Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Nature Study: Keeping a Nature Journal

This has long been a facinating topic for me. With the certainity of the approach of spring, the the motivation of this post, and my recent contemplation of what new supplies to purchase for our homeschool, I've pulled all our books pertaining to this subject off our library shelves, and have again become inspired to keep a nature journal.
I started browsing through them again and left them lying around in places where it would be easy for the little eyes in my house to spot them. The other day, my son was looking for something to occupy him during rest time that didn't involve a sword or hammer, so I handed him Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Leslie/Charles Roth. Right away he asked for paper and crayons, and began to draw, copying illustrations from the book and adding his own elements. Soon, the two oldest were quarreling over the book, so I pulled out the entire stack of books and my watercolor pencils, and a stack of clean copy paper. They, on their own, got out a few of our field guides, and have been happily occupied at rest time for several days.
This morning, I shared with them the Secret of the Pencils - that they really are WATERCOLOR pencils. With them, you can achieve a watercolor painted look by brushing over your drawing with a lightly dampened pencil. Oh, my! The lightbulbs went on! "So that's how their pictures look all painterly!" exclaimed the six year old. We discussed the most frequently used different tools - pens, pencils, watercolors, colored pencils, and watercolor pencils.
So, for about 45 minutes this morning, we sat together on the living room floor drawing/painting butterflies and flowers from our field guide. (Did I mention that we woke up to a fresh, 4-5 inch layer of snow this morning?)
I have planned this week a trip to our favorite arts/crafts supply store to purchase 4 sketchbooks and a few decent paintbrushes. I've been looking online at purchasing some good quality colored pencils, and a set of watercolor paints because I think I can get better prices online.

My goal is to have at least one entry a week - that would be 4 per month. Then we could look back on an entire year of seasons and see how our entries have progressed. This compliments my decision to Celebrate a Year of Abundance. By observing more carefully the abundant, beautiful creation God has given us here on the abundance of land He has given us (5 acres) and by recording it into a nature journal, I hope to foster in my heart (and my children's) more gratitude, more worship, more joy towards my Saviour.

Here is the marvelous abundance of books I am delighted to call our own that pertain to the subject of nature study/keeping a nature journal.

1. Wild Days; Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe - a how-to book discussing the Charlotte Mason approach to nature notebooks by an author who homeschools her 7 children. Very practical suggestions for families beginning the joy of keeping a nature study journal.

2. In and Out of the Garden by Sara Midda - an inspirational example- " lore painted in minute, jewel-like detail...Every page, including the text, has been hand painted...Dip into it for recipes, poems, proverbs, and garden thoughts..." (quote from dustjacket)

3. The County Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden - an outstanding inspirational example of a nature journal kept over the course of a year, including magnificent watercolor paintings, poetry, folklore, and journaling. My favorite - incredibly inspiring. I want another copy to frame individual pages. Eventually, each of my children will own their own copy.

4. Sunflower Houses by Sharon Lovejoy (What a delicious last name, btw!) - an inspirational example - "A fetching primer on gardening for children, chockablock with botanical lore.." (quote by The Smithsonian) Illustrated throughout with the author's own simple and beautiful watercolors.

5. Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola - a how-to AND inspirational example - "..a teacher's guide to nature study cleverly disguised as a heartwarming story written in the form of a mother's diary. Woven into the story are more than 50 examples of what to look for on a nature walk, Latin names for the living things observed by the characters, study questions, nature poems and verses," and lovely illustrations. (Quote from back cover)

6. Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie - a how-to AND inspirational example - "using the simple techniques in this book, anyone can learn how to start and keep and ongoing nature journal. Along the way you'll develop skills in observing, sketching, appreciating, and writing about life's beauty and mysteries." (Quote from back cover) - I like this one for it's how-to information, sketching exercises, and suggestions of what to include in a journal.

7. Mary Anne's Garden by Mary Anne McLean - an inspirational example - I'm shocked that Amazon does not contain really any info on this book - ?!?! - copyright 1987 - "From first bud to last bloom, all manner of growth is faithfully recorded in these poetic drawings. (70 full color pastel and 28 black and white drawings)" Included are her own handwritten "marginal notes, ideas born of the moment- part self-discovery, occasional ruminations on our role in nature, or whimsy." (quote from dustjacket)


Nic said...

Oh dear. I think I need some watercolor pencils, and quick! Fabulous idea; I'm going to adopt this one for my family as well. Thanks for the post!

Amber said...

The Country diary book is sooo beautiful!!!and I loved Sunflower houses so much! I can't wait for some nice weather around here so I can get the kids out for a nature walk!