How To Set Up Your Nature Journal

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“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.”

Charlotte Mason

Since releasing my new book Exploring Nature With Children: A complete, year-long curriculum, I have had lots of lots of feed back from parents who say they finally have a resource that will help them to actually get outdoors and do nature study with their children, instead of just reading about nature study. This is music to my ears!

I shall be hosting a weekly ‘Explore-along’ on my Facebook page, to share our nature studies from Exploring Nature With Children. Each week I shall post what we got up to for that week’s lesson and I invite you to share your own family’s studies.

We shall begin on Monday 7th of September with the first week’s activity from Exploring Nature With Children: Seeds

Please visit me at my Facebook page, to get ready for our first week!

Before then, I am running a short series on getting started with nature study, here on the blog:

Supplies For Nature Study

How To Set Up Your Nature Journal ~ You are here

Studying Nature With All Ages

So without further ado, here is Setting Up Your Nature Journal:

An important part of nature study is to keep a nature journal – a record of what you observe on your nature walks. It is just as important for the parent to have a nature journal as it is for the child. Be an example; show an interest in the natural world and your child will follow. Do not worry about your sketching ability; the point of a nature journal is to record scientific data, so accuracy is much more important than creating pretty pictures. Drawing skills can be learned along the way. It will also be encouraging for your child to see you learning something new.

Once you have chosen your nature journal (see Supplies For Nature Journaling) You will want to make sure that you include your name and perhaps a contact number on the first page, should your journal ever be lost.

Here are some details that are helpful to include in your journal:

Basic entries:

• The location

• Date

• Time of day (or night!)

• A brief note on the weather. I usually draw a small rectangle next to the above details and make a quick sketch to represent the weather, rather than writing about it.

Once you have sketched your subject, label it, though this may need to wait until you have looked up your subject in your field guide.

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More advanced ideas:

• Latin names of subjects

• Diagrams

• Notes on sketches – you may want to include further details, such as notes on textures,

or position etc.

• Measurements

• Pressed flowers or leaves

• Photographs

• Quotes

• Passages of scripture

• Poetry – use the weekly poems as a starting point.

• Photographs

• Lists – insects, wild flowers, mammals, trees, whatever appeals to the journal keeper.

Another authentic journaling activity would be a ‘calendar of firsts’.

It is a capital plan for the children to keep a calendar–the first oak-leaf, the first tadpole, the first cowslip, the first catkin, the first ripe blackberries, where seen, and when. The next year they will know when and where to look out for their favourites, and will, every year, be in a condition to add new observations. Think of the zest and interest the object, which such a practice will give to daily walks and little excursions.

 Charlotte Mason

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