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Creating a Rock Nature Journal

Creating a Rock Nature Journal

From the Newsletter Archives (January 2013)

During July 2012, our family took a trip to the Oregon Coast. We spent quite a bit of time just beachcombing for shells and rocks. I ended up with a collection that I wanted to record in my nature journal.

McVay Rock tidepools and rocks (7)

Rocks in general are a difficult subject to draw. I decided that the colorful rocks were much easier and that using a black pen to first outline the shape was helpful.

Oregon Rock Nature Journal

Recording rocks in your nature journal requires you to slow down and really examine the rock, noting its colors, shape, and texture.

collecting rocks baggie

I find it’s much easier to collect a few rocks and then bring them home for sketching. I have a stash of snack size Ziplocs in my nature box that I recycle from trip to trip. You can also use empty Tic-Tac or Altoid containers if you have a supply of those. We did use film canisters in the past but now that’s sort of outdated.

Greenwood river quartz rock collection

Sometimes you find a rock you want to draw in your nature journal but you cannot bring a sample home…like if you’re at a National Park or on private property. In that case, I take a few close-up images of the rock with my camera. Then I either use the image to draw the rock into my journal or I can just print out the image and put that in my journal.

I love looking back on these rock nature journal pages now and remembering not only the rocks but the experience of collecting them on a particular day.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

Take the opportunity to create a few rock themed nature journal pages as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge for Calcite, Limestone, and Marble (make a link) from last week. Click over and read how to get started.


Rock Study: Calcite, Limestone, Marble Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Rock Study: Calcite, Limestone, Marble Nature Study

Most families that have been taking time for nature study have no doubt started an official or unofficial rock collection. I know when my boys were young, they would fill my pockets with rock treasures on our nature walks and then insist I take them home for our nature table. So many rocks!

rock collection in jars

I must admit that I still collect rocks! You may wish to read this entry that shares 5 ways to organize rock collections: 5 Ways to Display Rock Collections.

Use this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge to learn a bit about rocks that you may already have in your collection. Or use the information and videos in the original challenge to build enthusiasm for a rock hunt soon.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Calcite, Limestone, Marble.

Rock Study Up close Notebook page

If you have access to the ebook, there is a general rock activity on page 39 that everyone can use: Rocks Up Close printable. Take this notebook page along with you this week during your Outdoor Hour Challenge and see how many things you can find.

Newsletter Resources: Members also have access to the two newsletters in the archives that feature rock nature studies: January 2013 and February 2016.

Under a Rock Notebook Page

Alternate Study: Members can download and print the Under a Rock Notebook Page. Find a rock, turn it over and then observe what you can find underneath. This is a fun activity with or without the notebook page.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Swallows and swifts
  • Catfish
  • Jewelweed
  • Prickly lettuce
  • Cockroach
  • Field horsetail
  • Catbird
  • Calcite, limestone, marble
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Hedgehog fungi
  • Sapsucker
  • Brooks

  Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020



Teaching the “Hard” Nature Study Subjects—Rocks


To many of us, a desire to learn about rocks does not come naturally. Rocks can seem ordinary and we don’t take time to really notice them.

rock collecting on a hike

Possible Reasons for Lack of Interest in Rocks

¨ Little interest in rocks because they seem commonplace

¨ Limited  knowledge about rocks and how to identify them

¨ Lack of physical subjects to examine

We stub our toe on them when hiking and we work hard at digging them out of our gardens, generally they just seem to be in the way. But, upon closer examination, those same rocks we see as annoyances can become an interesting topic for a lifelong nature study interest. Collecting rocks and minerals as we go about our normal business and when we travel can become a source of awe and wonder at their beauty and structure.  So how do we go about offering a “hard” study like rocks and minerals?

rock collection quartz

How to Overcome the Obstacles

¨ Develop interest over time – Use all of your available resources to make rocks more interesting. Does your child find volcanoes fascinating? Did they find some cool rocks on their nature walk? Have they looked at rocks with a magnifying lens? Do they want to make jewelry with rocks? Find ways to pull in lots of different ways of learning about rocks.

granite up close rock collection

¨ Build Up Knowledge – Kids like to be armed with facts so a field guide or books from the library on rock topics can be a source of fueling a new interest in the topic. Finding a mentor in your local community that collects rocks or visiting a rock and gem show can be a huge help in generating a spark of interest in rocks and rock collecting.

rock collection in jars

¨ Start a Collection – A rock collection that contains both rocks from your nature walks and rocks you perhaps purchase from nature shops while on field trips or vacations will over time give your family a great reference tool. Keep track of where you find or purchase the rocks with labels either on the rock or in a boxed collection.

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Study Marble Calcite Limestone @handbookofnaturestudy

Look for the upcoming Outdoor Hour Challenge for calcite, limestone, and marble. Remember the thoughts above when you read through the challenge and see if you can find a way to make the study interesting and fun for your family.