Nature Journaling

Opening the World of Science

Opening the World of Science Through
Nature Journaling

Inspire students to engage with natureand extend their excitement to their community and beyond. These virtual lessons apply science practices and ignite curiosity about the world. These discovery and exploration activities are perfect for in school or distance learning environments. Teacher guides, videos and student worksheets are all included in these free, downloadable resources. Students develop observation skills and learn concepts that help them understand the many interactions in nature, and the role we play in maintaining healthy ecosystems. As a result, students are empowered to care for the environment within their watershed and local communities.

How Our Virtual Lessons Work

The goals of this Nature Journaling Series are to improve students’ observation skills, provide opportunities for them to engage in science practices, and strengthen their connection to the natural world. The series includes three introductory lessons that lay the groundwork for nature journaling, and an additional five lessons using different approaches to observation that challenge and engage students to ask questions and make conclusions using higher level thinking skills.


Available Lessons

Child observing a decaying log

To record their findings, scientists keep Science Notebooks to remember what they observed; share observations with other scientists; and use their notes as the starting point for further research. In this activity students will design their own Science Notebook Cover using materials they have at home.

Student observing nature with magnifying glass

In this activity, students hone their observation skills and engage in science practices. Students will need a small nature object that they can hold in their hand. “I Notice” directs students to focus on the object’s details to help them articulate and remember what they are observing. “I Wonder” ignites curiosity as students ask questions about the details they are noticing. ”It Reminds Me Of” encourages students to make connections with personal experiences. Together, these prompts offer a practice that can be applied to learning and sparking curiosity.

Child writing in science notebook

Nature journaling is an opportunity for students to increase their observation skills, ignite curiosity and engage in natural phenomena as scientists do. This activity introduces students to why scientists use Science Notebooks, what information/data are included in their entries, and how it is recorded. Students are then prompted to select a natural object of interest to them, take time to slow down, observe, and use the information presented to complete a nature journal entry in their Science Notebooks.

Child writing in notebook

Students will sketch and compare two similar objects found in nature by observing unique features and recording their observations. By observing nature objects through comparison, students will more readily notice unique details that otherwise might have gone unseen. In addition, as students continue to use this comparison practice, they will start to think about how different structures work, notice patterns, and begin to see how different conditions might affect the objects they are observing.

Child using magnifying glass to look at plant

Students will be record observations of an object from nature using three different scales or perspectives: life size, up close (zoom in), and far away (zoom out). Viewing an object up close reveals features and patterns that otherwise could be missed when observing from a distance. Stepping back from the object and viewing it as a whole allows for an understanding of shape, where it stands in its environment, as well as its relationship to other things around it. Throughout this process students will gain a valuable tool of using different perspectives to make varied observations.

A bird in a tree

In this observation activity, students find a location to sit quietly and listen to the sounds that surround them. Using different colors, symbols, words and pictures, students represent the sounds they hear and record their observations on a map that they create. By focusing on their sense of hearing, students experience a location from a different perspective allowing them to witness the variety of pitch, rhythms, and frequency around them.

A bee on a purple blooming flower

In this observation activity, students engage in observation skills and questioning strategies used by scientists in the field. Students discover a tiny world of wonder found within the parameters of a loop of string. They will use words, pictures, and numbers to describe the discoveries they have made and the ongoing questions they are curious about.

Group of students sitting at a bridge

In this observation activity, students map a section of their school and/or home communities as they engage in place-based learning through the lens of environmental stewardship. Students observe, question and make connections as they look for positive and negative human impacts within their surrounding environments. This mapping activity allows students to begin a discussion surrounding environmental problems and serve as a springboard for student conservation projects.