How to Start a Nature Journal

Wondering how to start a nature journal? It’s actually quite simple.

Nature journaling is an easy, practical way to capture what you see when you’re on your outdoor adventures, like while on a hike. It’s also an excellent addition to a nature study.

It’s like a nature scrapbook or a type of journal diary where you use art, pictures, words, and more to express yourself.

Flowers drawn into a spiral notebook. Pink, white, and yellow.

In our homeschool, we would head outside as often as we could when the weather was nice. Everyone loved taking a brain break during the school day. Often, we would record our discoveries in a nature journal. It was a fun way to build my kids’ observation skills.

We would draw pictures of the plants, flowers, and animals we encountered. We also included notes in our journal about any interesting or unusual facts we learned, along with observations or short stories.

The best part about nature journaling is that it can be as simple or complex as you like. All you need is a small notebook, paper, pencils, and your imagination! 

What is Nature Journaling 

Nature journaling is the process of capturing the natural world, and your observations of it, on paper.

It’s a form of exploration that helps you pay attention to the details, observe changes over time, and appreciate the natural wonders found in nature. 

It can take the form of sketches, field notes, writings, or even poems. As you create an ongoing account of your experiences in nature, you’ll end up with something that’s informative and deeply personal. 

The goal of nature journaling is to capture not only what you see but also how it makes you feel and the stories behind the observations. 

Girl drawing flowers in a nature journal. Another book has dried leaves taped inside.

How to Start a Nature Journal

The most important thing to remember is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s your own journal that reflects your personal experience.

It doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to be an artist to create a nature journal. 

So, how do you move from taking a walk to capturing your observations in a journal?

Number one is to get outside! Put the textbooks down and go exploring. Take a hike, look in your own backyard, go to a local park, or drive to a nature preserve.

Get outside with creative nature walks. Just get started.

Remember that this isn’t about perfection. It’s about recording what you find beautiful, interesting, or inspirational.

Make a conscious choice to slow down. That is when you will begin to notice details about the natural world we live in. Use your five senses. Pay attention to shapes, textures, smells, movement, and color.

Find something that catches your eye, as well as your imagination, and study it. You can start sketching or recording right then and there.

Or take photos and samples (if appropriate) so you can work on your journal at home.

Teen girl is sitting against a large tree in the woods, writing in a notebook. Nature journaling.

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What Should You Use for a Nature Journal? 

You don’t need an expensive leather-bound field journal to get started. A single piece of paper or even a small sketchbook is a great place to begin your nature notebook.

A favorite among homeschoolers is composition books. They are cheap, easy to find, and simple to customize.

You can even make your own books by stapling blank sheets of paper between construction paper or card stock.

If you are going to be using mixed mediums in your books (tools like pencils, markers, and watercolor pencils), I would recommend sticking to heavier paper that can withstand the wetness and won’t bleed through.

We loved using small, spiral-bound mixed media sketch books with heavier blank pages.

Just find something that works for you and you can carry easily.

Watercolor Brush MarkersWatercolor Brush MarkersWatercolor Brush MarkersMixed Media JournalMixed Media JournalMixed Media JournalWater Color PencilsWater Color PencilsWater Color PencilsPocket Guide to Wildflowers of North AmericaPocket Guide to Wildflowers of North AmericaPocket Guide to Wildflowers of North America


Nature Journal Supplies

The supplies you need depends on what you’re trying to capture. There’s no list of “right materials.” It’s honestly a personal preference to what you want your journal entry to contain. My teens love experimenting with different colors and mediums.

Consider using:

This is a creative way for older children to add some nature drawing to their art and science lessons.

Get Outside with Creative Nature Walks Education Possible

Natural Journaling Ideas

Aside from drawing, painting, and writing about nature observations, what else should you include in your nature journal entries? 

Include anything that you find inspiring, interesting, or unusual.

Over the years, our family has experimented with adding other elements to our journals, including:

  • Flowers
    • You can press them, sketch them, photograph them, or diagram them as part of a Botany study.
  • Leaves
    • Add them as they are or create a leaf rubbing in your notebook. They can be a great reminder of the beauty of the seasonal changes.
  • Photographs
    • If your tween is interested in photography, encourage her to include some of her nature photographs in her journal. Besides foliage images, she could add some pictures of birds she finds.
  • Nature Rubbings and Stamping
    • No matter their age, kids enjoy the chance to be “crafty” with natural objects. They can create bark and leaf rubbings, as well as stamping, using rocks and acorns.
  • Creative Writing
    • Include some poetry, quotes, and short stories based on items you find.
  • Lists
    • Keep a running list of things you see during your many observations of nature, like types of birds, trees, and flowers.
  • Scientific Names
    • This is a simple technique for helping tweens learn and remember the formal names of what they see on a nature walk.

I love going back and looking at the journals my girls have created over the years.

It is a wonderful reminder of what interested them during a season, as well as seeing how their writing and creativity blossomed.

Hands using colored pencils to draw a thistle flower in a notebook that's sitting on a wooden table. There are other flowers on the table.

More Nature Ideas

Nature journaling is so much fun and the perfect family activity. It’s an excellent way to slow down and truly observe the world around you.

Head outdoors today and see what catches your eye so you can start your own nature journal. I guarantee that you’ll return full of inspiration!

Hopefully, you’ve seen how simple it can be to start nature journaling.

Megan Zechman
I love homeschooling! Learning is a way of life for our family. Most days you will find us exploring our Central Florida community, having fun while learning. I am constantly looking for new and interactive ways to engage my older children.
Megan Zechman
Megan Zechman
Megan Zechman

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  1. Such a lovely idea that i’ll be doing with my kids

    Natasha @ Serenity You

  2. Nature Journaling has been on my list of to-dos with my children for years, but we’ve had trouble getting started. I appreciate your tips for getting started and the book recommended. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome Sara! It’s sometimes so hard to get started with something brand new, isn’t it? I’m glad I was able to show you how easy it can be to get going. I think your kids will really enjoy it. I know mine do! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. We started nature journaling as a way to pass the time in the car, driving home from hikes. The kids love it!

    1. What a great idea Laura! My kids used to draw a lot in the car – I had forgotten all about that. Maybe I’ll start nudging them in that direction again. Definitely a great way to remember your hikes while passing the time.

  4. Pingback: Out and About in Cincinnati {Hearts for Home Blog Hop}
  5. wow this is a beautiful idea, that never crossed my mind and i think i never heard about it before!! my daughter and twins love nature and are still fascinated by its elements suggesting a nature journal would be a great way to get them engaged with something they are passionate about! thanks for sharing! Marwa from

    1. Thank you Marwa! I’m so excited to hear that your kids love being out in nature. My kids do too. When I started to add more purpose to our outdoor journeys, they seemed to become more reflective. They weren’t in such a hurry anymore and instead were anxious to find things to document. It’s been a great way to expand their art interests too. Thank you so much for stopping by. Let me know how your kids like keeping a nature journal.

  6. This is such a beautiful idea and post! Thanks so much for sharing at After School.

  7. A nature journal sounds like a fine way to welcome spring! We have to try it!
    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

    1. I know many people will be welcoming spring with open arms this year Jill! I hope your family enjoys keeping a nature journal as much as mine has. We love your hop and will definitely be stopping by again! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Great flower picture. Love the leaves taped into the nature journal! Thanks for linking up to the Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop. Hope to see you next week!

    1. Thank you Thaleia. We took that on a trip to Colorado last year at their botanical garden. My daughters don’t remember too much about living up North and the change of seasons, so they were thrilled to be in PA one year during the fall. They collected so many leaves!! We love your hop, so I’m sure we’ll have something to contribute next week. Thank you for stopping by!

  9. Thank you for sharing these great ideas. What do you use to carry your supplies on your nature walks?

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