Monday, July 8, 2013

Nature Journals - Starting Fresh, Looking Back

We're starting a new school year here today (AO Year 2 - more on that another day!), so I have new nature journals ready for my two oldest.  Before putting away their old ones, I thought I would do a little update on what they have been documenting lately.  

Our nature study group has still been meeting casually through the summer, though it has been a bit sporadic with vacations, illness, and all the usual summer goings-on.  That doesn't mean we haven't been fitting in lots of nature study as a family, though!  Lately, a lot of that time has been spent in our own yard and in local parks, and my kids and I have been faithfully working on our journals and Calendar of Firsts.  Here's a peek at the last few entries in my children's nature journals:

My daughter has really been working on drawing our local birds, trying to get the shape of the body, angle of the head, and coloring just right.

And here is her listing of our current backyard flowers:

Similarly, my son decided one afternoon to catalog all the bugs he found in a day and try to identify them.

An ongoing collection of acorn drawings my daughter added to all fall/winter:

As you can see, a lot of their work lately has been in the form of almanac pages of sorts.  They are entirely their own idea and creation, and I think the impulse is fascinating.  I do it too, but with words, usually making sure I have an exhaustive list of every species I've noticed on a given outing.  But they more often do it with pictures, which is the kind of project that overwhelms me but doesn't intimidate them at all.

And just to show how much progress they have made this past year, I put a few of their entries from the beginning and end of their year-long journals side by side.  And the subject is one of their very favorites--mallard ducks!

By my daughter:

Last year (left) and last month (right)

And by my son:

Last year (left) and last month (right)
Of course, More important than drawing progress is progress in their knowledge and their powers of observation.  But it's fun to see their drawing skills develop as well!

It is such a wonder to me as a parent to watch my children grow and learn with so little hands-on work from me.  I provide the time outdoors, the free time in, the quality books, the sense of order and wonder, the materials--and their minds and bodies do the rest.  And now we're all looking forward to empty notebooks full of possibilities for this new year!

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