Monday, March 11, 2013

Keeping a Nature Journal/Notebook

 Creating a nature journal/notebook is a good way for your child to slow down and be able to enjoy and take in all that God has created around them. It is also an effective way to foster good observation skills, greater appreciation of nature and an expression of their creative side.

As you go on nature walks and hikes with your children, encourage their curiosity and spark their interests in the natural world around them by encouraging them to take notice of things around them. Don't be intimidated-you don't need to know the names or details about the creature/insect/plant in question! Just encourage their curiosity and help to spark their interest with simple statements or questions. (“Wow, look at the stripes on the squirrel's tail!”, “I wonder why this flower is closed at night.”)
Tools to remember anytime you are on a nature excursion are:
Colored pencils/watercolor pencils
Paper/watercolor paper
Pencils, sharpener, eraser
Ziplock for collecting fallen leaves/objects of interest(can even be glued into notebook)
flower press (super simple to make: 2-8 1/2x6 pieces of cardboard, folded printer paper, 2 rubber bands

No official template is needed, but can be helpful if desired. There are numerous ways to record in a nature journal/notebook. Here is one that I found that may be helpful when doing a page.:

I.Basic Information(record the following info on the upper or lower corner of page. For the younger ones, just let them draw whatever and wherever til their heart is content and forget about formats!)
  1. Name- If using loose pages or not on outside of book
  2. Date- This will help establish the season and month. Take notice of how things change during different times of the year
  3. Place-Where are you observing? Compare habitats.
  4. Time-Doesn't necessarily have to be accurate clock time; can simply be early morning, late afternoon, etc. Activity of animals will be different at different times of day.
  5. Weather-Affects most living things. Is it sunny, overcast, windy?
  6. First impressions-What do you hear? Are there any smells in the air?
  7. Cloud cover, pattern-Cloud cover can be recorded by drawing a small box and drawing the clouds that you see in the sky. Add a description if desired.
II.Begin Drawing(having a sequence of observation may be helpful. This pattern gets you in the habit of observing all around you.)
    1. Ground Observation-Even if partially paved, notice any leaves, flowers, rocks, insects. Draw 2-3 objects and move on. For further learning, ask or write one question about each object: How did it get there?Where does it go in winter? Can it be found in other habitats?
    2. Eye-Level Observation-Particular leaves, tall plants, shrubs, low nests, birds, insects. Describe what it's doing or what's it part of.
    3. Overhead Observations-Look up! Choose a tree, bird, insect, the sky and just draw!
The more you practice focusing and observing, the more you will see and enjoy everything around you.
(Info taken from “Keeping a Nature Journal:Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You” by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth)