I'm so happy to have my friend Cindy Rinna share with you today! She has found a way to make nature study and nature journaling a delightful addition to their day.
I can still see it now...My blond headed little boy lying on his belly, stubby fingers pointing at a fat, black beetle. His darting eyes trying to keep up as the skittering critter crossed our back porch. And then...through excited nerves, my son mustered the courage to touch it. It was his first nature study.
“Look, Mom! Mom, look!”
It’s a common phrase of pre-schoolers because everything is new. It’s the first beetle. The first snowfall. Daffodils popping up for the first time.
Their cries to “look” can get tiresome but they are really a cry for knowledge that we should nurture. They’re saying so much more than we think.
“Come share this with me! Delight with me! Teach me! Tell me more!” That’s what they’re really saying.
Children are generally better at nature study than adults; their fresh perspective is a gift they bring that awakens the numbness we can have to Creation as we get older. Nature study reminds us that we don’t have to be seeing something for the first time to be excited about it.
“Look, mom, look!”
And that’s essentially what nature study is…
That little boy is now a teenager and while I don’t catch him sprawled out on his belly on our back porch anymore, I do still see him look, delight, and share. One of the best ways for him to share and document what he’s finding is in his nature journal.
As a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschooler, I’ve always known that nature study is a big deal. I knew it was important for us – mind, body, and soul – to be outdoors and explore. I also knew nature study was the springboard for developing awesome habits like attention and observation, and that it led to awe and wonder at our Creator.
But early in our homeschool journey, I just couldn’t seem to make it happen.
Oh, I’d write nature study into our week. I’d even carve out time to explore…sometimes. But it wasn’t natural and it wasn’t enjoyable. A lot of times it just turned into a box I needed to check off and sounded like, “go out in the backyard and draw something God made.”
Yeah…not much wonder and awe there.
We tried multiple nature journals that didn’t end up working for one reason or another and most years I would just default to a blank sketchbook. Somehow, I’d ascertained through all of my Charlotte Mason study, that blank book paired with a great location was supposed to be enough to organically inspire watercolor paintings and passionate poems about flowers.
Then I realized what we needed…guidance.
I didn’t want a workbook that felt coercive and detached – I wanted something gentle enough to give the kids room for their own creativity to take flight but I also recognized that my kids were not thriving with the amount of freedom a blank book allowed.
As a writer I can attest, there is something terrifying about the blank page.
So I started creating some simple guidance pages and gluing them into that blank book…and it worked. My kids were excited to use them. They knew what to look for. Nature Study became more like a fun scavenger hunt and it whet their appetites to make discoveries on their own.
My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation is the fruit of that labor and I’m so excited to share it with you now.
Related: Easy Clean-up For Messy Outdoor Play
My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation
My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation is organized to flow through the year with the natural rhythm of the seasons and offer just the right amount of guidance to turn your child into a true naturalist.
With My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation, your child will get space to record…
1. Tree of the year
2. Firsts for each season
3. Weather for each season
4. Leaves for each season
5. Flowers for each season
6. Birds for each season
7. Creatures for each season
8. Insects & Arachnids for each season
9. Explorations for each season
10. Moon Phases in autumn
11. Constellations in winter
12. Fungi & moss in spring
13. Rocks & seashells in summer
14. Free sketches
Next-Level Nature Journaling
My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation is a lightweight, spiral-bound, compact book that can easily be thrown into a knapsack and carried along on your next hike. The protective covers on the back and front and heavy cardstock pages suitable for mixed media make it the perfect choice for our active kiddos and the Charlotte Mason quotes on every page can inspire you as you lead your little one in nature study. The layout gives a nice balance between structure and freedom allowing themed pages to gently guide your budding naturalist while still providing a few pages for free sketches. If taking a nature journal on your next hike isn’t doable, you can use it in many other ways:
● outside after an “aha!” moment
● accompanying science study
● during a planned nature outing
● after returning from a planned nature outing
● playing “eye spy” in the yard
The open design allows your child to make the journal his own. There is no “right way” to use the journal and although I consider nature study part of our homeschool, their journals are not something to be critiqued or graded. Little ones are free to color, paint, trace, or tape their nature finds in a play-based fashion and school-aged children can add their more detailed sketches, watercolors, and observations. This journal is a great resource for all children who wish to observe nature in an enjoyable and nurturing way.
How Nature Study Looks For Us
We do nature study weekly. It usually includes a nature walk and a journal entry. These outings can be something as casual as walking around the neighborhood, something as formal as a state park, or anything in between. Nature journals get tossed into each child’s knapsack with a zip-up pencil case that contains colored pencils, a black ink pen, a regular pencil, a rubber eraser, and a pencil sharpener. Each knapsack should have some snacks and a water bottle, too. We share things like binoculars and guidebooks so those go in my pack. Obviously, what we put in our packs varies on location and length of our nature outing.
In a more spontaneous way throughout the week, we are consciously aware of nature. We take notice of nature on daily walks or park visits, sometimes collecting a specimen to take home. The kids and I hang bird feeders and plant a garden and call each other to “come look!” at notable nature happenings outside. These are great times to run in a jot a note in our nature journals.
If you’re looking for a way to encourage nature study, My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation. is just the resource you need to gently guide your child in this delightful habit. Here’s what other moms are saying…
This journal is a wonderful addition to nature study. My son enjoyed taking just a few minutes every day or so to record his observations and ponder the wonder of the world in which he lives. He liked having a specific place to log his “firsts” of the summer. As a mom, I was pleased with his attention to detail and spelling practice as he charted the weather! I plan to incorporate this journal into our next school year!" – Homeschool mom of 4
"My daughter fell in love with this journal! She was so determined to find things on our walks and hikes to put in it! She comes home with handfuls of leaves, flowers, pine cones, and berries! It quickly became “our thing” to do together. I love sitting down with her after our walks and watching her add to it. She gets so excited and her smile is priceless." – Mom of 3 littles
These journals are amazing! I think this is just what Miss H needed because she is typically hesitant to fill out her nature journal. This helped her by giving suggestions about what to write or draw. It’s very true to Charlotte Mason, with spaces to track what you see each season, as well as the moon’s cycle and a tree throughout the year." Leah Martin
If you’re looking for a way to encourage nature study, My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation is just the resource you need to gently guide your child in this delightful habit.
Coupon Code: Be sure to check out My Nature Journal: One Year of Observation today and use coupon code mylittlerobins to get 25% off your nature journal.
Cindy Rinna is a writer, podcaster, and outside-the-box homeschool mom. You can find Cindy encouraging and equipping other moms at CindyRinna.com where she talks autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Charlotte Mason, and all the joys and challenges of homeschooling an outside-the-box child. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.