Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nature Journaling


Before I started reading the blogs of homeschoolers, I'd never even heard of nature journaling. But apparently it's been around for a while. Charlotte Mason, the 19th century British educator, was a big proponent of it. I kept hearing about it as a way to connect kids to nature, to encourage them to closely observe the natural world around them. We already go on nature walks all the time, so I thought this would be pretty easy to add into our routine. Last week I picked up a large sketchbook and some high-quality colored pencils, and explained the idea very briefly to the five-year-old.

Sketching the tree

She ran with it. This child is not just a nature-lover; she is a scientist. The opportunity to record her observations was what really sucked her in. I am absolutely loving flipping through her journal and seeing her sketches.

Finished pages

But what was unexpected was how the journaling has changed our nature walks. Our usual routine had been to simple clomp along, stopping briefly to say "hey, look at that!" or pick something up, and continue on our merry way. But last week (on Earth Day), as we were clomping along picking up litter in the neighborhood, we spotted a bird's nest. Nestled in the crook of a tree, low enough for me to peer inside and see it was empty. Of course, we needed to sketch it! So we stopped, and we stayed by that bird's nest for a good 15 minutes.

Nest close-up

As it turns out, 15 minutes is a long time. And there I stood, with nothing to do besides watch the children sketch (the two-year-old got into the act too), and study the bird's nest.

Two-year-old does it too

What a gift.

Two-year-old's nest

So I'd like to give a big bouquet of thank you to the many bloggers who shared their family's nature journals and inspired me to give this a go. I can't tell you how grateful I am every day for the inspiration and encouragement shared by this community.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge, hosted every Tuesday by Jamie over at SteadyMom.


  1. Very cool! What a great project (for ALL of us--not just kids!)

  2. This is fantastic, I want to do this myself!

  3. Yay!!!! I can't tell you how wonderful it is for all of us to look back on our journals and remember all the woodland romps gone by. There is something really precious about seeing a child's connection to nature just blossom and having a visual reminder of the journey.

  4. Beautiful pics! I love the idea, as well!

  5. I will definitely do this with my two when they're older. I'm keeping it in my memory bank of things to try in the future. I'm also really interested in Charlotte Mason.

  6. That is so great! I am glad that you are having fun with journaling. I really enjoyed reading your post!

    Amy @ Things and Stuff

  7. Love this 30 minute post, looks like you were having lots of fun! My kids love nature journaling, we all do it. The great outdoors is great for all of us!!!