Nature Journaling For Kids and Families

Nature journaling for kids could be the solution for your summer. Are your kids already bouncing off the walls at home? Are you worried about them losing focus, losing momentum, or falling behind?

What if there was a way that your kids could be inspired to learn, you could relax, and your whole family could spend quality time learning about nature, science, and art? And all of this without driving anywhere or compromising your family bubble.

1.   What is it?

The Nature Journal Family Summer is a month long fully engaging learning adventure. This distance learning course will provide focused connection time for you and your kids while also nurturing a deeper connection with nature. The curriculum delivers exciting applications of art, science, math, and language. It also develops invaluable transferable skills such as focus, scientific inquiry, critical thinking, self-awareness, and visual problem-solving. When you sign up you can count on a structured learning experience that lets you simply relax and follow the journey with your kids.

Details:

A.     June 8th -July 3rd

B.     Four families

C.     One or two parents and one or two kids per family

D.    Kids: age range (8-15)

E.     Cost: $450 for three family members for four weeks

F.     Add-ons: $75 for every kid or parent over three total family members

G.     $100 for additional family check-ins

2.   Your Teacher

Marley Peifer has been teaching nature journaling to kids and adults for over five years. He frequently co-teaches and collaborates with John Muir Laws, one of the founders of the nature journaling movement. You can see how Marley brings a fun, personable, and in-depth approach to teaching in his weekly nature journal show. nature journal for kids class

3.   How it Works

Everything is designed to allow the maximum benefits of a learning community while also providing individual attention and flexibility for your family’s schedule. This takes pressure off the parents, provides a healthy peer-based motivation for kids, and allows for varying ages and learning styles.

A.     Week One: Plants

i.          Introductory Meeting just with parents

ii.           1.5 hour Group Class with all families on Zoom

iii.           40 minute Family Check-In with Marley and your family

iv.           Two fun 30 minute follow-along activity videos to use at your leisure during the week

B.     Week Two: Animals

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One Family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

C.     Week Three: Connections

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One Family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

D.    Week Four: Exploring Deeper

i.         Group Class with all families

ii.         One family Check-In

iii.         Two activity videos at your leisure

iv.         Final Journal Share with all families on zoom.

4.   What you need

Each participant needs:

A.     A sketchbook or journal. Dimensions of around 8.5×11” is best. Printer paper stapled together or simply bound and held on a clipboard can work in a pinch but is not ideal.

B.     Pencils or pens.

5.   Sign up

Reserve your spot before June 6th by emailing Marley at marley339 @gmail.com

 

Nature Comics to Show Action in Your Nature Journal

Have you ever witnessed an exciting event in nature? An action even that you could not represent in your nature journal? If so, then nature comics might be the perfect strategy for you to practice.

This video did not turn out the way I was planning…However, nature is like that. And if we practice some of the techniques of comics and graphic novels we will be ready for the unexpected.

First, and most importantly, don’t give up if what you are observing in nature doesn’t turn out according to your plan. I thought that I was going to make a nature comic about my snake eating. However, my snake was shedding and was not interested in eating. Unfortunately, I had already laid out my page assuming it would be about the snake eating! At this point I almost gave up but instead I stuck with it. A comic can tell any story so don’t worry if it is not the story you were planning on.

Nature Comics Tips

  1. First, Be aware of anthropomorphizing. It is easy to project human feelings and thoughts and communication onto non human beings. This can be useful in some ways and can make your subject relatable. However, it is important to be aware of this. It is therefore important to be aware of the fact that we can not truly know what other animals are feeling or thinking.
  2. Next, be intentional about choosing your frames. Unlike a video, in nature comics you have an extreme limit on the perspectives you can show. As such, it is important to choose your frames with care. What is the most useful for telling the story you want to tell? For more about this check out the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
  3. Last but not least, look for subject matters around you in your house. Maybe there is a pet or something that you have never paid attention to. Perhaps the way that your cat eats its food or plays with a toy could be the source of a nature comic that will help you hone your skills.

10 Nature Journal Ideas You Should Know!

Every hobby has special concepts and lingo and nature journaling is no exception. Have you ever encountered  nature journal ideas or language that you were unfamiliar with? If so, this video can help. I explain 10 nature journaling ideas and special words that every nature journaler should know.

And why should you know these words?

You should know these words because we need them to explain the specific ideas that are unique to our practice. In addition, they can be a shortcut to communicate a whole concept. For example, I can just say “pencil miles” to someone and convey a large amount of info succinctly. Otherwise, I would have to use several sentences to communicate the same idea.

Let’s get on with the words! Have you used any of the words below?

Ten Nature Journal Ideas You Need to Know:

  1. Pencil Miles: This is a cool phrase that summarizes the importance of repetition and practice for the improvement of drawing.
  2. Meta-Data: This heading at the beginning of our page gives info about the location, the time, and the date. In addition, you can add whatever data is relevant to you such as: the tide, who you are with, the humidity as well as symbols for the type of clouds or other weather features.
  3. Landscapitos:  These are small landscape drawings. For more about them check out this post on Landscapitos.
  4. Non-Photo Blue Pencil: Many nature journalers use these pencils for a faint under-drawing. They do not show up in photocopies or scans. Check out what John Muir Laws loves about them!nature journal ideas like this non photo blue pencil are important to understand
  5. The Pretty Picture Trap: This nature journal idea is one you want to avoid! Even though we all like beautiful drawings the fact of focusing on making pretty pictures can be a problem.
  6. Precious: Sometimes, when I have a drawing that is looking good, I start taking fewer risks because I start getting precious about it . This can hamper our learning. Similarly, this problem can emerge if you have really fancy materials or watercolor paper and you are hesitant to mess it up.
  7. Stealing Ideas: We use the word “stealing” in a positive way because we want people to be able to share ideas and learn from each other. Therefore, next time you are in a journal share “steal” some good ideas from someone instead of just admiring their pretty page.
  8. Post Hoc: Any nature journaling work that you do after the field trip is called post hoc which means “after” in Latin.
  9. Sacrificial Pancakes: One of my favorite nature journal ideas is the sacrificial pancake! These are the first drawings we make in a session while we are warming up because you have to make these before you can make good ones!
For number 10 go watch the video! You will also find a bonus one there.

Journaling to Save the World

It was dark and drizzly as I started the engine of my car this morning.  The pale glow of the dashboard clock said 4:26 am as it blinked into life with the sound of my engine. The Wild Wonder nature journaling conference was over and it was time for me to head home.

Now that the intense few days of travel, teaching, sharing, listening, and networking are over it is time for us to get back to our daily lives, our work in the world. For me, nature journaling and journaling in general are big parts of my daily life AND my work in the world. One of the ways that I support the education that I am doing is through my Patreon page. Please watch this short video where I describe how you can help me spread this incredible important work:

https://www.patreon.com/MarleyPeifer

The Last Nature Journaling Adventure Video?

Join me on this foggy and cold nature journaling field trip to the biodiverse coastal dunes of Sonoma County!

This will be my last nature journal adventure post before my  trip to Tanzania!

Nature Journal Quick Tip:

Nature Journaling is not about drawing pretty pictures. It is about accelerating your learning and deepening your observations and connection in nature. Ironically, if you are focused on pretty pictures you will struggle to get pretty pictures and you will struggle to deepen your observations and accelerate your learning in nature  🙁

However, if you focus on the learning and observation you will end up getting prettier and prettier pictures as a by product.

Rainy Day? Eleven Nature Journal Ideas

It has been a really rainy/snowy winter, but that should not keep us from nature journaling. I spent a rainy day making this video with Eleven nature journaling ideas you can practice when the weather outside is frightful.

If you like this video please thumbs up and subscribe to my channel. If you have any other good rainy day ideas let me know in the comments.

 

Taste The Rainbow (While it Lasts)

You are lucky. Life has existed for 3.5 billion years on this planet and you happen to live during the period that has arguably the greatest variety of living organisms ever. And since we have yet to discover even one form of life or fossil life anywhere besides earth this place and this moment could be the most biodiverse period in the 13.8 billion year history of the universe. You are one lucky entity. So how can you enjoy your luck while it lasts? Here are three ways…

Variety is the Spice of Life: Aesthetics and Inspiration:

Every day you take for granted the beauty and meaning of the biodiversity around you. I’m talking about in your backyard, not just in exotic rain forests. And it is impossible to quantify the benefits that you receive as a human from the diverse and novel forms and functions of the organisms around you. For example, artists, scientists, and designers have taken inspiration or directly copied natural forms since the origins of culture. Can you imagine how boring and destitute life would be if you lived on a planet with three kinds of plants, three kinds of animals, and a handful of microorganisms? It is ridiculous to even visualize it. Even 100 of each would probably be pretty bad. (The above photo is of an orchid flower from a botanical garden in Ecuador. According to the signage Ecuador contains more diversity of orchid species than any other country.)

Luckily, you do not live in such a ridiculously un-diverse nightmare world so you might as well enjoy the aesthetics and inspiration that surround you. One way to do so is to nature journal, you could also become a birder, an orchid lover, or an amateur lichenologist. (in the photo you can see some examples of wasp biodiversity from the pages of my nature journal. I appreciate wasps as an amateur and greatly enjoy their various shapes and colors.)

Taste the Rainbow: Edible Biodiversity:

When you were a baby you experienced and appreciated the world by putting things in your mouth. You can still do that as an adult but with a tad more discretion. Eating a variety of foods is one of the greatest pleasures of being human as well as important for good health. Availability of a diversity of food is something we cannot take for granted. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN the diversity of agricultural crops is estimated to have diminished by about  %75 percent in the last 100 years. In addition, around three fourths of the world’s food comes from twelve plants and five species of animals (that is starting to sound like our ridiculously boring nightmare world!) As an eater of food you can seek out and support edible biodiversity by showing interest in and supporting the preservation of different types of plant, animal, and fungal food. Not only is it the right thing to do but it is also tasty and nutritious and sometimes adventurous. Speaking of adventurous, check out this funny and controversial article I wrote about   eating biodiversity.

Hedging Your Bets: Survival and Resilience:

Why put all your eggs in one basket when there are so many diverse and beautiful different types of baskets? Not only is it unimaginably boring to live on a planet with a handful of species, or to only eat five types of plants, it is also ridiculously precarious to depend entirely on a safety net made of five strands. You might as well enjoy the diversity available to you now while also hedging your bets a little bit. Depending on diversity is always a good strategy during unpredictable times or rapid change. And you live in the most unpredictable and rapidly changing period in human history. For an academic article exemplifying the diversification strategy in a traditional culture check out my essay called Diversity and Adaptation. (In the photo above I am  opening an example of a food crop that is delicious and nutritious but virtually unknown outside of South America. It is a relative of breadfruit. This is the type of agrobiodiversity that is being lost every year.)

I’m sure there are more than three main ways to enjoy the uniquely biodiverse period that we are living in. What ways do you enjoy? How do you taste the rainbow? On the flip side what aspects of biodiversity have you noticed yourself or your community taking for granted? In the next article I will talk about the decline in biodiversity and the incredible opportunity and role we can play during what looks like it will be the Sixth Great Extinction.

This rant about biodiversity would not be complete without a diversity of other sources for you to check out:

Biodiversity in Geological Time

What is Happening to Agrobiodiversity?

The 6th Great Extinction

E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Growing Biodiversity at OAEC