"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Children's Nature Journals

This month's (optional) prompt at Celeste's Keeping Company link-up is children's Nature journals.  As we have gotten back into the habit of Keeping, we have begun doing Nature journal entries again, and I would like to share what my children have been doing in theirs.

I want to explain, however, that we don't follow the AO schedule for Nature study; we do our own Nature activities, led by what my children happen to be interested in. Sometimes we study mammals, sometimes birds, sometimes plants, sometimes insects, sometimes weather, etc.  There are no hard and fast "rules" for what we do in our journals;  I want my children to want to do it and I want them to enjoy it. So rules are a no-no.  :)

Now for the when, how, and where..

The when - whenever we see something we want to sketch and remember, or if we are studying something in particular that we want to remember, we sketch that, too.  For example, last fall, we studied edible weeds in our area, and their medicinal properties. We studied one weed per week and found out all we could about it. We learned its medicinal properties, located the plant on our farm, brought a sample inside, then sketched it.  (See Naomi's Goldenrod sketch below.) We studied as many as we could before winter set it.  We learned so much! (Who knew that Goldenrod is  a wonderful treatment for laryngitis?!)

The how -  we use folders that I purchased from Wal-Mart, then using a hole punch, added sketch paper to the folders. We sketch with pencils, label it, then shade it, color it, or use watercolors. We write down the date, too. And we also add the scientific name for what we draw. And we are also just beginning to add a Scripture reference for the drawing, or a line of poetry that has a connection to the sketch.

The where - I confess that we don't do Nature journals the "traditional" CM way  by taking Nature walks every week and sketching while we are outside. We don't take a walk every week, and we don't sketch outside. That didn't work for us. We don't need to take a walk. You see, my children are outside (weather permitting) every day, for most of the day - after lessons are finished. In other words from 12:30 pm til dark, usually 8:00 pm. I am outside with them most of that time. We work in the garden, flower beds, play in the woods, run all over the farm, care for our chickens and goats, play with the goats, climb trees, play in the wet-weather stream by the driveway, etc.  In all of our outdoor activities, we are always on the look-out for what's going on around us, as far as Nature is concerned. So the observation part takes place outside; the sketching part takes place inside. Sketching inside around the dining room table is just more convenient for us. We always discuss what we see while we are outside, and the children usually make the decision about what they want to record in the journal.  Once in a while I ask, "Is that something you would like to put in your journal?" But that is rare. Most of the time, the entries are of their own volition.

There were so many pictures in each journal; too many to transfer to my computer. ;) So I will only post a few from each.

I will begin with Ian, my resident ornithologist, entomologist, and herpetologist. He can identify all types of insects, every bird in our area, and knows all the snake species, too. And, thankfully, he is not afraid to re-locate the snakes that like to hide in our hay bales. He saves this Mama lots of gray hair!  :)
 However, as much as he loves reptiles (he has a pet black rat snake named Samson), he rarely sketches them. He prefers to draw birds and insects instead.

Aaron loves birds, too, and has really improved in his drawing skills over the past year. And his observation skills are so keen. He notices things I would never notice.  :)

Asher is my extra artsy child. (He takes after my dh.) When we first started keeping Nature journals 3 years ago, I asked the children to decorate a cover page. Here is Asher's. I. Love. It.  :)
He sketches anything - plants, birds..whatever he happens to zero in on that week. And as you can see, he likes to embellish his entries.  :)

At first, Natalie was not enthusiastic about keeping a Nature journal. But thankfully, she has come to love it as much as the rest of the children do. She likes to draw birds and flowers.

Naomi loves to draw, so I don't have to coax her to sketch; she is always ready!  :)

That's a peek into our Nature journals, and they are filled to the brim with entries, so we will be needing new ones for next school year. Can't wait to fill those up, too.  :)

"He must live hours daily in the open air, and as far as possible, in the country; he must look, and touch, and listen; and must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner and  fructification of every plant.."  ~ Charlotte Mason Series, Volume 1, p. 264