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Discovering Nature

Nature Journal Tips from the Forum


"I am interested in taking my children out for nature walks with the hopes of starting a nature journal, appropriate for their ages (4 & 3). Only problem is I don't know where to start with creating a journal.  I've never personally kept a journal but I think it would be fun for my children to look back on what we've seen and learned on our walks together...who knows, maybe journaling now could create a Pulitzer author in the future!" - luvmykids01)

Notice colors, textures and shapes
"Just a thought, but get them to notice the colors, textures, shapes of the things they see. Like, the different shapes of leaves on different plants, how tall certain plants are, etc... Simple, yet still learning..."  - AprilDaisy

Don't forget leaf rubbings
"Those are our favorites. When you find a fallen leaf with color that grabs their attention, it is fun to bring it home and copy it onto paper with the copier. Then your new picture can't "die" on you as the leaf will.  Find out what kind of tree it comes from by researching it on the computer or in a library book." - wanting2eat

Preserving flowers
"Also, not encouraging picking flowers but if you find any fallen ones (?) you can staple them down (on the stem part) onto paper and get see through wax paper to cover them - just tape down  the wax paper.  Learn about what plants need to grow." - wanting2eat

Look under rocks
We like to look under things to see what likes to live in dark places. - wanting2eat

Nature bingo
"Also, we have done nature bingo. On one journal page, you list on a drawn grid, words or pictures of things to look for in nature (bird, grass, leaf, dirt, water, bug... etc) and they color over their word when they find one of these. They try to see who can completely color a page. Not a race and can be completed over several nature hikes, thus encouraging them to look for these things you list." - wanting2eat

Specific time for sketching
"We do nature journals. We have a specific time set aside once a week to spend time in nature with the specific purpose of sketching what we see. I started this when my oldest was 4 years old. I thought I'd share a couple of things that worked for us." - rippleriver

Be an example
"My DD was quite uninterested in drawing in nature at the beginning. When I say "quite uninterested" I mean she refused to do it. :) So I simply brought along supplies for ME to use, and I drew while she played around me. It was about a year before she was interested enough to want to start her own drawings. And, when she started, she would often quickly (and often haphazardly) paint a generic flower, for example, even though she had a flower right in front of her that looked nothing like her rendition. I kept my mouth shut, letting her nature journal be her own." - rippleriver

Have patience
"Just in the last few months (she is now six) has she really become interested in her nature journal. She amazes me at the details she remembers and is able to draw. Now she wants to take her time with her drawings and she puts effort into them, trying to capture what she observes. This didn't happen magically the first time, it took lots of patience. Maybe other small children take to nature journaling instantly, but mine didn't. I'm so glad we didn't give up because our nature days have turned out to be a great part of our homeschooling." - rippleriver

Let it happen naturally
"I think the process of not "assigning" the drawing, gently pointing out interesting things I found in nature, and doing the journals myself made this a success for us...but it took time. It probably also helped that I'm not the best sketcher in the world and DD saw me make many mistakes. I am greatly inspired by Charlotte Mason, and I read and re-read her writing about natural journaling...My best advice is to put the priority on enjoying nature and let the drawing come naturally from that enjoyment." - rippleriver

Be flexible and try different media
"Also, my children don't like to draw in the bound journals but prefer loose paper clipped onto a hard surface. We try different media, but colored pencils are the favorite. Another favorite thing to do is drawing with natural items, like rubbing a leaf or berry on the paper for color." - rippleriver

Write about it
"We started doing nature journals this year for my 5.5 yo dd.  My husband and I, as well as our 2 year old, each got one too!  We don't do anything too structured, but we take them for walks with us, and she draws whatever strikes her.  She has drawn a snake, a lizard, a butterfly, etc., that we've seen on our walks. Then one of us helps her write a sentence about what she saw and where she saw it.  I know that some people add poems, etc. to theirs, but we haven't gotten that far yet!" - kittysmo1

Readers Respond: Do your children keep a nature journal?

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