Nature Notebooks

Our granddaughter's summer-long visit has been spent riding horses, reading, and hiking, along with our annual trips to the zoo and museums. We've also been working through a math workbook for fourth grade, and doing activities from a packet that her teacher gave his students to do over the summer. The pages weren't required work, but they were fun so we did them ALL.

Drawing of a mimosa seed pod in a nature notebook
Mimosa seed pod

As well as some activities to do at the library (I loved taking a child to the library again!), we looked for animal tracks at our pond, collected botanical specimens like pine cones, seed pods, and leaves, caught a grasshopper and a beetle to observe, and watched the sun rise.

Then she was supposed to draw some of her specimens, label them, and color with colored pencils or write about the experience.

A drawing of the parts of a grasshopper, from a nature notebook

She did quite well with the drawing, but she wasn't very happy with her work. I did a lot of encouraging, and some suggesting, and even some drawing myself as we worked out what shapes make up a pine cone.

A drawing of a pinecone, from a nature notebook

Making a nature notebook was something that really intrigued me when we were homeschooling, but my children weren't as interested as I was. It was fun to have another opportunity.

I told myself yet again that I should do this for my own satisfaction and enjoyment.

A drawing of a milkweed pod from a nature notebook

To see a beautiful sample of a nature notebook, take a look at The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, a replica of a 1906 nature notebook.

A drawing of a clover blossom from a nature notebook

I have to warn you though, this book is so beautiful that it is intimidating and might make you stop before you even start. As the Simply Charlotte Mason website advises: "A word to the wise: look at it for inspiration, not for comparison. If it makes you or your child feel inadequate, put it away!"

I think it's easy to compare our own work with perfection and to be dissatisfied. I'm sure that's why I didn't continue with my own efforts.

Indian blanket seed pod, from a nature notebook

Instead, my love of photography took over, and I use my camera to record what I see. I ended up with a nature notebook full of what I think are beautiful photos instead of drawings, and I'm happy with that.

How about you? Do you prefer to draw or click?

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