Thursday, 5 April 2012

Restarting our nature journals

"We can't place a monetary value on nature journaling - the value is measured only by the soul."
-- Clare Walker Leslie, Keeping a Nature Journal

I was first introduced to the idea of nature journal about five years ago when I came across the concept of nature study as part of Charlotte Mason's philosophy.  The idea of keeping beautifully illustrated journals while having a peaceful, quiet afternoon observing nature appealed to me very much, so I tried to incorporate that into our days.  However, we never came anywhere close to the idyllic picture proposed by Charlotte Mason in our nature study sessions.  For a start, Tiger had no patience to keep still enough or quiet enough while we were out in nature to observe and/or draw what we saw -- he was more interested to be a knight wading through a thick forest (our local woods) ready to slay any imaginary monster/enemy that was hiding in the next corner.

After several failed attempts at getting him interested to just observe and put an entry into his nature journal, I decided to put away the idea of attaining any specific goals for Tiger and instead, just continue to take regular and leisurely walks and learn to appreciate nature myself.  I thought, maybe if I were to gain a genuine interest and appreciation of the subject matter (in this case, nature), my enthusiasm might rub off on my son eventually.  Truth to be told, my own feeble effort at nature journaling was not entirely inspiring either.

Something changed this spring.

On a slightly misty morning a few weeks ago, we saw a brown hare in a field.  We often see wild rabbits around, but that was the first time we saw a hare running in front of us.  Needless to say, we were very excited.  Somehow, seeing this rare creature (where we are) made me want to record it.  I did not have my camera with me that morning so I asked Tiger whether he thought we should record what we saw in our nature journal.  To my surprise, he was very enthusiastic about the idea.  On our way back, we saw a green woodpecker as well, so that was to go into our entry.

We spent an entire morning (about 3 hours) making our entries.  Since we are not at the level of sketching nature from life just yet, we consulted several books that we felt inspired by.  The session involved sketching in pencil, followed by colouring in using watercolour pencils and pan set, as well as some writing.  I pointed out some of the more obvious features of the hare -- such as long ears and legs -- to Tiger as he was sketching, as well as the different shades while he was colouring in.

I made a start in my nature journal as well.  It was a luxury to be able to spend an entire hour just sitting and painting.

Since we were not able to sit and observe the hare and the green woodpecker for hours, we learnt more about these two animals from the BBC Nature website, where we watched clips and read interesting facts about the hare and about the green woodpecker.

Both of us felt energised by this exercise, so it is strange that we don't do something we both find so enjoyable more often.   Sometimes Tiger just does not feel like doing it, sometimes there are more pressing activities to be done.  Whatever the reason might be for our lack of entries, I am wary of not turning the exercise into a chore by insisting upon having it done every week.  Right now Tiger sees his occasional nature journal entry as an interesting thing to do.  I want to keep it that way for him.  On the other hand, I might add a few more entries in my own journal on a regular basis.  Seeing me do it often might inspire Tiger to do the same, or it might not.  Regardless, he knows the option is open to him for more regular work should he chooses to do so.

This post is linked up to several blog hops, where you can visit to see what other homeschoolers have been busy with.  It is also linked to the Pioneer Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.


  1. We've yet to start a nature journal. I'd like to though.

  2. Beautiful journaling! I love the luxury of setting time aside for this too.

  3. Wow! You are talented. Your hare and woodpecker are great. We've tried to start nature journaling several times without success. My kids love the outside, but haven't gotten the urge to journal yet. Last week my son showed some interest. I'm hoping tomorrow when we visit with friends at a local park we will see frogs. We have seen them each spring, so this could be my chance to get the nature notebooks going.

  4. Did you draw that hate and woodpecker?! Oh, my! You're a wonderful artist! Wowzers! You definitely should do more journaling! I bet your work will inspire Tiger!

  5. How inspiring! Thank you. :-) I am definitely pinning this.

  6. What lovely nature journals! Thank you for sharing them in the upcoming Carnival of Homeschooling!

  7. Do I have permission to pin this? It's wonderful!

  8. Hi Cindy,

    Thank you for your interest. Yes, please go head and pin this.


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