaling for real.
Thinking about it was as far as I got because I knew that no matter how short the walk, I'd be packing in a backpack and then carrying out one or two kids while my oldest grumbled about carrying the backpack back.
Sometimes we walk to the park near our house and observe the native to California trees that were planted there and the birds that live in them. Sometimes we go to a park not to far from our house that borders the river. Sometimes we wait for the weekend and go as a family to the mountains or the ocean.
The only thing we bring along is an Audubon pocket sized field guide to California with a few small post it notes on the inside cover.
When we see identify a new bird or tree or plant, we read about it together and then I mark the spot with a post it, and that is all of the recording that we do when we are out and about. The rest of the time the kids run free and explore. They gather sticks and acorns and feathers and rocks to build tiny worlds with. They play games and look at the clouds. When they get bored, I tell them to go find something interesting from nature and bring it to me or, if they can't carry it, to tell me all about it. Occasionally, we bring home a special leaf, stick, or rock.
At home, we observe nature, too. We have bird feeders to draw the birds down from the heights 30 year old trees in our yard and we know what times they search for seeds and bugs on our lawn. We pay attention to our trees and how they change throughout the season. We keep a garden and go out every day in to see how things are growing. We run out to see the sunset and sunrise. We measure the rainfall.
When we do finally sit down and journal, it is at our kitchen table. Currently, we are journaling about the birds that we are seeing in our yard and around our neighborhood. Many of the birds that we see are winter visitors and a few are year round friends.
My kids have different expectations when they journal. My oldest has to draw the bird, paying close attention to its shape, field marks, and colors. He also has to write about where we have observed the bird and something that he learned reading about it from a field guide.
As you can see, I print off some images of the birds off of All About Birds. My kids prefer that the page stays put, unlike a field guide which tends to close itself.
My girl (age 5) has to draw a picture of the bird, paying attention to the colors and markings. She also has to write the name of the bird.
Can I just say that I am so in love with that red tailed hawk!
Do you nature journal? If you do, I'd love to know what works for you!
This post is a part of a series about how we are applying Charlotte Mason's methods in our homeschool. Click the photo below to read the rest of the series.