Tag Archives: Nature Study

Keeping a Nature Journal

“Beauty is everywhere – in white clouds against the blue, in the gray bole of the beech, the play of a kitten, the lovely flight and beautiful coloring of birds, in the hills and valleys and the streams, in the wind-flower and the blossom of the bloom. What we call Nature is all Beauty and delight, and the person who watches Nature closely and knows her well, like the poet Wordsworth, for example, has his Beauty Sense always active, always bringing him joy.”

~ Charlotte Mason (Vol. 4, pp. 41, 42)

There is a book called Keeping a Nature Journal by Claire Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth that has been much touted as an essential nature study book for homeschooling mothers who aren’t sure about how to DO nature journals in a Charlotte Mason Education. (You know – the moms who need to know everything about how to do something “right” before ever attempt to actually try it. 😉 ) A friend of mine gave it to me a couple of years ago and I have been reading it off and on since.


This book contains many suggestions of ways to Nature Journal: what to include, how often to go out, how to record what you see, and more. There are many chapters full of actual samples of different types of journals – by layout, topic, area, seasons, weather, and more.  It also includes a few tips on how to draw different things in your journals – with some basic ideas of how to get more practice before going outdoors. One way the author gets time to draw in her nature journal when she is busy is by collecting a few objects while out on a walk – a seedpod, leaves, a feather – and taking them home to save for a time when she can sit for a few minutes to draw. It is in this act that she finds time to slow down, concentrate, then think and relax.

The book also has a section called Teaching Journaling to Groups of All Ages and gives specific tips on  how to interest adults, children, school groups and more  in starting and maintaining a nature journal.

We as teachers and mothers make Nature Study so hard when we think we have to find the pristine, untouched nature around us – and that paralyzes those of us in cities. How are we to do that realistically??  I was struck by Claire Walker Leslie’s comment about including human structures in our drawings – we are part of nature and the habitat.  When viewed this way, we can let go and enjoy ourselves in the moment.  And that is the beauty of it all – learning and living!


“You have a good eye, kiddo!”

“You have a good eye, (or ear) kiddo!” is something that I have said to my kids over the last few years of our Charlotte Mason homeschool journey. It is a way of praising them as they learn Continue reading

The Burgess Animal Book Study Guide

Burgess Animal BookI’m excited to offer a new FREE study guide for the Burgess Animal Book! We’ve been using it for the last year or so and really enjoying it, so I decided to clean it up and share it with you!

This new guide features lessons that have a variety of options to pick and choose (or use them all) to take the topics deeper and to incorporate more learning styles. Each lesson includes:

  • single chapter readings (either you read or listen to it on audio)
  • introduces the new animal(s)
  • has both the original illustration and/or an updated color photo of the animal
  • additional readings from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock (optional)
  • suggested Nature Study Journal entries
  • optional coloring pages (available in separate download or links)
  • and contains additional book suggestions for further enjoyment

The large color pictures and nature journaling have made a big difference in our enjoyment this year. Recording what we remember about each reading has been a fun way to track the differences in families like the rabbits and squirrels. Here are a couple of our journals of the same readings on squirrels:

BAB Journal Pages

Click here to download the free guide: Burgess Animal Book Study Guide

Click here to download the coloring pages: Burgess Animal Book Coloring Pages

Click here to get my free Burgess Bird Book guide/resources: Burgess BIrd Book Study Guide

Peony and Iris Nature Study

We had a terrific thunderstorm, and our newly-bloomed peonies and iris found themselves hammered to the ground from the force of the rain and wind.

Peony and Iris

Since it seemed a waste to lose them so fast without being able to enjoy them, we brought them into the school room in a vase, which naturally lead to a nature journal entry.

Peony & Iris Journal Entries

Nature Thursday: Bee On A Passion Flower

I’ve been going through the pictures I intended to post along the way in the last year – gulp! Yep – I’m way behind! Anyway, sitting in a cozy room with snow everywhere outside made me appreciate the memories of last summer. This bee sat on this flower for almost 24 hours. These particular bees LOVE the passion flower plant. It smells really good, but we tend to stay back a bit because it is a busy, buzzing place, and as you can tell, the bees are not always easily seen. That can be dangerous! 😉

Bee in Passion Flower


We had a bad storm last fall that knocked a neighbor’s tree over. I saw the tips of it falling, so we rushed out to see what was happening. Yikes. I was glad that it fell over all the fences and not on a house or person.

Armadillo in the yard

Later, when Mr. Bug got home, all the girls wanted to show him the tree. We went out and found this little guy roaming around. The tree had fallen on his home. He stuck around for the next two weeks before he found a new home. We have lots of armadillo pictures because we kept trying to get a shot of his face. =)  

And yes, he made an excellent Nature Journal entry! LOL

A Delightful Missouri Spring Hike

We recently went for our first nature hike of the year. I say “hike” because this was not on our usual paved path – we went to a Missouri State Park and explored a cave and hiked one of the trails around it. We had been about 7 years ago, but I was pregnant with JuneBug then and not able to do all of the trail. We have wanted to go back in April ever since because the information said that if we hiked in April we would find the bluebells in bloom.  Yay!

We saw a beautiful Yellow Warbler, a hummingbird, several different varieties of butterflies, tons of flowers, lots of white dogwood and pink red buds in blossom in the underskirt of the forest. A highlight for me was a turtle swimming in the creek (jitterBug found him while we were hiking about 30 feet higher on the edge of the trail). We watched him paddle several feet, climb out, and start to crawl away on the opposite bank. Pretty fun.  🙂

It was such a beautiful sight as we rounded a curve of the (rather steep!) trail and both sides were lined with the delicate, but resilient little flowers. I forgot my camera, of course, but here is a close up picture from the Prairie Moon Nursery:

Mertensia-virginica (Virginia-Bluebells)


The girls were amazed and kept saying “But Mom, they’re not blue. They are purple and pink.” They were more purple than blue, and they were gorgeous! There had been a very hard rainstorm the night before, but the flowers were still standing tall.

There were several trees that caught my attention as well.  There were naked tree branches that had some brown flowers hanging from them. We noticed several and I made a mental note to look them up in our guides when we got home.

paw paw tree blossom

(Photo from grit.com)

Aren’t they neat??

We stopped in the Visitor’s Center which had some field guides out in to be used. I looked them up and discovered that they are paw paw tree flowers. That was really fun because our family has the “way down yonder in the paw-paw patch” song on several CD’s, so it was fun to make that connection.

I looked and looked at their guides and finally caved in. I got two.


(photo from www.mdcnatureshop.com)

One is for Missouri Wild Flowers – I actually have several of those – but this one is newer and has easier identification photos, plus some fun info about different plants, like the Scarlet Pimpernel which is actually found in our part of Missouri – but that it another story for another day.


(photo from www.mdcnatureshop.com)

The other one is one that I am so excited about!! It is for Missouri Birds – and again, I have several of those – but as an educator, I LOVE the ease of use and the fantastic layout and design. The large pictures and splendid colors are perfect for use in helping us draw these birds in our Nature Journals.

Another highlight for me was JitterBug asking the attendant for a pen and paper so she could make notes for her nature journal as we went through the little museum. All the girls were clamoring for my attention so that they could show me something they really liked or were interested in. JuneBug asked me to read her some of the little educational boards in front of an animal display. She was so pleased when the lady told her that she had answered the question right.  😉

The question: What animal eats more frogs in Missouri: the raccoon, the muskrat, the Green Heron, or the mink?

The answer: the mink!

I learn something everyday. 😉

I love spring in Missouri. It’s always such a treat to get out and explore while the weather is perfect and the bugs aren’t so plentiful.

What are your favorite spring things?