Nature Notebooks-Like a Travel Journal

Indian Sands wildflowers Indian Paintbrush

Nature notebooks, which started with our P.U.S. (Parents Union Schools) have become like travel records and journals for students. They keep notes about all their finds: birds, flowers, fungus, mosses are described and sketched every season in the same way that Gilbert White did. A nature notebook can be kept by anyone anywhere. It can be used to record stars on their course in the heavens, or a fossil of an anemone on the beach at Whitby. These notebooks help to make science come alive and relate to the common man. Science should not be taught merely as a utilitarian means of preparing students for a career!”
Charlotte Mason, volume 6, page 223

I was reading through volume six of Charlotte Mason’s books this week and found this gem of a quote about nature journals. I am in total agreement with her about the nature journal becoming a travel journal for our children as well as for ourselves.

We have traveled with our journals for many years and it is enjoyable to look back at the entries from places far from home with fond memories.

Here are some examples:

Trip to Makaha, Hawaii….homeschooled while we were there for two weeks. Awesome experience for the boys.

Another journal drawing from the Makaha trip.

Yellowstone National Park and a day at the river that we all remember with our journal entries. I can’t explain how taking the time to journal a day is so powerful. It seems to blaze it into your memory so that years later….many years later in this case, we can all remember exactly what we did on that hot summer afternoon. This entry is from my oldest son’s journal.

This journal was done on a trip to Arizona. We had visited the Sonoran Desert Museum outside of Tucson and we saw three different owls that my son recorded in his journal.

Closer to home, this journal entry was done on a family hike to Eagle Lake. I remember that even my husband journaled on this day and it was great to see his experiences. This is my pen and watercolor sketch of the event.

This one I shared this entry not too long ago but it is another great way to document a trip in a nature journal. My son and I journaled on the same page and it is one of my favorite entries in my current journal. I know I will always look back on this page and remember the afternoon that we spent at Curry Village sketching and having a snack. Thanks Mr. B.

One last one from a trip we took a few years ago to the redwoods. It was our first time visiting Redwoods National Park and we made time for several entries while we were there. This particular entry reminds me that these were the falls that the boys climbed up and found their very first banana slug. They made me climb up the waterfall to take a photo of it for them. :)

Take your journals with you when you travel. Take time to sketch!

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started


  1. Particularly love the Curry Village entry, as that one brings back memories for any of us who have been there!
    We are headed to Yosemite tomorrow, with our journals carefully stowed and ready for action… not to mention quite a few books that you recommended. Thanks so much!

  2. Jennifer,

    Maybe we will bump into you…we are headed that way too! Happy Yosemite!

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  3. We are going to Florida in a couple of weeks. What a great idea.

  4. Your nature/travel journals are inspiring. I make sure the boys have their journals but need to get into the habit of bringing my own.

    I went to school in Monterey and would love for my family to experience the California parks.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, they are something to look forward to with my own sweet ones.

  6. How fun! Makes me want to take some fabulous trips just so we can take our nature journals! ♥

  7. Love the quote. It is one I’ve not read before.

    We took our nature journals with us on our recent holiday. I have a few nice pics in mine, but Jemimah preferred to fill hers with Disney Princesses and the like, so we stopped.

    Next time we’ll do better…

  8. What a great idea! I’m getting ready to start posting about our trip to Ireland/Scotland and we saw so many plants, animals, etc that we’d never seen before… it would have been great if we’d have been keeping a nature journal!

  9. These are beautiful keepsakes for your family!!! That’s what I want ours to be to us!! Thanks for sharing!! Be Blessed!-Angie in GA

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