Mom’s Nature Journal inspiration

With my teenager’s increasing independence in their homeschooling, our days have settled into a new rhythm, and I have found peace in making some new, small, personal goals for myself.  Charlotte Mason calls it “Mother Culture“.  One of my goals is to regularly sketch in my nature journal.   I look forward to quietly making an entry once a week during a lovely time of quiet observation, some scientific research, and creative sketching, painting or journaling.

20170203_154302 Here is where I find inspiration for my nature journaling ~

Outdoor Mom Journal

Barb at Handbook of Nature Study runs a monthly Outdoor Hour Challenge which we enjoyed in our early homeschool years.  She also shares her Outdoor Mom Journal each month.  She encourages moms to answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on her blog in a comment.

Her nature journal prompts are open-ended statements ~

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

Simple, gentle prompts which lead to her monthly Outdoor Mom Journal posts.

20170203_154312Nature Finds

As my grown children and older teens no longer go on nature walks, I am privileged to go for walks with my little  granddaughter who comes to visit us often.  She notices all the tiny details and loves to pick up leaves, feathers, stones and any other interesting nature finds.  I keep her nature finds on a little tray.  Often I use her finds as a journal inspiration.

This nature tray was inspired by Celeste, a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8, of Joyous Lessons, who writes about their nature tray.   She set up a little tray for her family’s nature finds and encouraged her children to look at, play around with, and record these ‘finds’ in their journals.  At the end of the week she stores or clears the tray ready for the new week.

She says,

“In a way, this holds me accountable too: I don’t like to clear out the tray until I have had time to document and sketch a bit, but the tray must be emptied to make room for our new finds. So through the routine, I’m nudged into at least a weekly journal entry.
This seems like such a minor tip–perhaps this is something you already do!  But if you’re anything like me, it’s little things, those easy habits that allow the “extras” to become smoothly woven into the rhythm of our days, that make all the difference.  It’s this little habit that prods me to get out the colored pencils and notebooks!”
Instagram
I find some amazing inspiration on the Internet.  Remember I posted about Helen at Middlewood Journal?  Here’s someone who inspires me I found on Instagram … I am totally in awe of  L Gastinger, who describes herself as “a botanical artist, illustrator, documenter and interpreter of all things exquisite and awesome in nature”.   Her double-page spreads are so intricate, details and perfect, you simply must pop over to view her work!
lara-gastiger-nature-journal
My Garden
Lastly, I love gardening and this year has been a year of big gardening changes for me.  After struggling for years working in my vegetable garden which was very near a row of willow trees, my hubby and I finally created a shade-netted vegetable garden in a lovely, sunny open space.  It has been a joy to harvest food in less than 3 months! garden I also completely transformed a decorative flower garden into a herb and salad/ kitchen garden outside my back door.  I cut down huge shrubs, transplanted flowering plants and moved all my herbs.  I prepared the new beds with ash, manure and compost layers and covered them with a thick mulch layer.  Late summer and autumn seeds and seedlings are in and I am already planning my winter seeds. With all this happening, there is plenty to note, sketch, paint, photograph and journal!
So, simply, I plan to set time aside each week for my nature journal entries and aim to participate in a monthly Outdoor Mom’s Journal.
What about you?  What inspires you in your nature journalling?
In Grace, Nadene

Nature Journal Inspiration

Every now and then I find fresh nature journal inspiration and here’s a fabulous blog I spent most of my afternoon browsing recently ~

Middlewood Journal

middlewood-journalHelen is a freelance writer and illustrator and a regular contributor to the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. She teaches weekly nature journaling classes and various workshops.

Her journal pages are filled with detailed sketches, all painted and labelled accurately, and her notes  and observational recordings frame her pages.  They are works of art and utterly inspiring!

middlewood-pageI added several of her journal pages to my Pinterest Nature Board.

Barb at Handbook of Nature Study wrote about her Nature Journal Goals for 2017  to include a weekly entry.  Barb’s children have all left the nest, yet her nature journalling is still an important part of her life.  She inspires me to make time to form creative, personal habits that feed and grow my love for the outdoors and nature.

What are your favourite nature journal blogs?  Do you keep a nature journal?  Why not stop and join your children in their nature walks?  Who knows, your nature journal could form a lasting habit!

Blessings, Nadene

 

Nature Tray

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

nature trayA simple little plastic tray is a wonderful collection holder for the week’s nature finds.  Inspired by Celeste (a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8!) of Joyous Lessons, her tip has been a very practical help in our homeschooling.

Here’s how it works ~

  • Place the tray at a suitable height for young kids to see and feel and add odds and ends daily.
  • Great for little kiddies who love to collect and want to show and share with others.
  • Good to hold items for further magnified glass or detailed observations.
  • Name, group and classify some of the nature finds and read up about them in reference books.  Normally I look up biological names, but don’t expect my kiddies to do so too.
  • Sketch, paint or draw and label something each week from the nature tray.  This is great for older teens (or mom) who does not find their own nature items each week, but still want to journal in their nature journal.
  • Clear the tray each week.  Pack things in Ziplock bags, boxes or envelopes in a nature storage box.
  • An empty tray is a great reminder to get outside and go on a nature walk!

Hope this practical tip helps you and your kids in the nature study!

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

Smash This Nature Journal

Brand new downloads ~

Welcome to adventure outdoors journaling ideas!  Nothing stiff,  stuffy and serious here!  Be warned ~ you and your Nature Journal may get dirty or wet, but you should have some real creative fun!

I have created 2 Smash This Nature Journals which you’ll find on my Packages Page.

Cover Smash Nature Journal 1Cover Smash Nature Journal 2

Here’s how it works ~

  • 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!

My  wonderful homeschooling friend Willemien Kruger of Homeschooling Curriculum Guide sent me photos of her boys enjoying their “Smash Nature Journals“!

Here’s her feedback,

“Both my boys enjoyed doing the Smash Nature Journals at times.  It was scheduled as something to be done when they feel like it, so some days they did a lot of pages and some days none.  Of course the boys enjoyed the really smashing activities more than the coloring or writing, and some activities really helped them to think outside the box!  A cool idea for younger kids to explore nature and art!”

My daughter also enjoyed smashing her journal!  There is something wonderfully liberating being instructed to tear, crumple, stain, wet and mess in a nature journal.  In the past I over-stressed the nature sessions with expectations for neat, labeled, researched, colored journal pages.  This new approach brought a flurry of activity and excitement to our nature walk.

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

Leaf Shape Activities

For our Apologia “Exploring Creation with Botany” course I created these leaf shape pages for several activities ~

Homeschool leaf

Sorting20150722_112830

  • Sort into groups according to shape
  • Sort by descriptions found in the book

Naming

  • Discuss the Latin or scientific names 20150722_112059
  • Make fun and practical associations with these names

Play “Memory”

  • Place all the cards leaf up & name face down on the table.
  • Turn over and call the name of the leaf out and place with the name back face down. (This is the learning stage.)
  • Call out the name first and then turn the card over to check.
  • If correct, keep the card and try another.
  • Player with the most cards at the end wins!

Display 20150722_120223

  • Make a paper leaf bunting
    simply sew all the cards with a long line of stitching using a sewing machine.

    20150722_120122

    (my daughter practicing on blank paper first)

  • Create a mobile and hang all the same groups of leaves from a large leaf shape or name using wire and fish gut.
  • Paste leaves in groups in a collage or mosaic or poster.

Nature Study Scavenger Hunt

  • Ask the child to find as many leaf shapes when out on nature walks.
  • Sort and place next to the leaf shape/ name it best fits.
  • Place in a folded paper with a label and press between board or in heavy books for a few weeks.
  • Paste in nature study journals and label or describe.
  • Use these leaves to group, describe and label the margins (the leaf edge) or venation.

Arts & Crafts 

  • Make leaf rubbings
  • Use leaf to make prints by painting the leaf and pressing it onto a page.
  • Make leaf collages
  • Use pressed leaves and iron between 2 sheets of wax wrap with wax sides facing.  Cut and hang as window decoration.

Free Downloads

With blessings,

 

Spring Blossoms

We have experienced an unusually mild, dry winter.  There has been no snow on our mountains and yet we have experienced some of the worst frost ever.  Since it is still August, it came as a surprise to find our fruit orchard full of blossoming trees.  My previous early spring blossom sketches in my nature diary were done September last year.Blossoms1

My youngest daughter led me out to enjoy the warm sunshine and we went to view “our” Maple tree. We first measured our Maple tree  in 2011 and the little tree was just as tall as Miss.L12, just over 1 meter high.  This spring it is twice my height!  I was glad that my nature journal contained many of my older nature study pages because we could compare our current tree study with previous years and seasons.

Sketch Book Blossoms 001

Sketch Book Blossoms 004

We spent time looking at the variety of fruit trees’ blossoms.  I was utterly enchanted by our blue berry blossoms which looked like little bells.  We sketched and painted and we both experimented with wet-on-wet water painting which worked wonderfully! (I’m afraid that my scanner did not pick up the colors of our watercolors.)

Sketch Book Blossoms 002 Sketch Book Blossoms 003

As our time was running out, and we had already spent much of our morning outside (time flies when you are having fun sketching), I sent Miss.L12 with the camera to capture all the blossoms.  We plan to use the photos to sketch and paint or simply to compare the differences between the different blossoms.

Blossoms

We are so happy to enjoy our lovely early spring nature study here in South Africa and wish a happy autumn to those living in the Northern Hemisphere!

Blessings,

(Contributing this post to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.)

DIY Folded Paper Boxes

My youngest daughter wanted to sort and classify her sea shell collection.  This was a great Nature Study and Science activity, but we needed several smallish boxes to store the different shell types.  She displayed her shell collection on our Nature Study tray.

6-Nature study1

We quickly made these paper boxes.

The nifty, practical aspects of these folded paper boxes are:

  • You can make them in different sizes … so they can nest in each other or form a top and a base to close your box!
  • The boxes can easily be stored flat, unfolded and ready for the next occasion.
  • You can use decorative craft paper or card stock for really pretty gift boxes or display boxes.

Here are the instructions and a free downloadFolded Paper Boxes

You will need:

  • square paper or card stock 28cm X 28cm
  • scissors
  • glue/ cellotape/ stapler

Fold your paper:

  • Fold the square horizontally in half & re-open.
  • Fold the square vertically in half & re-open.
  • Fold the bottom left corner and the top right corner to the center of the square, forming opposite triangles.Paper box 1
  • Fold both the newly made folds to the middle & re-open these folds.

Paper box 2

  • Cut along all 4 of the new fold lines, from the paper edge up to the edges of the triangles.Paper box 3
  • Take the top left corner and the bottom right corner and fold the corners into the center.Paper box 4
  • Fold again in half, so that the last fold is at the end of the cut lines.
  • Fold all 4 pointed strips to form folds in line with the 2 middle double folded pieces.Paper box 5

Assemble your paper box:

  • Fold the pointed flaps around the outside of the 2 center folds.
  • Insert the corners of the center folded piece into the diagonal fold of the flap. This part is a little fiddly, so mom, you may have to help here!Paper box 6
  • Tape/ glue or staple the outside overlapping flaps to the box.

Enjoy this craft project!

Blessings,

Notice Board – Nature Study

In my last post I featured the Current Affairs section of our new homeschool notice board.  In this post, I want to share about ~

Nature Study

20140220_165127

My Nature Study notice board includes 3 elements:

  1. Nature Photo of the Week
  2. Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid
  3. Nature Study tray display

Let me explain a bit more ~

Nature Photo of the Week

Barb of Handbook of Nature Study introduced aNature Photo of the Week.  She explains ~

“Nature photography is a huge favorite hobby of mine. Our home is filled with images from our travels near and far. This is something I have passed on down to my children and they all enjoy photography in their free time. I want to push my skills to the next level this year and in order to do that I have made myself a Nature Photo of the Week challenge. I will be taking photos each week to go along with a determined theme. At the end of the year, I will take my weekly photos, choose one from each month, and then use those images to create a customized family calendar for 2015.

I am happy to share my Nature Photo of the Week Challenge with any of you who want to play along. I have created a printable list of topics that you can use in any order you wish. I also have started a Pinterest board where I will pin my images and I invite you to as well.

You can join the Pinterest Board : Nature Photo of The Week 2014
You need to follow the Pinterest Board before I can send you an invite. 
You will need to send me your Pinterest name and I will send you an invite. You can comment here or email me directly at harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com”

My kids love capturing their nature study finds with a camera, so this challenge was right up their alley!  And with my smart phone, I can so easily snap and upload photos to the Pinterest Board.

I took Barb’s list (Nature Photo of the Week 2014 Printable and turned it into a quick-glance-chart ~

Nature Photo of the Week Chart
Here is your free download ~ Nature Photo of the Week Chart

Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid

You will also notice the Nature Study February Fun grid on the clip board.  Again Barb of Handbook of Nature Study encourages children to enjoy Nature Study with The Handbook of Nature Study with her Outdoor Hour Challenges. Each month she provides subscribers her OHC newsletter with articles, links, downloads and nature study activities according to season or theme.  The monthly grid (a lovely visual reminder) pinned up and on display encourages my children to get outdoors and observe, collect, journal or photograph.  And it doesn’t take an hour – just a short outing!

Nature Study Tray

Below the clipboard is our Nature Study Tray where we display any nature study finds.  Celeste (a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8!) of Joyous Lessons has a marvelous method of displaying her children’s nature study finds.  Her young children collect interesting finds on their nature study outings and  when they return home, they place these items on a tray.  The children can then look up and label, draw and record their finds in their nature journals during the week.  Celeste describes:

The next week, I clear the tray, putting on our nature shelf the things we want to keep and discarding the rest.  Sometimes I grab some leaves and put them in the leaf press, between sheets of contact paper, or into someone’s journal with tape if he or she requests it.  Rocks, sticks, bark, and feathers either go into our little collection or out into the backyard for play.  And the tray is then wiped down, ready to be refilled with a new set of treasures after our next outing.  In a way, this holds me accountable too: I don’t like to clear out the tray until I have had time to document and sketch a bit, but the tray must be emptied to make room for our new finds. So through the routine, I’m nudged into at least a weekly journal entry.

This seems like such a minor tip–perhaps this is something you already do!  But if you’re anything like me, it’s little things, those easy habits that allow the “extras” to become smoothly woven into the rhythm of our days, that make all the difference.  Sometimes, when I’m having a busy week and I would normally be tempted to let our nature study slide, it’s this little habit that prods me to get out the colored pencils and notebooks!

This is a wonderful idea, Celeste!  Older children, homeschool graduates and parents can use the very enthusiastic younger children’s nature collections as a stimulus for nature journaling! No excuses for not doing nature journal entries!

As you can see, Nature Study is simple, easy and delightful!  Charlotte Mason encourages moms to also spend time outdoors with their children and simply observe and enjoy their children’s delight in nature.  This time is an investment in “Mother Culture” because, for an hour or so, you can forget the hum-drum of life and household chores!

Schedule in this “extra” in your week ~ see my “Theme of the Day” chart.

Much grace,

Tiny Frogs

Our Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge this month features

Reptiles & Amphibians

My youngest daughter really loves to film, photograph and discuss her nature finds.

Here are her latest Outdoor Hour Challenge photo finds of small frogs in our fish pond.

These little frogs are teeny, tiny, only the size of a baby pinkie finger nail, and yet they are perfectly formed.

lara tadpoles

She left all the little frogs in  the pond.  

We remembered some of the misfortunes some tiny frog relatives had when she captured some early spring (last year September) and placed them in bottles …

They all died.

We thought that they may have starved to death and so, after a little research, we placed new frogs with some shredded lettuce leaves in a larger container.  Miss.L even put a few large rocks and stones in the bottle so that the frogs could spend some time out of the water.

Sadly, one rock fell over and squashed some other unfortunate little frogs.

And, worse still, one morning, those brave surviving frogs spied a small opening in the lid and escaped!

About 14 little frogs hopped and jumped through our house, all coming to the front door and some even managed to reach our stoep.  With great care, Miss.L took each carefully to the pond and set them free.  She felt that her attempts at raising these frogs in her aquariums had been a failure.

But, armed with the digital camera, “catching” these frogs was an absolute delight!

Join us for your OHC discoveries in the Outdoor Hour Challenge Carnival.  Submit yours here.

Blessings,