Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nature Notebooks

Day 28~

Before I discuss more about reading aloud, I thought I would share my secret for doing nature notebooks. When my oldest children were little we took a nature walk every day. We have almost always been blessed to live in the path of nature. We would walk and find objects to draw and come home and draw or paint them. I did try in the early years to use watercolors as Charlotte Mason suggests. Not being an artist this attempt failed and I stuck to Prismacolor Colored Pencils for years although lately my friend and CM enthusiast Jeannette Tulis has tried to teach me the dry brush method.  I used to purchase our nature notebooks from Greenleaf Press but now I just pick up drawing books from Hobby Lobby. For the younger children I buy the spiral books.

But after the "real school" years began and there were babies and babies and babies, it was much harder to take that walk and then come home to draw.  I did not want to give up on the idea of nature notebooks so I devised a cheat.

I collected field guides, drawing books and nature books and we pulled those out each day. While I read aloud, the children drew in their nature notebooks.

This turned out to be a perfect solution for our family and as a consequence we have volumes of nature notebooks scattered throughout our home, some done by talented artists and others.....well, others...but each and every one of them representing the idea of the importance of nature and seeing.

Because of this and for good or for evil, we rarely feel the need to encumber our real nature hikes with nature notebooks. We usually manage to bring them along but often chose to enjoy our hikes without the added weight.   This is not strictly legit for those pursuing a real CM education but it is a workaround that has helped us continue through thick and thin.

So each morning as I begin our read aloud time, I pause to let the kids get our their nature notebooks. This is something they can begin quite young, almost any age really. The youngest children will enjoy imitating their siblings and it will make them feel a part of things and it will keep them quiet for a couple of seconds.

One other tip, you can also use your television or computer monitor to bring up images for children to draw. We have been doing that a little bit this year. Any book you can get on Kindle or PDF can be projected on the screen.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for nature study:

Sibley Guides
My husband is a birder and he loves Sibley best but it is easy to collect all manner of field guides at library book sales.

Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

 Naming Nature: A Seasonal Guide for the Amateur Naturalist

Thornton Burgess books with illustrations

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown Ups

For inspiration:

Edwin Way Teale Books
Gladys Taber Books
Pleasant Valley and others by Louis Bromfield
Annie Dillard

Suggestion of the Day for Morning Time Memory:

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

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