that he would like you to write down in his
book, and you can write it for him.
Otherwise, just enjoy the walk together.
The goal of your walk and the little
notebook is to lead your child to spend
time outdoors looking at what God has
made and to capture his observations in
such a way that he can keep them. It is
supposed to be great fun: time with you,
time to play the game of “I Found It!” and
time to take a moment to “make a note” of
what he has found.
Remember that when it rains, or when it
is too cold or too hot to take a walk, your
young one can sit at the window and
observe. Can he see something interesting
even from within his own home? Help him
journal that in some way, if he is interested.
The best way I know to inspire your
elementary age child is for him to see you
observing nature and enjoying journaling
what you see as you walk along together.
Keep a journal of your own, and make lots
of notes in front of him. In other words,
though it will take more outings, you start
first. Take time to walk with your child
outdoors and simply talk about things you
see. Then produce your notebook and tell
him that you are noting the date, weather
conditions, and what you’ve found. Let
your child see that you are enjoying this
journaling process. Then let him catch you
adding to your journal at home with an
extra drawing, a quote, poem, or another
fact you found through research.
After a few weeks, with several outings,
your child will probably already have tried
to make his own journal or asked for one to
use. If this has not happened, ask him if
he’d like a special place to keep notes of
what he has seen. If he’s hesitant, then just
carry along with you a small book for him
to use if he decides that he wishes to join in.
I recommend that you not push the
nature journaling unless it is an actual
school assignment. The lessons slowly
learned from being outside and discussing
what you both see will be completely beneficial in their own right. Just keep working
on your own journal and your child may
yet become authentically inspired.
When you are working with junior and
senior high students, it’s good to remember
that privacy and self-expression are paramount. Make sure your student knows
which types of requests are academic
assignments to be turned in and when it is
okay to work in his journal in his own way.
This is very important at this age. At your
library, search for books that tell about
journaling, and bring home good ones that
your student can peruse. These books will
offer ideas about different types of books;
covers; how to draw, paint, and letter; and
how to take great photographs of nature.
There are countless volumes of poetry,
quotes, Bible verses, and portions of writings by great naturalists (John Burroughs,
Henry David Thoreau, Anna Botsford
Comstock, Theodore Roosevelt, Gene
Stratton Porter, Wilson “Snowflake”
Bentley, and more) that your child may
want to include to broaden his nature journaling experience. These can complement
and support what he has seen and felt on
his nature outings.
As your older child looks through
various books about journaling, he may
latch onto a tiny idea from one and glean an
additional idea from another. He will know
what he likes the moment he sees it. He
won’t feel that you’ve “assigned” a particular way to do his nature journal, just that
you have provided more ideas and encouragement to continue to broaden his expression. You may find some books to broaden
your nature journaling experience too!
There is no “certain way” to create a
nature journal. Countless thousands of
nature enthusiasts have created a nature
journal just the way it suited each one of
them best. You have many reasons to want
your children to love the nature that the
Lord has created for them to enjoy, and
they will have a better chance of enjoying
capturing their discoveries on paper—
journaling what they see and feel—if they are
led ve ry gently to find their own way.
Jane Claire La mbert and her husband Steve
operate Five in a Row Publishing and are
busy speaking at homeschool conferences
and creating new products in the Five in a
Row tradition. Visit their websites at
www.fiveinarow.com and www.fiardigital.com
for more information, including details
about their new four-part nature series:
Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.