I first started nature journaling with my kids when I learned about Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the turn of the twentieth century who believed that children should spend as much time outdoors, learning from their surroundings. Nature journaling seemed like a fun, interactive way to bring science to my kids. I didn't realize that I would find some benefits along the way that would change me.
What is Nature Journaling?
Nature journaling is simple, so try not to overthink it. You can either try a theme or just let your kids discover ideas organically. The most important thing is that you don't send your child outside alone. Instead, you must go with them.
Start by looking for things in nature that capture your child's curiosity. It might be an interesting leaf or a bug crawling on a stick. Bring along a plain, empty sketchbook along with pencil crayons. Later, you can add in other mediums like pastels, charcoal, and watercolor paints.
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In your nature journal, draw what you find in nature. It is okay if your child spends a lot of time focusing on details. Count legs, leaves, branches or anything associated with what you find. As your child gets older, he might be able to add more details. At the same time, you should be drawing what you find too!
After you go inside, it is time to research! I suggest you purchase a great book about nature, such as the Handbook of Nature Study. You need some sort of resource that will list things you might find, such as leaves, mushrooms, birds, insects and more. In your nature journal, your child should include what he saw, any interesting details, date in which he saw it, and anything extra!
How Nature Journaling Helps You
Believe it or not, nature journaling can do things for you as well. I started to realize that I spent my whole life unable to identify all of the trees around me. The trees and my bushes in my yard had no names. I couldn't identify edible mushrooms or poisonous berries. There was so much around me that I didn't understand.
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My years of schooling never taught me the most basic information. The information may not seem important to a school teacher, but I realized how much I didn't know. Birds were unfamiliar to me, yet I saw them daily. Nature journaling allowed me to notice my inability to observe the world around me. How could I expect my children to be observant if I was not? It was time for a change.
I want to encourage you to give nature journaling with your kids a try. You might be surprised by how much you don't know yourself. Nature journaling will become an adventure everyone in the family enjoys.