Please not that this page is a work in progress. Be sure to come back in a few weeks to see the completed page.
1. A sketchbook with sturdy pages. If you plan on being near water much a waterproof one may be a good idea or teach your kids to store their journal in a ziplock plastic bag. My family tends to use odd shaped art journals since they are easier to slip into a backpack or purse than the larger more traditional shaped journals. Sometimes we don't have our journals with us and just use whatever paper is handy and then glue it into our journals once we are home.
2. Sketching pencils, good quality eraser, sharpener that holds the shavings.
3. Good quality colored materials of your choice. Charlotte Mason recommends using watercolor out in the field but I find that to be a hassle. My8 yo prefers to use erasable colored pencils, my 12 yo prefers to use watercolor pencils to which she adds the water component after she gets home, and I want to try using those new chalk pastels that are shaped like crayons. In this area I believe you should use whatever you are already comfortable with and already have handy. I would avoid markers or anything that will soak through to the other side of the paper. Also, whatever material you use needs to be able to show details so I would not recommend crayons either.
4. Camera. We didn't use a camera in the beginning but are finding that we really prefer having one with us. That way my 8 yo can take a picture of whatever critter catches her fancy and she doesn't have to worry about it flying/running away. I like to have it so that I can take a picture of unknown plants and animals and then go home and identify them based on the photo and the notes I took in my journal. I've been able to identify twice as many plants compared to when I didn't carry a camera with me. A camera that zooms-in works best. I tend to take two pictures; one zoomed in on details and one from a distance showing the habitat the plant is in. One thing I like about digital cameras is that you can take a photo in the field, come home and identify said plant or animal, add that info to your journal entry, and then delpate the photo from the camera.
Jim Arnosky's sketching series: Drawing Life in Motion, Drawing from Nature, Sketching Outdoors in Summer, Sketching Outdoors in Autumn, Sketching Outdoors in Spring, Sketching Outdoors in Winter. Some of these are nice for seeing how to actually sketch plants and animals in action while others seem more fit for inspiration. A nice series overall.
Sketching Out of Doors by Leonard Richmond, Grosset & Dunlap, Inc. 1954. I like how this basic book shows how to draw the lines and textures of clouds, rocks and landscapes in general. Part of the Grosset Art Instruction series, which has over 85 titles. Shows how to do quick sketches rather than detailed drawings. There are more recent editions.
How to Draw Animals by Jack Hamm, Perigee Books, 1969. Extremely detailed. Great for more advanced artists. Shows how to capture movement and facial expression in animals.
How to Draw series from Usborne. This is best for young artists. It shows only the most basic of drawing skills. There are books for how to draw animals, cats, horses, dogs, people, etc.
*not in any particular order
1. Realistic drawings are not always your goal. Try to capture the feeling or movement of what you are drawing even more than particular details of it's appearance. Truly, it is okay if your drawing of a squirrel shows only the sweep of it's tail going back and forth.
2. It's okay to focus on just one aspect of the animal. One of my daughters has a collection of drawings of eyes from various animals and people. It was very interesting for her to compare them and actually helped improve her overall drawing.
3. Always note the time of day, date, location and weather as part of your journal entry.
4. If your child balks at keeping a nature journal then make it more interesting by turning it into a treasure hunt of sorts. Together make a short list of the animals or plants you think you may see. As you encounter the critters "bag" the critter by drawing it.
5. If your child still balks perhaps a trip to the zoo or Audubon Society is in order. Even when they don't want to draw at the local park my daughters will gladly draw at the zoo.
6. If your child absolutely resists drawing or keeping a nature journal let them keep a photo based nature journal instead. Or perhaps they would rather keep their nature journal in blog form rather than in a paper journal. In today's world you may have to go high-tech to get your child into nature journaling.