My daughters have their own paper bag nature journal. The inside pages have a place where they can draw what they have observed on our nature walk. This is a perfect nature craft for kids!
Preschool Science Through Nature Study
They can also glue nature items, or collect items and place them in the bag. We have several nature flashcards that were purchased last year at for less than a dollar. When we’ve found one of the items on the flashcard (i.e. an ant) we place that card in the bag or on the page as a reference sheet.
There are so many ways to use paper bag books and they are the perfect size for preschoolers.
How to Make a Homemade Nature Journal From a Paper Bag
Paper bag journals are so easy to make and are a great size for little children to handle. Watch the video below for directions.
I just love using paper bag books as nature journals! It is just the right size for little preschool hands. They also can be customized in so many different ways that no one book will look alike. You can include observation pages, a song page, a cut-and-paste label-it page, and more.
Free Homemade Nature Journal Paper Bag Pages
Simply fill out the form to receive your free printable Nature Journal Paper Bag Pages, below!
More Nature Crafts For Kids With The Homeschool Nature Study Membership
Do you like the idea of involving young children in nature study but not sure how to start? Do you need a little help being intentional with your nature studies? Nature Study Printables is full of printable tools for you to use to get young children observing and talking about nature! Everything you need for engaging nature crafts for kids!
Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers is a 60+ page eBook included in Homeschool Nature Study Membership containing all of our toddler and preschool nature study printables plus 20 exclusive pages available only in this book! Use these tools alongside Homeschool Nature Study Preschool Curriculum to help informally introduce young children to the natural world around them.
By Maureen Spell, a long-time contributor to the Outdoor Hour Challenges.Maureen helps Christian mompreneurs operate their business from a place of joy, purpose, and excellence because they are clear on how their business is serving their family and others. As a homeschool mom, she believes success at home AND business without the mom-guilt, stress and burn-out is possible! Outside of work, she loves having good conversations over a hot chai or GT Gingerberry kombucha and spending time with her husband and seven children. Visit her at MaureenSpell.com
We’ve gathered the best tips for writing about nature in this ultimate guide to nature journaling. What a wonderful, joyful way to expand your homeschool nature study!
As part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge I always suggest and encourage a nature journal entry to follow the outdoor time. I know from experience that this takes the nature study to a higher level and each person can personalize their study by slowing down to record a sketch or some narrative in their nature journal.
“We stifle the desire to write if we first lay down rules and formulas as to how to write. Let the child have a personal experience; then allow it to write. Did you ever have a pupil who could not write a composition, but who could write a letter that was full of originality and personality? Why could it write the one and not the other? Too often, I fear, we prevent children from writing by trying to make them write. Of what use is writing anyway, if it is not self-expressive? So let the child have something real and personal to write.Then when the child has written, throw away the blue pencil and suggest tactfully how the piece may be improved here and there. Do not hinder the child.”
I have been reading a lot about nature journals this summer as part of research for a new project and I came across this quote by Liberty Hyde Bailey (contemporary of Anna Botsford Comstock). I have found in our family that what he says is very true. If our children have something they are excited about….they relish the idea of sharing it with someone. They can’t wait to talk about it or write about it.
Nature Journal Idea: Write a Letter About Your Nature Study
So enjoy a new idea (it was new to me). After you have your outdoor time and your child has a great experience, have them write a letter to someone about it. They can include sketches or just writing, telling the story of their adventure. Perhaps this will encourage them to dig a little deeper about their subject and since they have plenty to write about….it won’t seem like work.
Nature Journaling as Part of Your Nature Study
For more nature journaling inspiration, enjoy these ideas!
Writing About Nature: A Creative Writing Book for Your Homeschool
The Writing About Nature book will help a wide range of writers who find their passion for nature moves them to document in words the creatures, plants, rhythms and cycles experienced in the great outdoors.
Writing About Nature – Book Review
Writing About Natureby John A. Murray (affiliate link to Amazon.com) was a book that came highly recommended on Amazon.com as a book to help to those that are aspiring to write about nature or their nature experiences. In my case, I don’t intend for everything I write to be published, quite the contrary. I write mostly for my own enjoyment and to keep a record of those things I find the most interesting as I make observations both in my own yard and as I travel.
From the Preface of Writing About Nature: “To give those who can not or will not attend schools the means to learn about the subject on their own, at whatever pace they choose. To provide teachers from high school on up with fifteen lessons to be completed in a semester, written by someone who has taught the subject enough to know what works and what does not work.”
The book is organized by topics: journals, essays, the writing process, opening and closing, word pictures, figurative language, character and dialogue, story-telling, fiction and poetry, revision, and research.
My favorite chapter was on the journal. I have gleaned more out of this part than any other because my aim is not to write magazine articles or essays to publish, but to satisfy my desire to record my time in the natural world in a way that is not only an accurate record but enjoyable to read. After reading this chapter, I completed the practice exercise that suggested writing a journal that covers one season of the year….writing each day through the whole quarter, noting the changes that occur as nature moves through a circle of time. I did the spring season from March to June earlier this year. What a wonderful journal to look back upon!
Learning About the Writing Process
My second favorite chapter in this book was on the writing process. It outlined and explained how different writers have successfully used methods of writing that fit different objectives. There are quotes and portions of writing from famous writers like Thoreau, Abbey, and Mark Twain.
I was able to glean some tips for experimenting with ways to write about nature like keeping random field notes and then writing from those or using a quick write method which makes for a more conversational style of writing. Playing with words and ideas is something that is enjoyable for me so this chapter gave me fresh ways of creating a more polished piece of nature writing.
Each chapter has practice exercises. These suggestions can sometimes be done rather quickly but there are some exercises that take more time that you will need to plan for if you are doing this as part of a writing course.
Writing About Nature: Creative Writing for Homeschooling High School
Teaching high school students? This book would be a wonderful supplement to a high school writing course, a creative writing course, or as an extension of an advanced nature study course.
This book is not meant to be read cover to cover and then be put up on the shelf. It is meant to stimulate your writing skills and techniques over time.
Contains a complete anthology, index, and list of creative writing programs to investigate.
15 chapters that can be complete writing units taking a week or longer to complete.
I am going to be pulling this off my reference shelf whenever I feel I need to freshen up my nature writing.
Join us for even more homeschool nature studies for all the seasons! With a nature study plan for each week, you will have joyful learning leading all the way through the homeschool year for all your ages!
“During autumn the attention of the children should be attracted to the leaves by their gorgeous colors. It is well to use this interest to cultivate their knowledge of the forms of leaves of trees; but the teaching of the tree species to the young child should be done quite incidentally and guardedly. If the teacher says to the child bringing a leaf, “This is a white-oak leaf,” the child will soon quite unconsciously learn that leaf by name. Thus, tree study may be begun in the kindergarten or the primary grades.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 622
How to Teach Homeschool Nature Study
I regularly am asked how to teach nature study. Should you read the Handbook of Nature Study to your child? Should you draw in other resources? Should you take your nature journal with you on your walks? Should you require a nature journal entry? How do you share information without it becoming a “lesson”?
These are all really great questions and I know for each family the answers will be a little bit different because you have different children with different learning styles. I try to keep in mind the principle outlined in the quote from the Handbook of Nature Study above.
The Handbook of Nature Study Book is Written for Adults
The Handbook of Nature Study was written for adults. Adults who were then to try to offer nature study to children. Anna Botsford Comstock knew that the key to great times in nature study depended on the interest and enthusiasm of the teacher/parent. She knew that even adults *needed* this time outdoors to refresh and to inspire us to teach homeschool nature study.
“She who opens her eyes and her heart nature-ward even once a week finds nature study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy……She finds, first of all, companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going on a far voyage, she has found health and strength.” -Handbook of Nature Study, page 3
How to Naturally Share Nature Study With Your Child
“If the teacher says, “I have a pink hepatica. Can anyone find me a blue one?” the children, who naturally like grown up words, will soon be calling these flowers hepaticas….The child should never be required to learn the name of anything in the nature study work; but the name should be used so often and so naturally in his prescense that he will learn it without being conscious of the process.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 11
“The half-hour excursion should be preceded by a talk concerning the purposes of the outing and the pupils must know that certain observations are to be made or they will not be permitted to go again. This should not be emphasized as a punishment; but they should be made to understand that a field excursion is only, naturally enough, for those who wish to see and understand outdoor life.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 15
If you want more guidance on how to teach homeschool nature study, read the whole section on page 15 under The Field Excursion. I find that as my children are getting older, our time is more limited as far as nature study. I make it a priority to fit it in every week but the amount of time is more limited. We need our formal nature study to be concentrated and focused so that we can get the most out of it.
“It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess, if it is well planned.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 15
The nature journal is something that is as individual as the child. My expectation for the simplest of nature journals has always been to include a sketch, a label, and a date. This simple formula works to help the child not be so overwhelmed with making a “pretty” journal entry. The journal is something that should bring joy to the child.
“When the child is interested in studying any object, he enjoys illustrating his observations with drawings; the happy absorption of children thus engaged is a delight to witness.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 17
How to Teach Homeschool Nature Study with Nature Journaling?
This means that if your child finds drawing a chore, skip it. Try again another day. Eventually, they will find something to include in their journal. Do not get in the mindset that only drawing is acceptable in a nature journal. Lists, photos, diagrams, thoughts, poems, a sentence or two, or a combination of those things will become a very nice journal over time. We do not make a journal entry every week and our journals are still precious to us.
Nature study refreshes and inspires the parents as well as the children.
Regularly read the Handbook of Nature Study to refine your skills as a guide for your children.
Dust your copy of the Handbook of Nature Study off today and read a few pages of the introductory chapters. Scan the Table of Contents and see if anything catches your eye for a nature study this week. Join us in completing a series of Outdoor Hour Challenges. Do something this week to get you outdoors with your children for even a few minutes to have some fun and refreshment.
How To Get Started With the Outdoor Hour Challenges
Just how do you get started in homeschool nature study? How do families participate in the Outdoor Hour Challenges? It is so simple to get started and we will show you how. Grab this free Homeschool Nature Study Guide and discover the joys of nature study in your homeschool.
Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support
You will find a continuing series for the Outdoor Mom in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. Plus 25+ continuing courses with matching curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!
Are you new to nature study, the Charlotte Mason philosophy and getting started with nature journaling in your homeschool?
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How to Get Started With Nature Journaling
Every student of Charlotte Mason’s was encouraged to keep a nature notebook or nature diary. I had the privilege of visiting the Armitt Museum in Ambleside a few years ago and having a look at some of Charlotte’s student’s nature journals.
Have a look through some of Charlotte Mason’s Students Nature Journals
If you would like to have a look yourself you can have a look at the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives HERE and HERE.
Students nature journals were inscribed with poetry, observations and seasonal notes. The paintings are of course beautiful and I think this is where we can get a little tough on ourselves and not want to produce anything that looks less than perfect.
The Importance of Keeping a Nature Journal
At the beginning of our homeschooling journey in keeping with Charlotte’s way, I began keeping a nature journal myself and led my children to do the same. Bit by bit over the years we have each created treasured keepsakes and we can see the progress we have made from our rudimentary first entries. We have also grown in our knowledge and understanding by observing nature in our Outdoor Hour Challenges.
The field notebook is a veritable gold mine for the nature-study teacher to work in securing voluntary and happy observations from the pupils concerning their out-of-door interests. It is a friendly gate which admits the teacher to a knowledge of what the child sees and cares for.
Anna Botsford Comstock ~ The Handbook of Nature Study
Many people don’t know much about nature and the years’ natural rhythms because they don’t observe it. If we give our children regular time outside to get in touch with God’s creation we are gifting them with a habit that will be a source of much delight all through their lives.
What Do I Need To Start a Nature Journal?
Any kind of blank book will do for this, except that it should not be too large to be carried around in the pocket, and it should always have a pencil attached.
Anna Botsford Comstock ~ The Handbook of Nature Study
Anna gives sound advice on what is needed, a small blank book that is easily taken with you on your nature adventures. You do not want anything cumbersome for children are adventurous creatures and should have every freedom to explore the great outdoors.
A graphite drawing of what is observed is easily done and is in Anna’s opinion far better than a long description of a natural object.
My Nature Journal Recommendations
My personal recommendations are the Speedball Art Journals. The paper is thick enough to take watercolor and the size makes it easily transportable. I currently have the square journal but I’m keen to try out the 5.5X8.25 next.
If you have a reluctant journaler consider just providing blank paper which can be easily replaced if their drawings don’t go to plan. Some children (and adults) can find it very intimidating to commit to putting pencil to paper in a new journal.
A Word on Watercolors
I bought each of my children a small set of watercolor paints at the beginning of our homeschooling and they lasted years! Don’t be tempted to buy something that has too many colour options, it’s amazing what colors you can achieve through mixing.
Do make sure that you have invested in good watercolors as the cheap and cheerful ones just do not do your work any justice and in keeping a nature journal you are creating something that will be treasured for many years to come. This particular set of watercolors costs around £11.00 – so about $14.61.
Anna Botsford Comstock’s Advice On Nature Journaling
Remember that a nature journal or field notebook is to be a joy to the child. In The Handbook of Nature Study, Anna lays out a few rules to be observed to make nature journaling a success:
The book should be considered the personal property of the child and should never be criticized except as a matter of encouragement; for the spirit in which the notes are made is more important than the information they cover.
The making of drawings to illustrate what is observed shall be encouraged.
The notebook should not be regarded as a part of the work in English. The spelling, language, and writing of the notes should all be exempt from criticism.
Anna also believed that no child should be compelled to keep a notebook and although I agree, I believe that we can encourage our reluctant journaler in other ways. Perhaps instead of drawing what they observe they can take photographs which may be printed out and pasted into their journal. I think that it is natural for a child that feels their drawing is ‘not good enough’ to want to shy away from drawing what they observe.
If not I would highly recommend that you do. Karen is the author of the Charlotte Mason Companion, another book to add to your booklist. A Pocketful of Pinecones is a story written especially for homeschool moms who are feeling discouraged in their homeschooling as well as a lovely guide to nature study.
It is written as a diary of a homeschooling mom who is in her first year of homeschooling using Charlotte Mason’s gentle art of homeschooling. There are some beautiful chapters on what nature study looks like on a practical level in her homeschool and which gave me the confidence to implement the same into my own homeschool. You don’t have to be an expert instead you can learn alongside your precious children and learn together, creating a treasure trove of precious memories spent in God’s glorious creation at the same time!
This book is honey for the homeschool mothers heart and I would encourage you to get a copy. I have found that I read this book each year, I never tire of it and always feel encouraged and inspired to lead my children in their adventures in discovering and forming connections with nature.