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Nature Journals - Ideas and Tips

Updated on December 3, 2017

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."

My Formula For a Simple Nature Journal

A sketch, a label, and a date are the basis of a great nature journal entry.

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.

**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

If you make a page for your nature journal each time you have nature study, you will soon have a whole journal filled with your child's own words and drawings in a short period of time.

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

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!

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    • poetryman6969 profile image


      5 years ago

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

    • homeschoolsonya profile image

      Sonya Chappell 

      6 years ago from UK

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

    • conniec123 profile image

      Connie Clyburn 

      7 years ago

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

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      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!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I wish I could draw better. Cool idea though

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • GrowthSpark profile image


      7 years ago

      Lots of lovely creative ideas here, thanks

    • profile image

      tanveerbadyari lm 

      7 years ago

      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 profile image

      flicker lm 

      7 years ago

      Beautifully done with some valuable tips for nature journals.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      7 years ago from Sweden

      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

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very nice ideas, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

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

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      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.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great idea!

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      8 years ago

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

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      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.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      8 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

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

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      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.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      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!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      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!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      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.....

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      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 profile image


      9 years ago

      nice lens

    • EvaVarga profile image

      Eva Varga 

      9 years ago from Oregon

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

    • profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Your flickr groups are fabulous.

    • profile image

      lasertek lm 

      9 years ago

      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 profile image

      sushilkin lm 

      9 years ago

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

    • kimbesa2 profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Wonderful ideas...thanks!

    • BubblesRFun profile image


      9 years ago

      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 profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      9 years ago from Houston

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

    • Barb McCoy profile imageAUTHOR

      Barb McCoy 

      9 years ago

      @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 profile image


      9 years ago

      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 profile image


      9 years ago

      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!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens!! Thanks! :-D

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      9 years ago from Chicago area

      Lovely lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • profile image


      9 years ago

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

    • Adriana Daniela profile image


      9 years ago from New Market

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

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

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

    • Barb McCoy profile imageAUTHOR

      Barb McCoy 

      9 years ago

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

    • profile image


      9 years ago

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


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