The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ May 6th
~A Raccoon, a Cricket and a Few Book Reviews~

~ Thoughts on Nature Journals ~

Many homeschoolers relish the practice - or at least the idea - of keeping a nature journal. Really, it's a wonderful tool for channeling those lessons learned through formal, or informal, nature study. Personally, I love the idea of a handmade journal, filled with notes and drawings and maybe even real-live (or once-live) specimens. This is my ideal form of nature journaling - for myself as well as my boys - but so far our attempts at paper journals have pretty much fizzled. We're good for a week or two, and then those new notebooks gets put aside.

I have not given up hope, though. (I'm nothing if not hopeful!) After much contemplation, I have come to think we will do better with one big family field journal instead of aiming to keep up three or four. After all, for the most part, we experience nature all together, and those experiences are all the more fruitful because they are shared. I think (and hope) the same reasoning will apply to a journal. This is our summer goal #1, and the cornerstone of our summer project, Forest School (details soon!), so stay tuned to follow along with our progress. :)

But in the meantime, I hate to see our nature study go by without chronicling it in some way, so I turn to the wonders of virtual reality; I post our photos and nature notes here at my blog (and in turn at my Nature Corner for storage). But because my boys don't regularly tune into my blogs, I also keep a nature shelf up-to-date with their little finds and other symbols of the season (books, puppets, etc.). In this way - through the notes and photos and tiny treasures brought home - bit by bit, we capture the everyday nature that makes up our world ...

If you love the idea of nature journaling, but find it a challenge to work it into your already busy home-learning life, consider an online journal (or in other words, a blog). You don't have to go public - it can be made private, and available only to those folks with whom you share your password. If you have a digital camera, uploading pictures is so quick and easy (believe me, if I can learn to do it, anyone can). And jotting down brief observations daily or every few days, could not be easier. For a better idea of the possibilites of online nature journaling, check out my Nature Blogroll over on my righthand sidedar - there are many lovely sites there to peruse. :)

But finally, it's on to my photos for today! I have scads of them piling up, and since Spring moves fast around here, I'd like to share them before they get outdated! Thanks for listening to my thoughts on nature journaling, and thanks for checking in to see what we're up to!

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The first tender shoots of what I believe to be lilly-of-the-valley.

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The bleeding hearts are, at last, in full boom.

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This is a red-winged blackbird at a local park.

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This is an earthworm the boys found; it was huge. (A nightcrawler?)

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The sky-view from where I stand as I push Earlybird on the swings. :)

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Tree buds a week ago - they've since opened!

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Another tree-in-the-sky shot. (I just love photographing trees.)

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A busy bee at a local park. (Unidentified tree.)

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Can you see the robin in the evening light?

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The last bit of sunset.

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Photograph by Bookworm ~ a baby dragonfly (?) resting on my hat!

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A killdeer we spotted at a nearby lake.

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A mourning dove pair nestled in an evergreen. (See his mate?)

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I loved the way these tree buds (blossoms, leaves?) looked in the sun.

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We found an owl pellet at the base of this tree, so we think this is a nest!

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These will become helicopter seeds in the fall!

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A lovely but unidentified flowering tree, pretty against the blue.

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A johnny jump-up I'm attempting to press.

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A morel mushroom we found in our yard; now it rests on our nature shelf.

As you can tell, I get as much pleasure - and education - out of nature study, as my boys do! And this is another good reason for working on one journal all together ~ none of us is an expert. Even though I wear the teacher's (and mother's) cap, we're all learning right alongside each other. As with so many things in our life, this is very much a joint venture. :)

Well, I must be off now, but if I may, let me leave you with a quote from one of my favorite nature handbooks ...

"The chief charm of nature study would be taken away if it did not lead us through the border-land of knowledge into the realm of the undiscovered. Moreover, the teacher, in confessing her ignorance and at the same time her interest in a subject, establishes between herself and her pupils a sense of companionship which relieves the strain of discipline, and gives her a new and intimate relation with her pupils which will surely prove a potent element in her success. The best teacher is always one who is the good comrade of her pupils." (Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock) 

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