Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nature Journaling and Unit Studies

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend will be busy with shoppers out with or getting presents for their moms. May is a beautiful month to celebrate our mothers and everything they've done for us. I wanted to write a special post about my Mom who has been a significant influence on my art. Growing up I was homeschooled and lived in rural areas so nature was often integrated into out lesson plans. One of my favorite memories was of making nature journals. What is a nature journal exactly? Nature journals are just blank notebooks (they can be any size or shape, whatever you have on hand). In them the child will write down the date and may record weather, the temperature, wind speeds or other weather statistics for the day, and about any plants or animals he or she observed that day. Some children might press flowers or leaves in these notebooks as well. Nature journals were popular with educators in the 1800's as a way of teaching nature to children through first-hand experience. I think it is also valuable to teach how the seasons change and how everything is connected via the local food chain. One could draw the same tree each season to show how it changes. Nature journals are also a great way to learn about new species that one might find. That is why many children (and adults) who keep these journals take field guides out with them also. Some people who keep nature journals also include poetry. I remember drawing birds, insects, flowers, and other creature in my nature journal. My favorite entry was of a baby Mockingbird :)
   Another thing I remember that has also influenced my art is of the nature unit studies we did. Sometimes we would have a unit study on a particular aspect of nature, for example we did one on birds. I remember getting a giant bird field guide around that time and I still have it. Drawing was sometimes integrated into my Mom's unit studies. I have always enjoyed focusing on different subjects that I study and draw and unit studies helped me hone my research skills early on. As a teenager I spent a lot of time drawing and practicing and my Mom encouraged me to follow my art and to never get discouraged.
   I hope that everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day and I want to say thank you for everything you've done for me over the years, Mom. I probably wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for your influence :)


  1. It is true that I am your Grandmother, but even if I did not know you and had never seen your art, I would still have tears rolling down my cheeks from the sheer beauty of your work. I told you when you were a little girl that God had chosen you to draw for Him, and had given you a wonderful, very special gift. I was right.

  2. Thank you for always being such a great encouragement to me!

  3. Well, thank you very much for the tribute! It has been my life's joy to teach my lovely girls to reach for their highest potential. We are all so thankful that you've continued on the path you started on so long ago. Love from us all~

  4. Yay, you got a blog! It'll be nice, keeping more in touch with you via your posts. Noticed you found my lair; I don't "follow" people but I have a link to you on my sidebar. Hope you're having a good day! Say hi to Little Man for me.
    Love you,

  5. Very nice Courtney. We are homeschoolers as well. You have inspired me to start Nature Journals again.