I have recently begun keeping a nature journal with Dora. My primary reason for taking on this project is that she clearly is trying to grasp the various concepts of days of the week, months, seasons, and time of the day. Keeping any sort of journal or calendar has proven in my family’s past, to be one of the best ways to learn these concepts. Each day, I enter the name of the day of the week and remind Dora of the activities that we usually do on that day (i.e. Monday is music class day). I then enter the date. In the past, with my older children, they often had the month’s name down pat by 30th or 31st of the month, just from the daily repetition. I enter the time of our nature “observation”, which clues Dora into the hours of the day. I enter the temperature and weather conditions, which helps her learn the Fahrenheit scale (I probably should start using Celsius also) and associate the numbers with how the weather feels. This practice also teaches her the vocabulary of weather as I encourage our weather descriptions to be varied (such as “drizzling” one day, “misting” another, etc.).
I am also trying to learn and teach Dora how to be more in tune with our environment. My hope is that we can learn to truly listen to what is going on around us, to hear the many and varied bird songs and other animal calls. That we can truly see what is before us, to notice the subtle difference between the grays of overcast skies and the grays of storm clouds. That we may start to truly feel the wind on our faces, the humidity on our skin, and the rocks beneath our feet. That we begin to smell all the subtle smells that nature offers us and mankind so often masks. That we become in tune with the cyclical patterns of nature on this planet and learn to appreciate the amazing beauty that each cycle brings. So on some of our explorations, we simply exist, but on others I set a task for either myself or for both of us, something to look for, a sound to notice, a smell to find.
My final reason for wanting to keep a nature journal is a purely selfish one. I have become determined to become a competent artist with pen and pencils. I want to finally teach myself to be able to draw what I see before me. I am not sure why I feel such a pressing need to be able to draw, but it is something that I have attempted to study in the past and the desire to learn has never faded. Painting and sculpting hold no appeal for me, I merely want to learn to draw. With this in mind, I hope for my journals to consist more and more of my drawings, but at the same time, I am trying to teach Dora a variety of ways to record her experiences. I’ve included images of three attempts on our part to record our experiences, all focused on leaves, which rein so importantly at this time of year. The first journal entry being leaf pressing, the second, leaf rubbings, and the final, not so successful attempt, being leaf pounding. I am hoping that leaf pounding will work better in the spring for tonight my arm is aching from whacking leaves so hard with a mallet and my spirits are low, for my efforts yielded only this single pitiful attempt at art, which actually looks better on the computer than in real life.
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