Archive for the ‘Nature Walks’ Category

The nature of things


Just had to share.  Nature Journaling on Mondays has been a great exercise for us.  Today’s was exceptional.  We finished our morning “school” of math, dictation, history etc.  After lunch we try to go outside for at least one hour.  As I stepped out the front door the dog and I were upon a Pheobe.  It was obviously “not right” and I had to restrain our border collie from eating it.  A quick call to the boys to come see this stunned bird and “Nature time” certainly had begun.  This bird spent the next near-hour with us.  Everyone held it…either by personal choice or when it landed on us…even the dog!  Yes, we got a photo of that too.  The one I wanted to share with you was of my middle son starting his Nature Journal with the bird right on the paper.  We removed the bird from “us” one way or another to set it back on the bird bath at least a half a dozen times.  This was one of it’s landing spots…right on the nature journal.  It eventually did fly away to a tree.  What a wonderful time.  I thought you’d appreciate hearing about our nature journaling.  Learning at home can be so much fun!

~Rachel in NH

Nature walks

Sharon Woods
Originally uploaded by juliecinci

Charlotte Mason recommends kids spend about six hours a day out doors. In high temperatures and humidity, it’s hard to get my kids to mow the lawn for a half hour let alone playing in the direct sun for six.

One way we get outdoors is to walk in the state parks of Ohio. We’re lucky in that these parks are not only gloriously green, they have lakes, play equipment and water apparatus, and loads of hiking trails. We invested in a second pair of binoculars in order to see birds, squirrels, foxes and “that pretty waterfall way over there.” (It’s worth it to purchase real binoculars like you might find in a camera store as they do see clearly and at a longer range than the kind you find in a toy store, for instance.)

Liam and I have taken early morning bird watching walks for the last several months, once per month. Going early in the morning means you’ll avoid runners and you’ll catch the birds in morning song.

Later in the day is nice for feeding ducks, hiking, seeing the light come through the leafy trees.

When we lived in California, I took the kids to the beach and tide pools. So if you have coastline available to you, load up the car and head west (or east). You may not be able to get your kids outside for six hours per day, but it’s not so difficult to get them into nature once per week, if you plan it. 🙂

If You are New to Nature Journaling

Nature Journaling

Sometimes our nature journaling happens indoors.
I have an African violet collection that has repeatedly inspired us to draw.
I hope you take time to draw on occasion as well.

Some of you may wonder: Why keep a visual record of the natural items you find near and around your home? Charlotte Mason points out that as we spend time in nature or with art, we are slowly developing our perceptual skills.

  • We learn to see and to notice nuances and differences between plants and flowers and times of day.
  • We learn to observe more closely when we draw than when we run by a tree in a game a of tag.
  • Drawing also helps with those fine motor skills where kids get a break from forming letters and instead learn to follow the contour lines of the item they wish to represent.

A few years back when I worked in a Charlotte Mason support group, one of the leaders did a workshop for the moms that gave us some simple instructions for drawing natural items. We eagerly took these three steps home to try them with our kids. I want to pass these fail-safe steps to you for those who are new to nature journaling.

For our exercise, we began with an acorn.

First we looked intently at the acorn from all sides, slowly, taking our time, without any talking. Then we felt the acorn with our finger tips. We let it roll around in our hands and looked at it from all sides. Once we felt we had thoroughly examined the acorn, we put it down on a white piece of paper. Then we closed our eyes and attempted to draw the acorn without lifting the pencil.

The only goal at this point was to imagine the acorn in our mind’s eye and then to draw it as best we could from memory. We knew we wouldn’t be able to draw it correctly with eyes closed, but keeping them closed meant we were being forced to really see the acorn we had just explored without the benefit of its appearance right in front of us. This is a mind muscle exercise. We were forming the mental image as accurately as we could from memory.

When we finished, we could look at the drawing. It’s always fun to see how the lines veer off the page or overlap awkwardly. But it’s also nice to see that some of the contours are strong and have an “acorn-y” feel about them.

For the next drawing, we looked at the acorn on the white paper and drew it again, but this time, looking at the acorn the whole time. Somehow having drawn it blind the first time meant we saw the acorn more clearly this second time and we were much more able to draw “representationally,” as well as to focus quietly.

When we finished drawing, we had this satisfaction of really having explored the acorn! I haven’t looked at them the same since.

This process works really well for intimidated kids who don’t think they can draw. The original blind drawing is a bit like freewriting. The second drawing is a bit like revising. These artistic processes are wonderful supports to writing.

So the three steps are:

  1. Look intently
  2. Draw with eyes closed
  3. Draw with eyes open

If you all as a family draw together, it makes for a more satisfying experience.

Brave Writer offers an online class that is designed to make nature journaling a natural part of your life. Click on the image below to learn more.

Nature Journaling

It’s Spring!

It's Spring! Take a nature walk.
Time to get outdoors and into nature!


  • Water
  • Sunshine
  • Trail mix
  • Walking stick
  • Happy children

Don’t let these gorgeous days go by. Get outside and enjoy them while they are here.

P.S. You certainly may take off a day of copywork or dictation to hike. You have my permission. 🙂

If You’re New to Nature Journaling

Snow cream

Snow cream
Originally uploaded by juliecinci.

We’re in the middle of an ice storm here in Cincinnati (I envy those of you in the dry west). To make the best of all this snow, my kids made “snow cream” last week. Nice change of pace. Caitrin is still in her ski jacket while slurping down what can only be described as a snow slushie.

If you want to try it (count this as your nature event of the week!), here’s what you need:

  • A bowl
  • Several cups of clean, fresh snow
  • Granulated sugar
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

Take a cup (a largish scoop) of the snow and put it in the bowl. Add several teaspoons of sugar (to taste). Dribble a bit of vanilla extract over the snow and then add enough milk to mix it all together.

The end result ought to be a bit like a slushie. The sugar doesn’t really melt so expect it to taste a bit grainy. One of our kids liked it, one didn’t. I thought it was tasty!