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Nature Journals - Ideas and Tips


Tips for Simple Nature Journal Entries

Wondering how to start a nature journal?

Nature journals are a personal record of time spent outdoors.

Use whatever media you enjoy: pencil, watercolors, markers, pastels. It isn't difficult to get started and using a variety of ideas will make your journal a joy to page through to remember the learning and fun you had outdoors.

Page by page you can build a record of your outdoor experiences that will bring you pleasure and serve as a scrapbook of your adventures whether they are in your own backyard or far from home.

See the ideas below as inspiration for your own nature journal.


Great Journal Entries are Simple to Achieve

I find with my family that providing a variety of examples for journal entries is the best way to inspire them. We vary our art supplies as a way to add depth and texture to our journals.

"Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you. That is the essence of the process. The recording can be done in a wide variety of ways, depending on the individual journalist's interests, background, and training. Some people prefer to record in written prose or poetry, some do it through drawing or painting, others with photographs or tape recordings, and still others through musical notation.....Many people use a combination of these techniques."

Journal Supply Suggestions

We use both a spiral bound sketch book in a smaller size and a binder for our nature journal collections.

When the children were younger they exclusively used spiral bound journals because they were easier to take along with us when we did our sketching. We used No. 2 pencils and colored pencils pretty much for all the entries.

Now that they are older, they do more thorough research on certain topics and since we became a family that uses notebook pages, they started a 3-ring binder that holds their larger work.

The best advice I have for someone starting with younger children would be to start off with a small spiral bound journal because they are less intimidating. If you have an older child you could choose one or the other method of keeping your nature journal...ask them what they prefer.

There is no one perfect way to keep a nature journal...that is unless you never start. :)

Watercolors and a Photo - Get creative and don't spend a lot of time.

California Poppy nature journal

California Poppy nature journal

I love to sketch but sometimes it is nice to have a photo as well. We will add a photo on the opposite page and make it part of the entry. Easy!

Nature Journal with rubbings

Nature Journal with rubbings

Your Child's First Nature Journal

Ideas for Getting Started

Spend 15 minutes outdoors with your children, following their interests as they explore your own backyard. Try to spend 2-3 minutes listening to the sounds of your own world. After you return inside, ask your children to:

**One word to describe something the heard.

Scroll to Continue

**Two words for something they saw.

**Three words for something the felt.

The idea is for you to write down this simple nature journal caption for their journal. Each time you take a nature walk your children will start to develop more and more vocabulary and this will eventually trickle down to their nature journals.

They can then add a simple sketch or rubbing to complete their journal entry.

Include A Photo for a Quick Journal Entry

Include A Photo for a Quick Journal Entry

Include A Photo for a Quick Journal Entry

Include a Leaf Rubbing as Well as a Sketch

Include a Leaf Rubbing as Well as a Sketch

Include a Leaf Rubbing as Well as a Sketch

Use a Premade Notebook Page

Use a Premade Notebook Page

Use a Premade Notebook Page

Sketch a Diagram or Use Comparisons

Sketch a Diagram or Use Comparisons

Sketch a Diagram or Use Comparisons

Take Your Journal When You Travel

Take Your Journal When You Travel

Take Your Journal When You Travel

Using Watercolors and Writing - Fill In With Text

Steller's jay nature journal

Steller's jay nature journal

We often sketch a subject and then fill with lots of text. Facts, thoughts, observations...whatever is interesting at the time. This page was done with watercolors and a Prismacolor marker

Resources for Nature Journals

  • Cornell University Feeder Birds Coloring Book
    Much more than a coloring book, this is really a field guide you can print out and color for your nature notebook. We love using these as pages in our journal and they give a good idea of how to draw the bird simply for your own page.
  • Claire Walker Leslie's Free Guide to Drawing Trees
    This pdf is one that you will want to print out and save for reference. We use this great resource all the time for our tree study nature journal pages.
  • Celebrating Wildflowers Coloring Book
    This is another great source for nature notebooks. If you are not confident about drawing in your journal, you can print and use these wildflower pages suitable for even the most sophisticated journaler.

Video: How to Make Pressed Flowers - Pressed Flowers Can Go Into Your Nature Journal

I made this short video showing how to make a simple flower press out of cardboard, paper, and rubber bands.

Video: How to Make a Leaf Rubbing - Include Leaf Rubbings for Your Nature Journal

Video: Tips for Drawing Leaves in Your Nature Journal - My Video Tutorial

I love to hear your comments!

poetryman6969 on January 20, 2015:

The illustrations seem like a cool way to draw the children in.

Sonya Chappell from UK on April 24, 2014:

I really enjoyed this. It's a very useful resource for homeschooling. Many thanks. Best wishes Sonya

Connie Clyburn on April 11, 2013:

I really enjoyed reading your lens - lots of good tips!

BigRedDomino on April 11, 2013:

Our family loves the outdoors- we are always doing something in nature-fishing, gardening, exploring, hikes, bug-catching, u name it! The kids are young and getting the hang of writing so this is truly a fantastic idea! I like the 1,2,3 prompt idea for sound see and feel. Awesome lens!

sean2099 on April 08, 2013:

I wish I could draw better. Cool idea though

anonymous on January 27, 2013:

These were awesome!!! I am not a ver creative art/nature person, but this gave me plenty ideas come spring! Thank you!

GrowthSpark on December 24, 2012:

Lots of lovely creative ideas here, thanks

tanveerbadyari lm on December 06, 2012:

thanks for the lens very well done.I will make a journal about my Kashmir valley tour I am going there next month and I will be in the lap of nature

flicker lm on September 22, 2012:

Beautifully done with some valuable tips for nature journals.

WriterJanis2 on August 26, 2012:

Excellent tips. You make it seem very easy to do this, Blessed!

irenemaria from Sweden on August 26, 2012:

This is so wonderful! I was a teacher in nature knowledge year around. All seasons have its own beauty. I love these home made books you show here

lizholy on August 16, 2012:

very nice ideas, thanks for sharing!

anonymous on August 11, 2012:

just getting started -- thank so much for your generous and beautiful web site.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on June 15, 2012:

I love these nature journal examples. It is so incredibly rewarding to immerse oneself in the natural world and then to make an artistic record of the beauty and wonder. Thank you for encouraging others to give it a try. Such an awesome way of helping children keep their natural sense of wonder alive.

StrongMay on May 16, 2012:

Great idea!

waldenthreenet on March 04, 2012:

Classic book, "Walden" is a nature journal that still inspires. Congrads on your Squidoo Trophy. Conversations helps explore new ideas. Thanks.

anonymous on February 26, 2012:

I will try this with my kids. We love to get outdoors. This seems like a wonderful way to make it a more meaningful experience. Great lens.

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on February 25, 2012:

Nature journals are great combination of fun and education. Thumbs up!

bjslapidary on January 16, 2012:

Great lens. Gives me encouragement to do journals. It's something that I want to do, but seem to have a hangup with. Thanks for sharing.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on January 12, 2012:

This is really awesome! I used to make these types of "books of my favorite things" when I was little. I haven't thought about that is years. We didn't have hand held games and such back then :) We were free to explore and create!

pianolessongirl on December 06, 2011:

Wow, you are really talented. This is a great lens. I remember doing leaf rubbings when I was little....reading this lens was a nice trip down memory lane. Thanks!

jessicahoward on August 09, 2011:

Thanks for this nice lens...For years I couldn't remember what I used to do with crayons and leaves....., leaf rubbing...I'm a nature freak and I like your ideas. Thank you for sharing.....

KarenCookieJar on August 06, 2011:

I remember drawing lots of leaves when I was a child, it must be why I still like their shapes and textures now. This is a creative idea and a great learning tool as well.

Blackspaniel1 on July 25, 2011:

nice lens

Eva Varga from Oregon on July 17, 2011:

A great source of inspiration and motivation! Thank you, Barb!! :)

rhodacks on July 05, 2011:

We used to do this in school. I always enjoyed doing this.

Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on May 30, 2011:

Your flickr groups are fabulous.

lasertek lm on May 26, 2011:

Very informative and great looking lens. Awesome job!

Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

sushilkin lm on May 10, 2011:

Thanks for your knowledge sharing on Squidoo!! Nice Lens !!

kimbesa from USA on April 19, 2011:

Wonderful ideas...thanks!

BubblesRFun on March 14, 2011:

Thanks for this great lens...For years I couldn't remember what I used to do with crayons and leaves.....Dah, leaf rubbing...I'm a nature freak and I love your ideas. I've never thought about making a journal. Thanks again :)

Vikk Simmons from Houston on March 05, 2011:

Congratulations on your purple star. I love nature journals. Very nice page

Barb McCoy (author) on February 17, 2011:

@JanieceTobey: Thanks for asking this questions! I added a module above that explains what we do and then it gives some suggested supplies for you to use. I guess it was something I overlooked when I was writing this lens and it definitely needs to be included. :)

JanieceTobey on February 17, 2011:

Do you recommend a sketch pad, or a binder with paper, for the nature journal? I notice you have some of both types pictured in your lens. I'm trying to decide which one would work best for us.

JanieceTobey on February 14, 2011:

I love your homeschooling lenses! I can tell you take a lot of time on them! Thanks for the tips on creating a nature journal! Blessed!

EpiphanyLondon on February 11, 2011:

Great lens!! Thanks! :-D

Jacqueline Marshall from Chicago area on January 31, 2011:

Lovely lens!

spiritartist on January 30, 2011:

Well done inspirational lens. Thanks for visiting my sketching lens!

ShamanicShift on January 13, 2011:

This lens is a practical, motivating inspiration -- SquidAngel blessed!

Adriana from New Market on January 13, 2011:

Beautiful lens! I wish I was more consistent with my journaling. It goes in spurts for me :(

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 12, 2011:

I started a nature journal last summer. This reminds me to get it out and start using it again. Thanks.

Barb McCoy (author) on December 25, 2010:

@eclecticeducati1: Thanks so much for your kind words and recognition.

eclecticeducati1 on December 23, 2010:

I love your nature journal pages! Great lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

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