10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #8 Nature

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #8 Nature
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #8 Nature

There is nothing more inspiring than exploring, recording, and illustrating God’s world! Nature notebooking can take many forms, depending on the ages, interests, and abilities of your children.

Some of us are more artistic and will focus on brilliant illustrations and sketches that capture a moment.  Others are gifted with words, and will describe to the last detail one of God’s creatures.  Many will amass, press, and build their own unique nature collection.  Still others will be more interested in “nuts and bolts,” and their journals will reflect a more scientific approach to nature.

Whatever it looks like in your home, nature notebooks are a way for the entire family to collect, identify, describe, illustrate, and document outdoor (and sometimes indoor) wonders!

  • For the youngest children, make sure keeping a nature notebook is something they look forward to.  If we become too formal in these young years, our children may lose the simple wonder of observation and begin to dread anything to do with nature!
  • Start small.  Ask your youngest to pick one thing to identify and illustrate or record on a nature walk.
  • Provide different types of paper, notebooks, and journals.  We’ve gone through several different ways of recording nature — everything from writing/illustrating paper, to blank notebook sheets, to formal nature journals.  Let the child choose something he finds inspiring.
  • Allow your child to experiment with different media.  Crayons are fine, but perhaps colored pencils will work better.  Perhaps a student will graduate to charcoal or watercolor illustrations.
  • Decorate!  Nature journals beg to be fitted out with…well…things from nature!   Create or decorate a cover with items found in nature — leaves, shells, small pebbles — or illustrate with drawings from nature.
  • When our children have several nature notebooks under their belts, then they can begin to add scientific classifications and formal scientific names for the parts of things found in nature.
  • Yes, a student can have one nature notebook with sections for the variety of items he may wish to document.  He could instead have one notebook for each broad division — plant, animal, or mineral.  Another option is to have a notebook for each area of study — flowers, trees, insects, reptiles, etc.
  • To be effective, nature study takes time!  Students need time to simply sit, listen, and observe.  Our role is to help them find answers to their questions (provide guidebooks and other resources); but they need to be the guides.

Additional Resources
10 Ideas for Nature Study

10 Ideas for Nature Study
Ideas to get you started.

Start a Nature Notebook
Tips from Karen Andreola.

Nature Watching and Journals
Tools for your walk, journal supplies, tips on what to look for — great ideas from Highland Heritage Home School!

10 Things to Put in Your Nature Journal

10 Things to Put in Your Nature Journal
Get started!

All types of free nature-related eBooks, forms, activities, and more!


Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie
This has been a longtime favorite.  Subtitled Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You, this Storey Publishing title is really like a nature journal on its own.  So many wonderful ideas, tips, and examples for drawing, journaling, and recording nature.  Simply thumbing through our copy is motivating!  Consider making it a “coffee-table book,” placing it where the young naturalist in your home will find it and come away inspired!

Pocketful of Pinecones

A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola
Written as a homeschool mom’s fictional diary, Pocketful of Pinecones offers an engaging storyline which serves as a framework for the book’s broader appeal as a “how-to” for nature study. By observing another homeschool family in action, we learn how we can incorporate nature study in our homeschool.  Read our entire review.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #8 Nature

Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
Originally written in 1911 by the head of the Department of Nature Study at Cornell University, this much-loved handbook shows us how to observe nature in 887 pages of detail.  While the paperback is still in print, the original is also available online as a free download.

Unit Studies
Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Our own free nature studies series that encourages observation!

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Nature Journal Notebooking Sets {Free Download}
We created these sets of free notebooking pages to make nature journaling easier — available in primary-lined, wide-ruled, and college-ruled sets. These are simple pages — not directed pages. The idea is that the observer can illustrate, draw, and write what he sees.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
Room at the top for illustrating and room at the bottom for recording observations.

A Kid’s Seasonal EcoJournal
We purchased a set of these years ago, and they are still being used.  Each journal begins with ideas for what to record and tips for exploring nature.  The remainder of the book is set up with a one-half page journal on the left to record observations, followed by a diary entry from Trickle Creek.  The opposing page has information, ideas, and activities in keeping with the season.

Nature Journal Entry Pages
Three different types of forms from Highland Heritage Home School for those who prefer a more directed approach.

Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook Pages
These are more directed, but they fit perfectly with the “starting small” approach and helping young students find one thing to to identify and illustrate. Seasonally appropriate tasks include finding out what’s living in the water, and looking for seeds, animal signs, snow sculptures, robins, and other nature finds.

Enjoy the entire series: