Timbuck2Mom asked me in a comment: Do all your children love nature or do you have to prod them to look up things in the field guides?
Short answer to your question:
Yes, my children all love nature in their own way and I encourage them to make entries in their nature journal but I don't always make them look things up in the field guides. I am pretty relaxed in my approach to nature journals in general.
Long answer to your question:
I have said before and it is the honest truth: If we spend time with nature and it ends with a journal entry, great. If we spend time with nature and it doesn't end with a nature journal entry, that's okay too. I honestly feel that it is the time spent outside close to nature that brings us close together in our faith and in our family.
My husband and I both love nature and choose to be out-of-doors if we have the chance. My husband is a wildland firefighter so he spends even his work hours in the forest. Our way of life is very much centered on enjoying God's creation whether it be in our own backyard, our neighborhood, or in visiting beautiful places. I started a nature journal when the children did so they could see by my example that I thought it was important in my life. I also think that my enthusiasm always sparks their enthusiasm. If I get excited about something, then they at least take the time to come and look at what I am talking about.
Each of the children has their own interests as far as the things they see in nature. My daughter is drawn to things like beautiful landscapes and colorful flowers. This is what I see in her journals. My oldest son is a more nuts and bolts sort of nature journaler. He has grown to be my graphic artist and his style shows through in what he draws in his nature journal. He is now 19 and he does some nature photography. Here is a photo of him on a hike we took through a sequoia grove.
My middle son loves birds and anything to do with flying. He draws birds more often than anything else in his nature journal. Last year we participated in the Great Backyard Bird count and he was the one that spent the most time observing and counting birds in our backyard.
My youngest son loves small things in nature. He is the one looking for bugs, pretty leaves, and rocks. He also loves small animals. He will try to entice our backyard resident squirrel to come down for some nuts on the sidewalk. He will spread a blanket on the grass and watch the birds in the tree. He will often climb a tree to sit and wait for birds to come to the feeders.
Find subject that your children are interested in: rocks, trees, birds, mammals, wildflowers, reptiles, or insects. Follow their lead and get them their own journal and field guide. Take the journal and guide with you wherever you go and they will start to look for opportunities to record their finds.
I wanted to include some scans of our nature journals but I am out of Flickr.com space for the month so I will post them after the first.
Hope that answers your question.
Harmony Art Mom