Getting Started with Nature Journals


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Wondering how to get started with a simple nature journal? I am happy to share my tips and journal ideas after keeping a nature journal of my own and encouraging nature journaling with my children for the past fifteen years. It is possible to create a meaningful nature journal following a few simple suggestions.

Nature journals are as personal as each of us….unique and individual. There is no right or wrong way to keep a nature journal. The most important aspect of journaling is to keep a personal account of your experiences outdoors whether you sketch or write about it. I always encourage new journalists to keep it simple. Look at the examples showing how we create lasting memories in our journals using simple to implement ideas.

Page by page you can build a record of your outdoor experiences that will bring you pleasure and serve as a scrapbook of your adventures whether they are in your own backyard or far from home.

How to Get Started With Nature Journals

I get a lot of questions about nature journals and I have written a lot about this topic over the years. Here on this page I will list some entries for you to read that explain how to get started and keep a nature journal. Plus, there are specific nature journal ideas to inspire beginners and even more advanced adults in their journaling pursuits.

Simple Nature Journal Ideas- This is my best “how to” page on nature journals. Don’t miss it!

Drawing with Children and Your Nature Journal- Lots of tips for learning to draw in your nature journal. Includes lesson plans to go along with Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes.

Nature Journal Examples on Flickr  Are you looking for some actual nature journal examples to view? Follow this link for some pages from our family’s nature journals over the years.

You can also follow my Nature Journal board on Pinterest!



What Supplies Do I Need?

We use both a spiral bound sketch book in a smaller size and a binder for our nature journal collections.

When the children were younger they exclusively used spiral bound journals because they were easier to take along with us when we did our sketching. We used No. 2 pencils and colored pencils pretty much for all the entries.

As they grew older, they did more thorough research on certain topics and since we became a family that uses notebook pages, they started a 3-ring binder that holds their larger work.

The best advice I have for someone starting with younger children would be to start off with a small spiral bound journal because they are less intimidating. If you have an older child you could choose one or the other method of keeping your nature journal…ask them what they prefer.

I prefer to use the mixed media journals because they hold up to markers and watercolors because the pages are quite thick.

Nature Journal Cover Watercolor Pages @handbookofnaturestudy

You can personalize your journal’s cover by adhering a blank page that you decorate how every you wish. You can see how I created the custom cover here: Creating a Nature Journal Cover.

Would you like a simple idea to get you started?

Spend 15 minutes outdoors with your children, following their interests as they explore your own backyard. Try to spend 2-3 minutes listening to the sounds of your own world. After you return inside, ask your children to:

**One word to describe something the heard.

**Two words for something they saw.

**Three words for something the felt.

The idea is for you to write down this simple nature journal caption for their journal. Each time you take a nature walk your children will start to develop more and more vocabulary and this will eventually trickle down to their nature journals.

They can then add a simple sketch or rubbing to complete their journal entry.

You can read more about this beginner’s nature journal idea here: Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 – Using Your Words.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

I have written a beginner’s nature study ebook called, Getting Started Challenges. In this ebook, you will find ten different ideas (including the one linked above) for getting started with nature study in your family and each challenge has a pre-printed notebook page that you can use as a nature journal follow up activity. Click over to read more!

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Note: Every level of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study includes access to this ebook. Read more about a membership by clicking the graphic below. In addition, every ebook in all levels of membership include notebooking pages with each challenge. This are a simple way to keep a nature journal with your children.


Using Printables from the Handbook of Nature STudy  newsletters button

If you are a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, all levels of membership include the newsletter archives. There are printables and loads of inspiration to be found in every issue. Click the graphic above for suggestions for using the newsletter printables in your nature journal.

Are you ready for some nature journal inspiration?

Click each of the nature journal ideas below for simple suggestions that make amazing nature journal pages. Use a variety of ideas to make your nature journal interesting!
Nature Journal With a Photo @handbookofnaturestudyNature Journal Out Your Window @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project - with NumbersOnce a Month Nature Journal Project - Signs @handbookofnaturestudy smallOnce a Month Nature Journal Project sketch outdoors @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Use Your 5 Senses @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Make a List @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Use Color @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Add a Map @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Trace an Object @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Wish List @handboofnaturestudyNature Journal Project Recap Your Month @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Use an Arrow @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Watercolors @handbookofnaturestudyOnce a Month Nature Journal Project Sketch the Parts @handbookofnaturestudy


Free Printable – 3 Steps to a Better Nature Study Experience

I have written a concise summary showing how to conduct nature study with a variety of ages of children. Included in this printable, there is a page dedicated to more advanced nature journals. I encourage you to download and read the whole explanation.

3 steps to a better nature journal experienceNature Study – Three Steps to a Better Experience

 Nature Journal Encouragement for Moms!

If you are trying to create your own nature journal, you may wish to follow me on Instagram.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge
I share a nature journal example every week on my Instagram account. Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal

Printables for Members Button

For Journey and Ultimate Level members here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you have access to many printables to use in your nature journal. You can download a list of the current printables available here: Current Printables for Members.

Make sure to Pin this page on Pinterest!


Getting Started with Nature Journals

You may be interested in these related entries:

Nature+Study+the+Gentle+Way+@handbookofnaturestudy.jpgNature+Study+With+Young+Children+@handbookofnaturestudy.jpgHow to Naturally Share Nature Study with Your Children @handbookofnaturestudy