Monday, September 21, 2009

Naturalist Know-How and Nature Journals

Well, I'm back!! It's been just about an entire season, the summer season that is, since I have posted here on the blog. There were quite a few reasons for the hiatus - one being that I only had a few outings during the hot, humid, and buggy months of summer, the other reason being that I built my website this summer. I've been done for a few weeks (well, not done as it is ongoing), but I needed some semblance of a break from sitting in front of the computer for too long!!
Posting on the blog is important to me and I'm challenging myself to get back on here more often, even if it is for short posts. I'm researching ways to integrate the blog into my website, but haven't gotten there yet, so will stay with blogspot for now. Please check out my site if you haven't yet:

So, now for the post about nature journals...

Two weeks ago, I, The Nature Teacher, restarted the Fall ECO-Every Child Outside Homeschool Explorers Class. This year I am calling our class, Nature with the Seasons. All of the classes touch on the seasonal fluctuations, whether they are mild or extreme, and incorporate the idea of living in tune with the seasons. For the first class we learned what it means to be a naturalist - not a naturist (another name for a nudist), but a naturalist - one who studies nature. Being a naturalist means being a person that wants to learn how the natural world works and to learn to observe all its beauty, ugliness, and intricate workings. A naturalist may use art as her medium, or poetry, or photograpy, or science, or all combined. There aren't any restrictions, just respect and love for the natural world.

We touched on various suggestions for how to be a naturalist, like, keeping a nature journal, sketching, observing, and listening. We read about a few famous naturalists that have influenced our world: Charles Darwin, John Muir, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, to name a few. Then we put together our nature journals. I found a great idea for doing this from the Handbook of Nature Study blog. The method was simple and the results look great. I'm hoping everyone is using their journals, we'll have a time to share them later in the season.

After creating the journals, some of the kids went off on their own to write in it, draw pictures, or just sit in nature. We held class at West Lake Park in Hollywood, Florida. It is a lovely park with a estuarine lake, a short, but sweet little walk by the lake, and an excellent playground and splash park. We were able to take a short nature walk to introduce everyone to the concept of nature observation (lots of new families this year).
It is so inspiring and refreshing to me how extremely excited the kids (and the adults ) get when they see a spider, or a leaf, or a little fish. It becomes a brand new experience - they see something in a different way as a naturalist - on any other day they might walk right by that same spider and not even notice it, but when they become a naturalist, they see it and stop and look at it like it has never been seen before...Amazing and beautiful.

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