The Captivating Art of Jim Arnosky & Nature Journaling

I may have mentioned a time or two that we are a homeschool family. Because we believe that all of life is our classroom, I’m always on the lookout to extend learning experiences beyond our official “school books.” One activity sprung from this pursuit is nature journaling. 

Observing and drawing nature has always been a habit of humans. What do we see in ancient cave drawings? Animals and plants. The practice became refined and scientific with the naturalists of the 1800s like John Audubon. You and your children can join the long tradition of enjoying the outdoors and cataloging what you see by your own hand drawn notes.

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Nature Journaling

A nature journal can be a sketchbook, a spiral bound notebook, or a few sheets of paper folded and stapled together. We have used all three in the past. I once came upon A4 size sketchbooks in our local dollar store. They were the perfect size for the kids. Also, blank pages are better than lined for drawing flora and fauna. Any drawing materials of your choice work for nature journals.

I don’t recall who or what directed me to the book Drawing From Nature by Jim Arnosky, but I’m forever grateful for them. This book gives instructions for observing and drawing nature accompanied by delightful stories of Jim’s time in the outdoors. The illustration examples are simple pencil drawings that anyone can replicate from the book or on their own hikes. 

Last week, I was in the library looking for some picture books about autumn foliage for our homeschool Morning Time. I found Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees by Jim Arnosky. It delighted me to see it here because we enjoyed another of his children’s books called Shimmer and Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life. It was time to consult my Amazon app to see what other delights we were missing out on.

Who Is Jim Arnosky?

Jim Arnosky is a prolific author and illustrator of the most gorgeous picture books! He has written and illustrated 132 of his own books on various nature subjects. He illustrated another 46 books by other authors. Several literary and science associations have honored Jim with awards and medals. You can find his fishing books in the International Game and Fishing Association Hall of Fame Library. Jim is a true example of living out your passions in life. 

The kids and I both found Crinkleroot absolutely delightful. As the mom, I thought he is a cute and clever character who gets kids to learn without realizing it. The kids loved his funny name and his quaint way of describing the trees. They also enjoyed trying to identify the trees from the bark and leaf illustrations. We will definitely look into getting more Crinkleroot books. 

Two websites you should visit are jimarnosky.com and Crinkleroot.com. You’ll find downloadable drawing lessons, coloring pages, instructions for projects, and links to books and e-books.

After you check out some of Jim’s lovely work, you can extend your outdoor enjoyment with some nature journaling materials. Don’t feel like you have to have amazing art skills before you begin. G.K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”

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