Have you started your Seasonal journal yet? No? That’s OK because really you haven’t missed too much yet. January is kind of the doldrums of seasonal changes. But, now it’s February and things will be starting soon, by March we’ll hardly be able to keep up!
If you’re looking for a wonderful and free option for keeping track of your seasonal changes, I absolutly can not recommend Winter’s Promises FREE pdf enough! It has a beautiful color picture for each month and big daily squares for writing or even drawing your observations. Here’s the link: Winter Promise Calendar of Firsts
My daughter has chosen to do a daily nature drawing right in the little square. I was skeptical when she suggested it, but it’s turned out great!
My son has chosen to write his daily (or not quiet daily) observation in the squares and do his weekly journaling on another page.
If your looking for something a little more, well then, have I got the book for you! “The Naturalist’s Notebook” by Nathaniel Wheelwrite and Bernd Heinrich is my new favorite thing! If I were Oprah you would all find one under your seat right now. (Sorry, not Oprah). Anyway, the book is the absolute perfect introduction to keeping a simple nature journal. I know there are lots of pretty Nature Journal books out there, but really this one stand head and shoulders above the rest.
The second half of the book is a simple 5 year journal with little squares and 6 lines for each days observations. At first I was nervous, wondering how on earth this tiny space could possibly prove useful in recording the wonders of the year, but then I found the real treasure in the beginning of the book.
The first 95 pages of this book are the clearest explanation of purpose and practice of keeping a seasonal nature journal that I have ever read. They talk about the importance of curiosity, of questions, of observations. Then they show you how you can fit those observation into the tiny squares by using abbreviations and little symbols. And then, they show you how use those little observations to organize charts and graphs and find patterns. In other words they lead you through the process of natural history observation to the practice of real science!
Along the way there are stories of the authors’ own experiments and observations. And once again, because these two naturalists are also distinguished University Professors, their stories remind us that the process of keeping a nature journal is a powerful tool that anyone can use to record valuable information in a changing and ever fascinating world.
The book is lavishly illustrated with drawings and paintings from Bernd Heinrich’s own nature journals. There is only a passing reference to the benefits of adding drawing and painting to one’s own journal’s (pages 48-49), but the beauty of the paintings offers more then enough inspiration. On page 22 they also give a quick run down on some other methods of journaling. This one made my day because the methods these two experts recommend closely mirror my own six nature journaling methods (species catalogs, species accounts, field notes, and personal field guides— I also include life lists as a method).
One last important detail: the book is written to adults, but I’m sure nothing would make the authors happier then knowing parents were using this book to introduce their children to the joys of nature observation!