Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nature Journaling

Earlier this summer, I picked up a copy of the book Keeping a Nature Journal. I've been helping the kids to keep one over the years, but it hasn't really taken off the way I'd like it to. Over the summer I've been reading the book and getting ideas on how to do this better in our homeschool.

One of the big stumbling blocks for me has been time and materials. Oh we have materials! I've just been easily frustrated at how bulky the big journals are to take with us and how they end up staying behind when we go exploring. R10 has been taking a smaller book or just sheets of paper and making a list or drawing a list of the things we see on our walks.

After reading a chapter in this nature journal book, I think I finally have a workable solution! I'm going to have the kids keep a loose leaf journal in a notebook. This gives us more flexibility because I can give the kids the lined paper they need (for their age) and it allows us to use the many nature notebooking pages I have for different occasions and topics. Then when the notebook gets too full, we can have the pages bound. I'm certain these will be fun for the kids to look back on for years to come.

As I sat on the swing overlooking the pond I had a chance to enjoy my homeschooling mags and my nature journaling book!

I was on dock duty sometimes- watching the kids while they fished and looked for worms

This is a chapter of the book that talks about the first pages in your journal. R10 will enjoy adding poetry to hers.

As I sat and quietly observed, the late summer sun was distinctly noticeable. The other really significant thing about this trip were the katydids. I realize now that here in NY we don't hear them at night. Boy...it turns out that I miss them! They come out later on at night than say the crickets which I began to hear by about 7pm.

Keeping a nature journal is part of our art studies this year in addition to the science it always provides. Keeping a Nature Journal details some drawing exercises and I have other sources as well including FIAR and the FIAR nature study volumes. Jane Lambert shares tidbits on keeping a nature journal and she provides some fun journaling pages along with other poetry and interesting facts. You might enjoy nature study pages from NotebookingPages.com as well. And of course CurrClick has many nature notebooking pages.

Since we like to take walks often, I've decided to keep a backpack ready with our main nature guides, some pencils, a pack of watercolor pencils and our portable drawing boards. This fall I'm planning on taking the kids to our favorite trail at the Lab of Ornithology weekly to see the changes this season. We'll just grab the bag and go and hopefully come home with some neat drawings. It will be fun to note the changes in the air, the changes in the plants and trees, and to see what the animals are doing. R10 makes a great list of the things we see. One of the last times we were there we saw a mama raccoon and with a baby in her mouth scurrying up a really tall tree.

Our weekly routine calls for Nature Study on Fridays. Such a fun way to end the week, but certainly there will be other times we are called outdoors to observe. If you've never thought about nature study seriously or you just aren't sure it's for you, check out the Handbook of Nature Study blog. Barb does a fantastic job of leading us through The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. On the surface the Handbook looks terribly dry with its small print and black and white pictures, but Dr. Comstock is really humorous and it's an enjoyable read. And if a new book is not in the budget, then there is good news for you. The book is available online for free!

Those are my thoughts on nature study for the moment. We started school back up again last week, but it is slow going until next week when our summer schedule lets up and stops overlapping with our fall schedule.

Stay tuned for updates as we get started with our new nature notebooks and transfer some items out of the current spirals and new items to the collection. How do you incorporate nature study into your homeschool? If you've never done it, what is holding you back?

1 comment:

Shonda said...

Love it! I semi-recently did a post on our nature notebooking http://hollyhock-hill.blogspot.com/2010/03/nature-notebooks.html
I am really really really going to try to be more consistant with it....