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Nature Journaling Activities

student journaling outside


Journals are where we record observations, questions, and thoughts about what we see and experience. Nature journaling helps us to look more closely at organisms, describe a plant or animal, and to recognize a personal connection with nature.

The following two journaling activities for all ages that may be done indoors or outdoors:

Nature Observation

On a piece of paper, have students record their name and the date, time, and location. If they are outside, also include the weather. Take a few seconds to complete that information.

Next, have students find a plant or animal that is interesting to them. Maybe they had an experience with it before or maybe it is their first time seeing see that plant or animal. Once they find their specimen, ask them to sketch and describe it (they can use single words or write out full sentences). Encourage students to sketch to the best of their ability, and to try to focus on the process of drawing, rather than the result.

After you are done, consider or discuss:

  • What did you experience during this exercise?
  • Were you surprised/disappointed by anything?
  • Would anyone like to share their descriptions?

Nature Memory

Have your students think about a past experience they have had with a plant or animal. Ask them to close their eyes and take a few quiet seconds to picture the memory of that plant or animal. When they open their eyes, spend three minutes free-writing about that memory.

Tell students not to worry about telling the perfect story or using the perfect words, just brain dump that moment onto the paper. If they get stuck, it is no big deal—if they need to, write about getting stuck! After the 3 minute writing period is over, have students shake out their hands and stretch their arms, then read over what they wrote and underline words or phrases that pop out to them.

Have students take another 3 minutes to free write on a new piece of paper— and if there is time go for a
third round.

Quick Prompts

Use these to get students warmed up, or if you only have a few minutes

  •  I notice.. I wonder… It reminds me of…
  • Zoom In, Zoom Out
  • Sound Maps and Nature Memory Maps
  • Comparisons of like species 
  • Observing changes over a season
  • Find and Seek!

More Nature Journaling Resources