This is one of those subjects that makes me want to find a rooftop and a megaphone. 🙂 Nature journaling is something I fell into when researching the Charlotte Mason method for our homeschool. We are at the end of our third year of homeschooling (phew!), and I can say in all honesty that nature journaling has been nothing short of a gift for both my kids and me. Let me tell you why:
Benefits of Journaling
I think it’s safe to say that we know that there are significant benefits in keeping a journal – any journal. Benefits like better mental clarity, boosts in both confidence and emotional intelligence, self-discipline, more creativity, increased problem-solving skills, and on and on. Spending time in nature has its own impressive list of benefits too!
But, nature journaling combines the two making it a powerful tool full of excellent benefits! Here are a few of my favorites:
The Habit of Going Outside
For some of us, getting outside is a big deal! I remember, when my kids were babies, a whole week would go by (maybe two?), and we just did not get outside. It’s not that I wanted to be cooped up all day – It just wasn’t on my list of priorities (I was too busy keeping everyone alive)! Can you relate? I’ve since learned that my mind, body, and spirit need nature. Nature journaling forces me outside to breathe in fresh air and experience the natural world with all of my senses.
Since I’ve started my habit, it’s rare that a day goes by without some time spent in nature. It could be going for a walk, playing a game or sitting down and recording something in my journal. I am always disappointed when that time is up. It is truly a little piece of heaven – something I savor and eagerly anticipate.
A Great Way to Practice Art
One of my favorite parts about keeping a nature journal is that I get an excuse to practice drawing and painting on a regular basis. There are so many unique textures, shapes, and colors to explore. I tell myself that my drawings don’t have to be perfect and I just enjoy the time. It is the perfect outlet for my need to relax and enjoy making art. I studied art for years, learning about famous artists and their techniques. In nature, I’m reminded that God is the best artist and studying his work is the most satisfying.
Falling In Love With Science
Very often I get curious about what I’m drawing and want to know more about it. “What is that cool looking bug called?” “What is that feathery plant?” “Why does the water behave that way?” These questions lead me to deeper investigations, and I feel like I just can’t get enough!
There was a time I thought I hated science. Now, I am falling in love with it! As I’ve tried to quench my curiosity, I’ve tasted samples of biology, physics, botany, geology, even astronomy. I sometimes wonder what my college path would have been had I been introduced to science in this way. For me, science in school always felt cold and un-living – nature study shows me that science is all about life! The combination of art and science is exciting. I have a deep appreciation (and a bit of jealousy) for those who have taken the time to study nature and record all that they have discovered.
The Best Kind Of Gratitude Journal
Even on my hardest days, nature can take me away to a place of awe and wonder. When I stop, sit still, and take the time to draw a bird or flower, or write down what is happening around me, I can’t help but feel deep gratitude for the beauty of these things. Nature journaling has helped me see my little piece of the world differently. Instead of a backyard, I see intricate designs and exquisite patterns – even the weeds are intriguing! Having these experiences with nature always puts life back into perspective.
It humbles me and makes me feel connected to the Creator of it all. I feel closer to God as I sit and study His creations and feel thankful that I get to be a witness to the wonder around me. Yes, nature journaling is the best kind of gratitude journal.
How To Get Started
That’s another great thing about nature journaling. You don’t need much to get started. Just a small journal and a pen or pencil will do for starters. If you’d like to get some special supplies, I did a post on all of my favorite supplies here.
Finally, to make it a habit, you simply need to schedule it in. I have nature journaling built into a weekly schedule. Right now, our nature journaling day is every Wednesday morning. The kids and I each have our own “sit spot” (a small rug we each bring to sit on in a favorite spot in the yard) and enjoy studying whatever catches our attention that day. I usually draw what I’m seeing, record my thoughts and feelings, the weather, and if I have time, a few facts I look up on my phone. It takes about an hour; sometimes we take two if I’m lucky and everyone else is still engaged.
Nature Journaling Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
And that’s it! Nature journaling does not have to be complicated, and like most of the best things in life, it’s free. So if you are looking for some extra peace in your day and a creative outlet that doesn’t require a lot of time or money, give nature journaling a try and watch it transform your life.
Now I want to hear from you! Have you tried Nature journaling? What has been your experience in nature? Do you have a love or hate relationship with science?