In true Charlotte Mason style, nature journaling has been a passion I’ve tried to ignite in our young homeschool family. The first year was frustrating! There was little to no interest (which was an indication of prematurity). But coming out of that first year into a sweet second, I can attest the flame is a lit!
In hindsight I did some very wrong things, like put too much pressure on them and me in this regard and others. But, our success proves that I did some right things too.
Here are the 8 ways we eased into nature journaling:
It took a year of modeling, which was frustrating, but finally the spark lit. Each time we went out in nature I brought their supplies. They were busy playing so I would grab a pen and paint and journal about our surroundings or a bug we found. Sometimes they would join in briefly but for the most part I was on my own.
A year later, it’s self initiated by my 4.5 year old. The others join along sometimes!
Draw them in gently with modeling, show them it’s valuable with your time and effort.
2) Inviting supplies-
Draw them in with fresh journals, special pens, and rich paints. This paint set from Ikea is the perfect travel kit for nature journaling. It closes up tightly, has little cups for water, and has the thickest, richest colors. Throw in some pens, thick journal paper, and a water bottle and you’re ready to go!
3.) Inviting time and spaces-
Simply carve out time and space for journaling. Visit a spot once a week, bring your kit and that’s all the invitation needed. If the kit goes untouched like mine did for a year, model! Journal yourself, it’s relaxing. Later in the week pull the kit back out and do a fun read-aloud pertaining to the bird or bug found. Continue to pique curiosity.
4.) Label drawings-
Once they do sit down and make a scribble, LABEL IT. How exciting it feels for their work to be prized enough to have mom title and date it? Maybe, that will spark more journal entires. How fun it will be to look back over the progress of a scribbled ant to a well thought out butterfly as their interest and skill increase!
5.) Dictate observations-
Slightly different than labeling, dictating is taking down each thought as they notice things in nature.
“He’s a scruffy little guy”
“The prickly pear is sprouting a new one”
“I saw a mosquito larvae in its nest! It sprung from its egg in our window.”
Looking back at their quotes is a favorite of mine. It helps me know their true interests and a lot of times they are just funny!
6.) Support with books-
Books add imagery to their interests. They can better express their inward picture with an outward one for reference. It’s also a great way to fill in information surrounding the specimen in query!
7.) Match their enthusiasm-
As they grow in interest, increase yours. Offer more time. Add new colorful pens. Or a drawing book! After a year of scribbly tattered pages it was time to upgrade my girls because their interest ungraded. These are their fresh materials for the new year of journaling. I can already see a difference in the careful hand of their work.
A word to the wise, don’t put pressure on them and you. It will come! For support and enthusiasm join or start a nature co-op so you can gently ease in along likeminded friends. The journey is sweet.