At home with your kid(s) and trying to find something to do outside to help them connect to nature? Nature Journalling might just be what you were looking for.
What is Nature Journaling, you might ask?
Nature Journaling is the act of going outside and partaking in careful observation of an element of the natural world. In my teaching practice, I have borrowed heavily from John Muir Laws’ excellent work on the subject. As he writes in his free (LINK) online resource for teachers and parents:
Children need nature – and we, as parents, educators, and caring adults, have a duty to make it accessible to them. It becomes harder and harder for kids to experience nature in this world of standardized tests, electronics, and organized sports.
Well, today with our efforts to physically isolate ourselves, the distraction of standardized test and organized sports have at least been temporarily removed!
Nature Journaling involves taking the time to focus intently upon an aspect of the natural world. It could be a flower, part of a tree, a spider in a web; anything that won’t get up and walk away from you too quickly. With your sketchbook in hand, sit down and get comfortable. Draw what you see (not what you think should be there) and make notes in the margins as to other things you are aware of (wind direction and strength, temperature, etc.). To help with prompts to get you on your way, John Muir Law suggests you make note of the the following: 1) I notice… 2) I wonder 3) It reminds me of… With these three prompts pretty much everyone can spend a good 10 – 20 min being attentive and present while they draw and make notes.
The quality of your drawing is not the point (although John Muir Laws has some excellent tips on his website to help you in that regard). The fact that you and your kid(s) are taking time together to quietly become an active observer is what is important. I promise you that you and your kid(s) won’t look at the object of your journaling the same way again! For a more profound experience, revisit the object of your journaling every few weeks or so to see what has changed (assuming it wasn’t a bug that just walked away!).