Nature Journaling With Your Students

child writing outside in the grass

Children love to get outside and explore in nature. They love the opportunity to use their bodies to get to know and understand the world around them. A nature journal can provide an outlet for children to share what they learn and discover. A guided journal can also help students to deepen their understanding and observations of nature through guided activities and questions. This post will outline several different ways that you can approach nature journals. No matter how you choose to approach it, nature journaling with your students is a great way to get them to engage with nature to really begin to form a relationship with it. 

Guided Nature Journals​

There are many guided nature journals available for sale on either Amazon or sites like TeachersPayTeachers. These journals feature prompts, questions, and observation guides to help your students study nature. You can find journals particular to a season or an ecosystem or you can opt for a general nature journal. These journals offer an easy, ready-to-use activity for your students. It also provides greater structure and scaffolding for students who may need a bit of support in getting into nature journaling. 

Nature Journal Prompts​

For students or teachers that would like a bit more flexibility in their nature journalling, a notebook or blank journal with some journal prompts might be what you are looking for. The prompts provide an idea for the writing. Students may choose to respond in paragraph form or in a combination of writing and drawing. With the prompts, you won’t be left with students telling you, “I didn’t know what to write about so I did nothing.” 

You may want to tailor your prompts to a specific subject or topic that you are studying. Or you may want to vary the type of prompts from day to day. Some prompt examples are:

  • What are the tiny things you are noticing in your space right now?
  • Imagine you are a bird, what would you be seeing?
  • If you could be any animal, what might it be and why?
  • What is your favorite outdoor space and why?

Freestyle or Open Nature Journals​

For creative and motivated students an open-ended nature journal might be what they need. This allows the student to observe and respond to whatever they like. They also have freedom in how they choose to respond. Perhaps it is descriptive writing, perhaps it is poetry, or maybe even some artwork. This might be an option once students have had some experience with nature journaling and know what kind of things they might want to respond. Students with no experience in journaling might be overwhelmed with the openness of the task and as a result might crave a bit more structure.

Nature and Art Journals​

Of course, journals don’t have to be just for writing. Why not try an open, creative nature journal with your students. You can find sketchbooks or blank journals at a local dollar store or art store. Or you can even make some yourself simply by stapling some blank pages together. Provide your students with coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, markers, or whatever art supplies you have available. Allow your students to explore and express their creativity. They can do leaf rubbings, sketches, or simply just use nature to inspire their creations.

a person writing in a nature journal

Now Start Nature Journaling…​

Provide your students with the tools to start nature journalling and watch their connection to nature as well as their creativity blossom. Nature journalling with your students will allow them to deepen their connection to the world around them. As they observe and explore they begin to see the subtle changes that occur in their learning spaces. They are also able to gain an understanding of how each element of nature is connected, including themselves. Nature journalling with your students is a fantastic way to get outside and learn. 

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