I love our summer nature studies. Oldest has especially bonded with his nature journal this summer. He’s always got it with him, including when we went on vacation. He sat on the balcony of our hotel room and sketched. When we visited with friends, he and my friend’s son sat outside on a rock pile with their nature journals and shared colored pencils.
I consulted two different sources this year: The Handbook of Nature Study and Nature Journaling, both from my library. The Handbook is rather intimidating, I’ll admit—very comprehensive and very hard to use with young children. I always feel like a momma bird when I use the Handbook; I have to read and digest the information and then feed it to my children in small, already-been-chewed bites. But I do understand when others write that you can’t do nature study without it. It is very comprehensive. On the other hand, Nature Journaling is inspiring and inviting. It not only provides ideas for how to have a nature journal but intentionally removes the fear factor. This book is why my son loves his journal.
I haven’t forced a curriculum or made journaling an assignment. When he shows me an entry, I’ll ask him questions that relate to what we’ve been studying. Is it a vertebrate or an invertebrate? What classification is it? But his journal is not purely scientific; it’s a place for him to record his summer memories—the blue-taled skink that regularly visited our front porch, the squirrel they tried to lure with acorns, the varied leaves found in the yard.
His journal is made with my Proclick binder: a piece of cardboard for the backing, some notebooking pages with places to sketch and lines to write on, and a laminated cover.
But it’s not really how I made his journal that makes him love it; it’s about how I’m letting him make his own memories and then experience them a second time on paper.