You are on page 1of 3

How to Do a Nature Journal By Karen Andreola

Mom look. I picked these for you. What mother could resist a generous nosegay of dandelions from her loving 4-year-old? The dandelions are not ne ! "ut the children are! as they are seeing things for the first time. #oung children ill eagerly discover ildflo ers! toads! "utterflies! "eetles! pa prints in the mud! earth orms! ro"ins! thistles! s$uirrels! mushrooms! "erries%and run into thorn "ushes%all outdoors. I remem"er ho our "ack door ould "ang shut in spring as my children "ounded into the kitchen%"right red scratches and "ug "ites on their arms and legs! clothes covered ith grass stains%to sho me their finds. Therefore! hen I contemplated further Miss &harlotte Mason's recommendation for (ature )tudy in *+,+! I as ready to try it more formally ith my students. We started taking nature .ournal. Drawing From Nature /ny "lank "ook ill do. If your children are early elementary age they can sketch on loose paper held on a clip"oard%to "e kept later in a "inder. 0ncourage children to dra hat they see. When children give attention to dra ing they ill often notice details a"out their finds that they ouldn't have other ise. 0very student of Miss Mason's kept a (ature .ournal%records of their personal e1periences. They ere assiduously inscri"ed ith fine prose and illustrated ith delicate atercolors. This is ideal. We started ith colored pencils. Watercolors came later. In *++2! the follo ing year! hile "ro sing a "ookstore! I stum"led upon a "eautiful e1ample of the kind of (ature .ournal that Miss Mason had descri"ed in her ritings. It as 0dith 3olden's The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I carried it home ith much happiness. /lthough I as ell a are that our dra ings ould "e crude in comparison to 0dith 3olden's 4 ho as an art student5! her pages ere inspiring. Recording Observations 6eep a field guide handy to identify a find. /ccording to Miss Mason's recommendations! all dra ings should include captions7 the 8atin name of the specimen 4from the field guide5 and its familiar name. )tudents can record a description of their find on the opposite page. The date of the find and here they found it is "asic. &hildren might also provide an anecdote! especially if the find is a iggly salamander or fidgety chipmunk%something entertaining. It is difficult to dra a "ird that hops from "ranch to "ranch! an ant! a "utterfly! or any creature that moves perpetually. They ill not pose for a sketch even if you ask them. In these modern times taking a photograph may help. We referred to our field guide for shape and markings%for those "its of nature e couldn't "ring inside and set "efore us on the kitchen ta"le. alks. -ne day a eek they dre their finds into a (ature

.ust as 0dith 3olden chose poems and mottos to adorn her (ature 9iary! &harlotte Mason suggested that children pick poems to adorn their .ournal. (ature in verse is $uite easy to find in a poetry anthology. We used Favorite Poems Old and New selected "y 3elen :erris. / couple lines of verse 4an e1cerpt of any length poem5 are fine for young students. /ll three verses of ;ueen /nne's 8ace "y Mary 8eslie (e ton ere copied into one of my student's <ournals hen she as in second grade %one verse a day. /n empty lot in our neigh"orhood as covered ith this pretty eed% Daucus carota%related to the carrots e eat. Fitting in Formal Lessons In the *++2s I kept a copy of the teacher's guide! Handbook of Nature Study "y /nna &omstock! open on my lap. When the children ere dra ing! I'd ask a fe o"servation $uestions or read portions of the "ook aloud for a lesson. This as the occasional ay I'd round out our study%a ay the character! &arol! in my story Po ketful of Pine ones uses the guide ith her children. =icture "ooks from the local li"rary ena"led my children to read for themselves a"out su"<ects in nature! especially those things outside our ha"itat. Approac ing Nature !it Reverence

3ave you noticed ho often the verses of the great hymns speak of >od revealing 3imself 4though imperfectly5 through 3is creation% hat theologians call general revelation? While reading an article "y Mr. >. 9o nton from a Parents! "eview maga?ine! I highlighted his ords7 (ature study should "e approached ith reverence. :or the natural orld is the e1pression of >od's personality in a form that is ithin reach of all of us to comprehend in some measure. "ncovering a #erse o$ Nature in a Hymn /ll Things @right and @eautiful :airest 8ord .esus :or the @eauty of the 0arth 3is 0ye Is on the )parro In the >arden Morning 3as @roken This Is My :ather's World -nce (ature )tudy has made its appeal and you a aken to its offerings! you may decide that one day a eek isn't time enough to o"serve and appreciate. The spring season! for instance! "rings forth so many living things out of hiding at once. /ttempt formally only hat feels doa"le. Informally! nature attracts the curiosity of children. This ise letting alone is school of a kind too. .ust remem"er to look up at the stars. Home educators know Karen Andreola by her groundbreaking book # Charlotte $ason Com%anion. Karen taught her three children through high school--studying with them all the many wonderful things her own education was missing. The entire Andreola family writes product reviews for ainbow esource !enter. Knitting mittens and sweaters and cross-stitching historic samplers are activities en"oyed in

Karen#s leisure. $or encouraging ideas% visit her blog& www&momentswithmother ulture&blo's%ot& om& &opyright A2*A! used ith permission. /ll rights reserved "y author. -riginally appeared in the /pril A2*A issue of The 'ld (choolhouse) *aga+ine% the family education maga?ine. Bead the maga?ine free at .T-)Maga? or read it on the go and do nload the free apps at .T-)/ to read the maga?ine on your mo"ile devices.