“Our priority in nature knowledge should be to make sure that the child has a personal vital familiarity with the things he sees in his environment.” – Charlotte Mason
Once a child is ready to begin his formal education, Nature Study should play a weekly role in his studies. In addition to reaping the benefits of being out in nature, attention to detail is a habit that can be cultivated through journaling.
For years, our version of nature journaling was to randomly draw in a spiral sketch book and although some good came from this, I felt like we needed just a little more structure.
My Nature Journal: Three Years of Observation was birthed out of that desire.
- Three years of “first” sightings, organized by season
- The “Tree of the Year” by season
- Leaves found Locally
- Flowers from the Neighborhood
- Birds in the Backyard
- Critters in the Community
- Insects & Spiders of Interest
- Rocks & Seashells by the Seashore
- Weather for a Month
- Constellations on a Clear Night
- Moon Phases for a Month
- Exploring the Great Outdoors
- Free Sketches from Everyday Observations
- Charlotte Mason quotes throughout to inspire you and your child
And if you subscribe to my mailing list, you will be getting your FREE copy dropped in your inbox today. If you haven’t signed up yet, go do that now and you will receive a copy, too!
A printable journal
So why did I choose to make this a printable and not a bound book?
First off, if I bound it, I could not give away copies for free. But the most important reason for making this a printable is because this is your (or your child’s) book. If you want to print five pages for flowers instead of two, you can do that. Should you have no interest whatsoever in the constellations and want to skip that page, so be it. If you spill your coffee on your tree of the year, no problem…just print another one. If you have one kid or five – if you want a copy for yourself and your children, or if you just want to print one for the family – it’s up to you. The price remains the same and you have the freedom to use this digital product as you see fit.
How to use it
- Purchase and Print My Nature Journal: Three Years of Observation. Remember, if you subscribe to my email list you will get it for free this fall! If you don’t, go subscribe now :).
- Purchase a document-sized sketch diary. These are everywhere – Target, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Amazon, etc. Some have pockets inside them, which can be handy. If you buy an 11×8.5 in. book, you’ll need to cut down your journal pages a bit for them to fit nicely. To avoid this, you can buy a larger sketch book.
- Buy some Rubber Cement. Glue will leave bubbles and not give you as nice of an effect if you want to sketch after the pages are in the book. A glue stick will not stay as well. Rubber cement will allow you to move a page, as well, if you should need to do that for whatever reason.
- Cut down your pages or if you have a larger sketch book, skip this and just adhere the pages to your sketch book in order. You’ll notice there are lots of page of the journal left over. This is on purpose. The “Free Sketch” page is more like a cover page that begins the part of the journal where children sketch any old thing. As Miss Mason says, “an intelligent child will think of millions of little things to record in his nature notebook.“
- Purchase colored pencils, watercolors, and/or drawing pencils if you don’t already have them. Charlotte Mason was a big fan of watercolors but any medium that encourages careful work is appropriate.
- Remember, this book is for your child’s benefit and should not be graded or critiqued. In her third volume, School Education, Miss Mason states, “The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature note-books, which are left to their own management and are not corrected. These note-books are a source of pride and joy, and are freely illustrated by drawings (brushwork) of twig, flower, insect, etc.” (p. 236)
- Set up a regular time to sketch in your books and be sure to store them in a place where they are easy to access for impromptu sketches. We have a Nature Study time every Friday. Sometimes this is as elaborate as visiting a National Park with our homeschool group and sometimes it’s as simple as walking out into the backyard or drawing something interesting from a living science book. The point is to make a habit out of recording in the journal. Let it become natural to see a beautiful butterfly or interesting bug and say, “let’s put this in our nature journal!”
What to record
A sketch, an observation, and the date are all that’s necessary for each entry. Doing a careful watercolor painting is a great exercise and kids can get as creative as they want, even adding poems, questions, or quotes that come to mind.