While reading Home Education By Charlotte Mason the section on Nature Diaries came up. Honestly, when I read this passage I was beyond excited-I was thrilled. I love nature, my children love nature, we love our out of doors time and we love our nature walks. The idea of keeping a nature diary makes Ms. Mason’s educational philosophy even more enchanting. This is how I came up with how to get started with a Charlotte Mason style nature diary.
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“As soon as he is able to keep himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child. While he is quite young (five or six), he should begin to illustrate his notes freely with brush drawings; he should have a little help at first in mixing colors, in the way of principles, not directions.” -Charlotte Mason Home Education pg.55
Key Points For A Charlotte Mason Style Nature Diary
“Every day’s walk gives him something to enter: three squirrels in a larch tree, a jay flying across such a field, a caterpillar climbing up a nettle, a snail eating a cabbage leaf, a spider dropping suddenly to the ground, where he found ground ivy, how it was growing and what plants were growing with it, how bindweed or ivy manages to climb.”-Charlotte Mason Home Education pg.54
“He should not be told to use now this or now that but, ‘we get purple by mixing so and so,’ and then he should be left to himself to get that right tint. As for drawing, instruction has no doubt its time and place; but his nature diary should be left to his own initiative.” -Charlotte Mason Home Education pg.55
My oldest is a little over 5 years old, and has just started to take interest in keeping a nature diary. Initially, I explained that a nature diary is kept on her while she is outside, and she is just to draw or paint with watercolors what she feels compelled to illustrate. I am outside during these times yet in a Charlotte Mason approach, moms are suppose to take a step back and allow their children to observe and make the connections on their own. My experience on this has caused me to conclude that this approach teaches the child what to observe, how to think, and internally motivate a child to learn.
My three year old keeps one too and mainly paints the colors he sees. He has asked what the names of the colors are and in this way has learned his colors.
“A child of six will produce a dandelion, poppy, daisy, iris with its leaves, impelled by the desire to represent what he sees, with surprising vigor and correctness.”-Charlotte Mason Home Education pg.55
A Perfect Example
Recently, Lynn from raising little shoots visited Ambleside and discovered a nature diary that was actually kept by a student that attended Ms. Mason’s school. Lynn, was thoughtful enough to share Monica Watson’s nature diary (for free) with everyone on her page. If your interested to know what that may look like you can find that by following this link: https://raisinglittleshoots.com/nature-notebook-from-charlotte-masons-house-of-education/. All that she asks is that you consider making a donation, however small, to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, England. The library is responsible for the conservation of the archives from both Miss Mason herself, and the House of Education.
“An exercise book with stiff covers serves for a nature-diary, but care is necessary in choosing paper that answers both for writing and brush-drawing.” -Charlotte Mason Home Education pg.55
These are all the items that I purchased for our nature diaries, I gifted it all to my children for Christmas.
Click the links to view what I found.
- Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Color Field Box Set of 12 Half Pans
- Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Watercolor Brush – Round 00
- Field Artist 4 in. x 4 in. Square Watercolor Journal, Hardbound with 80 pgs. 200 gsm, Cold Press Paper
- Strathmore 400 Series Visual Watercolor Journal, 90 LB 5.5″x8″ Cold Press, Wire Bound, 34 Sheets
Both journals have “stiff” covers but most importantly the pages are specifically for watercolor brush entries. This means the pages will not buckle after painting. I will admit, as much as I want to paint with watercolors too and make this a family affair. I’m not too familiar as to how to paint or draw. I decided to take this free nature drawing class to improve myself in this area. If you find that this would be helpful, click the link below to join me.