Monday, May 14, 2012

Nature Journaling #1: What Do I Need?


I wrote an article for Heart of the Matter Online last month about Nature Journaling for Little Ones.  It was a wish list of things I wanted to do with Esmé.  And here’s how it started:

I’ve wistfully contemplated nature journaling – beautiful, romantic, sweet, beyond my grasp. Life is too busy to just sit, relax, observe, be? Whenever I head outside, I grab my gardening tools. Or furtively check emails on my iPod while pushing my daughter’s swing.

And my little girl? She’s too young to enslave with a pencil and paper, I’ve thought. She needs to be free to run, roam, explore, discover.

No longer. I’m tired of coveting others’ journals. And I’ve been reading how nature journaling, rather than restricting freedom, can be an avenue for focused exploration, discovery, and expression. A way to be amazed by the littlest details of this world God has made.

Because we are official experts now, having a month of nature journaling under our belts as well as a posted article, I figured Nature Journaling would be the perfect topic as we join the illustrious group of 65 or so bloggers over at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew on their 5 Days of Blogging HopSo with that disclaimer and plea for grace, let’s dive right in with the first topic: 

What Do I Need for Nature Journaling?

  1. Something to write on
  2. Something to write with

I know, I know.  You were wanting a legitimate reason to peruse your favorite office supply store and tap into your education budget.  Never fear, we’ll get to that later.  I just wanted to remind you that there are no nature journal police out to get you if you don’t have all the requisite suppliesYou can start today!

Something to Write On

Paper is the obvious choice, though don’t let that limit your creativity.  Write on rocks if that works for ya – though I’d definitely recommend Sharpies for a writing instrument if you go that route.

For us, the first question was:

  • Do we want pretty little notebooks?  Something we can just pick up and grab as we’re heading outdoors?  That in itself inspires us to creativity?
  • Or do we want a binder?  Something we can add to over time, using pre-printed journaling sheets, lined paper or plain, sheet protectors for actual plant samples, etc.

Indecisive as we are, we went with both.  And guess what? – the pretty little WalMart spiral notebook wins, hands down.  It’s easy to use and just seems to evoke the spirit of journaling in us.Journals

If you do go the binder route, by all means, make that binder cover as fancy as you wish.  I’m still drooling over the twig binding on this journal.  For us novices, here is a dried flower picture (covered with contact paper) from last summer that is perfect for slipping into the transparent front pocket of our 3-ring binder.Dried Flower

Something to Write With

All right - here's where you can go hog wild with shopping if you desire.

  • Colorful pens, pencils – to get creative juices flowing
  • Pastels, crayons – to make plant rubbings or just color things up
  • Hair spray – to set the pastels if you choose to use them
  • Camera – to “imprint” photos for photo journaling
  • Printer (with ink) – to print photos, printable notebooking pages, poetry, quotes – anything you don’t want to write out yourself.

Actually, it’s a pretty basic list.  Just pull out your favorite art or scrapbooking supplies and take ‘em outside with you – you’ll be good to go!

If you DO want to get more complex and do something the phantom nature journal police will approve of, make ink from plants.  Though I think making nature paint using tempera would be more fun.

Still not sure how to get started?  We’ll have a few specific newbie examples for you over the next few days.  But if you want to go to the pros for ideas, check out Handbook of Nature Study for LOTS of journaling ideas.



Mary said...

I'll be reading this topic all week!

Heather said...

OOOOOOh, I love the dried flower binder cover. I am going to give that one a try with my girls for our nature notebooking pages notebook.

For our regular "out in the woods" notebooking, we use the primary composition books that have blank space for drawings. My littles are ages 3-8 and it works well for all of them.

Have a blessed week. I will be checking back!


Christina A. said...

Hmmm...something to think about. We tend to bring things back with us when we go out on our nature walks. Do you think that there is much to be gained by taking notebooks out into the field?

jk said...

We do a lot of writing around here - have not done a nature journal, per se, but lots and lots of writing - I love this idea to add into the mix. My daughter, Esme, did the most beautiful drawing plan of our perennial gardens around our house that I will scan and share on my blog at some point. It was much prettier than my sketch/plans for the same garden beds!

Jane Maritz said...

I'll have to look for those composition books, Heather. It'd be nice to have a section for drawings without lines going through... :)

Christina - I've seen a lot of nature journal entries that get put together after the fact - e.g. dried flowers taped into the journal, photo journal pages, specimens brought home and drawn after the fact, etc. Personally, there's something about pen in hand and sunshine on shoulders that makes me slow down and pay attention to little things? I guess it depends on your kiddos - and your climate... :)

jk - looking forward to the garden drawing!

Lisa said...

We have never taken a notebook out with us or kept a separate nature journal. My kids all keep an art journal & they draw and write in them every day.

Jane Maritz said...

Lisa - love the idea of an art journal! This season has been the start of a Bible journal, science journal, and nature journal at our house - so I'm thinking we'll get to art at some point... :) though art seems to permeate the others, too.