Because it’s Earth Day, I’m sharing one of my earthly hobbies – something that you can do alone or with your kids – nature journaling. It’s a simple task really, but sometimes it’s tough to get started because of how we judge ourselves on our artistic talents. Nature journaling isn’t about how the page looks in the end, although I certainly have enjoyed the end product of some of my journaling pages. Keeping a nature journal is more about the process of observing, documenting and being with and in nature.
I am not a professional artist and have never taken an art class. Anyone can start a nature journal and I think it’s a wonderful activity for kids. For a few weeks out of the year, I work as a writer artist in residence in public elementary schools and often I use nature journaling as part or all of the teaching unit.
To get started, you only need a blank piece of paper and writing or painting supplies. A single black pen or pencil is sufficient thought it’s also fun to add color and use watercolors or watercolor pencils.
Here are photos I’ve snapped to give you some ideas and to inspire you and your kids.
These two pages were created on the same day. One is mine and the other is my daughter’s. We were sitting side by side viewing the same flower. We both had a set of inexpensive watercolors, brushes and a black pigma pen.
These are shoe boxes covered in white paper. For this unit, students looked for answers to the inquiry question, “What is Natural?” This was the second day of the unit. Each student choose a single leaf. I prompted the students to investigate the leaf using their senses, noticing what they saw, felt and smelled. Next students traced the outline of the leaf and filled in details using colored pencils. Students wrote sensory words around the leaf. We used the boxes to keep the nature journal supplies and nature items that the students found and brought in.
Here are four different journaling pages from second graders observing at the same time. There were lots of different sights to see!
Fourth graders used frames to provide focus for painting outdoors like Monet did.
This is a mixed media page created by a high school student using watercolors, torn paper, a poem (we integrated some creative writing into this particular unit) and items found in nature.
Hope this inspires you to get outside with or without your kids and try some nature journaling. As you can see from the photos here, there are lots of different ways to observe and record nature. There are very few rules. Go for it!
Positive Discipline Lead Trainer
Think It Through Parenting
Writer Artist in Residence