Nature Journal Envy - Guest Post

Nature Journal Envy 

I’m envious.  Am I allowed to say that?

Nature Journals are everywhere I look at the moment and they are all so beautiful, filled with lovely pages of hand drawn illustrations with the important observation notes. I admire those who have the organisation skills to get it all in one book and get their kids to do it too.

I confess - I have tried and I gave up. It was never going to happen. I always lost the book or the kids started drawing My Little Pony in it or something that seemed unsuitable. And I questioned my motives; Is it about the beautiful finished sketchbook? or is it about the experience?

 Does having viable proof in a book mean it is also in the heart?

 I just can’t seem to get all our observations into the damn sketchbook.

We have done our fair share of what constitutes nature journalling. We have examined and documented and sketched and noted and been amazed at what we have and continue to see in the natural world. I just don’t have a trail of it to show you, it simply doesn’t exist on the page yet I firmly believe it is etched on our hearts.

What is Nature Journalling? 

Nature journalling is…. writing or drawing your response to the natural world; a way to connect with what is around you; a way of deepening research and study.

But please don’t let the sketchbook intimidate you (as it did me) all these things can be done without having to use a book to record it in.  My life and by extension my kids lives just doesn't seem to work in a neat sketchbook.

Get Subversive 

Observing nature happens constantly not just when we have notebooks to hand. On public transport, from the car window on the school run, while we are at the dinner table, at the shops. I have more photos of nature than I know what to do with and have a stack of different types of nature collections. They come out with our thoughts, stories and memories in so may different ways.

This nature journal is in our hearts.

Which, of course is not so easy to Instagram.  I like to think of it as my subversive nature journalling technique!

I’ve gained a new respect for the sensory observations of nature. These of course don’t work on the sketchbook page but they can be practised by any age group simply because you don’t need writing skills. Smell the air after a rainstorm, Feel the spiky grass.

Building blocks of your connection to nature 

Sensory observations work on the heart and soul, they are the building blocks of a connection to nature. It is a sensory prompt that inspires an feeling we will seek out later in life. It may offer solace when times are hard.  Not for the notes and the factual recordings but because this constant sensory absorption has hardwired it into our being.

From sensory observations we can move to scavenger  hunts to inspire the imagination a little (can you gather a smell?). Nature imagination games encourage empathy, in fact anything that requires imagination will grow the capacity for empathy.

Collecting as journalling 

I have discovered that collecting can be a great journalling tool, kids make great collectors, they just need the discipline of theming or ‘curating’ the collection for poignancy and display techniques to make it a lasting piece. These ideas are probably my favourite subversive journalling technique and to me they form a type of snapshot of how and what we saw in nature at a particular time.

All of these techniques make up our family’s style of nature journalling. It is above all a way to connect with the nature around us. It’s a multifaceted thing that explodes the sketchbook form into an emotional, interactive journey.

And that’s just the way I like it. The question is how do you like yours?

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