Tagged: Nature study
I have a question about nature study notebooks.
I know that the parent should not tell the child what to put in his notebook-that it is theirs to do with what they want. But what if the child doesn’t want to put ANYTHING in it?
Our family enjoys being outside. We like to do a lot of hiking in the warmer months and find interesting things along the way. But when it comes to nature notebooks, it’s like pulling teeth sometimes to get my eleven year old son, who doesn’t care to write, and especially doesn’t like to draw unless he has to, to put anything in it. When I try to do nature study with the kids, whether I specifically pick something for us to study or have them study something they find and record it in their journals, he doesn’t want to do it. So my question is, is adding something to the child’s notebook something that should be required, even as I let them choose what they put in it? I have been telling him to just add something. ANYTHING. But is this the correct way to handle it? (As a side note, I also keep a nature journal.) What should be required when it comes to nature journals? Or should they be? Does anyone else have a child who very much dislikes nature journaling?Alysee123Participant
Okay, my kids love nature and nature journalling, it’s me who usually needs convincing BUT some ideas we’ve used when youngers couldn’t write: put leaves or leaf prints and maybe just, maybe write out what type of leaf it is, collect insects and spiders, take photographs and paste in their notebook. I don’t require them to put anything in their journal each and every time but I do expect at least one a month(so a school year might only have 10 pictures!)emilyzlockardParticipant
I am a CM dilettante, so take this with a grain of salt, but my son is exactly the same way. He loves making notebooks of things he likes (book of centuries for instance) but both nature and art are not his thing.
The purpose of the nature journal, I think, is to encourage the child to notice things and then make them his own somehow to help retain them, such as by drawing them or saving a specimen, etc. Maybe you could accomplish the same thing orally? Ask him to point things out, to describe things he notices, maybe ask him if there’s anything weird or creepy he’d want to put in a baggie and save. He might end up liking a box full of baggies with little dead spiders and birds nest remnants more than a book. But on the other hand… Some kids just don’t like the hands on stuff and are not arty. My son will read anything so I usually allow him to take the walk and then read about these things later rather than try to force him to watercolor about it, haha. Just my thoughts.ErinDParticipant
I also have an 11yo son like this. My solution has been to not require the notebook. In fact, I just gave him permission to quit it this week. Instead, I am requiring him to do one written narration per week from science. Art and notebooking is negotiable at my house, but writing isn’t. He is much happier with this arrangement.
Thank you, ladies, for your input! 🙂LovinMyFamParticipant
One of my kids was like this also. I allowed her to carry a camera and take pictures, download them on the computer, and create her own Nature Photo Album. Thus began her love of photography. She is an adult now and an amazing photographer.alphabetikaParticipant
Something that helps me is to focus on the habit of observation as the goal, rather than the production. Process over product, I guess I’d say. So, even if my student hasn’t drawn anything in a journal, has she spent some focused time observing? You can decide your own evidence for this, but mine is some combination of focused attention (even very short!), wonder, questioning, inviting me or another to observe, talking about it later, noticing it in another setting….you get the idea. Has she *noticed*? Have I? This is the skill that I hope will carry over into other situations in life, even if nature journaling doesn’t.
One practice that has helped me with this (with my current student and formerly with my graduated ones) is to take neighborhood walks as frequently as possible. We live in crowded suburbia in Southern California, so we are most likely to be surrounded by pavement and unchanging seasons than the opposite. But as we have become more familiar with our neighborhood (over years!), we have noticed so many nature study opportunities. Even if it’s just to notice the effects of the human population on the wilder population, that’s an observation and something to think about. Since we are on the same turf frequently, we notice patterns, changes, landmarks. The walking, noticing, discussing, has made for rich nature study in its own way, whether we journal or not. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. (And when I say “we,” I include myself.) But even if we just pause for five seconds to look at a red-tailed hawk high overhead, that’s five seconds of noticing and is worth it.
Thank you, alphabetika!
Sounds like even though our nature notebooks don’t get too many entries, we are on the right track just because we get outside often and simply observe nature and talk about what we’ve discovered.
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