I don’t know about you, but I have found that having to stay at home has inadvertently made me more aware of what is actually under my nose. For one, we are constantly in one place instead of manically rushing around with work, school, afternoon activities and all the other things you have to do on a regular basis. And two, we cannot just go out to get the next thing, we are pretty much stuck with what we have. So, games we haven’t played for ages are re-emerging, the hula hoop is back bruising my hips and we are experimenting with ingredients we are finding at the very back of the cupboard.
The same applies out in the garden. With all this lovely weather, we have spent hours and hours outside, playing in the mud kitchen and doing school work outside. Plants are popping up that I have previously hardly noticed, unfamiliar birds are chirping in the hedge and the shrubs and trees are slowly coming into leaf. THE perfect opportunity to create a nature journal.
Slow down and start recording
A nature journal is the perfect way to really, I mean really slow down and have a look at what is there. The idea is to record what you see, either by writing or drawing, but it is yours to make your own, so anything goes. You can add photographs, pressed leaves or flowers, poetry, creative writing, other observations… But to start off with, all you need is:
- a notebook (see below on how to make one from scratch)
- pencil or biro
- colouring pencils; if your paper is thick enough you could also use watercolours
- resources to identify what you have found (I am old-fashioned and prefer books/charts, but there are lots of apps and websites available to help with ID)
Here are a couple of points to consider:
- You don’t have to be a great artist, just draw what you see in front of you. Label your page with the date, location and weather.
- You can try and make an inventory of your garden with all the plants you can find/identify. Record if they are in leaf or in flower. What else can you discover? Are there any birds’ nests, minibeasts, amphibians, night time visitors…?
- Record the firsts: the first garlic mustard flower, first chiffchaff heard, first leaf on the oak tree…
- Instead of the garden, devise a local walk or choose a special spot for your nature studies that you revisit every week. How does it change every week? What can you see, hear, smell, taste (safely!)?
- Remember that the activities on this blog are not just for children – you can do them too (even if your children might not be interested!).
Make your own nature journal notebook
If you haven’t got a notebook to hand or would like to make it extra special by creating your own, here is how to.
You will need:
- 10 sheets A4 paper or scraps of different papers/fabrics cut to the same size and folded in half
- stiff or heavy fabric for cover; I have used leather offcuts. If your fabric to hand is lightweight, try stiffening with pva glue or mount it on two sections of cardboard to make two sides of cover
- sewing needle, preferably bodkin
- ribbon/wool/leather strips optional for finishing off
Step 1: Cut fabric cover to size, very slightly larger than folded paper; mount on cardboard if lightweight using pva/tape to fix.
Step 2: Pierce holes along fold of paper; use scissors if paper is too thick for a needle.
Step 3: Sew/thread paper together using either needled thread or, if holes are thicker, string/wool.
Step 4: Pierce holes with scissors in fabric if using string/wool; ensure theses match spacing of holes on paper.
Step 5: Using holes on paper as guide, thread/sew paper to fabric cover.
Step 6: We finished our journal off with a strip of leather tied into a knot to make a toggle. You could use some nice ribbon thread to do the same job!
Over to you
We would love to hear about your experiences creating and using your nature journal. Please send us your comments and pictures. Let’s inspire together!
All the best,
Carrie and Britta