How to make a nature journal

How to make a nature journal is the fourth in a series of blog posts and videos designed to support educators and parents in encouraging play-based learning.

The toys in the Spring Difference and Diversity Play Set (two bees, a butterfly, a lavender plant and a Sun) are focused on nature (Spring and Summer in particular) and there are ideas and reading suggestions in the materials that support the play set, for ways you can leverage interest in the toys into learning more about natural science and other topics.

According to "The Big Book of Nature Activities" the average child can recognize over 300 corporate logos but only 10 native animals or plants. Nature journaling is a terrific way to spend time outside with kids observing, learning about and from the natural world, as well as learning respect for the environment around them.

For kids who are soon to be on a summer break from school a nature journal would be a perfect project to do with them - one or two days a week spent outside and then recording their day in a journal for posterity!

The problem with nature journaling is that it's often inaccessible. So, I decided to create a nature journal that was accessible to kids and their families in three important ways:

  1. Financially. The journal I've made is cheap - it's made primarily of brown paper snack bags. It doesn't require expensive art materials to fill either, I'm going to share lots of ideas for how you can journal using materials you either have on hand or can acquire cheaply.
  2. Geographically. Most children live in an urban environment so I've focused on how you can nature journal using a yard, community garden, streetscape, local park, or even a container garden.
  3. Physically. A lot of children (and adults) don't have the fine motor skills and/or confidence to draw. My nature journal includes lots of ways kids can develop fine motor skills and record their observations without having to either draw or write.

This video is an introduction to the nature journal I've made and have been using to record Spring days in April and May. Please note that I am not taking credit for the design of the journal itself - that goes to the artist Cat Hand who created a Snack Bag Book. My intent is to demonstrate how this design can be used for accessible nature journaling.

My journal isn't yet complete, so when it's finished, I will film a walk-through in which I outline how I made each page and what supplies I used:

I mention in the video that a number of people have been extremely generous with their time and ideas and given me feedback on the beta play set and materials. One of those people is homeschooler Mindy Douglas who has just started a new blog, Smiling Homeschooler, so definitely go check out her site.

So, what do you think? Will you make a nature journal with your kids this summer?

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