Nature Journaling | The Beginning

This Spring I've been getting inspired for our first year of homeschooling and you guys. There is a whole tribe of people out there I identify with! (Full post on this topic to come.)

Within the Wild + Free movement, there is a lot of talk about the value of nature journaling. Kids and mamas alike get to explore, move in nature, learn about what they encounter, build together, ask questions, and to love learning. This is the crux of our motivation.

Nature journaling is just one part of our education, but through it kids get to do the above things and utilize so many components of schooling like vocabulary, penmanship, grammar, science, observation, reading, art, English, poetry, and more. 

Even though I don't have all of the answers for what the next year will hold, this resonates with me and the way we want to raise our family. Kristin Rogers of the Wild + Free community created this beautiful book about nature journaling and I am excited now to do it alongside Alice. Alice has definitely picked up on my enthusiasm, asking me regularly now if we can go on nature walks, gather bits that fascinate us to take home and draw, and to talk about what we find. 

We aren't technically "doing school" yet, but we are always learning. It doesn't really matter that it's summer break and we're not in a desk - we ramble together and look for answers side by side, and she loves it.

When our tulips were blooming last month, we picked one to draw and study, Alice using a magnifying glass to see certain spots better. As the flowers aged, we brought them inside to make an arrangement - beautiful even at the end of life. They had changed from a vibrant flamingo pink to a dull violet, the petals fading from soft and supple to dry and shriveled. This transformation fascinated Alice. 

All sorts of things come inside now for further examination. Walnuts. Maple "helicopter" seeds. Dandelion puffs. A live wasp. An anemone stem. Baby pinecones. One sunny afternoon while Milo napped, Alice quietly turned off the show she had been watching, put her boots on and slipped a utility vest over her dance costume, and went quietly out to the backyard with her "adventure bag" (a small, round leather carrying case I found at a garage sale) and spent an hour wandering around our garden looking for treasures to observe and draw. 

Her real find was a fragile butterfly wing. She brought it in, excitement making her face shine. "Mama! Mama! Look!!" We laid it on a piece of paper to observe, and then I grabbed a beautifully illustrated butterfly book I scored at Half Price Bookstore. We opened it up, and Alice proceeded to turn pages until she found the closest one it belonged to. That's research! She's four and she's already thrilling at investigating! She is loving learning. *happy sigh

Sometimes I draw with her. Sometimes she draws alone. It's not always a masterpiece. It's not going to be in a museum someday. But it's beautiful and fun and the finished sketch is not exactly the point, is it?

I know it won't always be like this, but seeing these little moments of independent curiosities engaged and satiated and time spent observing the world around us fills my heart up to the brim.

Do you nature journal? Do you have any good resources or recommendations? Do you have any favorite outdoor haunts? Books? Activities? Do share!

The beginning of our nature journaling below...