Monday, January 3, 2011

Nature Journaling......the How and Why.

The book that first sparked my interest in nature journaling was Karen Andreola's Pocketful of Pinecones.  It was one of the first books I bought for myself as a new homeschooling momma.  After reading the first few pages I knew that what was described on the pages was exactly how I wanted my homeschool to be.  Dakota was just starting Kindergarten and we were off on the adventure of a life time.  We went on many nature walks that first year, and many in the years to come, but it was not until last year (as I mentioned in my last post) that I started a nature journal myself.

"As soon as he is able to keep it himself,
a nature diary is a source of delight to a child.
Every day's walk gives him something to enter..."  --Charlotte Mason

I have seen how keeping a nature diary is a source of delight to children, but now, experiencing that delight for myself has been pure joy.  There is something about experiencing and studying God's creation that brings a thankfulness and an "awe" that I cannot describe.  I have sat outdoors watching a sunset, surrounded by rolling hills, and nature and I wonder..... how can anyone NOT believe.  It's as if everything I see, everything I hear is crying out praises to their creator.  As if the bees are buzzing "Majesty", the birds are chirping "Glorious" and the frogs are croaking "Magnificent".  Sometimes I listen closely just to see if I can hear the rocks crying out.  The only way I can find to savor the moment is to draw what I see and write what I feel. 
How to start.....
Be inspired
The best way for me to get inspired to do something is to read about it, to look at examples of other peoples work.  These are a few of the books I have that have inspired me in nature journaling.  If they are not already a part of your homeschool library you could check your local public library or try amazon.
Get supplies

These are my supplies.  Since I am a scrapbooker I already had most of the supplies I needed.  You really only need a good pencil and a sketch pad.  I love adding color to my pictures though.  Most of the time I do so with colored pencils or pastels (chalk).  I keep all these supplies in a nice bag that I can carry outdoors with me.  I also like to keep some packing tape with me.  I love to pick flowers, leaves or feathers up and put them in my sketch pad for an added remembrance.  Here is a picture out of my nature journal of a dogwood tree.  Remember I'm not a great artist but I want you to see how I taped a dogwood flower and leaf (from our tree in the back yard) onto the pages.  You can also take a picture and include that on the pages of your journal.   Oh, and I must add that I love the spiral bound sketch pads!  Very convenient for drawing!

Now head outdoors.  It could be your own backyard, a park, or a nearby creek.  State parks are beautiful places to enjoy nature and a favorite for me. 
Once you pick your spot, spend some time observing.  Take it all in.  See it, taste it, smell it, listen closely, feel it.  Now pick something to draw.  It does not have to be anything elaborate.  A flower, a tree, a patch of grass, anything that particularly catches your eye.  Look at it and study the details of it.  Sometimes we take for granted what we see.  Sometimes we see without really looking.  So take the time to really look.  Then write about what you see.  Use great detail.  Write about how you feel.  If the spot that you are sitting in could speak what would it say?  When you are all done close your eyes and thank God for the beautiful world that he created and for giving you this moment. 


  1. Hello! I have been been following Dakota's blog for awhile and noticed your comment and decided to check out your blog! Beautiful and you have inspired me to try a nature journal, for I love God's creation and could spend all of my time outdoors praising and worshiping Him!

    God Bless,

  2. Dear Sheila,
    Such an inspiring post. I like seeing a page of your nature notebook, especially. The dogwood is one of my favorite woodland trees.
    Your mention of observation by way of "see it, taste it, smell it, listen closely, feel it," is just the kind of the observation by the senses that Miss Charlotte Mason taught.
    How happy I am to read that Pocketful of Pinecones encouraged you to take a step to live the life you imagined.
    Thank you for sharing with mothers your practical ideas for carrying out nature study in the homeschool.
    Have you noticed how the words of the old hymn writers appreciated God's creation?
    Karen Andreola

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words. I have noticed what you mentioned about the old hymns and the words of those hymns are often on my lips while I am outdoors enjoying God's creation!