Nature Journaling
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Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
~ John Muir

Creating and keeping a journal can be a vital part of learning to observe and enjoy nature. When children are given the tools and the time to comtemplate their environments, it opens whole new worlds to them.
You can find links to several below to sites that cover in-depth how to create and keep a nature journal as well as some of our favorite quotes to use here and there through your journals for inspiration or just because.  So I won't go over 'how to' here.

I will take a moment to talk about what we do and what has worked for us.
First of all, while still very young, kids notice the weather. I made this document to print out and fill out once or twice a week to get everyone used to checking the weather and noticing the signs for changes. Once you use a format for a few weeks, it becomes second nature to just jot down your observations. Another basic format page we used is here.
For nature walks, this is a good 'scavenger hunt' list to take with you. Again, the idea is to start looking and observing and noting until it becomes second nature. Make bark rubbings, leaf rubbings and rock rubbings to add to your journals, sketch and photograph what you see and above all, write!
Follow their lead and keep up with their interests. You may go for months just looking for bugs until one day, they suddenly want to study leaves or seeds or snakes. Have fun, be flexible and enjoy your time together with nature!

 

Links:

From Donna Young -excellent resource in general plus she has some nice printable journal pages
Printable Nature Journal Page
Nature of New England
-a good basic blog for ideas and format
Nature Journal from Kids Planet -kid friendly explainations
Ambleside Online -excellent ideas and applications as well as a nature study schedule

Favorite Quotes to use:
"To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug."
~Helen Keller

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves."
~John Muir

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."
~Rachel Carson

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
~Albert Camus

"A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children."
~Audobon

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
~John Muir

"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do."
~Galileo

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
~Thoreau

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.
~Muir

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.
~Rachel Carson