Sunday, May 19, 2013

Nature Study Monday: On Nature Journaling

Michelle has just about finished filling in her first “real”, spiral bound nature journal.  The first entry is dated August 10, 2010.   She was not quite 5 years old.
Flipping through it is like going on a journey….
Starting with the early entries that were *mostly* mine, with a little bit of input from her...
August 2010, Age Almost-5, Papua New Guinea
August 2010, Age Almost-5, Papua New Guinea
(For what it's worth, the entry above is still one of my personal favorites - she drew a connection between pine needles on the tree in the neighbor's yard with the dill plants we had growing in ours - "Mama, It's a dill tree!"  Makes me smile every time...)

 To where she started taking a little more ownership in terms of what she drew….
May 2011, Age 5-1/2, Florida, USA
…or wrote!
Fall 2011, Age 6, Michigan, USA

Her forays into poetry…
April 2012, Age 6-1/2, France

…and exploring different formats
August 2012, Age Almost 7, France
Up until now…this is her latest entry about our Spiny Flower Mantis.  She drew and wrote this by herself.
May 2013, Age 7-1/2. Cameroon
Flipping through her nature journal to me is such a wonderful record of how far we’ve come – her drawing, her handwriting, her observation skills.  There are entries that I helped her with, her Papa helped her with, her Grandma helped her with, and that she did completely on her own.   It is also a journey in a literal sense, given that our earliest entries were made when we still lived in Papua New Guinea, then through our year in the States in 2011 (we tried to get at least one entry in every State we visited!), our year in France in 2012, and now having arrived in Cameroon.   (If only we had an Australian entry or two, we’d have all the countries we’ve lived/spent a significant amount of time in represented here.  I did buy the notebook in Australia, maybe that counts?)   Looking through it is a source of sweet memories to both of us.   She truly “owns” this journal and the memories it contains.   As I was photographing pages to share with you in this post, she was fondly narrating to me where we were, what she remembered about that day, telling me “mama, take a picture of THAT one” to just about every page.
Charlotte Mason talks about keeping a nature journal as a ‘delight’ to the child, especially when the child is given ownership of that process.  We have certainly found that to be true.   And in the process of helping my daughter starting a nature journal, I have ended up starting my own.  Nature journaling has given me fresh eyes to see what is around me and a new appreciation for God’s Creation.
It wasn’t easy.  I’m not naturally a “nature lover”.  I grew up in the city and hated that my family’s choice of vacation was generally tent camping.   We had fits and starts before we found our groove.  But it has been so worth the effort.
May I encourage you to do the same?


  1. We have all gotten so much joy out of keeping our nature journals! I started keeping one to model good habits for my two oldest (then kindergarteners), and now I enjoy it even more than they do! :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you! It is such a challenge to me - not the natural delight that Charlotte speaks of. But maybe it will be to my children! I will persevere :)

  3. This was so helpful to see! Thank you for sharing it. I think I will start a journal soon with my 4-year old.