Last spring, when we decided to school all three kids at home, I stumbled upon a great book, Pocketful of Pinecones, and fell in love! (If you haven't read it and have any inclination to homeschool, you should! It is a sweet fiction book, but so instructional at the same time. A great jumping point, I thought.) Nature Journaling was hugely the focus of this book, as well as this family's days. On our first day of school this fall, we began our journals.
I made the journals using chipboard (sturdy craft cardboard) covered in scrapbooking paper, though you could use recycle cereal boxes instead of chipboard for an emphasis on Earth Day coming up!. They are Mod-Podged, though you can see the corners are still coming loose after months of use. The covers are 6x9, and held together with office binder rings. The three kids all have unique covers. We like to use watercolor paper, as it is sturdy and often we do add watercolor paintings. With a good cold-pressed paper, it won't ripple much with the watercolors or watercolor pencils. Look for paper pads that are 9x12, so that you can easily yield two pages for your journal from each page in the pad by cutting it in half. After I cut and hole punch them all, I use a clear hole reinforcement on the back to make sure nothing gets ripped out. We keep a stack handy, not in the books, to grab for journaling. When we journal at the beach or on a hike, we just take the page with us rather than the whole book. (Lighter for hikes, and this way the book won't be as likely to get wet or damaged). The binder rings open easily to add pages as we go.
The kids are allowed to journal anything they want. As long as God created it, it is fair game for a nature journal. We have entries of everything from blackberries to Jersey cows, and a ton of birds in between. The girls both love the artistic aspect of it, though Jenson often finds ways around the actual drawing. He makes Venn diagrams and leaf rubbings, but still includes the required (by me!) date, location, and weather. We have liked Darwent watercolor pencils and Darwent technical pencils especially. (I got ours at Michaels using a 50% off coupon for each). Sometimes they use pastels of even just crayons, but I generally try to provide them with good artist-quality supplies. Some entries are super detailed, and the subject researched, sometimes not. I leave it up to them, and it is neat to see what they choose to document.
A really helpful book is Keeping a Nature Journal. We have had it out from the library recently, and everyone has been busily sketching, (or diagraming), with a vengence. It explains all the educational benefits of nature journaling too, beyond just science. It is really such a cool subject to do!
Can you figure out who did which entry?