Guest Author - Kimberly Misra
Keeping a nature journal is a great way for kids to connect with the natural world. A nature journal is a written record of happenings in the natural world, usually accompanied by drawings. Writing and drawing in a nature journal hones observation and sketching skills, increases retention of scientific facts, and serves as a permanent record of the child's ever increasing art skill. Plus, nature journals are just plain fun! Here's how you can get started on this wonderful hobby....
• Buy a blank sketchbook. Get one for each child and yourself. You can choose from unlined journals, fully lined journals, or half-lined journals.
• Gather supplemental reading. You don't need anything, besides a blank book and pencil, to start nature journaling. It can be fun to have some extras though. Field guides are invaluable for looking up information on whatever you're studying. We enjoy Peterson's First Guides and National Geographic’s My First Pocket Guide series.
• Gather other supplies. A good set of colored pencils, such as the Prismacolor brand, makes drawing more fun. Watercolor sets are great for painting landscapes. Nature study tools, such as a hand lens, binoculars, or bug jar are also nice to have on hand. Just remember that the important thing is the experience, not the tools.
• Pick a regular time to dedicate to nature study. If you have time, weekly nature journaling is great. The important thing when beginning your nature journals is just to keep it in the routine on a regular basis, even if it's only once a month.
• Let the kids pick topics. A nature journal is much more personal to the child who records what he feels is important. If your child is stuck for ideas, pointing out an unusual bug, a spider's web, or a new flower coming out can inspire him to begin his journal entry.
• Include younger children. Even kids who are too young to write can enjoy keeping a nature journal. Encourage them to draw what they see as best they can. Ask them to tell you a few things about their drawing and record them in your own handwriting. The memories will be priceless.
• Store your nature gear in a central place. A central location makes it easy to find nature guides and journals when inspiration strikes or when kids want to identify a strange bug they've found.