We are beginning our nature journals with a group of unschoolers/homeschoolers, tomorrow. I want to encourage them to use their imaginations and be inventive. Well, here are some of the things we’ll be introducing and discussing, tomorrow.. along with some of the resources I have skimmed material/information from.
Here’s a photo of the image portion of my nature journal. I decided to print out small, baseball card sized images of the photos I take. This way, I’m not using a lot of ink & photo paper for each image and I can include more in my journal. It works out great!
We don’t want to get overwhelmed with this. It’s purpose is to provide enjoyment, opportunity and learning. Tomorrow, we’ll be discussing the basics of getting started.
1. Supplies: We have to have a journal! Whether that be a sketchbook, notebook, ipad/tablet, index cards, calendar, etc is up to each individual and their own personal preference. Pencils, pens, and any other supplies you may need for your journal method choice. If you want to include drawings.. maybe drawing pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers.. if you’re concentrating on photos.. maybe a flickr account, or a photo album. The supplies you need are based on what you’d like to include in your journal at any given time. There may come a time when you prefer photos over drawings, or vice versa. So, the list of supplies will always be changing and growing with the journaler.
2. Table of contents: You might wish to leave the first page or two as a growing table of contents. This will make it easier, in the future, to go back to days or events you remember.. so you can compare observations, or just refresh your memory.
3. Formatting: It’s generally a good idea to develop some sort of consistent format to start your journaling ritual. Start each entry with the Date, Time, Location, possible weather conditions, and anything else of high importance to you, personally.
4. Journaling Goal: This isn’t necessary, but in order to inspire & encourage yourself to maintain the journal.. try setting a goal for journaling. To begin with, it may be 2-3 a month, or once a week.. the goal may change, or it may stay the same. But, try to encourage yourself to be consistent.
5. Prompts: Prompts are very useful for times when we are feeling unmotivated or uninspired to write journal entries. Make use of them if necessary! Some winter journal prompts: http://donnallong.com/2011/07/04/winter-seasonal-journal/
Some food for thought:
1. One purpose of nature journaling is to exercise observation skills which are essential to writing, and visual arts and science.
2. Nature journals are not very different from field journals kept by naturalists. Some famous journals: Gilbert White, William Bartram, Meriwether Lewis, John Wesley Powell, Susan Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Burroughs, Edward Abbey, Mary Austin, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Gary Snyder, Bill McKibben, Diane Ackerman, Gretel Ehrlich.
3. The journal can be a tool of the trade, and recording their a helpful history of information. Gardening for example.
4. The journal can be a scientific record. Journals decades or even centuries old are still consulted by scientists today. For ecological restoration, and other uses. Journals are vital to scientific work.
5. Even scientific experts stray, and in their journals, from their current studies to record other interests and personal or artistic thoughts/perspectives.