Creating and using a nature journal or notebook is mostly a matter of what you have available, the ages of your children, and personal preference. Below you will find several ideas and resources to get you started.
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What is a Nature Journal?
A nature journal is a place to grow your thoughts, feelings, ideas, observations, experiences, and relationship with the natural world. You can also use it to record outdoor activities that you complete each week.
Your own nature journal provides a rich opportunity to study the natural world, and develop a deeper relationship with the Earth. It is also a place to interpret your inner thoughts about your experience in nature. A space where the natural world can flow into you and leave a permanent mark.
Assist each of your children in personalizing or making their own journal–and don’t forget to make one for yourself!
Some Ideas for Creating Your Own Nature Journal:
- A blank sketch pad with heavy paper
- A store-bought binder
- A homemade binder [Use cardboard for the cover– cover with fabric or contact paper, and decorate with stickers or drawings. Ribbon or twine can be used to bind it together.]
- A Pre-made nature journal
Items to Consider Including:
- Plain Cardstock for recording entries
- Cardstock printed using nature journal templates found below
- Pockets or compartments for collecting nature specimens
- Botany paper for pressing leaves and flowers
- Sun Paper
- See Top 10 Nature Study Supplies for more ideas
Ways to use a Nature Journal:
- Take it with you whenever you head out on an adventure. [Don’t forget to date entries.]
- Write, draw and/or paint in it to record experiences with nature.
- Write thoughts, feelings, ideas, observations, experiences, and relationship with the natural world.
- Encourage your child to choose something to focus on and draw or paint: a flower, a tree, a bug, a bird, etc. [If you child is too young to write, you can let them draw and then write down what they tell you – no editing – this is their journal.]
- Add poetry or quotes that are meaningful to you and related to your experience with nature.
- Place, trace, or press the nature specimens you collect inside of it.
- Print any of the free printable resources found below (use cardstock) for specific observations and activities
Free Nature Journal Resources:
- Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook Awesome yearly seasonal printable pages with activities!
- Printable pages from Donna Young
- Bird Observation Notebooking Page from the Notebooking Fairy [She also has an animal observation page]
- What’s that bug? bird? animal? from The Crafty Classroom
- Bug Observation Freebie from Teachers Pay Teachers
- Leaf Collecting template from Kidzone
Other Nature Study Supplies:
- The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms
- Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
Other articles in the Get Outside & Connect series:
Nature journals are special places to record observations and write down your experiences in the natural world. It is also a place to interpret your inner thoughts about your relationship with nature. Create one for you and your kids today!