I recently helped a friend with some advice on how to have nature study with your school-age children with your sweet toddler tagging along. I thought you all might like to hear what I shared with her.
Here’s what I related to her about my experience with nature journals:
Nature study is not so much about the journals, it’s about the experience of being out-of-doors. It’s great when it culminates in a nature journal entry but if it doesn’t….no big deal. You said you wanted to instill a love for nature and you could quite possibly be already doing that just by focusing a bit of time outside. Let your kids direct you when you have the time to wander the yard or the neighborhood. Don’t expect anything and don’t try to force it.
Here’s what we would do when the boys were younger:
I would send the boys outside and let them play. I find that if they get that initial burst of energy out they are ready to get down and focus on something.I would go with them and just wander the yard. I might find something of interest and call them over. “Hey guys look at this!”
It worked sometimes…..or they would do the same to me. “Look at that spider on the slide mom, do you know what it is?”
This was usually followed but utter horror by me because I am not a “bug person”. I would usually go over and look at it and then I would point something out like how many legs it had or what color it was. Later when we were finished playing, we would go inside and I would pull out the journals. They could draw whatever they wanted as long as they narrated back to me what it was. I would write the labels or as they got older, they would write the labels. If we felt like it, we would look up in a field guide whatever it was we had drawn. I have a lot of the Audubon field guides so we could usually find something in there. I found the internet to be a great help.
Let your younger one do things like leaf rubbings or texture drawings for his very own nature journal. Send him on a scavenger hunt while you work with your daughter. “Go get me a leaf.” “Find a rock.” “Can you find a bug in the grass?” “Find me something brown.” Just something to get him involved.
We handle nature journals a little differently now that they are older but you get the idea. Take a walk or just go to the park, there will always be something to draw their attention to. They have to learn to notice things and then it is easier.
Also remember you have *years* to work on your nature journal. My daughter that is 21 years old still works in her nature journal. It is sort of a “life project”.
Enjoy God’s creation!