Field Journals

An important part of my girls’ science kits are their field journals.  When they are young their field journals are really nothing more than notebooks that we take outdoors and color or doodle in.

As my girls get older however their journals take on a more scientific nature and we make note of interesting things we see or do out in nature.  I have a vision of eventually creating an Observation Sheet that we could stick in three ring binders which would leave us room to expand on each discovery.  But for now, we make do with our Field Journals.

Before Mira could write comfortably she would dictate what observations or adventures she had experienced.

She would draw her own illustrations.  The girls also love to do nature rubbings with leaves or flowers.

The other day I was on the phone catching up with a friend when Mira came running in excitedly.  I’ve been working on trying to get her to not interrupt but I could tell from the expression on her face that something big had happened.

“I just saw a leaf fall off of the tree!” she exclaimed breathlessly.  I still had the phone to my ear and was trying to grasp what the big deal was when she continued.

“It’s the first time EVER I was looking at a tree when a leaf fell off.  And I saw it fall off.  And then it fell down, down, down to the floor.”

I wasn’t sure where she was going with this, and my friend on the other end of the phone laughed at the elation in my daughter’s voice over such a simple experience.  I guess I had just assumed that my daughter had witnessed this phenomena before and still didn’t grasp her excitement but smiled none the less.

I had barely gotten out an “Oh, that’s nice dear” before Mira went on to proudly state-

“So I saw gravity, right?”

I realized then that she desereved my undivided attention and said a quick goodbye to my friend and went to enjoy this homeschooling moment.

We pulled out Mira’s Field Journal so she could jot down her observation.  She asked me how to spell gravity so I pointed her over to her All About Spelling magnet board and asked her to break it apart into syllables and give it a try.  We’ve been covering open and closed syllables this past week in All About Spelling so I was glad to have an impromptu moment to have her test her knowledge.

She stood there for a moment clapping out the syllables and I could see the wheels turning.  Then she started grabbing tiles and arranged them in this highly relevant way.

She stood back when she was done and when I told her she had spelled it correctly we both danced and celebrated her victory.  Then she went and illustrated her observation in her Field Journal.

I took this opportunity to introduce Mira to the story of Isaac Newton and the apple and we ate apples in his honor during snack-time.


William Stukeley (an acquaintance of Isaac Newton) recorded in his “Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life” a conversation with Newton:

… We went into the garden, & drank tea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

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8 Responses to Field Journals

  1. Well, I’ve tried to comment once already, do if this is a duplicate post, please excuse!

    I love this post! Experiences like this make homeschooling so worthwhile! I love that your science journals are for any observation your girls make! Also, we just started AAS last week, so I am thrilled to read of your success with it. I’m off to check out your spelling board link!

  2. Kristen says:

    Yay! for you guys for starting AAS. We couldn’t be happier with the program and I am sure you will have much success with it. It has made spelling fun and painless for us. (And I’m learning a bunch which just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks. )

  3. Lori says:

    I love this idea! Once the weather gets warmer for us to explore outdoors I’m making JR and Asher Field Journals. Thanks for inspiring me!

    I also shared this post at 🙂

    • Kristen says:

      Thanks for passing it along. Field journals are so fun- and any ol’ notebook will do. Field journals are an invaluable part of my girls’ science kits. I think I had almost as much fun building up a kit and finding interesting tools to stuff in them as my girls have in using them. Lots of fun and learning all around.

  4. Love the field journals. Something really to cherish and be able to look back on. I can’t wait to start them with my boys when they get older (2 and 3.5).
    Have you ever seen Clare Walker Leslie’s nature journaling? They are fantastic. I had her children’s one based on the seasons in nature in my science classroom. Beautiful, beautiful books.

  5. Pingback: Science Kits |

  6. Kelly Overend says:

    I really like your blog; you seem to have a similar style of teaching to mine, and I hope to garner lots of information from you!

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