Over the years I have accumulated many nature journal entries recorded on notebooking pages. I started off keeping them chronologically in my nature notebook binder but that didn’t make sense after awhile. I would go to look at my list of backyard birds and it would be mixed in with the wildflower notebook pages. I would try to find the list of Yosemite birds and it would be hidden in among my local wildflower pages. You get the idea…it was not very organized.
I needed to come up with a way to organize my nature notebook pages in a way that made sense. I needed a system that worked long-term and would keep my treasured memories in a way that I could refer to them easily when desired.
Here is what I came up with for my nature notebook. Feel free to adapt my idea in a way that works for your family.
This system will work with many styles of notebook pages including those you purchase, make on your own, or print from the Outdoor Hour Challenges.
If you start this system with your child’s notebook, they can keep adding to it from year to year with ease.
Things You Will Need to Gather:
- Binder – I use a 1.5 inch size binder and find it easy to take with me when we travel.
- Cover and spine labels – Make your own or if you have the NotebookingPages.com Treasury membership there are some to print.
- Tabs – Either tab pages or Post-It tabs (I like the Post-It ones so I can move them easily.)
- Sheet protectors (I buy the heavyweight kind so I can use them for pressed flowers and feathers.)
- Completed notebook pages (I also include blank pages in my binder-see below.)
How I Organize My Pages
- Organize by category (birds, trees, wildflowers, insects, etc)
- Organize by location (see below for explanation)
I also have sections for places we spend time when we travel. We regularly go to Yosemite, the deserts of California and Arizona, and to Oregon. I found it easier to keep these pages under their own tabs so I can add to them from year to year.
Sheet protectors are also a wonderful way to add miscellaneous artwork to your nature notebook. I sometimes work on watercolor paper for a journal entry and this way I can take it out of the pad and insert it in the proper section in my nature notebook binder.
Here is an example of how I add to a running list in my nature notebook. This is a page from my Yosemite Creek – Birds section. I started the list in 2010 and then on a trip in 2011 I add the Raven we observed. I have several Yosemite bird lists going, keeping track of exactly where we observed a particular bird. (You can download this free notebook page from my Freebies tab at the top of my blog.)
I have found it helpful to add a few blank pages to each section so when I am out exploring (especially when traveling and I don’t have access to a printer) I can complete a specific notebook page. Last fall we observed milkweed at Yosemite so when we go back and see it again I will complete the official notebook page for my records. I do this with birds, trees, insects, and wildflowers. This would work well for your local area as well if you regularly spend time working on your nature journal while out in the field. (This is a notebook page from the More Nature Study – Autumn 2011 ebook.)
Don’t forget to keep a few generic notebook pages in your binder as well. This will give you a place to record a special find while you are taking your outdoor time. I find it very enjoyable to pull out my notebook and work for a few minutes at the end of an excursion. Being prepared sometimes means the difference between actually completing a nature notebook page and letting the opportunity pass without creating one.
Keeping a nature notebook is a joy! It is a treasured record of our family’s outdoor time. I encourage you all to build your own notebook one page at a time and over the years you will have a richer nature study experience and a wonderful keepsake.
Many of the pages in our nature journals come from NotebookingPages.com. You can buy the individual sets or you can purchase the Treasury Membership and have access to ALL the notebook pages on NotebookingPages.com.
Please note that I am an affiliate for NotebookingPages.com.
For more information about using notebooking pages with high schoolers, you can see my Squidoo page for lots of specific links, tips, and resources: Notebooking for High Schoolers..