Nature journals For Young Children

Whilst have a sort-out of my knitting books, I came across my eldest daughter’s very first nature journal. (Now, now, I have never said I am the most organised of home educators!)

This was her first book from when she was four years old. Four! how time flies! My big girl turns thirteen in a few short weeks. We did not begin formal education with her ’till she was six, but we had her journal on the go so much sooner.

I thought it might be helpful for those families with younger ones to see some pages from her journal. She had a simple, stapled sketchbook, with nice, heavy paper (this will prevent the frustration of sketches showing through on the next page, or the paper being too lightweight to hold a decent mark.

I usually dated her pages for her. Sometimes she wanted to write a word or two herself.

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Often I labelled her sketches for her.

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I wrote her wee narrations into her book

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Please give your child good quality pencils, both sketching & coloured. There is nothing more frustrating than pencils with no ‘payoff’ on the paper. I always used the chunky Lyra ones when my girls were little. Crayola are good too. Be aware that less is more with little ones; too many colours to choose from can be very overwhelming.

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I gave very simple directions to my girls when they were little, and I use that same instruction today: draw what you see, not what you think you see.

We still ended up with some happy-faced insects 🙂

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Today Elianna still sketches. She enjoys creating art & has moved on to also creating digital art which is a huge passion of hers.

Here are two watercolours that she worked on earlier this year.

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Keeping a nature journal with your child has so many benefits. It teaches them the wonder of the natural world around them, they learn lots of technical skills with paper, paints, and pencils, but I think the biggest benefit is that they get to know the world around them. Really know it. I can photograph a flower, tree, or creature many times, but it is only when I get out my paints & pencils that I really see it, really observe it, and get to know it.

The nature journal is such a wonderful tool to develop the habit of observation in our children. The words of Charlotte Mason express the idea best:

Just keep in mind that these notebooks are designed to help cultivate within your child the joy of nature and discovery, not to become a source of irritation, frustration, or competition. If your child finds writing difficult, offer to write his comments in his notebook as he dictates them. And whatever you do, don’t grade or correct a nature notebook! “The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature note-books, which are left to their own management and are not corrected. These note-books are a source of pride and joy, and are freely illustrated by drawings (brushwork) of twig, flower, insect, etc.”

Home education Vol. 3, p. 236

Happy exploring!

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8 thoughts on “Nature journals For Young Children

  1. Hi Lynn

    Thank you for posting this, great encouragement. We have enjoyed our nature journalling so far and as we look back we can already see the improvements.

    I know I get so hung up on making sure the children don’t miss out on anything through being home educated I sometimes forget that the whole point was to provide a reduced stress education! Nature study is not the place to start teaching writing!

    Best wishes Jenny

  2. Thanks Jenny!

    Nature study is definitely not the place for teaching writing! If you follow the principles of Charlotte Mason, she advised being very hands-off with nature journals, and letting the child really make it his own.

    It is great that you are enjoying nature journaling so much 🙂

    Lx

  3. thanks for sharing pictures from the ‘early’ notebook and the more recent one. It is encouraging especially for children who don’t draw or write x

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