One thing elementary educators of all backgrounds seem to agree upon in my readings is that kids should be outside learning from the world around them. I’ve spent the last year prioritizing being outside mostly out of my own desires to be in the sun. As I’ve read about the details of nature study I’ve tried provide the opportunity for them to learn through observation and experience.
Last week as I studied about Jesus Christ as Creator, I approached the scriptures with the question “How does knowing about God’s creations – me and all that I’m surrounded by – increase my gratitude?” I found an unexpected answer: I need to take time to actually get to know God’s creations, out in his creation, to appreciate all that he has made and to feel truly grateful to him. (Side note: if you haven’t downloaded the study guide yet, my friend Katie Larson designed the blank text into a beautiful document that makes me feel like can’t wait to start my study each day!). I found an important WHY for being outside and nature study.
The next day a book I put on hold at the library MONTHS ago showed up: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws. I can hardly put it down. He teaches how to observe nature and nourish intentional curiosity. I was hooked at the table of contents – a few highlights: Projects that Focus Awareness; Methods of Deepening Inquiry; Your Journaling Kit and Materials; Nature Drawing; Media-Specific Techniques; How to Draw Animals; How to Draw Wildflowers; How to Draw Trees, Near and Far; How to Draw Landscapes.
I’m excited to start nature journaling with my kids this summer. I don’t have any grand ideas or expectations for myself or them; I’m hoping to help us slow down, notice a little bit more of what God created, and with our increased appreciation show a little more gratitude for what he gave us.
Emily is currently fascinated by moss and all the little flowers that are starting to pop up here in Indiana. Over the weekend a friend taught her about daffodils. When she told me about looking at them I mentioned I wasn’t sure if I knew what a daffodil looked like. She explained they had a trumpet it the middle and sure enough, we’ve been spotting daffodils all over now. Last Sunday she spent the afternoon outside making a little house and filling it with pinecones, tiny flowers, and moss.
This Saturday we went for a family bike ride and dreamed about going on some half-day or day-long rides this summer. When we got home Emily and Nathan rode bikes and scooters with Andrew. Nathan is in the phase of showing us his tummy and thinks lifting up his shirt is a marvelous game (and is frustrated with pajamas or onsies that prevent it). I love seeing the increased interaction between Nathan and Emily that shows their budding friendship.