Nature Walks - Journal/Notebook ideas

Art, Foreign Language, Music, Nature Walks, as well as general ideas and encouragement
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Nature Walks - Journal/Notebook ideas

Unread post by mgardenh »

nature study challenge
Heidi wrote:My youngest, 5 year old - will not be ready to draw or write any observations down for probably another 3 years, if ever.

He loves nature study. Any suggestions as to how he can record what he learns and observes while his big brother and sister draw and write that would be mostly if not completely independent for him to do - and not have him dictate and me do all his writing for him?
Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:37 am
Could you use a recorder and have him record on tape or video tape his nature study stuff?

Re: nature study challenge

Unread post by cbollin »

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:42 am
My kids are enjoying a new camera that grandpa bought them (VTech Kidizoom). It's a digital camera, designed for younger hands. Lots of fun over here. Maybe you could add pictures that way and help develop a photography skill? They could also just use our camera.

With our notebook we used stickers or sometimes would trace a picture.

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Re: nature study challenge

Unread post by 4Truth »

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 12:25 pm
My 5yo's having fun with a disposable camera she got for Christmas.

Ditto stickers and tracing, or cut-and-paste from magazines. We have the same issue here.
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never thought of a camera

Unread post by Heidi »

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:48 am
I like the camera idea. He would love this! We have a digital one.

With the tape recorder - did you keep them? How do you label and store them? Have any more details on this idea? He would love this too.

I did think of stickers - but, how do you always have the right nature stickers for whatever he may find interesting - this I can not figure out?

We used cut and paste for a lot of the drawing required in the kindergarten stuff. He has graduated on to this - I divide his space in to two. I draw one line at a time and he then attempts to copy what I have done in his part of the space. I usually need to give him tracing dots.

That makes four things that we can do to vary it and keep it interesting.
That is better than my one idea already doing.

Tracing - he can not do this either, yet - except for very simple drawings like his letters and numbers for which he still requires tracing dots and lines. Perhaps, if it were a very simple nature picture to trace, this would be a great idea.

I am pretty sure he has visual motor processing issues - his OT that he had for a year wanted him to take a break though to allow him to practice and just be a kid for awhile and to process all he had accomplished this past year. My 5 year old is an adult conversationalist, but a toddler with his fine motor skills and a 5 year old with the rest. He is nearly caught up with gross motor - but, still can not pedal a bicycle. But, you should see him dance - his passion is dance. He practices daily and just mastered the skip hop on each foot separately in time for his Nutcracker performance! He did great!
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Nature notebook ideas...I'm kinda proud of myself LOL

Unread post by Hmschooling »

Posted Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:26 am by Hmschooling
DD has a hard time writing and avoids creativity when she knows she has to write it down. And DS can't write yet. Sooooooo, here's what we did...
  • Kids Digital Nature Notebook
    This blog is a collection of things we find fascinating from God's creation. Each week we'll be taking Nature Walks as part of our homeschooling. We'll post some of our favorite finds here! We'll also post some of our best drawings and writings from these walks.
There's not much on it yet, but as soon as we start our nature walks we'll be adding to it.

So, meet dd -7 in 3rd gr and ds - almost 5 in K. :o)
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Nature Journaling

Unread post by TriciaMR »

6monkies wrote:Hi, my name is stephanie, and as you can tell from my username, we have 6 kids. Their ages are 11, 8, 7, 5, 3, and newborn. We are doing ECC this year.

I have NO idea how to do a nature journal. We live in the desert, so there is not a TON of nature to journal. Lol. And since we live in a manicured community, all the nature around us is quite....predictable and repetitive.

I have a few ideas: we have mountains just outside of town. I could get DH to take us there for a homeschooling day. Another idea: we have a you pick orchard in town--my very favorite place to go. I know there are remarkable things there.

But the question still remains: what do we DO? What do you say in a nature journal? And I guess this also spills over into my confusion over "notebooking". Thanks for any info! :)
Some ideas...

Kids bring clipboard, paper, pencils and draw something they see.

Bring digital cameras, take a picture of something, and then when they get home, create a page on the computer. Maybe look it up on wikipedia and identify it.

Just go for walks and say, "Look, that cactus is finally blooming. I wonder how often it blooms."

Most of the time, we just went for a long walk and "noticed" stuff. We live in a typical suburban neighborhood. We looked at people's roses, trees (especially the fall), flowers, strawberry patch (yes, someone in our neighborhood has a strawberry patch on their front lawn). We have a couple of state parks (one with a reservoir) close by. A couple of times a month we would drive over to one of them, and walk. Sometimes I would even bring lunch and our read aloud, and make it a nice afternoon break from "regular school." We do have a "stream" through our neighborhood park that has ducks, so we've watched the ducks a lot for our nature walk.

Once we went to the Great Sand Dunes (Colorado) for a camping trip, and took pictures of some creatures we saw, and then came home and went to the Great Sand Dunes website and found the creatures. We labeled them, printed it out, and put it in the notebook.

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by cbollin »

A way to record what you are learning in things like history/geography and/or science. Those kinds of pages for science are included in the 2nd edition student sheets when you do Ecosystem book. So that will be easy :)

Nature journaling:
Some ideas will be given in the Ecosystem book and one of them is even with deserts. cool.

tagging on to what Trish said, but it might be repeated, as we were typing at the same time....
our "journals" have been digital camera pics and very quick notes about stuff. Some people just blog it or use other tech stuff like that.

some ideas that should apply to many places:
*make observations where the moon "rises" and "sets". Draw the shapes, mark the date. Notice that over the season the location seems to change. The full moon in summer rises in one place over "such and such's" house. The full moon in winter comes up "over there, behind their house".

*same with sunset and sunrise

*look at the stars at night and just enjoy it. Maybe get a book and id some constellations. No real journal needed.

*even though the nature is predictable where you live, make sure the kids are mindful of it. Just let them observe things and talk together. You might not see a groundhog in your backyard like I do from time to time, but there has to be something that is common and just make sure the kids know what it is. Sometimes we over look the common.

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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by bunnytracks »

We use to live in Arizona and now we live in Alaska and sometimes there really is nothing outside to notebook. (Alaska is just too cold in the winter) On those occassions I would use a book. I would let them look through a kids animal encyclodepia, a book about our states animals ect, or tree book and they would draw and write about something they saw in those.
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Julie in MN
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Sometimes my son & I would draw the same thing over time, watching how the seasons changed the area.

Another way to get them looking is to use a scavenger hunt type motif. I think I listed some scavenger lists somewhere on this thread, and there are many other great ideas there (2 pages): viewtopic.php?f=13&t=256

I really encourage you to enjoy nature walks during ECC. It's really the only year that we took the time to do that consistently. I am so glad we had a year we did that.

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Laura D.
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by Laura D. »


I was wondering if you might have a conservatory in your area or a college with a botany department? I'm thinking something along the lines of the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, OH. When I was in college I took a botany class and we had a greenhouse with a large variety of plants (flowering plants, vegetable plants, small trees, tropical plants, etc.) as well as a vegetable garden. How about any museums with live exhibits? A museum of natural history? An aviary? A planetarium/Observatory? A Zoo? Do an internet search for "virtual nature walk". I came up with a few hits. That's all I could think of for now. HTH.

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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by my3boys »

*This blog has something called 'the outdoor hour' that walks people through nature study -

*This website has some nice ideas to go along with the 'outdoor hour' challenges -

These are two very helpful websites for nature study guidance. In particular check out the 'outdoor hour' challenges.
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by mamaofredheads »

6monkies wrote:i am an air force wife too! we are at nellis and live on base so the environment is VERY controlled.
Stephanie, my dh set up a booth at an air show in Nellis for 3 or 4 years in a row. We loved the people there (and the Thunderbirds! :) ). Nature study would be a bit more challening there, especially if you were on base. :)

I know they probably seem "everyday" to you, but I love the mountains that are in the backdrop of the base. Drawing those would be great for a nature notebook. We went to a park or something on the other side of LV that was wonderful. I'll have to look in my scrapbooks to find the name of it, but I remember they had burros that would come up to your car that were so cute. It was beautiful there. Ok, went to look in my's Red Rock Canyon. I don't remember how far it was from the base but I know we went there & back easily one day that dh wasn't working. It would be a fun thing to go to once a month to see how things change with the seasons.

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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by hollybygolly »

Since I live in a desert too (high desert in New Mexico) I decided to chime in. :)

Some things that you may be able to do: does your city have a botanical garden with some trees? Maybe pick a spot in that garden and go back each week (or at least each season) and document the changes of the trees. Go to the zoo and sketch the different habitats that each animal lives in. Definitely take a drive through the mountains. The orchard sounds like fun too!

And believe it or not, the desert does have some pretty sites...rock formations, the shadows of the mountains at sunset, the desert blossoms in spring. Hope some of that helps!!
Have a blessed day loving our Savior-Holly
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by Ariasarias »

I live in South Texas. I moved from the Southeast.
We have not successfully made a nature journal yet.
It's taken me a few years to mourn the beauty of the SE and begin to appreciate the beauty that God has made in this part of the country. I have finally begun to see the beautiful flowers that we have and have noticed some that come at certain times of year, birds that frequent here and those that come for a time, different kinds of cacti, gone to a local nature center to learn about local animals, we go to a local university to see the different vegitation (they have a great variety, and also a great variety of birds and butterflies that frequent the varied vegitation). It's been a challenge, but God has opened my eyes to what is already around me.
Nicole :)
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Re: nature journaling

Unread post by 6monkies »

thanks to all of you for your excellent ideas! 8) that gives me an idea of what a nature journal might look like.

crystal--we won't have that new book. but i think i may have enough ideas now. and you are so right about our overlooking the common. it does not help that i am terrified of bugs (big ones, like water bugs), so there are limits to what i can handle. lol. like the idea about the constellations.

trish--thanks for the idea on the state parks. we have SO many around us, and even national parks, so we could do those and then use their websites when we get home.

bunnytracks--i am an air force wife too! we are at nellis and live on base so the environment is VERY controlled.

hi glenna! we LOVE the mountains (the ones that have snow on them most of the year)! they are such a refuge from the hot, monotone desert. we have yet to do red rock canyon or lake mead. we'll have to wait until it's not 110 or hotter outside. lol! i did not know red rock had burros that come up to peoples' cars! thanks for the ideas. :) we do not have botanical gardens here, but we do have something called "spring's preserve" that the homeschool group goes to quite often, but the way i understand it, it's a preserve of what they have here, which would mean....desert-y stuff. lol. but yes, many things in the desert bloom. we are just past that time, unfortunately.

yes, nicole, i have come to realize this place has it's own unique beauty. maybe not in the middle of the day when it looks like just concrete and dirt, but it's there. lol

holly--YES--i LOVE the way the mountains turn purple at sunset. it's almost like God said "if you'll wait, I'll show you something REALLY fantastic". it's my favorite time of day around here.

oh, and i wanted to ask if our journals look even remotely like nature journals. lol. not that ours have to look like everyone else's, but i wanted to see if i got at least the concept right:
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Nature walk and what to assign?

Unread post by lisaha »

lauramb wrote:I liked when there were suggestions in the teacher manual about what to suggest the kids to look for and sketch. When I give them "their choice" they end up wanting to draw anything they see, including picnic tables and cars and trash cans!! :-) Does it need to be something they see or can it be something in their heads? I just don't know what to do to help direct them in their sketching. They enjoy it, but I feel like it's just turning into a silly activity with them wanting to draw anything and not necessarily something that has to do with nature.

I'd like to have some leading ideas to help them find something to sketch. The weeks we had a direction to go it went well. We drew something small that could be used by animals (feathers, sticks). Then the next week we drew a leaf. Then the next week they picked a tree and sketched it. Thanks!

Laura doing MFW with DS11 in ECC, DS7 in 1st, DS5 in K, and DD4 tagging along
I tell my children (8 and 6) to pick out anything that is alive-trees, animals, birds ex... ;)

Re: Nature walk and what to assign?

Unread post by cbollin »

if it involves something God made...... it's fair game in our house. we don't always require drawings or photos or anything like that.... there were some years and some things we did... but most of our nature walks are just observing and talking. I keep it in my mind for reference....

so, what did God make and what are things we encourage for talking about during nature observations? we look at from 1st days of creation
day 1: light/dark (so if they just observe shadows, it's good)
day 2: air/space/water..... so if they go outside and look in the sky and dream of cloud shapes... if they watch rain fall, or water pouring down the gutter (aka a gully washer), or off the neighbor's house...
day 3: flowers, trees, etc. we even stop to observe gardens and care of them or lack of care....
day 4: sun, moon, stars --- nature walks can be at night. We allowed a variation to look for the International Space Station fly overs too. no... it's not nature, but it's really cool for observing. Sun: make a sketch of where the sun seems to rise, and seems to set. make notes of time of day of sun rise/sun set. moon rise moon set..... no... the sun doesn't rise in the same place every day of the year as seen from my windows.... how about the stars? what constellations do you know? can you find some planets this time of year?
day 5: birds and fish.... are you near a pond? what's in the pond? critters, hmmm????
day 6: people, animals. so if your kids draw a picnic table and trash can -- help them to make sure they connect the dots that we care for the world that God created and clean up after ourselves.

enjoy it! there are no right/wrong thing here.... ;)
are there still fireflies at night where you live?

most of our nature walks this year have been just our backyard and some of it from the kitchen windows.....

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Re: Nature walk and what to assign?

Unread post by NJCheryl »

I have to admit I have gotten away from the sketching portion of nature walks. They also aren't always walks. Last Friday the kids and I went to a local stand and picked out some beautiful fall mums and went home and planted them. That was our "nature walk." We also have lots of conversation about that beautiful world that God has made. I do always have them write about what we did. I love how this has made us, me included more aware of the wonderful world that God made at other times as well. Last night we were playing in the backyard and noticed the most beautiful clouds. We commented on what a beautiful picture God had painted in the sky that night. Just enjoy the work of the Master!

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Re: Nature walk and what to assign?

Unread post by Pylegang »

I'm buying a book called "Keeping a Nature Journal" by Claire Walker Leslie. You can look inside it on
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
Clare Walker Leslie (Author), Charles E. Roth (Author)

Enjoy your journaling!
Homeschooling classically since 2000--DS grade 6 and DS grade 4.

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Re: Nature walk and what to assign?

Unread post by my3boys »

Queen Homeschool sells a wonderful nature journal that my son has used for years - it has activities and guided pages in it.
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Nature Notebook Ideas

Unread post by KatieB »

This is my first year to MFW and I am using ECC with my three girls- 1 in 2nd, twins in 4th. I noticed that nature walks and a nature notebook are scheduled for many Wednesdays. I have been trying to think up some interesting ideas for making this a really cool activity.

One of the things that I thought of is to have them sketch a detailed drawing of something (leaf, roots, flower, bug, etc) and then trace over all the lines with an extra fine sharpie marker and erasing any stray lines. Then when this is completely dry they can use watercolor pencils to paint it in. I like watercolor pencils because they give such control and can be easily shaded and blended together. When finished it looks very professional. These can be beautiful on their own, or illustrations to their observations, poetry or they can label them and add descriptions. The girls love the way they come out and have used this technique for many other art projects.

My husband said that in his 6th grade they went to a camp for a week and they had to find a place outside and sit and observe. They could write down thoughts, record wildlife they saw or observations of weather, clouds, nature etc. They went to their same observation area multiple days and at different hours of the day. He remembered that it was neat to see how things changed over time or how you tended to get more and more observant after spending so much time looking at the same things.

Another idea I thought was interesting comes from a home-school website called She is a homeschool blessing when it comes to printables and forms. She created a nature journal with her kids and it is amazing. She describes it in full, gives detailed instructions and she includes links to photos of each section. This looks like a completely doable idea that is pretty interesting and impressive.
Here's the link: ... ournal.htm

Anyway I'd really like to hear how others have tackled this area of the curriculum. I know that if they are given the guidelines they will use this assignment to shine creatively in a way that shows the skills that God has given each of them. My goal is to make this a fun, desirable part of their week while keeping it as independent as possible.

Thanks for listening,
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Re: Nature Notebook Ideas

Unread post by TriciaMR »

We always took our camera along. Sometimes I allowed my dd to have me print out one of my pictures on regular paper and then journal below it.

Once we went to the Great Sand Dunes and saw a cricket that only lives there. So, we put the picture I took at the top, and then found information about it on the web and cut and pasted that into the document below.

I would just be careful about "pushing" too hard on drawing something the very first time, unless your kids are already good artists. It can be intimidating to try to draw something in nature and have it "not look right."

My kids didn't always draw something, and I didn't make them. We'd go to the local stream and just watch the ducks for 30 minutes and talk about what they were doing. I liked just making sure they were enjoying outdoors and enjoying it. If they drew something, it was a bonus.

Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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Re: Nature Notebook Ideas

Unread post by momtogc »

A wonderful nature notebooking source that we have often used is This blogger uses Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock to help guide nature study. On this site you can find some nature notebooking pages - some free, some not, and tons of helps. On the left side of the page there is a link for "how to get started" that has some helpful tips for nature study.

Look at the "challenges" on the left and ride sides of the page. So for instance if you wanted to do a nature study on trees, scroll down until you see the tree "challenges" listed. Click on the one you want to study and follow the hints/suggestions which will include the page numbers to read in the nature book. The nature handbook book can be bought or you can use the free online version. It is a huge, thick book and rather intimidating but using this blog has helped me to be able to use the book since she pinpoints the pages that correspond with the topic of study. I don't have to spend time looking it up. I love this site; it has given me the confidence to do nature study because someone has done a lot of the legwork for me.

We also enjoy using Donna Young's printable pages that have blank space at the top with lines at the bottom. These make great sheets for nature notebooking. My dd will draw or color or paint sometimes. I usually let her choose, then she writes a little at the bottom of the page about the topic. I keep the sheets in a three ring binder. Sometimes we don't even make a sheet, rather we just enjoy nature and reading about the topic.

HTH and I hope you enjoy your nature study, too!

Mom to Gabi, a fun-loving and happy girl!
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Re: Nature Notebook Ideas

Unread post by jasntas »

My ds gets very discouraged with his drawings because he doesn't feel they are realistic enough. He prefers the camera. I love Trish's idea of printing info. and gluing it below the printed pic. (He's not big on writing either.) My dd, on the other hand, likes to draw and doesn't care too much if it's life-like or not. She does like the camera, too.
KatieB wrote:My husband said that in his 6th grade they went to a camp for a week and they had to find a place outside and sit and observe. They could write down thoughts, record wildlife they saw or observations of weather, clouds, nature etc. They went to their same observation area multiple days and at different hours of the day. He remembered that it was neat to see how things changed over time or how you tended to get more and more observant after spending so much time looking at the same things.
ADV had an idea like that where you were to observe something like a tree in all four seasons. It could be drawn/photographed/whatever. I took one pic. Forgot after that. Oops.

Enjoy your year in MFW and thanks for sharing your ideas. :)
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if you are into nature journaling

Unread post by Canoearoo »

Charlotte Mason really believed in nature journaling. So we do this at my home a lot. While searching the net I found these great free nature journal work sheets that are very helpful.

just posting this in case it helps anyone else
"I am, I can, I ought, I will". -Charlotte Mason

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