How to Create Your Own Nature Notebook

Supplies

A sketch pad made with at least 65 lb paper, 5.5” x 8.5” size or 9” x 12” size, works best. Paper weight is determined by how much 500 sheets (a ream) of 24” x 36” paper weighs. This heavier paper works better for inks and water color pencils. Water color paints can be carefully used at this weight, though it still has a fair amount of warping when wet. Alternatively, a three ring binder, composition book, or spiral bound notebook can be used.

Here are some sample pages of a nature notebook:

I like to do initial drawings with technical pencils or drawing pens. Water color pencils can be used and wet later with a brush. Water color can be used at the scene or later after one returns home.

Drawing requires us to be more observant, more so than photography, hunting, or collecting. All drawings should be labeled with the common name of the plant or animal. Later when you can check a field guide, add the Latin or scientific name below the common name. Leave space on the page to add prose, quotes, or an original poem. Include observations of animal habits. Teach your children to calendar, i.e. have them include with each entry the date, time, and place of their observation. This helps us observe how things change with each of the seasons.

At the end of your notebook, make index lists—one list for animals, one for trees, and one for flowers. Each line item in a list should contain the item's common name, Latin name, and the page in the notebook where found. By checking this index before sketching, one can avoid unnecessary duplication. However, after checking the previous drawing, you may find that the current specimen adds new information or a different perspective, you may then choose to proceed with the drawing. For instance, a live leaf compared to a dead autumn leaf or a bud and a blossom. This way we can begin to see that life has cycles. Children will be able to identify male birds and female birds (they really are different). They will be able to recognize trees in winter, without their leaves. As they look up Latin names and record them on their lists, they will start seeing how things are related to each other.content here...

As your children become more observant of the world around them. They will also begin to recognize in great literature that other writers have seen and enjoyed the same beautiful things they are observing. They may decide to add Shakespeare's short prose on daffodils, or a verse from Wordsworth's, "I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud," into their nature notebook alongside their sketch of a daffodil, or perhaps a poem of their own creation.

These nature notebooks will become a treasured resource!

Enjoy!

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