An exercise in observation, writing, and art that becomes a lifelong keepsake

A series of writing and drawing activities that helps kids and adults explore the natural world through their own direct experiences. By starting a nature journal, experiences can be recorded today and into the future! Created By Lauren Theis, Director of Education

Level: All ages

Duration: 30 minutes or more

Setting: Anywhere! In your backyard, a park, or looking out the window.


  • Pencils, Crayons or Markers
  • A nature journal (see our tutorial for making your own)


  • Construction Paper (for cover) and Scrap Paper (for inside)

Background Information: Keeping a nature journal helps us to learn about the natural world around in a personal way. By recording observations, creative ideas, thoughts, and feelings through written word and drawings, we explore our awareness of the natural world. With practice, nature journaling helps develop skills of observation, description, and reflection. It’s a great creative outlet!


  • You can be yourself in your journal.
  • It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you are a good artist – you don’t have to win an art contest for your journal.
  • We’ll use all our senses (except taste) to make observations
  • You can share none, some or parts of your journal with others.
  • Try to be specific in your journal when you make observations and descriptions.

Starting the Conversation:

  • What is a journal? Do you already keep a journal?
  • What are some reasons people might want to keep a journal?
  • What do you think a nature journal is? What would you write or draw in a nature journal?
  • Why would someone keep a journal about nature?

The Activity:

  • Pass out paper/journals and crayons or pencils.
  • If possible, spend some time outside for the first journal entry.
  • Some basic information to record whenever a new journal entry is made:
    • Date
    • Place
    • Time of day
    • Weather conditions
    • Any other important information – who they are with, name of location or activity, their mood, etc.
  • Find a “sit spot,” an area where you are far enough from others not to be distracted, but close enough that they can hear directions being given. This will be your own unique place for making observations and journaling and can be revisited any time!


  • Write the words “I see” at the top of a page. Sit for one minute and list or draw everything you see.
  • Write the words “I hear” at the top of a page.Sit for one minute and list or draw everything you hear.
  • Do some creative thinking. Imagine you are a creature of your choice (for instance, a ladybug or a hawk). How would you complete the following sentences?
    • “Through a ________________’s eyes, I would see . . . “
    • “With a _______________’s ears, I would hear . . . “
  • Take time to make other observations and write or draw in your journals.

If the owner of the journal would like to share with others, they may. If they would like to keep it private, that’s ok too!

Hold on to your journal and keep adding pages as they fill up!

For more prompts, see our “Curious Questions” blog post!


How did you like this activity? Please share any questions, comments, or photos that you and your child have on the Raritan Headwaters Learning Community Facebook Page!

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