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Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals Paperback – June 9, 1999
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"Charlotte Mason said, 'As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature diary is a source of delight to a child. Every day's walk gives him something to enter...' Not only is this activity a source of delight to a child, but it is a source of delight and respite to the busy mother. Being in tune with God's world helps us find balance in our lives.
Wild Days will inspire you and your children to keep your own nature journals. The many beautiful illustrations are taken from Karen's actual nature notebook and those of her children. I highly recommend this lovely book to those interested in recording their experiences with nature." -- Penny Gardner, author of Charlotte Mason Study Guide
"I introduced nature notebooks to my children just the way you described. It worked just the way you said it would. They loved it! It is their favorite part of our homeschool." -- Jaqueline Wettwer, homeschool mother of four
"I tried a 'Wild Day' with my Brownie troop. They really loved it! It was so wonderful. They were so involved with their drawings and observations that the time just flew by. They didn't even want to stop for treats." -- Elizabeth Braymen, Girl Scout Leader
"To notice the painting on a flower, the shape of a cloud, the song of a thrush and the cool smoothness of the bark on a birch tree, these are the memories captured in a nature journal. Nature studies are an integral part of the living atmosphere of a classroom. Without them, trees become merely pictures, flowers lose their fragrance, birds are without song and movement, and life exists only outside the window. To know nature is a source of refreshment and pleasure for every person--teachers and students alike.
Within my own classroom, nature studies have been a biweekly habit of picking up our notebooks and colored pencils and heading outside to be still, quiet and thoughtful. Afterwards, we use a field guide to identify our new discoveries. Oftentimes, these moments are the most productive of the entire day, and they serve to provide the much needed mind-food for other academic disciplines." -- Jennifer Brownlee, classroom teacher
From the Author
Some days are wild days with ringing phones, buzzing doorbells, beeping microwaves, pagers and clocks. There are mounds of laundry and dishes and junk mail and bills to sort and process. There are places to be, appointments to keep, a list of things to do that lengthens twice for every item crossed off. Most of it has no meaning. It is the backlash of our efficient, industrialized society, where we try to do everything, all the time, every day. Picking up the dry-cleaning, rotating the tires on the car, returning the weekend videos. Yes, the logical mind argues, 'It must be done.' But how and when do we recharge our symbolic batteries and fill the empty recesses of our own hearts? These many details crowd out time for our own souls. We need time away from our hectic lives to live, to connect with ourselves, our world, our creator and one another. Where in our planners do we fit the nourishing, expansive delights of writing down our thoughts about life, of watching a spider build her web, of prayer, or of looking into the eyes of a child to find who lives there? So when days are wild, I grab a journal and pen and head out the door. I leave behind the phones and buzzers, beeps and lists. I tell my children and parents, friends or husband, "I'm going crazy; you come too." So we go to some wild place to watch the clouds, the river, the birds, the blossoms, the wildlife. It's like coming home. Home to the planet where I was born and where I grow. A place where my body can rest while my spirit soars. I have with me my loved ones, my thoughts, an open heart for discovery, and my journal to record my wild days. I bring my journal to capture these golden moments: the sudden stillness of a deer watching, the smell of rain in the pines, the songs of hidden birds, my bigger children helping the smaller ones to cross a stream, the taste of sun-filled wild blackberries. I record these in my journal in words and pictures. They will feed me on darker days.
Top customer reviews
When she decided to have her children keep nature journals, at first she forced each child to record words and images in what she calls a "discovery journal" (what others call a "nature journal").
She is not ashamed to admit that her oldest son didn't like this and said she feels that over time he continues to be disinterested. With subsequent children she stated she was less forceful, and simply modeled journaling by (continuing) to make her own journal in their presence. She said she felt that this was key in subsequent children being more creative artistically and with the written word in their own journals.
The author's approach to their nature journals changed over time to what I feel is more like "unschooling" in which the child is placed in a stimulating environment with art supplies and a blank journal, and where the parent doesn't really care if the journal is ever used or not. I wondered if the difference in her two sons' reaction to their use of the discovery journal could possibly be due to the child's interest or learning style; the son who was so creative with detailed writing entries may have a talent or special enjoyment of composing written journal entries rather than focusing on having more drawn images.
I appreciated the listing of published nature journals that are on the market today and plan to use these lists for future reading "wish lists". However, being completely untalented in any area of artistic endeavor, I was wishing for some references for books for beginners, to learn basic drawing and watercolor skills. The author made it clear that she taught herself to draw and paint by just doing it, practicing and experimenting and feels we all should do it this way. While the notion of not needing to take classes or read books before starting a journal is appealing, it is actually scary to me. Here again, I think the author's own learning style preference of just doing it and jumping in as a novice is due to her own learning style, whereas my comfort level-learning style is to learn a little about technique from reading about it to give me some concrete information and some confidence, before facing the blank page.
All in all when I finished the book I was excited at the idea of planned time in nature to observe, relax, and de-stress. I have always wanted to learn to draw and paint and this book has really inspired me. I also appreciated the content to support my continued attempt to have my own Charlotte Mason style homeschooled children keep a nature journal.
I would have preferred a bit more detail about which brands of art supplies are good, rather than her just saying "ask the storekeeper at the art supply store" for recommendations of good products.
I enjoyed the small black and white photographs of the discovery journal entries which ranged from her young children's art to her own beautiful entries. They were nice to see and helped me get a gist for what is typical of young children's drawings (when they are not taking formal art lessons).
Note: I wrote this review in April 2003. I continue to recommend this book as it is the most `real' book about nature journaling with children that I've ever seen. I also have since tried drawing in pencil and ink. I have read other books on art journals and drawing, check my profile to read those.
Karen Skidmore Rackliffe takes her children on adventures in nature, then encourages them to record their experiences there. But she also encourages you, the reader, to keep your own discovery journal. "So why not you!" she says. "Why not keep a record of your thoughts and endeavors?" You think you can't draw? Well, here are some tips, but even if it doesn't look perfect, it doesn't matter. You think you don't have much to say? Well, start writing and see where it leads--you might be surprised. Reading this book is sort of like having a cup of coffee with a friend who doesn't buy your excuses. Her style is friendly and conversational, but what she has to say is serious: your spirit needs wild days. Go for it!