Recently I started nature journaling with my two oldest kids, Timmy (4) and Vera (3). This has been so much fun for all of us- not only do we get to spend time exploring the great outdoors, but it allows my kids to SLOW DOWN and observe the beauty of God’s creation. As they observe the intricacy of the natural world, they will hopefully grow in appreciation and awe of its beauty.
HOW WE NATURE JOURNAL
The actual journaling process is usually done in nature. We don’t bring our nature journals with us outside, mostly because I have three under 5 and if my one year old has anything to say in the matter, a peaceful sketch in nature isn’t happening. I find it much more enjoyable to walk and explore with my children as they collect treasures in buckets they carry.
We love to go on ‘nature hunts’, as we call them! We’re fortunate to live on a rather large piece of land full of wooded areas, gardens and wildflowers and there is a bay beach within walking distance. A local park or walking trail would be great, as well. As they gather, we talk about how things smell, feel, look and even sound. Even a tiny bug on a leaf is so fascinating for naturally curious kids!
With full buckets we head back indoors to more closely examine what we found. On our most recent nature hunt, my kids collected all shapes and sizes of rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, bark, berries and wild flowers. .
Their finds are removed from their buckets one at a time and examined. Again we talk about what it is, how it looks, how it feels, how it smells. Magnifying glasses are always fun to use, too!
Anyone with little ones knows just how many questions they ask and they had plenty of questions for me while examining their finds. So, out come nature books, field guides and Google. During our last journaling experience, my three year old learned the different parts of a flower, we researched names of some local wildflowers and my son learned the different parts of a leaf and what purpose the veins of a leaf serve. I love all the learning that naturally takes place!
Then the sketching happens. It’s during the sketching that even the smallest details do not go unnoticed
Nature journals don’t necessarily have to be kept in an actual journal. A notebook would work just fine. I prefer to let my children sketch on pieces of white paper and then store them in a three ring binder. Each has their own nature journal to add to after each nature hunt.
Allow your kids to be creative! Leaf rubbings, nature stamp-art, sketches, observations, pressed flowers and photographs are all great things to include in nature journals. The most important rule is that there are no rules!
Make time for nature journaling with small children frequently and see for yourself the wonderful learning that ensues. Enjoy the time outdoors and memories made through nature journaling! I would love to hear about your own experiences with nature journaling with young children.