Nature Journals-Ideas and Tips
Tips for Simple Nature Journal Entries
Wondering how to start a nature journal?
Nature journals are as personal as each of us....unique and individual. There are no right or wrong ways to keep a nature journal. The main point of a nature journal is to keep a personal account of your experiences outdoors whether you sketch or write about it. I always encourage new journalists to keep it simple. I will be showing examples of how we create lasting memories in our journals using a few simple tricks.
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.
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. :)
This size is just the right size for carrying in a daypack. We use pencils and colored pencils in this one. I have used watercolors but the pages will curl up a bit.
This is a great starter set of our favorite colored pencils. We take these with use in the daypack.
Watercolors and a Photo - Get creative and don't spend a lot of time.
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!
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 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
Sketch a Diagram or Use Comparisons
Take Your Journal When You Travel
Using Watercolors and Writing - Fill In With Text
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.
Books with Ideas for Nature Journals
For older kids and for moms to glean ideas from to share with their children. The color illustrations and examples in this book are a great "how to" for beginners. This book can be a little intimidating.
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.