Nature is all around us. But how many of us actually take the time to stop what we are doing and really see it? I know I am guilty of the rushing; but I want to learn not only how to “stop and smell the roses”, but to really see them as well. More importantly, I want my children to learn this. Nature can teach us so many things if we just take the time to really see it. What better way to learn about God than by being in nature, studying nature? Nature journaling forces you to do just that. Drawing forces you to “see” instead of giving only a casual glance, a”look”; it forces you to notice the fine and intricate details that God designed.
We use the Charlotte Mason Method in our homeschooling. “Charlotte Mason (1842–1923) was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of children’s education” (Simplycharlottemason.com). She believed that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”
Charlotte believed strongly that children should be out experiencing nature. “It is infinitely well worth the mother’s while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather, to cherish in them, the love of investigation…(-Vol 6 Charlotte Mason)
“An Observant Child should be put in the way of Things worth Observing.”(Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.69)
I wanted to “put (my kids) in the way of things worth observing” so I decided to create a nature journaling space where my children could also keep their favorite “found” items from outside; an environment that was cozy and comfortable. I wanted to create a space where they could learn, a spot where books were right at their fingertips; nature journaling items easily accessible; a place where they could be inspired to create and learn.
We have pieces of nature throughout the house, but I wanted a designated place, a nook, a corner, a niche of the house where the kids were able to bring the outside in; a place to keep their favorite treasures of nature.
These were the conditions that were important for me to focus on in creating this space.
An environment to create: I wanted to create this space in the hub of our home, so I decided to move a desk under our large chalkboard. We don’t have a lot of money, which often forces creativity :). I love moving furniture around so this gave me the perfect excuse. I shopped my house and pulled the desk from the craft room. I wanted the desk to remain relatively clutter free to allow them space to draw and journal, so I have allowed only a few items that I have deemed worthy to “clutter” the desk; a handful of our favorite nature guides, journals, nature books that inspire and educate, colored pencils, and a little bit of nature for inspiration, and a candle to add a touch of warmth and coziness.
Here are a few of our favorite nature journaling resources:
And any field guides are great to use as well.
An environment to encourage the collecting of moments: My kids are forever finding treasures outside. I wanted them to have their own space where they can store their treasures. I am trying to teach them the difference between merely collecting “things” verses collecting “treasures”; favorite items for them to display and learn about; moments they want to remember. I found this quote on the internet and loved it. “Collecting moments, not things” (Author unknown). We made a few places to collect treasures; a nick nack box, a stick to hang things on, and a vase to collect branches and other larger items.
An environment that is cozy and comfortable: To add warmth to this space, I added a sheepskin rug (which my children adore), a plant, and a candle. I also left up our twinkle lights and snowball pom pom garland to remind us that it is still winter here in Cali.
An environment that is inspiring: Surround children with beautiful books, artwork supplies, and nature and this creates a space that will inspire creativity and learning.
Having this designated space where we bring the outside in has encouraged my kids to make nature journaling a part of their everyday on their own initiative. Learning happens when you “put (your children) in the way of things worth observing”. I am always looking for new ways to include nature and I would love to hear how all of you bring the outside in.