Our Nature Journals
One of the skills that I enjoy teaching the most in our home is that of keeping a Nature Journal.
"What is a Nature Journal?"
Ours is a simple notebook that all school age students keep in which there are drawings, observations, research notes, compositions, and essays on the natural world.
The children have always loved this time in our school day,
and it is the most favored subject for show and tell when friends and family come over.
I think that if we give our children the availability to discover things on their own,
and dive into learning about them,
especially in nature,
they will become people who love to learn.
I also believe that the powers of observation should not be overlooked as a critical skill to attain.
Charlotte Mason states, "If we give our children regular opportunities to get in touch with God's creation, a habit is formed that will be a source of delight throughout their lives."
We do it like this:
The first day of the week, we go on a hike or walk, lasting no longer than one hour,
in which we observe a specific theme for the week, such as insects, or butterflies.
Last week it was pond life.
We have several ponds very close to our home, so this was an easy one.
Other subjects for this fall will be horses, fall, trees, and birds.
Through the winter, we will borrow some documentaries from the library
on sea life instead of a walk.
This week we are learning about lightning,
because we had a huge lightning storm Sunday night and the children had questions about it,
so it seemed like a good idea.
The second day, we draw what we observed.
This will last an hour, so the drawing is to be as detailed as they can possibly make it.
They may use colored pencils if they want and have time.
When we studied insects, every one caught their own bug and then drew it, labeling it as so forth.
The third day, we get out the reference books and take notes.
I lead this on the white board, the children learn to take notes.
The fourth day, each student writes either an essay or a composition about the subject matter...
Handwriting and spelling, as well as grammar are all learned, checked, and corrected.
At times it may be appropriate to write a poem about the subject,
which is a nice change from composition.
A Nature Journal is very simple to me, very inexpensive.
We learn a great deal, while enjoying the process.
I believe the main point is not necessarily how you do your home learning, or your nature journal,
but that you do, in fact, do it,
and that with joyful hearts,
pointing the student to the magnificent Maker of all Creation.