Those families using the Charlotte Mason way to educate our children, all desire them to enjoy nature journaling. However, often times, the homeschooling mother loves the idea of adding nature journaling to their homeschool plans, but they find resistance in their children. These things will help you implement a desired method into your homeschool, while opening up the world of creative journaling through nature that will cause your children to enjoy nature journaling for years to come.
How to Get Your Kids to Enjoy Nature Journaling
I started introducing natural journaling into our homeschool in 2001, and at that time, my children were 7 and 5 years old. They both did their nature journaling without complaints, but honestly, I was disappointed in how little their nature journaling was enjoyable to them. It was like one more assignment, and I knew that with the Charlotte Mason way of education that the goal would be for this to be something that they loved and took great care in adding their nature finds or learning into.
I took a step back and evaluated how I was presenting nature journaling to them, and immediately I saw a few things that needed to be adjusted on my part.
It Should Be Child Lead
Diving into more about what Charlotte Mason taught on the subject of Nature Studies, I began to realize that entries into a nature journal was child lead. It wasn't an assignment to be completed, but something mostly done outside.
Nature journaling was a hands-on activity that allowed the child to capture something from their nature study that they observed and that caught their attention. It was to be the best depiction of what they saw, and an entry of what it was, along with where they saw it. This one thing will allow children to enjoy nature journaling from the start.
I also add assignments in as they grow in their nature journaling, but to teach them to love it, needs to be child lead of what is added. Don't allow your child to decide the frequency, unless it is more than your requirement.
Child Need Examples
One of my children has always been a perfectionist. They would easily get frustrated if they were required to do something without an example to follow for their own nature work.
It was through watching this child's need for something to strive toward that gave me the idea to offer ideas on how to nature journal. Once these examples were shown to my children their work improved greatly.
Here are some of my favorite books to demonstrate what a natural journal could look like with care and dedication to doing their best:
Mom Should Enjoy Journaling
The times when I took the time to enjoy nature journaling with my children, they enjoyed their own entries better, and seemed to take more care in their work, because they saw how I took care in my own.
This very thing is why I recommend doing ‘wild days' with your kids often. To learn more about what that means and how to prepare for them, you could read this post, Nature Walk Bag…
If you know anything about the Charlotte Mason way, you know how important it is to take a nature walk as part of a child's education. Many times we get so focused on the book academics that we lose sight of the benefits of taking these walks with our children, and often times need a reminder of how to add them to our homeschooling. I know I need the reminder from time to time!
Nature Walk Bag
Several years ago, I read a book that I inspired my own homeschool journey and the desire to have a nature walk with my own children often. The book, Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals talks about just escaping from the wild times in life by just grabbing a nature walk bag, and heading out into nature.
Truly just saying let's go. No need to prepare anything!
The concept is amazing, and one that more homeschool moms need to remember, as a way to plan necessary diversions when life just gets crazy and out of our control to fix right at that moment.
To implement these ‘Wild Days' in your homeschooling, the tools needed would be a well put together nature walk bag. Depending on how many children, and their ages, you can choose to pack just one and the adult carry it, or you can pack one for each of your children. If you have older children, like I do, having their own nature walk bag will prove beneficial.
I would highly recommend doing this for a special gift, perhaps for a birthday, a holiday or to start a school year.
Here are the NON-PERISHABLE items you will want to pack, and replace once you returned home and before you put the bag(s) in their storage place:
- Granola Bars or a trail mix
- Water Bottle
- Dried fruit
- Snack size bags of cookies or crackers
You may want to consider planning ahead for your family, and packing these non-perishable items in these Bento Boxes and save money on individually wrapped items.
You will also want to add some nature guide books that will make identifying things easier for all ages. These are some of our favorite ones for preschool and elementary ages.
These are some of our favorite for middle school and high school ages.
Nature walk items for younger kids (preschool through elementary) that will finish out their nature walk bags will all kinds of way of exploring and journaling their finds.
These are some of the items that will create learning opportunities for middle and high school ages.
If you like this post, you may also like The Beginner's Guide to Nature Journaling…
We started using nature journaling because of the Charlotte Mason way. One of my children's favorite homeschool assignments is adding something to their nature journals. The more I talk with other homeschooling moms, the more I realize that nature journals do not come as easily to others, as they have our family, so I thought I would construct a Beginner's Guide to Nature Journaling to encourage you in your homeschooling journey of journaling.
The Beginner's Guide to Nature Journaling
Nature journaling can be easy and effective in your homeschooling, while allowing your children to be creativity with their own observations and nature studies.
We start nature journaling as early as Kindergarten, as it allows our young child to learn more about hand-eye coordination, and the basic skills necessary for learning to draw what they see.
Nature Journaling Tools:
These are all the tools your child needs to get started, and then the basic nature study of observation. Just have them sketch something that they find, whether it is a pine cone, a leaf or attempt to draw an animal. You may get some ideas from my post, Explore Nature.
I will write down the name of the item that they entered in their journal, so they could copy it into their journal as well.
Allowing your child the own the responsibility of what is entered into their journal will give them a sense of pride and enjoyment that will continue to make journaling one of their favorite assignments in homeschooling, and can easily be carried on through high school science.
For our homeschooling, we have one day a week focused completely on nature, and our nature journaling. However, if our children want to add something to their nature journal at any time, they have that freedom.
What I have found to be the most effective way to get my children, even as young as five, interested and loving nature journaling is by getting their minds excited about nature beyond just the outside observation. I do this successfully through living books, and having them narrate to me, and often times, they choose a picture of an animal to sketch in their nature journal.
Nature Living Books
These are some of our favorite books to use during the Kindergarten through Third grade.
I absolutely love having nature guides on hand for our children to use during their nature journaling, for an example to draw, or even to add facts, as their journaling improves.
These have been the best nature guides that all of our children have loved during this age group, and have taught them the skills to observe creatures in our own property.
- Fun with Nature
- More Fun with Nature
- Birds, Nest and Eggs
- Trees, Leaves and Bark
- Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies
- Frogs, Toads and Turtles
- Snakes, Salamanders, and Lizards
- Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks
- Wildflowers, Blooms and Blossoms
- Tracks, Scats and Signs
- Berries, Nuts and Seeds
- Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars
- Planets, Moons and Stars
- Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads
If you would like more journaling ideas, you should check out my journaling series.
You may also enjoy some ideas for older child and how to add more ideas to their journaling with Explore Journaling.
We all love visiting nature centers from time to time. Why not create your own nature center and have learning at your finger tips? It is something that you can start and add to for years to come, making it a great hobby for all ages. Nature has been something that our children have absolutely loved since starting the Charlotte Mason way.
How to Create a Nature Center
I had bought this adorable shelf at a yard sale for $5 and my daughter did some distressing on it. I loved the glass doors and the drawers and thought it was a perfect item for displaying our nature finds and creating a nature center that can grow with us for years to come.
This nature center gives us the opportunity to store some of our special nature finds or gifts from others (like this photo of a collection that was given to us by someone I met in Florida that loved that we homeschooled and did nature studies – truly a cherished gift!). It allows us to keep them safe but displayed for us to enjoy from time to time.
Our guest that come to our home love to see our nature center display and enjoy hearing the stories behind our nature finds and even enjoy looking at this seahorse and bleached shells.
All of these nature collections in this photo are from our own property: part of a dragon fly, paper wasp nest, bird nest and snake skin from our welcomed black snake that keeps cooper heads and rodents that are often seen on our property from coming near and into our home.
These pine cones are from the nature walk that our family did that allowed our at the time, four year old, to learn all about the Pine Tree and their cones. He wanted to keep the cones to remember that day and now they are displayed in our nature center. He loves telling people that he knows what they are and what trees they come from.
If you like this idea, you may also like my post about Nature Boxes!
As a Charlotte Mason educator, the study of season is always a fun way to observe the changes to our world around us. Children learn so much when they have been observant from one season to the next, and their curiosity to what causes the changes is awaken.
There is such beauty in the changing of season, obviously some more than others. My favorite is autumn! I absolutely love the crisper days, with the gorgeous ‘paintings' of the autumn colors splashed around our surrounding, the shorter days to bring the family closer together and a warm mug of hot chocolate to end the day.
As we grow from children to adults, we are making memories based on our traditions our families do during each season. We may have traditions for summer or yearly things to discover at autumn, but the world around us follow seasonal changes as well. Bringing these changes to our children's attention at a young age is priceless and a great way to study the seasons together.
5 Ways to Study the Four Seasons
- Nature Walks – Taking walks regularly can help your children learn how to be observant about the changes that seasons brings to the nature around us. Charlotte Mason, my favorite educator from the 1800's, encouraged children to pick six trees to study for a year. They would take notice of the changes each of these different trees experience over a period of the year and thus began to learn the four seasons through the trees that surrounded their home or neighborhood.
- Season Tables – I love to decorate my home with seasonal things, both real and artificial. I have been known to hang paper snow flakes from our ceiling all through our house, to celebrate the coming of winter during the Christmas season. Cut flowers, even wild flowers we have collected on our nature walks, to garnish our table in the spring or summer. Artificial leaves to decorate our mantel during the autumn season, while pine cones and greenery deck our halls during the winter.
- Collections – Children love collecting things, so why not things that grow in the different seasons. From leaves, pine cones, flowers, insects and more. They can label them in four different drawers, to show which season they found in it. The winter draw will have far less in it, but you can still find things, from empty nest, wasp nest and more. Many times late autumn and winter will show things that your eyes usually do not see.
- Photography – Depending on the ages of your children and the camera that you have available, they could easily choose a plethora of items to photograph at easy season and construct a photo book of these items changing for one year.
- A Calendar of Firsts – Again, my favorite educator, Charlotte Mason encouraged children to keep a calendar of firsts which held their first discoveries of things in season. The first snow fall, the first flower, the first leaf, the first colored leaf, the first robin, the first tadpole and more. They continue to add to this year after year and will naturally begin to come to know what to expect to find from their own entries in their calendar. Get your free ebook based on this method of studying the four seasons – A Calendar of Firsts.
One last thing to cover about the four seasons, since you are wanting to study them…
You should teach your children ‘Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn' which are the correct names of the season. The term ‘fall' comes from the time when the leaves ‘fall' from the trees and each region will have different falls but we all have the same seasons, unless of course, you are in the opposite hemisphere as we are in the United States.
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Children love motion, and often times they get antsy when doing lessons, so I implemented learning in motion into our homeschooling for my preschooler, to give him the opportunity to move around while developing his brain with a memory game.
Learning in Motion
I purchased two boxes of insect flash cards in preparation for this learning activity.
Display Sets Around the Room
I removed 8-10 insect cards from each box, to make sets from them. Next, I placed them around the room for easy viewing for my son to be able to find matches, as he moved around the room. Be sure to put the matches across the room from each other.
Identify the Matches
Once you are ready, you have your child or children come into the room. Let them know that they can not ‘touch' any of the cards, until they have pointed out the matching set first. Once they have identified the set, they can gather the matching cards.
Learn about the Insects
Once a match is found, ask if the child knows what the insect is and if they don't tell them the name of the insect. If the child is interested, share some fun facts with them or let them go back to the memory game and finding their next match.
We finished our insect game with having my son choice which insect to draw in his journal… he chose the Black Widow and I was happy to share about the dangers of this spider and why it is important to wear our shoes outside, because we do get them in our area.