"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 -" -Charlotte Mason
I remember the first time that I nature
journaled with my children. It wasn't hard to convince them to come outside and
draw. A balmy summer morning beckoned us to abandon our indoor routine. Elizabeth, 6, headed up
to the garden and picked a few ripe strawberries with the leaves still on.
Eric, 11, found a tiny monarch caterpillar on a milkweed leaf in the field.
Claire, 15, snapped off some purple coneflowers from the flowerbed next to the
house-those were our first specimens.
We spread blankets on the ground and
opened our sketchbooks. The three older children, heads bent and eyes fixed,
immediately began to draw. Anna, 3, ran and tumbled in the grass before
plopping down on a blanket next to me. I picked up a strawberry leaf and looked
intently at the serrated edges. Timidly, I applied pencil strokes to the paper.
As the sun warmed our shoulders, I wasn't
aware that my children's education had just been enriched beyond anything I
could ask or think. Nature journaling is the course of study that the Lord has
used to make my children more aware of His abundant creation and the ability He
has given each one of them to capture it on paper.
Nature Journaling: A Method of Drawing Instruction
Even though I grew up in a
creative home where drawing was encouraged, I didn't know which method to use
to teach my children how to draw. What could I use that would keep my
children-all of them-captivated and wanting to draw for a lifetime?
The answer was nature journaling. Could
art really be so simple? Was drawing from nature the very thing that would
inspire all of my children to want to draw? In the months that followed, the
answer to that question was a resounding "Yes!" God's awe-inspiring
creation was right outside of my window the whole time! How could I have been
so blind? Children love nature-they love to touch it, hold it, catch it,
collect it, grow it, smell it, preserve it, draw it, and let it go.
It's been amazing to hear Anna (now 5)
say, "Bring that in the house, Mom, so we can draw it!" She has
spontaneously drawn spiders, leaves, and sunflowers. Elizabeth (now 9) is enthralled with nature
and loves to draw from it anytime. She loves collecting insects and making
herbarium (plant) collections. It has been gratifying to see Eric (13) become a
more confident artist as he trains his eye by drawing from life. And Claire
(18) didn't know that she could draw anything other than horses until we
started drawing from nature. All of us have become sensitized to plant, animal,
and insect life for the purpose of recording it in our journals.