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An Introduction to Nature Journaling

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What is it?

A Nature Journal is a place to grow your observations, questions, feelings and learning about the natural world. It is a personal and adaptable practice that will look and feel different for each individual. Nature Journaling is a tool to help us improve observation skills, and to see similarities, differences, patterns and connections.

Who is it for?

Everybody! Nature Journaling will look different for everyone, as we all have different perspectives, knowledge, questions and interests. With this in mind, it’s best practice to start small, and see where it takes you. Journals are a pathway to learning, rather than a demonstration of the learning itself. Therefore it is absolutely fine that journals will change and grow as you change and grow.

If holding a pen is a challenge, feel free to use a computer or tablet to document your thoughts. Although drawing is an element of nature journaling, it is not an essential component. For the vision impaired, notes can also be dictated based on what you feel, hear, notice, and wonder with your other senses.

How does it relate to Next Generation Science Standards?

Keeping a nature journal helps students hone their scientific skills of observation and documentation while connecting to the natural world. It is especially easy to relate the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) in Life Science and Earth and Space Science, while utilizing a skill-based approach to incorporate Science and Engineering Practices.

For educators, you could set particular themes, learning objectives or tasks to accomplish in each entry. Although it is open-ended, don’t hesitate to set baseline expectations such as “date, title and temperature in top right corner” if that is helpful for your students’ learning.

How do I start? The following activities and guides offer some resources for those who are new to Nature Journaling. There is a plethora of information about journaling on the internet, however we have tried to hone in on the crucial elements of the practice. We recognize that access to the outdoors is challenging (especially now), so we have included activities that can be completed indoors, at a window, or on a quick neighborhood walk.

We are offering a free Zoom course called “Getting Started with Nature Journaling” for all ages on May 13th. Through our Training Institute Instructor, you’ll be guided through some basic principles and practices for your own use, or for your students and families. Please sign up in advance, as we may need to cap the registration.

The Audubon Center at Debs Park has made some quick videos that teach you how to make your own nature journal at home with some basic materials.

John Muir Laws & Emilie Lygren have generously made the second edition of their beautiful book free to download during this time (although you’re welcome to donate money to them, if you can). This book is a comprehensive guide to nature journaling, and provides loads of activities, suggestions and illustrations.

The print copy of the third edition of the book will be released in June, but can be preordered now.

This video by BEETLES Project teaches educators about best practices for teaching nature journaling, including activities that can be adapted to the indoors, and the kinds of feedback that are helpful for encouraging new journallers.

For educators that would like a structured pre-made lesson plan for nature journaling, this is a step-by-step introduction to scientific sketching, created by the California Academy of Sciences. This is a fantastic resource that can easily be adapted to use in home schooling, as this powerpoint can be an independent guide for students.

This great beginner's guide for educators by PLT and Acorn Naturalists has activities that can be adapted to use inside. It also explains the importance of nature journaling as an individual pursuit, and that “good” nature journals will look different to different people.

More activities from Acorn Naturalists can be found here.

To facilitate Nature Journaling for elementary students who don’t have access to the outdoors, this activity can help build the same skills that nature journaling develops. The prompts are called,

“I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of”

and an example is pictured to the right.

FOR GRADES K-2: Get your students to watch a Ranger Rick video of their choice.

FOR GRADES 3-5: Get your students to observe 10 minutes of a wild or zoo animal on livestream of their choice from

If students have access to a window, or outdoor space (or you know they are able to safely walk in their neighborhood), they can use these sentence starters and prompts to start their own nature journal.

To scaffold for students who struggle with blank page anxiety, these pages offer a framework to follow for elementary aged students (but the overall aim would be to wean students off this as soon as possible, to discourage this becoming a necessary habit). Maybe they could create their own template with the help of an adult. This type of template also reduces the open-ended nature of the activity, so leaving space for “extra questions” or “other observations” might be helpful.

¿Qué es?

Un Diario de la naturaleza es un lugar donde viven sus observaciones, preguntas, sentimientos sobre el mundo natural. Es una práctica personal y adaptable que se verá y se sentirá diferente para cada individuo. Escribiendo en su diario de naturaleza es una herramienta para ayudarnos a mejorar las habilidades de observación y para ver similitudes, diferencias, diseños y diseños que podemos encontrar.

¿Para quién es?¡Todos! Escribiendo en su diario de naturaleza se verá diferente para todos, ya que todos tenemos diferentes perspectivas, conocimientos, preguntas e intereses. Con esto en mente, es una buena práctica comenzar con poco y ver a dónde lo lleva. Tu diario sera tu camino hacia el aprendizaje, más que una demostración del aprendizaje seria. Por lo tanto, está muy bien que tus diarios cambien y crezcan a medida que usted cambia y crece. Si detener una pluma es deficil, puede usar una computadora o tableta para documentar sus pensamientos. Aunque el dibujo es un elemento del diario de la naturaleza, no es un componente esencial. Para las personas con discapacidad visual, las notas también se pueden dictar en función de lo que siente, nota con sus sentidos.

¿Cómo se relaciona con los Estándares de Ciencias de la Próxima Generación?

Llevar un diario de la naturaleza ayuda a los estudiantes a perfeccionar sus habilidades científicas de observación y documentación mientras se conectan con el mundo natural. Es especialmente fácil relacionar las Ideas básicas disciplinarias (DCI) en ciencia medio ambiental, ciencia, biologia, astronomia, e ingeniería. Para los educadores, puede establecer temas particulares, objetivos de aprendizaje o tareas a realizar en cada entrada. Aunque es abierto, no dude en establecer expectativas básicas como "fecha, título y temperatura en la esquina superior derecha" si eso es útil para el aprendizaje de sus estudiantes

¿Como empiezo?

Las siguientes actividades y guías ofrecen algunos recursos para aquellos que son nuevos en escribiendo en su diario de naturaleza. Hay una gran cantidad de información sobre el diario en línea, sin embargo, hemos tratado de perfeccionar los elementos cruciales de la práctica. Reconocemos que el acceso equivalente al aire libre no es disponible ahorita, por eso hemos incluido actividades que se pueden completar en casa, desde una ventana, o en una caminata por el vecindario.

Esta actividad se puede adaptar para caminatas y vistas del vecindario desde la ventana. Incluye un cuaderno imprimible para guiar a los estudiantes y estimula la creatividad.

Para facilitar el diario de la naturaleza para los estudiantes, que no tienen acceso al aire libre, esta actividad puede ayudar a desarrollar habilidades para el diario de la naturaleza:

"Me doy cuenta, me pregunto, me recuerda a".

Haga que sus estudiantes (K-2): vean un video de Ranger Rick de su elección.

Haga que sus estudiantes (3-5): vean un video de de su elección.

Si los estudiantes tienen acceso a una ventana o espacio al aire libre (o si saben que pueden caminar en su vecindario), pueden usar estos enunciados y avisos para comenzar su propio diario de la naturaleza.



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