Keeping a Nature Journal of some kind is a powerful way to connect with nature. It is well know amongst psychologists that a connection to nature helps to build emotional resilience and physical health (check about the book Nature Fix if you want more information).
Keeping an art based nature journal provides the added psychological benefits of art therapy.
And keeping a calendar based nature journal helps us stay grounded in really understanding the patterns of our weather and climate. It also provides comfort as we seem the seasonal cycle and remember that each season still comes, even if it looks a little different from last year.
My kids and I have been successful nature journalers for several years now, but before that we spent even more years as unsuccessful nature journalers. Every year I would start out with good intentions and brand new nature journals with crisp, white pages. And by the end of every year, two or three of those pages would have a carelessly drawn something or other, lots of dirt smudges, a few ripped pages and a whole lot of blank (not so crisp) pages!
Eventually I realized that I had a very narrow view of what a nature journal was– this beautiful book, with beautiful pictures and notes that were completed OUTSIDE in nature. When I say it that way you probably just realized how ridiculous this sounds– for most people (especially people with people under the age of, say, 14 in their party) “beautiful pictures” and “completed outdoor” are not words that fit together. Journals get dropped in the mud and dirty, people get cold and impatient, rain storms kick up splattering paper and people with water and mud….
There had to be a better way, and I intended to find it. And so I did; these six methods are the methods my kids and I have been using at various different time (never all six at the same time) for the past 4 years with great success! And, as I got more and more into my research, I found that these six methods make up many of the most common scientific research methods. Methods that have been used for centuries, by everyone from Leonardo DeVinci to Jane Goodall!
To Learn more about Each Nature Journal Method, Click on the Link Below the Pictures. The Link will take you to a post with helpful information about that method.
All Nature Journaling Artwork by Lindsey Shaklee and her childen
Personal Field Guide Field Notes Phenology Calendar