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Can we talk Nature study?


brasilmom
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Greetings,

 

Since spring is giving the first (misleading) signs in WI, I am getting itchy to get out and explore the world around us. Now, I have a nature study guide by Ann Comstock and plan on doing lots of nature study in our ever so short season around here.

 

The concern I have primarily is perhaps a very silly and irrelevant one. My dd is not artsy at all. We try to learn drawing and all, but not her thing. Now, is there some materials that I can use to enhance her interest in drawing and being more artsy? How do you go about your nature study?

 

Not sure that I am making sense at all.. Thanks for your help. Be well

 

Miriam

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My son is not artsy (even his stick figures look deformed). This was putting a hindrance on him wanting to write in his Nature journal. In fact, at first, it put a hindrance on me starting nature journals with my kids. Finally I told him he did not have to draw. Write descriptions, find pics of what you saw on the computer to print and paste in book. I have even drawn things for him and let him color it in.

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There are a lot of non-artsy things you can do -- leaf rubbings, bark rubbings, press flowers and leaves, take photos.

 

Start small - have her trace a large leaf, then fill in the details.

 

We have been doing nature studies for over four years now and just this weeks did my son ask to draw something. The finished picture was still a long way from what you often see posted re: nature study drawings. But we are slowly getting there.

 

I think the point of nature studies is to teach children to observe nature and appreciate the small details, not that they can draw wonderful pictures of what they see.

From that perspective, for a reluctant child, I would offer a small digital camera and have them paste the pictures in a book and narrate a bit about why they took that photo or what was special about that nature walk.

 

By the way, you can do nature studies year round, even in cold climates.

1.) Bring in fresh flowers

2.) Cut a branch of berries from a shrub

3.) Visit a zoo or greenhouse

4.) Observe birds at the feeder

5.) Look for animal tracks in the snow

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There are a lot of non-artsy things you can do -- leaf rubbings, bark rubbings, press flowers and leaves, take photos.

 

Start small - have her trace a large leaf, then fill in the details.

 

We have been doing nature studies for over four years now and just this weeks did my son ask to draw something. The finished picture was still a long way from what you often see posted re: nature study drawings. But we are slowly getting there.

 

I think the point of nature studies is to teach children to observe nature and appreciate the small details, not that they can draw wonderful pictures of what they see.

From that perspective, for a reluctant child, I would offer a small digital camera and have them paste the pictures in a book and narrate a bit about why they took that photo or what was special about that nature walk.

 

By the way, you can do nature studies year round, even in cold climates.

1.) Bring in fresh flowers

2.) Cut a branch of berries from a shrub

3.) Visit a zoo or greenhouse

4.) Observe birds at the feeder

5.) Look for animal tracks in the snow

 

Thank you so much for your input. Indeed, I think pictures will be the way to go. She loves taking pictures and this will certainly get her in the swing mode to report on what she sees etc.

 

It is funny because few weeks ago we had a coyote visit our backyard. We learned a lot about them and did not even step foot out of the door.

 

Thanks again. Be well

 

Miriam

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I don't think the issue of weak drawing is silly or irrelevant at all. I have done several things. We continue to work on drawing by practicing with various instructional materials. Also, I bought two books for inspiration; i.e. Nature Study for the Whole Family by Laurel Dodge and Wild Days by Karen Skidmore Rackliffe. Both are full of wonderful ideas. Rackliffe's book shows what discovery journals and nature study look like with real children. In addition, you might want to use photography for nature journaling. Our daughter took a one-semester course on photography, and she takes her camera with her everywhere. Most of her pictures are of nature and animals. You can write while you are out and then put in the corresponding photographs when you get them printed. After years of wanting to make nature study happen, we are finally getting to it.

 

P.S. I wrote this while others were posting, so I see photography is working for other families. When dd used to visit my mother at her retirement center, they brought home their finds for a nature corner that my mother kept on her kitchen counter.

Edited by 1Togo
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Of course if your child does not enjoy drawing or struggles with it don't insist upon it. You don't want your child to be frustrated during what should be an exciting outdoor excursion! Nor do you want your child to spend so much time valiantly trying to execute a drawing that they miss out on other things going on around them in the natural world.

 

Drawing is not a requirement of nature study; it is just one of many avenues to explore and record your experiences. The reason so many nature study programs emphasize drawing is to enhance the child's capacity for observation. Drawing encourages them to pay attention to the details, and the details help tremendously when the child is trying to identify the plant or animal he or she has found.

 

Of course, details can be recorded on film or in writing. Most adult naturalists use a camera to record their sightings. If you have a budding photographer, encourage him or her to take photos from several angles. In this way, you will be less likely to miss key identifying details.

 

If you have a good writer (or narrator) you may choose to record a detailed written description of your find. Pay particular attention to number and placement in your description. Nature study is a great way to exercise your counting skills as well as artistic and verbal skills. Count toes, petals, sepals, number of leaflets in a compound leaf, number of legs, lobes on a leaf, basically anything that has a number! This type of information may be necessary to clinch an identification. Also, look carefully how the leaves are placed or arranged on the twig or how colors and patterns are placed on an animal's body. Act as nature reporters and jot down the details of nature's stories in your notebooks.

 

Finally, animal behavior is an important part of nature study that lends itself better either to written description or video than to illustration.

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Thanks for all the replies. There are lots of good resources, seems to me and I will be busy checking them out. it is too bad that most of them are not available in my local library. Got check 2 more to hopefully get most of them for a review before purchasing any.

 

I love the photos ideas as dd loves to take pictures. Since we are looking for a new camera, I am sure that the old one is already assigned for dd. She will love that.

 

Thanks again. This forum rocks!

 

Miriam

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I have a couple of pages that you might like to view:

 

Nature Journals Ideas and Tips -Lots of examples and a link to our Flickr group where you can get an idea from various families. I also made some videos showing some nature journal ideas that are not drawing.

Handbook of Nature Study - This is a collection of various ideas to get started with the book and additional books you can look for at your library. There are also links to notebook pages that you can print.

 

Drawing With Children Nature Journal Style - I took the lessons in Drawing with Children and adapted them to nature journal projects. The lesson plans are printable. :)

 

Hope that gives you some more ideas!

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Just a thought - you mentioned you dd is not "artsy", but photography is very much an art form. Maybe she just doesn't draw. She may have a great eye for photography. How 'bout a nature photo journal?

 

Well, indeed, and I did not mean to dismiss photography as a form of art. I actually meant that she is not much into drawing detailed figures. Maybe she will develop a taste for it. She loves taking pictures and since we are upgrading our old camera we are definitely passing onto her the old one. She will have a blast! Thanks. Be well

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I have a couple of pages that you might like to view:

 

Nature Journals Ideas and Tips -Lots of examples and a link to our Flickr group where you can get an idea from various families. I also made some videos showing some nature journal ideas that are not drawing.

Handbook of Nature Study - This is a collection of various ideas to get started with the book and additional books you can look for at your library. There are also links to notebook pages that you can print.

 

Drawing With Children Nature Journal Style - I took the lessons in Drawing with Children and adapted them to nature journal projects. The lesson plans are printable. :)

 

Hope that gives you some more ideas!

 

Thank you Barb, this helps a lot. Your tutorials make me jealous of your drawing skills. I will look at them closely and pick up several ideas I am sure.

 

Be well

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