When the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal became available as a Schoolhouse Review Crew review item, I was excited! I'm a bit of a failure at nature journaling with my kids, though we have tried several times. I liked that the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal had a slightly different focus, as well as making nature journaling seem less frightening than the blank notebook we'd previously used.
The Field Trip Journal is an 8.5x11 inch spiral softcover book. The covers are a thick, coated cardstock, and the pages are also printed on a cardstock which makes the book much more durable, and great for the struggling artist who likes to erase frequently. There are four basic sections to the Field Trip Journal: Places I've Explored Maps, Field Trip Pages, My Special Spot Pages, and As I See It pages. Each section begins with an explanation for how to use those pages, and the entire Field Trip Journal begins with Tips and Ideas for planning and preparing for field trips. You can even find a link and password to additional online information and resources (as with most Apologia textbooks.)
When the Field Trip Journal arrived, I started out by filling in the map pages at the beginning of the book. I initially labeled the title page as belonging to our family, but I gave it to my 9 year old daughter to start using it. She enjoyed working on the "My Special Spot" pages, but was nervous about what to write on the "Specific Field Trip" page. I had to coach her through that page, though I'm sure she'll get better with practice.
The Field Trip Journal pages begin with two pages to list places you've explored in your state, as well as another 2 pages for places you've explored in the U.S., and two pages for the world-travelers. We're still working on compiling our lists, though we don't yet have a use for the world pages. I can't decide whether to include field trips our family went on before my 9 year old was old enough to remember, or only ones she remembers.
The next set of pages are two-page spreads where specific field trips can be recorded. There are pages for ten field trips. For some families, that is enough for one year and they can fill in a Field Trip Journal every year. Other families may decide to stretch it over several years and not journal about every field trip. The journal can either be a shared family journal, with different members taking turns completing pages, or you can buy one for each student to complete.
After the field trip pages, there is a section for tracking "My Special Spot" through the seasons. My daughter chose the yard on one side of our house and drew it in the Spring season. After this broad approach to nature study, the journal ends with 17 "As I See It" nature journaling pages. Some of these pages have prompts like movement, reflections and texture, predators and prey. Other pages are completely blank and can be used to draw anything you observe in nature that catches your eye. These pages are for more detailed drawings of objects and animals rather than the larger observation of the "special spot" pages. It seems less daunting to not only have a limited number of pages, but also some ideas to get you started.
My daughter and I both enjoyed working on the Field Trip Journal. She was most excited about the "My Special Spot" pages, but she also like watching our list of places we've explored grow. Just seeing them listed there sparked conversation as she reminisced with me about those family adventures. Watching her entries mature as she grows up will make this a very special journal of her education, as well as our family field trips!
The Field Trip Journal can be purchased for $22.00 from Apologia Educational Ministries. Sample pages of the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal are available at their website. You can also connect with Apologia on facebook, twitter, pinterest, and google+.