There is a deeper joy in our education this year - due in no small part to my youngest child who cannot be contained indoors. In truth, Luca is more apt to be found asking the beasts or the fowls of the air while his brother and I consider the way of the ant or the work of the Lord's fingers.
Among the benefits of taking most of our subjects out-of-doors has been a newfound ease in the keeping of our nature journals. Following are specifics of our journals along with some of the technical details Charlotte Mason mentions.
Really, anything goes in a nature journal. Charlotte makes some good points that we've found true in application though and it is a question often enough asked. I'm also a bit of a colophon addict. Those smidgens of information in a book's frontispiece that tell whether the typeface is "Gorilla" or "Bembo," oh, those are good. Better yet if they give the really intimate details such as the cotton content of the paper or that the illustrations were done in Liquitex acrylics and Prismacolor pencils on bristol board.
Acorns present a hazard if you plan on journaling under a mighty oak.
The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature note-books, which are left to their own management and are not corrected. These note-books are a source of pride and joy, and are freely illustrated by drawings (brushwork) of twig, flower, insect, etc. (Vol. 3, p. 236).
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. (Vol. 1, p. 55).
We use Moleskine's Watercolour Notebooks which have a stiff cover and an elastic strap closure. Pages don't get bent and they flatten out nicely if you use a wash. They come in perfectly portable sizes and I'm not sure where else 72-pages of quality watercolor paper could be found for a better price.
Boxes of cheap colours are to be avoided. Children are worthy of the best, and some half-dozen tubes of really good colours will last a long time, and will satisfy the eye of the little artists. (Vol. 1 p. 313).
The best doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive. We each have a compact set of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolors, which are economical and travel well. Good colors do seem to satisfy as my five-year-old has never made a muddy mess of these like he would his cheap set. On the left is a student set of honey-based watercolors from Russia. Though they're in pans they are always moist and we like them so well we stock them up whenever we can.
Even so, the greatest factor in the art of keeping a nature journal has little to do with the mechanics and more to do with mother. As I take the time to closely observe and wonder at our natural surroundings, my children's interest is piqued by my own.
Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2