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How To Start A Nature Journal With Your Kids

Nature Journaling together is a great way to learn all about the importance of spending time outdoors while observing the life that exists all around us. As we experience the natural world, we are reminded of the need to protect it and inspired to think of the ways we can help. This kind of journaling is also a wonderful way to work on your child’s art skills, observation skills, and writing. Furthermore, time in nature is good for mental health. There are just so many reasons to start nature journaling with your family.

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Come to the woods for here is rest.

– John Muir

Children explore nature together and create a nature journal.

How To Begin Nature Journaling

You need very little to begin a nature journal with your family. Everyone needs a notebook or a Nature Journal like this one, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, tape, some baggies, bug spray, water, and a few snacks. You may go all out and bring a magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars. Maybe even some field guides to help you identify your finds. Other than that you simply need to set aside some time and choose a destination.

Where To Explore Nature?

While it is always fun to visit a state park or a local park, you can take part in nature journaling anywhere the natural world is available to you. A big part of nature journaling is taking the time to stop in one place and look very closely at the things that are nearest to you. You don’t need large areas to accomplish this.

Little girl chasing butterflies during nature study.

What Do You Write In A Nature Journal?

A Nature Journal entry should always include the basics such as:

  • The date.
  • Time
  • Location
  • Weather
  • Temperature

Then you want to stop somewhere and ask yourself how all of your senses are perceiving the scene. Then answer the following questions:

  • What do I see?
  • What do I hear?
  • What can I smell?
  • What can I touch and how does it feel? (Textures – temperatures – consistency.)
  • How do I feel?

Next, allow your curiosity to overflow by coming up with a list of questions about the things you are seeing in the natural world.

Then make some lists such as these:

  • What wildlife have I seen?
  • What flowers and foliage are around me?
  • What trees are around me?
  • What does the sky look like right now?
  • What stones or minerals are present?
  • What reptiles or amphibians if any might live in this habitat?
  • What birds can I see or hear?

Draw on your inner artist!

  • If you are in an area where you are allowed to collect, gather leaves and flowers for pressing.
  • Do tree rubbings and gather a leaf or needle to include with your rubbing and then identify and label your rubbing.
  • Sketch the scene you see around you.
  • Look closer and closer and sketch something before you as though you were seeing it through a microscope or a magnifying glass.
  • Gather some flat rocks to clean and paint with non toxic paint to hide for future park visitors.
  • Replicate the animal tracks that you find by drawing and identifying them. Where was this creature coming from and going to?

Once you are outside in nature there will be so much to observe. The key is to slow down, look ever closer, and take the time to think up the questions that your curiosity is eager to have answered. It’s as simple as that.

Child Studying Nature

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

—Albert Einstein

We encourage you to get your family outside as often as possible. Keeping a nature journal year-round will make it a more thorough exploration. And while you should dress appropriately don’t let the weather hold you in. Different weather allows for different experiences in nature. Obviously, safety first. We don’t go out in thunder and lightning. But we will go out in the rain. Bring an umbrella and something like a tarp to sit on. Be prepared. But all means go.

After all…

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

—Henry David Thoreau

The time to enjoy it is now.


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