Nature journaling is “a study of nature; it consists of simple, truthful observations that may, like beads on a string, finally be threaded upon the understanding…the object should be to cultivate in the children powers of accurate observation and to build up within them understanding.” Anna Comstock wrote this in her 1911 book, Handbook of Nature Study, long considered to be the bible of teaching natural history.
Nature journaling at Providence is focused on cultivating a child’s imagination, observation skills and attention to detail while encouraging a love for God’s creation. Charlotte Mason, a pioneer of innovative education at the turn of the 20th century, said, “As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.”
Mrs. Mason’s beliefs about learning has greatly influenced our ideals at Providence, particularly with respect to literature and nature study. Mason continues, “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…innumerable matters to record occur to the intelligent child. While he is quite young (five or six), he should begin to illustrate his notes freely…As for drawing, instruction has no doubt its time and place; but his nature diary should be left to his own initiative. 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 vigour and correctness.”