Making and keeping a nature journal or nature notebook is a fun way for kids (and adults) of all ages to study nature and record their observations and experiences in the natural world. Below you will find several ideas and resources to get you and your little naturalist started with nature journaling.
Learn how to make a nature journal, and, how to keep a nature study journal with this guide to nature journaling. Teach your little naturalist how to keep a nature notebook just for fun, or as a part of your homeschooling adventures.
There are several ways to put a nature study journal together and different types of notebooks that you can use to make nature journals.
First, use any of the nature journal ideas below to assist each of your children in making their own nature notebook, or purchase one of the ready-made options listed below. Don’t forget to make or buy one for yourself, too!
Next, learn how to keep a nature journal and try some of the nature notebook entry ideas found at the bottom of this article.
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What is a Nature Journal?
A nature journal is a place to grow your thoughts, feelings, ideas, observations, and experiences with nature.
Keeping a nature study journal provides a rich opportunity to study the natural world and develop a deeper relationship with the earth. It can also be used to record nature study and outdoor learning activities that you complete each week.
Whenever you head out on an adventure, take your nature notebook or journal with you to write, draw, or paint your observations, feelings, and experiences with nature.
What is Nature Study?
Learn more about Nature Study on our Nature Study Resource Page.
How to Make a Nature Journal
Making a nature study journal is a fun and easy activity to do with children. First, gather the nature journal materials, and follow the step by step directions below to make your own homemade nature journal.
If you would rather buy a pre-made sketchbook or guided nature journal, have a look at the purchase options for children and adults listed in the next section.
Nature Journal Supplies
- Recycled cardboard – thin cardboard from cereal and cracker boxes works great!
- Binder paper
- Cardstock – heavyweight paper for watercolor art and gluing nature specimens
- 3-hole punch
- Note card rings, ribbon, twine, or yarn to bind nature study journal together
- Paint, nature stickers, colored pencils for decorating nature notebook (optional)
Step 1 – Make Front and Back Cover
Grab some cardboard from the recycle bin and cut two 10 by 12-inch pieces for the front and back cover of the nature journal.
Step 2 – Decorate or Cover Cardboard
- Decorate the cardboard piece for the front and back cover with nature stickers, paint nature art, or, cover both pieces of cardboard with fabric or contact paper.
- If you would like to use fabric to cover your nature study journal. Use a foam brush to apply a thin coat of Mod Podge onto each cardboard piece. Next, wrap the fabric around the cardboard front and back covers and allow to dry.
Step 3 – Punch Holes in Recycled Cardboard for the Front and Back Cover
- Use a 3 hole punch to punch holes in the cardboard for the front and back cover.
- You may also want to punch holes in cardstock if you want paper strong enough for watercolors or gluing specimens in your nature study journal.
Step 4 – Bind Nature Journal Together
- Place 30 to 200 sheets of binder paper and/or cardstock in between the front and back cover of the nature journal.
- Next, use note card rings, ribbon, twine, or yarn to bind the nature journal together. Be careful not to tie it tightly together or the pages will be too hard to turn.
How to Make a Nature Notebook
Another easy way to make a nature study journal is with a store-bought binder or notebook with cardstock and lined paper added for nature journal entries. If you would like to make this type of nature notebook, follow the simple step by step directions below!
Nature Notebook Supplies
- 1-inch view notebook binder, or 3-inch view notebook binder (large nature notebooks allow more room for collecting nature specimens.)
- Binder paper
- 3-hole punch
- Cardstock – heavyweight paper for watercolor art and gluing nature specimens
- 3-hole zipper pouches, binder pockets, and binder pouches for holding loose nature notebook pages, gel pens, colored pencils, glue sticks, and collecting nature specimens. (optional)
Step 1 – Fill Nature Notebook with Nature Journal Paper and Supplies
- First, add binder paper to your nature notebook.
- Next and use a 3-hole punch to make holes in heavyweight cardstock and add it to your nature notebook. (optional) Heavyweight cardstock can be used for nature art and gluing nature specimens.
- Finally, add 3-hole zipper sleeves, binder pockets, dividers and pouches for holding and collecting loose nature notebook pages, gel pens, black sketch pens, drawing pencils, colored pencils, glue stick, portable watercolors, and collecting nature specimens.
Step 2 – Create nature art for nature notebook binder view window
Invite your child to add nature photos, create nature art or decorate a piece of paper with nature stickers to put inside the viewing windows on the front and or back of the nature notebook.
Related: Best Art Supplies for Kids
Other Notebooks, Sketch Books and Pre-Made Nature Journal Options
If you would rather purchase a blank notebook, sketchbook, or a guided nature journal you can find our recommendations below.
Personally, I use a blank watercolor sketch pad made of moleskin. It’s small, thin, and can be used with black sketch pens and a portable watercolor paint pallet with a water brush pen. A few more blank nature journal options can be found listed below.
- Blank sketch pad with watercolor paper
- SketchBook for Nature Journaling
- Travelogue Drawing Book Artist Journal
- Speedball Travelogue Watercolor Book Landscape Artist Journal
- Hand Field Sketchbook
Pre-Made Nature journal Options for Kids
If you would rather purchase a guided nature study journal for kids, have a look at the options below.
- Nature Journal for Little Explorers
- Small Adventures Journal
- My Nature Journal
- Nature Walk Journal
- Exploring Nature Journal for Kids
- Nature Log for Kids
- Kids Nature Journal
Pre-Made Nature journal Options for Older Children & Adults
Other Items to Include with your Nature Journal or Nature Notebook:
- Cardstock, watercolor paper, or watercolor postcards to create nature art.
- Collection box, pockets and pouches for loose pages, pens, pencils, and nature specimens.
- File folders for collecting and pressing leaves and flowers.
- Critter Cage for bug collecting.
- Sun Paper for making sun prints.
- Nature journal templates (Check out the nature journal resources below).
- Basic Art Supplies; portable watercolors, water brushes, colored pencils, and portable pencil case.
Check out our list of Nature Study Supplies for more fun ideas!
Related: Nature Memory Matching Game
How to Keep a Nature Journal or Notebook
Nature always has secrets to share. Take your nature journal with you whenever you head out into the great outdoors to record your observations in, and experiences with nature.
Some people like to write about how they feel in nature, while others like to draw or paint their rich experiences in the natural world. Record your observations and express your feelings using whatever medium speaks to you.
Add pictures, poetry, song lyrics, flowers, leaves, and other specimens from the natural world. Create a novel, an artistic masterpiece or a scrapbook of varied mediums in order to make your nature journal into a reflection of you and your experiences with nature.
Encourage your children to choose something to write about, draw, or paint. Give them a few suggestions–a tree, flower, bird, or animal–to focus on if they have trouble coming up with their own ideas.
If your child is too young to write in their nature study journal, invite them to use beeswax crayons to make a drawing of their experience. Next, ask them about their experience and write down what they tell you without editing what they say.
Related: Nature Crafts and Art Ideas
Nature Journal Entry Ideas
- Take your nature study journal with you whenever you head out on an adventure.
- Write, draw and/or paint in it to record experiences with nature. Don’t forget to date entries!
- 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 your 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 out the free printable templates found below for specific observations and nature journal activities.
Nature Journal Page Templates & Resources:
- 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
Recommended Reading for Keeping a Nature Journal:
- Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World
- Handbook of Nature Study
- 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
- The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You
- Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling
Nature Journal Resources for Kids and Adults
DIY Nature journals make it fun for kids and adults to study nature. Record observations, create art and write learning experiences in the natural world. Start one today!
For more information about Nature Study on our Nature Study Resource Page.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE.
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Nell comes from a varied background with over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the wonder of childhood, the power of the imagination, learning through play, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…