How to Start a Nature Journal & What to Put in It

If you are looking for unique art, science, and nature experiences with your children, consider starting a nature journal. Nature journaling is an amazing way to get some more outside time and to help improve your children’s observation skills. These nature journal ideas will give you lots of inspiration, great tips and help you get started.

gir writing in a journal outside

How To Get Started with a Nature Journal

You may be wondering how to get started with a nature journal. It is actually very simple, and you can start with just a blank notebook or a book with blank pages.

First, take your children outside and have them find a nice place to sit. Tell everyone to be quiet, and begin observing what you see around you at that very moment.

It can be very exciting to watch your children notice things they’ve never noticed before on a regular walk or visit to the park. They may notice an ant crawling on a blade of grass, or a tiny daisy poking up behind a rock.

Take Your Nature Journal With You

Make sure that you take your nature journal on nature walks and even on outside field trips. The best part of having a nature journal with you is that your kids can record their thoughts and experiences just as they are happening.

Take a few minutes to take everything in, then start recording what you see. You can take little notes and make drawings and doodles of what you are seeing and experiencing.

What is a Nature Journal?

A nature journal is similar to a writing journal or a diary, but the basis of your writings is going to be all about nature. It is a great place to record your personal experience with nature, your thoughts and observations.

It is almost like a scrapbook of sorts, a record of all the things you found and love about the outdoors. Some people enjoy being artistic and painting and drawing in their journal.

You can also try your hand at calligraphy or fancy writing styles. You can record the weather, the temperature and what the overall feeling is while you are sitting outside.

What is Nature Study?

Nature study is something that Charlotte Mason recommended and included in all her teachings. She recommended that children get outside for at least one afternoon a week to take in the nature that is around them.

As you are outside, you will begin to learn about the things you are surrounded with, and your kids will get excited to learn more about nature. There are hundreds of nature topics to research and explore that you can study with your children all the way up through high school.

Many families enjoy reading books about different nature topics, doing research projects, and going somewhere to experience what they have just read and learned about. You can record what you are learning in notebooking journals and by keeping your very own nature journal.

woman journaling in nature

Why Keep a Nature Journal?

Keeping your own nature journal is a great way to build a connection with the environment and God’s creation. Nature observation builds creativity, observation skills, reflection and increases memory and relaxation.

What to Add to Your Nature Journal

You may be wondering what to add to your nature journal. A journal entry can be as unique as your own child. It is a creative way to keep a record of whatever fascinates you in the natural world that you explore during your outdoor adventures.

For some children this may be a tiny bug hidden behind a blade of grass, others may be fascinated by the patterns and pictures found in the clouds. You may have a bird lover or someone who loves flowers and wants to document those finds anytime they see them.

Some children might be fascinated with a specific object in nature and will want to keep several nature journals. Ideas for topic-specific nature journals would be a bird notebook or a leaf journal.

Some children collect items and tape them into their journals, where others use their journals as a work of art. They enjoy writing, nature drawing and doodling what they see and how they felt when they experienced their observation.

Ideas for Your Nature Journal

If you are looking for ideas for things to put in a nature journal, this list should spark your imagination.

  • Sketches and drawing of your observations – Don’t forget to include the small details.
  • Samples of flowers, twigs, different plants or bug wings taped into the journal
  • Scientific names of the things that you observed
  • A leaf rubbing of a fun and unique leaf you found
  • Labeling of the different parts of a flower
  • Nature quotes and poetry
  • Thoughts and feelings on how you felt when you were outside at that moment
  • Notes and even small drawings of of the weather conditions that you saw
  • Pick an animal you saw on your walk and draw it in your notebook. Make notes to research more about that animal later.
  • Copy down animal tracks that you have found.
  • You can track the different seasons in your nature notebook. Return to the same place and record how it is different each season.

writing outside on picnic table

Taking Your Journal on a Nature Walk

Make sure to take your nature journal with you any time you go on a nature walk. You will be amazed at the new things you see, and your children will also begin to recognize patterns in nature.

Get your kids excited about nature by handing them a nature walk activity sheet. You can find over 50 free nature printables to choose from such as: nature journal pages, scavenger hunts, printable field journal, field guides, printable nature journal, and nature walk coloring pages.

Some of our nature resources you might enjoy:

Nature Journal Prompts for Kids

Nature journal prompts are a great way to encourage your children to think about and observe the area around them. A journal prompt provides an opportunity to spark ideas for nature journal entries.

Try giving your kids these fun ideas as a starting point for their journal entries.

  • What do you hear right now? Draw a picture of the sound you heard.
  • What do you see? Write and draw the first thing you see in your own backyard.
  • What does the weather feel like? Draw picture words for what you are feeling, like rain, thunder, storm clouds, sunshine, etc.
  • Go on a color hunt and search for specific colored items and add them to your journal.
  • What is your favorite flower and why? See if you can find one on your walk.
  • Find something that is smooth, rough, or spiky. Collect the item and write about it.

Nature Writing Prompts for Journaling

You might want to encourage older children to write passages in their journals. These nature writing prompts will help them write about interesting topics.

  • What is your favorite season and why is that your favorite?
  • Would you rather live in the desert or a forest?
  • What is your favorite body of water?
  • Do you prefer a lake, ocean, spring or river, and why?
  • If you were a butterfly, where would you fly to?
  • If a plant could talk, what would it say? Write down the thoughts and draw a picture of the plant you saw.
  • Describe the life of a bee.
  • You find a nest in a tree, what kind of bird do you think made the nest?
  • Pretend you are a squirrel trying to get into a bird feeder, how will you get around the obstacles?
  • If you were a frog and you were afraid of water, what would you do?

How to Make Nature Journaling a Habit

In order to make nature journaling a habit you may need to schedule the time to do it. A good idea is to incorporate nature study and outdoor time into your homeschool days. If you are studying specific things, you can go outside and search for them.

Even just a few minutes a day can create a nice habit of enjoying the outdoors and reflecting, writing and drawing in your journal.

Make sure that you have a portable journal and start bringing it with you when you venture outside. Journals are great to take to park days, field trips, the beach, hiking, camping –  anywhere outside! 

When you make the time to nature journal, it will become second nature (pun intended) and something that you and your kids will want to work on whenever you have the opportunity.

Supplies Needed for a DIY Nature Journal

You do not have to be fancy to create a nature journal. You can start with a simple nature journal, which can be just a thin notebook with blank pages. Something small that is easy to carry with you.

Some people enjoy mixed media notebooks with a spiral binding. These can lay flat and can be painted on with water colors, chalk, pastels or just drawing with a colored pencil.

The most common art supplies used for nature journaling include:

  • colored pencils
  • a small water color palette
  • a few paint brushes
  • water color pens
  • an art pen
  • drawing pencils.

You can store your supplies in a small pencil case or in a bag that is specifically used for nature outings.

These easy nature journals for kids are full of free downloads to help you get started nature journaling. This is a great way for your kids to practice nature journaling before you go out and buy them their very own journal.

In Conclusion:

Nature journaling is a wonderful addition to your homeschool lifestyle. It give you and your children a break from the school work and being inside. It gets everyone active and provides some amazing quality-time experiences for parent and child.

You can incorporate art, creative writing, and science all in one little notebook. Nature journals also make great keepsakes of your school year and your outdoor experiences.