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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nature Journal Inspiration

Nature study has changed my life.  Not simply because I now know more about toads, turtles, birds, insects and plants than I ever thought I would (though I am very glad for all that).  I'm not even referring to the hour each week to go outside and complete some kind of assignment (though there's absolutely nothing wrong with that...)  Neither am I talking about nature walks, or making regular entries in a nature journal. 

After several years of nature study, I am different because I have been awakened.  I can see.  And I am absolutely smitten by the beauty I've discovered.

That's what nature study has done to me.  
"In the early years we are not to teach nature as science, we are not to teach it primarily for method or for drill: we are to teach it for loving - and this is nature study.  On these points I make no compromise."
LH Bailey

There is nothing quite like a sense of wonder when it comes to discovering the minute alongside the grandiose beauty in the world around us.  Oh such delights are waiting for us!

When we discover something wonderful... wouldn't we like to remember it?  A nature journal is great for that! The emphasis is on the experience, the enjoyment of nature, observation and asking questions, not so much on the recording.  What we record in a journal is only the outward sign of the inward workings  ;)
"A field notebook may be made a joy to the pupil and a help to the teacher.  Any kind of blank book will do for this, except that it should not be too large to be carried in the pocket, and it should always have the pencil attached."
Anna Comstock

Here's how we started:

I actually made our own first books.  I didn't have very high hopes of finding anything of very good quality in the small mountain town in Peru where we lived in those days.  Plus, I didn't want to spend a lot of money if the boys weren't even going to use them.  Also, I would have been hesitant to let them mess them up if they had cost me a lot of money... I'm annoying like that.  :)  So, we made our own, and they've become real treasures to us for more than just the fact that they are homemade.

Can you seriously believe that these pictures are from 2005?!
I just knew they'd come in handy one of these days!! ;) heheh.

So, the books belong to the kids.  They decorate the outside, and they do all the drawings inside... with no criticism, no corrections... all theirs. For a LONG time, they weren't really into making entries.  I didn't fuss.  I just pulled mine out, and likely as not, they'd appear with theirs some time later as well.

Just recently actually have we graduated to store bought journals.  I bought them from Miller Pads and Paper.  They are perfect.  Not necessarily for watercolor, but definitely for sketching.  Charlotte Mason emphasized giving the children quality art materials, but I didn't always have access to quality.  Nor did my budget always allow for it.  But one can never go wrong with a sturdy blank book and a set of good colored pencils.  Just last year we ventured into watercolor for a bit, and now are back to the pencils until we can learn some more.  We had a few too many really satisfying sketches ruined by a bit too much water!  I'm hoping to learn more about dry brush very soon (yes, Richele, I need to review your post again ;)

"Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so.  We might as well declare that a child should not speak unless he put his words into poetry, as to declare that he should not draw because his drawings are not artistic."
Anna Comstock

Helpful Links:

One of our nature study posts from about 4 years ago!  hah! the kids are so small!  :)
Bloggy friends who've posted on their nature journals lately... Pebblekeeper, Barb, and Richele
This officially my first Outdoor Hour Challenge post, I believe.  Hooray!
Simple Nature Journal squidoo
HONS - free online in many formats here.

I snagged the following AWESOME link from Megan over at Contented Sparrow (check out her inspiring post first!) then... Vintage Nature Readers Galore!  Check them both out :)

So how 'bout it?  Are you inspired yet?  

Go ahead, pick up a notebook and some pencils and head out to see what you can see, see, see!
Oh, and if you get a chance, I'd love to hear all about it!


Deedee said...

Hi Amy! I'm so glad you are enjoying the nature study along with the kids. I am too! (some days I wonder who exactly is getting the education around here?)

We just did a big nature walk and studied spiders this week. It is great as we walk back from taking Butterfly to school in the mornings! My post about it will be going up today or tomorrow - can't remember when I scheduled it for. Hehehe!

cindy said...

I would love to use this as a guest post over at Shining Dawn Books! Whatcha think?

Richele said...

It's funny to think we were both tapping away at our nature journal posts together :)

You're so right (and so is Charlotte). There's no trick to it - just relax, relax some more and enjoy. Our first year I started to stress that they might never pull their journals out but little by little it just became natural to them. (pun fully intended)

We do brush-painting by dampening our brush (wiping it off on a cloth or ahem, pants) so it is wet enough to pick up the watercolor but not sopping. The colors are much easier to handle that way.

Everyone's free to choose their medium around here though. We've used about every kind of berry surrounding us and Max even tried spit for mixing (blech).

I'll be back to check out all your links - and you have furthered my inspiration along!

amy in peru said...

No. Perhaps I was unclear... Nature Study is MY thing! ;) My kids join in with me sometimes ;)

Of course, I'm kidding. But I really don't look at it as just another subject, but really a way of life. A way of LOOKING at life. It has been such a pleasure.

Yesterday, I was looking through my old pictures and realized/remembered just how much I've thoroughly enjoyed nature study by the wonderful pictures I've taken.

Here's the link to my album (which really only has a tiny fraction of everything):

I'm so glad you guys are enjoying your walks! Precious moments those!

amy in peru said...

That would be the idea... you know, not TOO much water, it's just they get so giddy with it all... paint AND water AND an interesting subject, you understand it is enough to make anyone a little frantic with delight! ;)

LJS said...

My daughter started her nature journal when she began a wilderness class that had her hiking in the woods six hours every Tuesday. She loves to look back through it and remember the day the herbalist came or the day she brought home cattails. We are kicking off our nature study next week. Our local Audubon is offering nature walks and journaling as a way to introduce their journals......I can't wait!

Phyllis said...

Oh, Amy...I feel exactly like you do! Nature study has changed my life, too. And the lives of my children. They notice so much more and bring it to me to share with me. It is wonderful. It is like suddenly waking up and seeing things anew. Great post!

Barb said...

Welcome to your very first official OHC entry...I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on nature journals as part of this post.

My nature journal is so much more than just a is sort of a hodge-podge of thoughts, impressions, hopes, macro and micro visions of experiences and then sometimes just a sort of savings account of things I don't want to let pass by.

Thanks for the encouraging post today and for linking up with the OHC.


Phyllis said...

Oh! I'm in the midst of writing about our current nature study, and trying to figure out how to pull our family nature notebook together. Well, actually, how to bring it into existence. I have a pile of drawings and notes, so far.

Do you happen to know where to find HONS in usable Kindle format? I had gotten it from the link you have, and (at least on Kindle for Mac) it's almost unreadable. The "read online" version there is good, and I think the PDF is, too....

Silvia said...

I´ve just started and you gave me great ideas. They don´t seem to want to do their own drawings yet, but I´ll keep modeling for them and see what happens next!
Nice new banner.

Alexandra said...

Beautiful drawing! I love Impressionism.

If you need more free vintage ebooks, I've been listing them in categories at my other blog:

I use many of these and enjoy finding them for others.

God bless. :)

Anonymous said...

Love your post Amy! We too are finding nature study so rewarding, memories and insight that no one can ever take away from us. I am so grateful to CM for the introduction! Loved the little glimpse of your journal ;o)

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