We’ve had positive feedback from our subscribers saying they loved making the Nature Journal in our January Nature Discovery Box. Here’s a few fun ways to get started on creating your own!
Sometimes it is hard to get a child to sit down and read a book. Most kids love nature and being outside, and creating a nature journal with your child is a great way to combine that love of nature with the joy of reading.
The idea behind a nature journal is to have your children experience nature and then have them come home and read about what they have discovered and then record their findings in their nature journal.
There are a number of helpul handbooks to help you and your children get started. One favorite is “The Handbook of Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock. In this handbook you can find a lot of helpful facts about many plants, animals, and insects.
The activity of creating a nature journal will help reinforce many skills for your children. They will be using their drawing skills, writing skills, and researching skills.
Types of Nature Journals
A nature journal can be just a general notebook for your child to record all his or her observations of nature.
However, nature journals can also serve a variety of other purposes. Your child could create a journal to observe weather patterns, to study the sky, for birdwatching, or for gardening observations.
Choosing a Journal
Nature journals come in all shapes and sizes. You can make your own or buy one. For young children you might want to consider a spiral bound notebook or a three-ring binder with looseleaf writing paper. For more advanced artists, you might want to invest in an artist’s sketchbook.
Drawings and Photographs
There are a number of ways your children can make entries in their nature journals. Encourage them to draw a pictures of their nature observations. If your child likes to use a camera, they can also put photos in their nature journals.
Drawings can be simple or complex, depending on the ages of your children. In addition to drawings, they could create leaf rubbings in their journals.
Provide your children with a variety of art supplies, such as crayons or colored pencils. For more experienced artists, you can purchase supplies such as watercolor pencils.
Writing and Research
Instead of giving your children a blank page to look at, give them journal prompts to help them get started. Be creative. Put one letter of the alphabet on each page of the journal and have your children find animals and plants that correspond with each letter. Your child could even write a poem about his or her nature observations.
Take your children on nature walks. Not only are walks fun for the entire family, your children will each have the opportunity to discover their own unique nature observation. After the walk have your children record their observation in their nature journals. Binoculars and magnifying glasses will only add to your children’s fun.
Have your children practice their writing skills by having them describe their observations with as much detail as possible. Have them note shapes, colors, sizes, smells, textures, and behaviors. Insect observations are always fun. Bugs have many interesting characteristics that children can write about.
If your children have any questions about what they have observed, this is where the research part comes in. If your children have a question, then have them look up the answers themselves and have them record the answers in their nature journals. Questions such as “What do earthworms eat?” or “How long do ladybugs live?” can easily be answered from a variety of science books available online or at your local public library.
Have your children write the answers to their questions along side their drawings or photos in their nature journals.
Nature journals are fun as well as educational. They make your children become more aware of their natural surroundings. Have your children start out by making one entry in their nature journal every week, and watch them observe and learn.