Perpetual Nature Journal Joys

Last year I introduced you to Lara Gastiger and her inspiring nature journals and beautiful botanical artwork.

Lara Gastinger, sketchbooks, nature sketchbook, nature journal, sketchbook journal, nature sketchbook journal, Sketchbook Conversations

Recently I read Anne’s interview with Lara Gastiger on My Giant Strawberry  – A Sketchbook Conversation.  Here’s how Lara describes her perpetual nature journal ~

“I encourage everyone to obtain a blank journal that is a portable size and proceed to date the pages so that each spread represents a week. All you need is to write or draw an observation each week. This could be as elaborate as a full drawing or just a note. Be sure to include all relevant information (date, weather, who you are with, what do you hear/see) and then next year on that week, you will return to the same page and add something else. It becomes so rich as the years build up upon each other and you will become so knowledgable about the plants around you!

What an inspiration, but what is a perpetual nature journal?” you may ask.

A perpetual journal is nature journal that you keep coming back to, year after year, adding new sketches and notes to the same week and month’s pages until you have the most wonderful collection of nature entries spanning all the seasons over several years!

As I pondered this, I realized that there are several joys to working in a perpetual journal ~Lara Gastinger, sketchbooks, nature sketchbook, nature journal, sketchbook journal, nature sketchbook journal, Sketchbook Conversations

  • A perpetual journal makes such a lot of sense!  This gradual approach reveals your personal, accumulative journey of nature study over the years, displaying all the details you noticed in each season.  (Just remember that the photo above is Lara’s perpetual nature journal pages after adding to them for 16 years!)
  • What is even better is that you don’t have to fill a full nature journal page!  Each week, just add a small sketch or some field notes or observations noted for that week, and your entry is done.  Simple and doable, don’t you agree?
  • Instead of spending a long time trying to fill a whole page, by devoting the same time to a journal entry, you can create very intricate sketches and detailed, accurate observations, like Lara!
  • When you return to the same week’s page spread the next year, your pages will already have some evidence of things you journaled in the previous year at the same time.  These permanent records, along with your new entries, further highlight and emphasize what happens in that season, at that time of the year.  (I suppose though, that if you moved to a completely different zone or region, you would have to consider starting a new perpetual journal to keep track of nature in this new area.)
  • This approach is very similar to Charlotte Mason‘s practice of keeping a “Calendar of Firsts“. ( I hope to share more on this in an upcoming post.)
  • This practice fits perfectly in with Barb of Handbook of Nature Study’s  Outdoor Mom Journal nature journal prompts each month.  Again, small weekly sketches and notes to the same journal pages give you the freedom to create a wonderful, detailed nature journal through the years.
  • Moms, I really encourage you to keep your own perpetual nature journal and purpose to spend time each week making your own nature journal entries as a part of developing “Mother Culture®“.  It may not seem like it now, when you are deep in the homeschool trenches with littlies underfoot, but in a flash, your children will be in high school and your time will open up for more personal growth, and this practice may well become a fulfilling lifestyle even when your children have graduated and moved on.
  • Your nature journal eventually becomes a marvellous, rich collection that will amaze and please you every time you come back to that page spread.

Please join me next time as I plan to share on how to make your own perpetual nature journal.

Blessings, Nadene

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Introducing John Muir

Recently I introduced wildlife biologist, naturalist, artist and modern educator, John Muir Laws. But there is another more famous, much older John Muir.

Here’s an abbreviated Wikipedia biography ~

John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, glaciologist and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism has helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and many other wilderness areas.He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite National Park.

The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. 

John Muir’s writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and his books became a personal guide into nature for countless individuals, making his name “almost ubiquitous” in the modern environmental consciousness.”

Watch his biography Part 1 ~

And John Muir’s biography Part 2

His writings are inspirational, and I found them to be very similar to Charlotte Mason in his love for time spent outdoors, and its restorative qualities.  

Join me for my next post where I will share a wonderful collection of John Muir Nature Quotes for Copywork and nature journaling inspiration.

Until next time, be blessed, Nadene

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Making time for nature study

A homeschool mom wrote to me and said,

“My greatest struggle in doing Nature Study is not being able to find time to do a walk or do a nature journal entry.  I know that we should make the time.  What do you suggest?”

Charlotte Mason’s had a great love of the outdoors and she advocated that children spend healthy doses of time outdoors every day.  She encouraged her students to develop the habit of keen interest, observation, detailed comparisons, and an ever-growing knowledge of plants, seasons, living creatures, and geography.  Her approach was natural, gentle and fun!  She encouraged each child  to keep a nature journal ~

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.  Every day’s walk gives him something to enter …” (Vol 1, p.54-55)

Outdoor time is restorative, calming, refreshing and inspiring.  It changes our moods, lifts our spirits and shifts our perspectives.  Young children need the outdoors almost as much as they need food and sleep!  It is vital to their growth and development.  They need to touch, feel, hear, smell, taste and experiment with nature. Let your kids get wet and dirty!  It is an essential way for them to discover the world around them.

Over the years we have used several fun outdoor nature study activities that provided wonderful nature experiences, some which lead to nature journaling and further study or research.  Tea time or just before or after lunchtime every day is a good time to go outside into the garden and to find something on topic.

Here are some really quick, fun nature ideas with free downloads:

  • Use the Outdoor Hour Challenges Nature Photo of the Week topics.  Choose one word for the week and let your children grab a camera or smartphone and find and snap photos of their nature word for the week.  Children absolutely love this activity!  If they want, you can print out photos, and let them make a journal entry and possibly research anything that captured their curiosity.  Download the chart here ~ Nature Photo of the Week Chart
  • Here’s another quick idea!  Let your children pick out a colour from the pack of colour cards and encourage them to spend a time outdoors finding that specific colour in nature ~ Download ~Color Hunt Cards printable from Handbook of Nature Study
  • Ambleside Online’s follows a simple theme for each season and term. Display some reference books, library books, pictures and examples of the theme on a nature display shelf and encourage your children to look for those topics outdoors on their nature walks each week.  DownloadAmbleside Online Nature Study Schedule
  • For quick, fun nature activities, use my Smash This Nature JournalsThese nature walk prompts are simple, unusual, sometimes messy or out-of-the-box ideas.  Boys and young children especially enjoy these fun nature journal activities. Print the Smash Nature Journals out and encourage your kids to complete a page or two each day. 
  • Allocate one day in your week for nature study.  We followed our Theme of the Week and Wednesdays were for “Wonderful World” where we did longer nature walks, added Geography lessons and completed an entry in our nature journals.Daily themes 2015

It doesn’t matter if your kids seem to “play” instead of formally learning.  If you teach them to be curious, observant and inspire them to observe and notice details in nature around them, they will surprise you with their knowledge and passion.

Please don’t kill this natural delight by teaching or making a big deal about knowing everything or looking up everything about things found in nature. During my early homeschooling years almost killed my kids’ enjoyment of our nature walks simply by being overly enthusiastic and teachy. May I suggest that you ditch the idea of formal nature study lessons and do very informal, but regular, fun nature walks instead.

I hope that some of these outdoor prompts inspire you and  I encourage to make time for nature study into your school days!

Blessings, Nadene
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Cultivating curiosity in nature study 3 ways

Recently I watched an excellent John Muir Laws (read my introduction to him) YouTube video ~

Nature Connection through Deliberate Attention and Curiosity

John Muir Law encourages folk to keep a nature journal so that they develop sustained, compassionate attention, and as they sketch and make notes, which helps one to really be there, they form deep connections with nature.

He believes that the key to developing a closer connection with nature is by deliberately enhancing your powers of observation and wonder.  He says,

“Attention is what the fabric of love is made from” 

In the YouTube video above, he explains how the methods of a field naturalist help you notice more, remember what you discovered, and be actively curious.

In essence, his 3 keys to cultivating curiosity in nature journaling is ~

  1. NOTICE = Verbalize, talk to yourself as you look carefully as a way of being attentive; “I see the flowers stem …”  “That bird has a ….”  It may feel strange at first, but it is a great tool for forming detailed observations.  Young kids do this all the time!
  2. WONDER  = Ask yourself questions, enquire and wonder about the hows, whys and whats of what you see.  Don’t young children ask questions all the time?
  3. This REMINDS ME of  = Connect what you notice with other similarities, link this new information or experiences to what you already know.  This is a powerful learning method!

The fourth element in cultivating curiosity nature study is to share with others.   We learn from other’s thoughts, questions, similarities and knowledge, making our experience even richer.  Discussions with others and sharing nature journals brings greater understanding and one’s concrete observations stand out even more.

Encourage these 3 simple methods in your homeschool nature study lessons and enjoy the benefits of curiosity and creativity to form connections in nature.

Go ahead and be child-like in your nature study!

Blessings, Nadene
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Introducing naturalist John Muir Laws

For expert nature study instruction, let me introduce John  Muir Laws ~

John Muir Laws (and Laws is his surname and not as in “rules”) is both a scientist and an artist who is a trained wildlife biologist, naturalist, and educator who passionately shares his love of the natural world through nature journaling.    He teaches people in workshops and lectures, giving them the tools to improve their observation, memory and curiosity, scientific illustration, and field sketching, all while encouraging them to have fun and fall more deeply in love with the natural world.

His website John Muir Laws offers excellent nature study resources, with very practical tutorials, sketching examples, regular blog posts and helpful journaling tips.  He offers free nature studies curriculums; BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) and CNPS Nature Journaling Curriculum Youth Training program.

His YouTube videos channels are phenomenal!  He shares many of his workshops on almost every aspect of nature journaling and how to draw series.  If ever your children ask, “How do I draw a bird/ leaf/ flower…?” go to John Muir Law’s YouTube tutorials!

He also has a Nature Journal Club where members go on monthly field trips in and around the Bay area, but, for those not living in the area, he encourages others to start or link their own nature journal clubs, He posts tips, techniques, and lessons learned  – “Tips to help you start your own group today”

For nature journaling inspiration and practical tutorials and how to draw lessons, bookmark and enjoy these John Muir Laws links.

Blessings, Nadene
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Introducing Botanical Artist Lara Gastiger

I would love to share an amazing artist and botanical illustrator, Lara Call Gastinger I discovered on Instagram.

She describes herself,

“Botanical artist, illustrator, documenter and interpreter of all things exquisite and awesome in nature.” and “As a trained plant ecologist, my love of learning and drawing nature is exemplified in my field journals. I do these journal entries for myself and also as commissions.”

Her works are finely detailed, beautifully painted and wonderfully intricate.   Her artistic and observation skills allow her to capture all the small details, the tiniest veins and fibres, the uniqueness of each specimen and form amazing complex nature journal pages.

She often creates one large or double-paged spread, forming a detailed and layered journal entry for each month.

Check out her sketchbook on her website http://www.laracallgastinger.com/work.

She has inspired me to draw much finer details and to layer my journal pages with notes and to place a few sketches inside smaller boxes on my page layout.  Her idea of adding several sketches to a monthly double-page layout seems such a good idea, instead of trying to create 4 weekly pages.

We are so blessed to have the technology to discover and share amazing talent!

Blessings, Nadene

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Smash This Nature Journal #3

Brand new download ~ Smash This Nature Journal #3 with a free sample download!

Welcome to some brand new fun & adventure nature  journal ideas!

Be warned ~ you and your Nature Journal may get dirty or wet, but you should have some real creative fun!

There is something wonderfully liberating being instructed to tear, crumple, stain, wet and mess in a nature journal.  This fresh approach will liven any nature walk and appeals to young and old, boys and girls.

Use mud, squashed berries, colored stones, or puddles to paint and color pages.  Smear, scratch, knot and paste things on the page.  Look closely and examine minute details, and also view large landscapes, skies and trees.  Draw, illustrate, tape down or record your experiences.

Here are some examples of the nature prompts ~

Instructions ~

  • Pop over to my Packages Page to order your download/s.
  • Print out the Smash This Nature Journal into A5 folded notebooks.
  • Take this journal with you every time you go on a nature walk.
  • You can complete any activity, in any order.
  • Be original! Use your own ideas or adapt any here to suit your situation.
  • Photograph some of your destructive results and collect them in here to show off!
  • Have fun!

Last year I created 2 Smash This Nature Journals.  Pop back to the original post for photos, reviews and details of these exciting Nature Journals. 

Pop over to my Packages Page to order your downloads.  And when your children have completed their pages, please email them to me to share here on the blog!

Here’s your free sample download ~ Sample Smash This Nature Journal #3

Blessings, Nadene

Smash This Nature Journal Review and Giveaway

I am super excited!  Smash-This-Nature-Journal-Review-and-Giveaway-@handbookofnaturestudy-1-768x1024

Barb over at Handbook of Nature Study has posted her review of my Smash This Nature Journal and is offering her readers 3 free copies of Smash This Nature Journal #1.

Please pop over to her post to enter.   She writes,

“Don’t miss this giveaway which will end on Thursday night at midnight. I will randomly choose three entries to win their very own copy of this download and announce the winners on Facebook on Friday. I will also contact you via Rafflecopter (email) in order to deliver your electronic prize.”

Pop over to my Packages Page to order your downloads.  And when your children have completed their pages, please email them to me to share here on the blog!

Blessings,

Nadene