By Guest Bloggers LouAnn DiMarco and Kim Watkins, Redeemer School teachers

“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without” – Charlotte Mason

It’s easy to agree with Charlotte Mason’s urging to get outdoors in a beautiful North Carolina spring! This season brings a joyful increase in outdoor learning at Redeemer School, and one of the hallmarks of our outdoor education is nature study. The beauty of nature is rich fodder for inspiration and relaxation for adults and children alike.

Nature study is just what it sounds like – intentional time in nature, observing what is around us when we are outdoors. It’s wonderful when curiosity is piqued to further exploration, but learning facts and definitions is not the primary focus of nature study. Rather, the goal is to awaken wonder at the natural world by putting children in touch with creation and providing space for expression of what they encounter. Sketching from nature is a catalyst for close examination of the intricate, amazing, and exquisite handiwork of our Creator.

Benefits of Getting Outdoors

There are many benefits to spending time outdoors in nature this way. Nature calms us and focuses the mind. We fill our lungs with fresh air and exercise our bodies. Our capacity to pay attention stretches as we open our hearts to connect with creation. We learn compassion for the earth and one another as we observe tiny details. Our perspective realigns as we forget ourselves and the troubles of the world for a time. 

It’s as simple as going outside. For example, take a notebook and some colored pencils or watercolors. While you are outside, gaze, listen, smell and feel. Notice things as they occur and encourage patient observation. Sit with your eyes closed and picture your surroundings. Open them. How much detail did you remember? 

“So exceedingly delightful is this faculty of taking mental photographs, exact images, of the beauties of Nature we go about the world for the refreshment of seeing, that it is worthwhile to exercise children in another way towards this end, bearing in mind, however, that they see the near and the minute, but can only be made with an effort to look at the wide and the distant. Get the children to look well at some patch of landscape, and then to shut their eyes and call up the picture before them, if any bit of it is blurred, they had better look again. When they have a perfect image before their eyes, let them say what they see,” Charlotte Mason.

Simple tips for Nature Journaling

By LouAnn DiMarco

Ask your child (or yourself!) three questions:

  1. Do you notice anything?
  2. Are you wondering about something?
  3. What does it remind you of?

Use words, pictures and numbers to convey your thoughts and observations.

Ideas for Your Nature Study

  • Find items with a particular texture (rough, smooth, wet, dry, soft, hard, sticky, hot, cool, prickly, etc.)

  • Look for colors of spring, of summer, of fall, of winter

  • Find letters in the nature around you

  • Look for leaves and leaf shapes

  • Follow interesting sounds (animals, things moving in the breeze, etc.) or smells (flowers, herbs, dirt, mud, wet leaves, etc.)

  • Go “bird stalking,” quietly watching the birds

  • Adopt a few trees and watch them year round

  • At the beach, look for interesting shells and sketch or paint them

  • Use nature items to make art or music outdoors

  • Observe insects, respectfully

  • View the clouds and observe artistically and scientifically

  • Collect rocks

  • Look for animals, and see if you can imitate their movement

  • Hunt for animal tracks and signs of life

  • Carefully lift rocks and observe the world beneath them (take Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock with you!)

  • Make brushes from natural object and do some painting with water

  • Take along some clay and make an impression of a nature treasure, leaving your find for someone else to enjoy

  • Draw a map of your favorite trail or nature spot

  • Have a photo scavenger hunt or make a scrapbook from your walk

  • Do the same walk in different seasons and note how things are the same or different

Redeemer School is currently accepting “Round Two” admissions applications for open spots in TK and 3rd grade! If you or anyone you know has questions about the admissions process, would like to tour our school, or learn more about this sweet covenant community  please reach out to Julie Carter at  Please click here to begin an application!