I have ventured ever so slightly into the world of Charlotte Mason over the past few months and feel that I am ready to bring some of her ideas into our homeschool.  With four active little boys, we are constantly outdoors and it is second nature to them to find bugs and birds and flowers.

Charlotte Mason has latched onto this incredible appetite that children have to the world that God created and looks to use their curiosity as a way to ever so slightly and slowly focus their attention and create a habit of observation.  She does this by having the children keep a nature journal.

Typically I tend to dive headlong into a new homeschool idea and then burn out on it.  I am trying to curb this flaw with nature journaling because I feel that it is an important learning tool.  You can imagine that if I drag all my little ones to a park or lake every week for journal time, I will quickly decide that this is for the birds.

So over the spring/summer break, I am sneaking in some journal time about once a week.  We are starting simple with the life we find in our own back yard.  The boys or I collect a few items and they draw while I make lunch.

nature journal

When I am brave enough, we will take our supplies outside and try to draw some flowers that I don’t want to pull up.

The next step is to load up the double stroller and walk around the neighborhood to look for new species that I don’t have in my own yard.

Finally, maybe in the fall, we will start taking a nature walk once every couple of weeks at a park or trail.  We have enough of those types of places in our town to keep up busy for these young years.

I need to read up some more on how other nature journaling moms go about drawing those living things that don’t stay put.  We have lots of birds right outside our dining room window, and I’m sure it won’t take long before the boys start noticing bugs in the grass.  If you have any pro tips, stick them in the comments, please.

nature notebooksI am keeping our supplies simple right now.  Just a small notebook for each of us and good quality colored pencils. {an affiliate link} I decided on the spiral bound books that will lay flat and a size small enough to fit in a kid-sized backpack.

I must admit, I am enjoying this activity the most right now.  Alex is definitely interested, but doesn’t stick with it too long.  Ryan gave it a go once, but prefers to just make his own drawing from his imagination right now.  That is fine by me, but he is only allowed to use his notebook for nature drawings.

Hopefully, these tentative baby steps will have us running in no time.  It has been a nice start so far.  I have also found great inspiration from Celeste at Joyous Lessons.  I’m not one to strap a toddler on my back and push a stroller through the woods like her, but she has some great ideas.  For us lazier moms. Deanna at Little Schoolhouse in the Suburbs also has a few posts about Spring Walk Alongs (no journals) that she and her kids do – sometimes from the car!

As the Wild Kratts would say, “Get outside and get into nature!”

Check out more posts about our Charlotte Mason style nature journals

This post is linked up to the Hip Homeschool Hop.


Nature Journals: Our First Steps — 4 Comments

  1. That’s great you’re doing nature journals! I’ve thought about it for my kids but have always been hesitant, I guess because I’m not real nature-y myself. Though I do see value in observing nature, of course. Maybe if I think about just doing it in baby steps like you have, then I’ll be inspired to actually do it. We’ll see. :)

  2. Nature journals are something on my bucket list I always mean to start. It always seems to need more organization than I have to load children, backpacks, pencils, and notebooks into the car. Starting in the back yard and observing birds is a wonderful idea!

    I can believe it’s only a matter of time before your sons go bug hunting. I suspect my sons will be turning over rocks to draw bugs rather than flowers.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Definitely start slow in your own yard (or window, if you are really in the city). Taking an even smaller baby step – collect a few cuttings and bring them indoors. This is good for those weeks when the weather is incredibly uncooperative, which is just about every week in my part of the world.

      Alex is a bit fearful of bugs. He thinks everything is a wasp out to get him. Ryan is a little more adventurous. I need to try some of those bug boxes that have a magnifying glass built into the lid.

  3. http://thecraftyclassroom.com/blog/2011/07/12/starting-nature-journals/
    This website had a really great post about doing nature study after burning out. For critters that are to active to draw, just observe while on your walk or at the park. Have a field guide to identify the animal, then look it up when at home on the computer or in a book. The kids can then draw from the picture and copy down their own observations.

    We’ve done nature study in the past, but do to pregnancy, depression, and a move it got put aside. I need to start it up again as the kids are always asking to do it.

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