“Never trusting to memory, he recorded every incident of which he had been the eyewitness on the spot, and all manner of observations went into his journal. . . . He noted the brilliant grasses and flowers of the prairie, the sound of the boatman’s horn winding from afar, the hooting of the great owl and the muffled murmur of its wings as it sailed smoothly over the river.”
-Van Wyck Brooks on John James Audubon
Let Nature Tell the Story!
Get Started with Nature Journaling with FREE Curriculum and Resources
Keeping a nature journal is a great way to get outside and observe things you might otherwise overlook in the busyness of life. It takes little preparation, you don’t have to be an artist, and it’s inexpensive. You only need a keen eye and listening ear along with your pencil and paper! It’s the perfect family time!
If you want to start your own nature journal, check out these free resources to get you started:
- Start with a basic nature scavenger hunt using this adorable free printable. This is a fun activity to inspire your learners to observe more!
- Use these helpful ideas from the National Wildlife Federation.
- The California Native Plant Society offers a fantastic free downloadable curriculum guide, Opening the World Through Nature Journaling. This guide incorporates art, science, and language arts into games and activities. You can request a free .pdf version of the guide here.
- The California Native Plant Society also offers free online classes and step-by-step drawing lessons.
- Smithsonian in Your Classroom offers a free nature journaling guidebook, Introduction to the Nature Journal. Learn more about what’s included and get the download link.
Journal and Observation Ideas
The most common supplies are a sketch pad and pencil, but if you want to do something different, try these ideas:
- My younger kids love these paper bag journals, and they’re super easy and inexpensive. (Little hands especially love these!) I recommend checking out the first link for inspiration, but if you need video instructions for making a paper bag journal, click here.
- Learn more about what you observe with the Ranger Rick website, or use their free downloadable nature observation pages.
- If you need inspiration for your nature journal, check your library for The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.
- The Julia Rothman Collection (Farm Anatomy, Nature Anatomy, and Food Anatomy) is a great, highly engaging resource for the curious nature observer.
- For a guided journal packed with information, My Nature Journal is a great keepsake journal.
Getting outside and observing nature is the best way to keep a nature journal, but sometimes your learners might want to observe animals that aren’t native to your area. Webcams are a great way to observe the parts of nature you can’t access by getting outside.
- Continue your nature journal recordings with the Audubon Bird Cams.
- To view other animals via live webcams all over the world, check out Explore.
Free Nature Journal Observation Pages
To help you get started, I created these nature journal observation pages. I included two journal cover options and three observation page options. If you’d like to share, please share from this page link and not the actual file.
I hope you enjoy these resources! Remember, as Hugh Miller said, “Life itself is a school, and Nature always a fresh study.” Enjoy!