As home educators, we have the unique opportunity to foster a deep connection between our children and the natural world. Nature journaling is a wonderful tool that encourages curiosity, observation, and creativity while nurturing an appreciation for the wonders of the outdoors. Today I’m sharing some tips, advice and ideas to help your children and you embark on this amazing journey together.
Why Nature Journaling?
Nature journaling combines art, science, and personal reflection, offering a holistic approach to learning.
By starting a nature journal and completing it regularly your children will develop their observational skills, improve their artistic abilities and cultivate a sense of awe and wonder about the world around them. They will also work on critical thinking and mindfulness, and for me, one of the most important things nurture a lifelong love for nature.
Read more about the Charlotte Mason Method and Nature Study which includes all about Nature Journalling.
Tips for Getting Started
To help you to get started I’ve put together my top tips below that have helped us as a family over the years start and continue to nature journal.
1. Choose the Right Tools
Gather the essential materials for nature journaling. Invest in a sturdy notebook or sketchbook with blank pages to allow for drawing, writing, and pasting. I’ve seen dotted pages recommended and we did try it once, but my eldest always wanted to stay in the lines then. Blank pages allowed much more freedom of expression.
Include a set of quality sketching pencils, coloured pencils, watercolours, and a small set of brushes. Don’t always reach for this equipment from the children’s department, Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia educational approaches all share the same belief that quality art materials are best for nurturing our young artists.
Although we did have kids art and craft supplies they were there to reach for for quick playful art, when it came to Art Appreciation, Nature Journalling and the Arts and Crafts within our unit studies the good quality materials came out and were used. As the kids have got older we only have good quality materials.
You’ll also need a magnifying glass, ruler, and a pouch for storing some nature finds like leaves or feathers.
2. Establish a Routine
I spoke of the importance of routine for Nature Study in the Charlotte Mason Method of Homeschooling. It’s one of the elements that I took and introduced into our regular rhythm of the week.
On our nature walks we’d set aside a small amount of time to sit together and nature journal in our books. Depending on the weather this may be when we returned home and often the kids would want to add to their journals after the fact with closer inspection of their finds.
3. Encourage Curiosity and Observation
Children are innately curious, but as they start out make lack attention to detail. So whilst we nature journal we focus on this small thing. Using our senses, asking questions to encourage attention to detail and make careful observations.
Support them to notice more detail, like the patterns, textures, and slight differences in colour and even listen carefully for sounds that they may miss. Spend time discussing it all together and help them develop an understanding that everything in nature is interconnected.
4. Start with Simple Prompts
Young children especially as well as those new to nature journalling may need some help to know where to start. Simple prompts can help guide their observations and make it easier for them to put pencil to paper.
Ask them to draw a specific object, for example, a leaf, talk about the shape, how about a flower, focus on the colours or write about a specific encounter they had with a creature or plant. As they get more confident and older you will find the prompts are less and less each time.
Not sure where to start – the get our FREE Printable February Nature Journal which includes prompts for the month.
5. Embrace Exploration and Experimentation
A nature journal isn’t a lesson in nature drawing or marked to a schema. It’s self-expression, and exploration of the natural world as they see, it allows for experimentation. Each nature journal is as unique as the person that created it.
Encourage them to experiment on the pages, with the styles of drawing, different techniques, media and even mixing media together. Mix pictures, words and objects that have been found together.
There is no right or wrong, it’s just the process. Keeping these over the years is a fantastic way for your kids to see how they have developed.
6. Share and Celebrate
Although the journals are personal make sure you make time to share and celebrate the journals. Set aside time regularly for everyone to share what they have added. We actually kept ours out on the nature tables and you would often find the kids flicking through them.
Why not look at these ideas for Nature Study to include in your Nature Journals!
Adding real leaves with this simple guide on how to preserve leaves for nature study
You don’t just have to use drawings and notes why not explore nature photography with your kids and add these too!