I recently had an inquiry on how we keep our nature notebooks, so I thought I’d post a little info for those interested.
First of all I’m a wimp, and tend to go for nature walks in the spring and summer when the weather is warm and dry. It’s hard to get me outdoors during the dreary months so keeping a nature journal is not something I do year round. However; being spring, we are now outdoors as much as possible. If we are not able to hit the trails and go for a walk, my children can usually find an abundance of plants and wild life to journal in our own backyard. They have found an abundance of flowers, leaves, insects, birds and even snakes just to name a few. It’s one of the few times that they would find a spider in it’s natural habitat and not be afraid of it. These specimens can be brought indoors sketched, labeled, and colored if they wish. I keep a special box of colored pencils and water color paints just for this purpose.
I’ve posted some drawings from their notebooks for you. The pencil drawings are by my youngest (age:8) and the colored ones by my oldest (age:10). The drawings are their own interpretations of what they see, and all efforts are to be applauded. It’s supposed to be fun and shouldn’t feel like work.
We have a variety of field guides on Birds, Insects, Trees, Plants, and Rocks & Minerals. I have a Preference for the Lone Pine field guides as they are easy for the children to use. Our notebooks are spiral bound sketch books aprox. 8.5 x 11, and we tote them in the backpack along with binoculars, magnifying glass, pencils, erasers and my youngest daughter’s bug catcher. She likes to collect insects in this and look closely at them without the fear of them jumping in her face or flying away. The bug catcher is made of clear plastic and the lid is a magnifying glass. This allows for observing the many fascinating details in the world of “small”.
We don’t have a fancy flower press, but have been able to successfully press some nice flowers using wax paper and a really big book. Sometimes these pressings are attached to a notebook page beside a drawing. Presently, I am trying to have the girls include some poetry in their nature notebooks, either written by themselves or simply copied. I am encouraging them to look for their own poems that inspire them about nature.
There is more about How to Keep a Nature Notebook in the Charlotte Mason Companion (see my side bar). Check out your local library for more inspiring ideas and if you can find it, A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady is worth checking out as well. Finally, here are a few Helpful Hints for Field Sketching.
“To see a wren in a bush, call it “wren,” and go on walking is to have (self-importantly) seen nothing. To see a bird and stop, watch, feel, forget yourself for a moment, be in the bushy shadows, maybe then feel “wren”– that is to have joined in a larger moment with the world.” — Gary Snyder, Language Goes Two Ways, 1995