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After leafing through the lovely pages of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady several years ago, my children and I were inspired to begin nature journaling. The beautiful water color renderings invited us to venture out...to explore...to wander through the woods. But, once we got there, we were a little overwhelmed. What were we suppose to see? What were we suppose to draw? There was so much nature.
We had our blank notebooks, our clip board cases to hold our favorite colored pencils, and even a magnifying glass (just in case). We had everything...except direction. We just weren't sure exactly what to draw.
That was then.
Now, several years later, nature journaling feels like second nature to all of us. (No pun intended...OK, maybe just a wee itty-bitty pun intended.)
Don't get me wrong, we still walk out into the woods and feel vastly overwhelmed. But, who wouldn't? God's creation is nothing if not vastly overwhelming. But, now we know how to make our view slightly smaller...to still enjoy the vastness without getting overwhelmed.
We've learned that nature journaling works best when we start with a fixed point...a goal...even before venturing outside. We begin all of our walks with ONE particular focus or item to look for. By zeroing in on ONE item, we open our eyes wide. We don't just see, we observe closely. It's like a treasure hunt. We're enjoying ALL of creation while searching for one particular piece of it.
Along the way, we often find other more interesting items to sketch or draw than the ONE we first set out to find. But, that's only because we aren't just wandering aimlessly through nature. We are hunting. We are focused. And so, we can clearly see the UNIQUE among the MUNDANE (As if any part of nature could ever really be mundane??!)
Here's a list of 50 items to look for in nature and to document in a notebook.
Things to draw & labelan ant hill
the food chain
the life cycle of a plant
the life cycle of a butterfly
the life cycle of a frog
a map of the night sky
different coniferous tree needles
different kinds of deciduous leaves
the parts of an insect
the parts of a spider
the wing/beak/and foot shapes of different types of birds
the creatures you find under a large rock
different seeds and seed pods
the shoreline after the tide
the contents of a tide pool
different kinds of rocks
a large rock formation
a pictorial timeline of a vegetable garden's growth
the root system of a plant
a spider's web
a bird's nest
different types of cactus
a bee's hive
different types of fungus
different types mushrooms
new buds/growth on a tree
Things to mount or imprint/rubleaves
seeds or seed pods
parts of a flower
types of tree bark
different types of grasses
Things to track or listthe phases of the moon
the weather for a month
the changes of a tree through an entire year
birds you've seen
insects you've seen
dog breeds you've seen
cat breeds you've seen
mammals you've seen
Nature Notebooking resources
Still not sure where to start with your nature notebook? Be sure to read Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling. It's a wonderfully inspiring nature notebooking HOW TO with beautiful illustrations and tips for the artistically challenged. Or check out one of these other helpful resources.