Nature notebooks...what can I say...they have become dear friends in our education. Those who are first introduced to Charlotte Mason always gravitate to her prescribed "Nature Study" and time outdoors. Bestvater gently reminds us:
"Thus, it would seem that from the beginning, the Nature Notebook was not just about dry air brush technique or a sweet Victorian pastime, rather it was a symbol of much of Mason's pedagogy: her respect for children, her early leanings toward "scouting," and her commitment to the outdoor classroom and nature as teacher." pg 19She fills this section with quotes from various sources, including Mason's own works. I, myself, gravitated to nature study very quickly and have been so grateful to have found the worth in using the outdoors as classroom. I loved reading Volume 1 Home Education and finding those bits of wisdom which validated the essence and abilities of the young child. Specifically, as Bestvater notes (emphasis mine):
"The Nature Notebooks represent a way of life-a lifetime habit formed "as soon as he is able" but essentially an approach to Nature and consequently, to Science, indeed all of life, through the habit." pg 19I've gone back and checked my post labels and discovered that one third of my post have something to do with "Nature." It was a wonderful for me to see that because a lot of our learning happens outdoors. Our nature walks/hikes always brings out the best curiosity in my children and this always translates into wanting to know more.
These are some samples from my children's notebooks. A few of my nature loving kids have already filled a few notebooks or have been so lovingly used that they've come apart. So as you can tell from the top picture we continue to try new notebooks and so far these have held well. I'm happy with the blue notebook because it is thread bound and has few pages. I bought this as a three pack blank page notebook from Target. I like it because it's sturdy for my 5 yr old and it is not overwhelming. They are thin and as he grows up the notebook will change ; )
The idea of Nature Notebook Lists is not new as a concept to me but I'll shyly admit not one that I practice. I was at the doctor's office with my nature loving 10 yr old daughter while I read to her this small section. We were both happy to hear:
"The lists seem to vary slightly for plants and birds (and likely insects); perhaps they even varied among students, suggesting that there is more than one way to record what was wanted." pg 23A list can be and become what we choose. Hurray, takes some pressure off being just right. Then again...so it is with our nature notebooks. The lists have just become one of those things that I've been afraid to commit too. She was inspired and has been planning how to add her list of insects (since she is currently reading Memoria Press' Book of Insects Reader which includes Arabella Buckley's "Eyes and No Eyes: Book VI, Insect Life") to the end of her nature notebook.
The next section talks about Scrapbooks/Collections. I've never required that the kids collect or keep their finds. Somehow this too just naturally comes about. So, I began to have a nature study table where the kids can bring their collections from walks and let them "hang out" for the season. If the treasures are able they will end up in a mason jar...in a collection of sorts...and a few have even began to hide their treasures in their notebooks...
The last point I want to mention is the idea of Nature and Outdoor Clubs. Bestvater mentions the role they had CM schools/groups. I do love this.
"Collecting is less about amassing finds than ensuring this personal connection. This is supported by bringing together likeminded friends and useful resources." pg 24If you recall I wrote a small post of our attempts at such a group. While our MeetUp group didn't last our CM-CoOp continued the spirit. We meet once a month specifically for Nature Study/Science. Our kids divide into two groups. The moms leading are prepared with appropriate reading(s) and even presentations sometime. At the end of our session both groups are working in their nature notebooks. Our reading/talk sometimes inspires their nature finds other times it is just what moves them, but an entry is made before they are off to play in the outdoors. I love this idea because I do have a few children who don't always race to their notebooks so this at least gives them the opportunity to consistently make an entry.
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