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Keeping a Nature Journal Stimulates Scientific and Creative Learning

Pari and I have started keeping journals for our nature study and observations in a more organized way than we used to – earlier.

In the past, we would come back with leaves and all sorts of finds from our nature walks and keep them in cardboard boxes or we would tuck the leaves between the pages of heavy books.

But, this, I found, was not the easiest of ways for us to go back to them for observation or reference or merely to cherish those finds. Over time, they would get mis-placed or damaged.

Recently, I bought a couple of files/folders with punch holes and twine (shoe lace type), and papers with lines on one side and blank on the other. The papers are almost same size as the file and they have pre-punched holes too. 

Pari has been using the file with great success to note down observations during and after our nature walks.

She even collects leaves and keeps in between the file covers and tightly shuts the file with rubber bands. This helps in pressing the leaves nicely.

There are many benefits of a journal like this for the purpose of nature study for young children:

1. This sort of journal is easy to carry for kids during nature walks. Since you are not stuck with pre-bound pages, you have the option to carry as many papers as you would need and hence you can carry it light.

2. Tying the twine in a way that there is ample space for the two folds to open wide enough helps in writing and drawing with ease – unlike a notebook or diary.

3. The ruled as well as blank pages support the objective of writing as well as drawing/sketching/crayon rubbings.

3. It offers the flexibility to add new pages, move old pages to archives. This makes the whole experience dynamic. The kids are not stuck with pages that they may not prefer to keep.

Having said all this, there can be a variety of ways to keep your own nature journal. Older kids may use diaries or notebooks.

Keeping nature journals can be a rich and rewarding experience in many ways:

  1. It helps kids develop a connection with nature

  2. It helps develop a scientific temperament aided by observation, enquiry and inference
  3. It nourishes the creative side as well, by means of the child learning to sketch the leaves, flowers, birds, bugs; painting them or doing leaf and bark rubbings with crayon
  4. It is so very therapeutic to the child or the adult. Preserving the leaves and petals and watching them dry and reveal intricate patterns overtime can be a blissful experience
  5. Finally, nature journal can help nurture a life-long love for nature study as it did with the famous naturalistJohn James Audubon. This book about his work (The Boy Who Drew Birds) is a collector's item.

Some books and resources to get you started on nature study and nature journals

  1. Handbook of Nature Study (on Amazon, on Flipkart) : A gem of a book to study about every aspect of nature.
  2. Notebooking Pages Website: Lots of free nature journal pages to download. They have many on sale too.
  3. Harmony Fine Arts: Video Tutorials for Drawing, Painting, Sketching finds from Nature by Barb
  4. Forest Fiesta: A great repository of art projects from around the world based on nature/forests

And finally, some more pictures from our last week's nature walk.

Whatever Pari and I had read at home prior to this walk about – photosynthesis, why leaves have Chlorophyll, what is Sap, what is the role of roots, why leaves change colour in some seasons and more – was all reinforced when we went out and observed real nature. 

I highly recommend that you include nature walks and nature study with your kiddos, as often as you can. This is a reminder for me as well!

Nature journaling/notebooking is a wonderful hands-on learning activity for children, as well as for us. 

Choose any form of nature journal that suits your child's age, choice or temperament.

Please enrich this post with your ideas and experiences on keeping nature journals and/or doing nature study with children.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • zebun August 3, 2011, 11:37 am

    Wow!!! this is so inspiring dear!!! lovely journal …good for nature record…Wll b very grateful , if u cn share how to gear up desert vegetation or desert nature.

    Outstanding project!!!

  • poonam August 3, 2011, 12:06 pm

    lovely post…will come back to u with my version…very inspired

  • Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree August 3, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Wonderful! What a beautiful post! Love this idea!

  • himadri August 3, 2011, 1:22 pm

    super like it rashmie. nature study and keeping nature journal is on my mind for past many weeks. mishu is just 2.8 and i had to come up with somethin that culd suit his intrests. he is not much into drying leaves…infact he doesnt like to touch as the colour fades. so i am trying to work on a very simple journal in which i am cutting and pasting pictures of things that belong our nature, i will label these. i am collecting pictures from newspapers, magazines and my husband’s better photography always have some wonderful pics(incase he reads this reply someday;) i cut important articles for him and keep the rest of the magazine for our homemade books)…old national geo mag do have lot of pics too. this is my solution for making him intrested in keeping and maintaing a nature journal. nature journal is very well explained in my fav Charlotte manson approach of homeschooling.

  • Phyllis at All Things Beautiful August 3, 2011, 2:10 pm

    This is a wonderful post. We love nature study as well, and already follow many of your suggestions, but some are new ideas for us. Thank you for sharing your ideas on this with us.

  • Ashu August 4, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Just loving it..Since nature walk is favourite subject for my family.I often call process as ‘Breathe the nature’…once khwaish grow up will follow up with making journal idea.
    As of just enjoying the things as visual experience.I sure it will great for u to see Pari penning down her nature visit experiences.i liked sneak peak view of Pari’s Journal…

  • kelli-AdventurezInChildRearing August 5, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Right up our alley! love love it- check out our homemade science kit! I think you’ll like it-

    • Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011, 9:03 am

      Dear Kelli,
      Thanks for sharing the link to your science kit. Loved it! So glad you stopped by and shared your sweet comment 🙂

  • Natasha August 6, 2011, 4:59 pm

    love this idea, and love the photos!!!

    • Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011, 9:03 am

      Thanks, Natasha 🙂

  • Natalie August 8, 2011, 2:26 pm

    Your nature study journal is beautiful. I am also very impressed with Pari’s handwriting! I like the idea of having one unlined and one lined page available at once.

  • Ritu Dua May 30, 2012, 5:52 pm

    Hi Rashmie
    You indeed are doing a good job taking pari to the nature walks and then training her to record her observations.I have a small suggestion…you can also introduce a journal with pockets or glue small envelopes wherein she can safely store her nature finds like small seeds or some twigs or some pebbles and so on…You can encourage her to draw the bugs or the worms or the birds she saw during her walks as she can not bring them home for obvious reasons:))

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