Nature Study vs. Nature Journals

I have come to the conclusion that the line between nature study and a nature journal is getting sort of fuzzy. You can have lots of nature study and not have a nature journal.

Don’t let your lack of skill in drawing keep you from your nature study.

Nature walk=
Time outdoors+time spent in observation

Nature study=
Time outdoors+time spent in observation+time learning about your discoveries

Nature journal=
Time outdoors+time spent in observation+time learning about your discoveries+time recording your observations and thoughts

I am in no way discouraging nature journals but I am convinced that if you spend enough time in nature study, you will have more to write about in your journal.

Nature Study for Young People

“As soon as a child is old enough, he should keep his own nature notebook for his enjoyment. Every day’s walk will give something interesting to add–three squirrels playing in a tree, a bluejay flying across a field, a caterpillar crawling up a bush, a snail eating a cabbage leaf, a spider suddenly dropping from a thread to the ground, where he found ivy and how it was growing and what plants were growing with it, and how ivy manages to climb.”
Charlotte Mason Volume 1 Home Education page 54.

Here are some other thoughts on nature study from Charlotte Mason.

  • The skill of drawing should not be addressed in the nature notebook. pg. 55
  • If the child is too young to write, the mother should do it. pg. 58
  • Encourage your children to sit quietly and patiently and to look closely. pg. 57
  • Some children are born naturalists but all have a natural curiousity that can be encouraged. pg. 58
  • Most children will think of a million things to put in his nature notebook. pg 55

Here are some of my own observations on nature study.

  • It takes my children a long time to explore outdoors and they can do it very well without my interfering. I try to follow their lead and not rush them.
  • I need to participate in the nature study myself. I try to model how to find a subject for my notebook and really observe the object.
  • Drawing the object in the notebook is the last step in really “seeing” the object.
  • There is no use in forcing a child to work in a nature journal. Regular exposure to the outdoor life will eventually lead to a desire to keep a record of what they see that interests them.
  • Every nature journal is unique to the owner. I tend to record scenes in my journal. My daughter usually finds something pretty to draw. My boys find “things” to record in their journals like sticks, bugs, leaves, and seeds.
  • Don’t limit your journals to sketches. Sometimes we include photos in our journals. We have taken rubbings of bark or leaves. We have even taped small objects into our journals. Variety in our journals make them more interesting.

We have been working diligently in our notebooks this summer, recording our adventures. It is comforting to look back on the sketches and remember what fun we have had exploring the outdoors.

How to Make a Nature Journal

I thought I would share a quick little nature journal idea that we like to make for an outing or a special roadtrip.



  • 4 sheets of paper…any kind will do
  • hole punch
  • rubberband
  • twig

Fold the paper in half.

Punch two holes near the edge of the folded side of the paper.

Put the rubberband around the twig and then down through one of the holes.

Stretch the rubberband on the backside of the paper and up through the other hole.

Put the rubberband around the other end of the twig.


There you have it.


Add decoration to the cover if you wish.