Sunday, July 01, 2012

Three Stages of Nature Journaling- Introduction

My kids read Shakespeare’s plays for fun. They write their own plays, perform and film them. They memorize their favorite passages from Shakespeare and recite them with relish. Clearly, they like Shakespeare’s works.  However, if I had handed them a copy of Hamlet when they were six years old, without any introduction whatsoever and had expected them to read and enjoy it, most people would think it an unreasonable expectation. Shakespeare needed to be introduced with age-appropriate methods. Gradually, over time, my children became receptive and ready to hear the plays and truly enjoy them.

This same principle holds true in the area of nature journaling. There are basic foundational steps that must be introduced and mastered before moving on to the more complex or your children may never develop a love for journaling nature. Another danger to watch out for is that they are remaining in one particular stage, becoming stagnant.  This will also kill the desire to journal. I have learned this through trial and error.

Years ago, I purchased a copy of the lovely Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. Miss Holden’s nature journal is a beautiful example of the nature journals Charlotte Mason described. I determined to help my children learn to journal the wonders of creation with the same passion I saw displayed in this book.  After carefully reading all that I could from Miss Mason’s writings about the subject, I introduced nature journaling to them gently, just as I did with Shakespeare, and built upon our simple foundation by dividing the process into three stages that corresponded to the maturity of each child.

Stage 1- See and Identify (ages 6-9)
Stage 2- Taxonomy and Description (ages 10-14)
Stage 3- Style and Create (ages 15+)

I also learned that one of Miss Mason’s goals for students of all ages during each twelve week term was to watch, identify and describe the habits and location of six birds, six plants and six animals/insects. Twelve of those eighteen specimens were to be drawn in their journals. Sometimes the students had a short introductory lesson before going out on their nature walks. Often, they just went out to see what they could discover on their own. But they had the above goals in mind so that they weren’t just wandering aimlessly.  I don’t know about you, but this is very doable for me.  So simple, yet thorough.

Next up- A look at Stage 1 in detail

one step at a time...


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