I remember being enamored with The Handbook of Nature Study site when we first started homeschooling. We really don't do notebooking, not yet at least, so it became one of those . . . someday . . . kind of things.
While I do still find it a little formal for our current tastes (like I said, someday, when the girls are a little older, it might all be a better fit), I signed up for the newsletter, printed a few blank notebooking sheets, and read over some of the ideas from the current month's challenges. My biggest problem with following someone else's plan for seasonal studies is that we have a very different experience with seasons down here. Don't tell me to look for robins at the end of March. They're long gone. But I'm getting ideas and building our own plan, which is what I like to do anyway. I also downloaded a copy of the 1911 Handbook of Nature Study (pick your format and download for free here). I'm looking forward to seeing how this all evolves. For now, it's just fun to put a blanket down in the yard, observe, and draw.
Remember how I was fascinated by the irises on our camping trip? The week after we came home, we spent an afternoon drawing them with block crayons.
I tried using just the primary colors to draw the iris on the left, and Ella used all the crayons to draw hers on the right. Clearly, you can see she gets her much greater artistic talent from someone else. I'll admit the colors are off a little (I don't know what happened in Picasa), but still, mine doesn't even look like an iris. I do like seeing how we got different impressions of the same thing. Neat.
We also did a little impromptu herbal study one day, when I asked Ella to cut some cilantro for dinner. She always asks which is the cilantro and which is the parsley, so I asked her to bring in a leaf from each plant. She knows by smell and taste which is which, but I asked her to examine them closely and separated them into two piles. Then she taped a couple of examples of each into her sketchbook for future reference.
I still want to make some garden markers (I've seen some cute painted clay "stones" on the internet somewhere), but this was pretty fun, too. She still double checks with a sniff or a taste before cutting a handful of leaves, but now she has a better idea of which plant to go to first.