Keeping a nature journal is a fantastic way to learn about the natural world. It encourages children to ‘slow down’, stop and look at things more closely.
Nature journals are a creative and fun way to engage children in a combination of art, science and writing – and it doesn’t require many resources at all. If you don’t have a notebook, you can use loose paper on a clipboard or a book and clip. You can then staple or sew your pages together once you’ve created a few. You could even use the template below:
1) Observe the world around you
When you start a nature journal, you begin to look at the world with new eyes. Find a ‘secret sitting spot’ in your garden or by your window (if you have binoculars, now would be a great time to use them!). Look for interesting colours, textures, animal and plantlife. Spend time simply observing, then ‘zoom in’ on one particular thing. This could be an animal, a leaf, a tree, a flower – any wildlife or plantlife you can see. What do you notice about the colours, patterns, behaviours?
If you don’t have a garden, take a slow walk next time you go outside for your daily exercise. If you see something like a fallen leaf or a shell or an acorn, you might like to collect it and bring it home with you for closer inspection (gloves are advisable). Otherwise, if you are looking at an animal or trees, you should spend a few moments closely looking at it or maybe even take a photograph.
2) Draw it in detail
Draw what you see. What do you notice about it? Try to capture everything you’ve observed. You may also like to stick in a photograph. If you haven’t seen this excellent video about Austin’s Butterfly and ‘how to look like a scientist’, I would encourage you to watch it before you begin:
3) Annotate your drawing
Make field notes about what you have observed. Be sure to include the date, time and make a note about the weather. Can you annotate your sketch with key descriptive language? What did you notice about the colours, patterns, shapes, sounds? Where did you find it? Did you notice anything about its behaviour? What else can you write down about how the object looks, smells, feels? Label your drawing and make additional observational notes to record what you have seen/discovered.
Use nature books, magazines, TV programmes or the internet to research more about what you’ve found. Can you include 5-10 additional facts alongside your illustration and field notes?
Both the RSPB and the Woodland Trust have excellent resources that you can use to help you identify and label what you observe in nature:
5) Repeat with something new! Then repeat again!
Can you set time aside each day or week to focus on filling your nature journal? You can choose something new each time and add more drawings and observations, facts and artwork.
Keen to learn more?
There are plenty of nature-related TV shows and documentaries (Planet Earth and Blue Planet by David Attenborough, Countryfile, Springwatch, Hidden Kingdoms, Disneynature: Wings of Life etc.) that are great for kids, as well as a wide range of fabulous nature and wildlife magazines and books!
…Share and Connect!
We’d love to see your sketches, photos and nature journals! You can either comment in the box below or post a photo on social media (you can find me on Facebook and Twitter) using the hashtag #literacywithmissp
Don’t forget to hit the like button below if you found this blog post useful!
Happy Nature Writing!
Miss P x