For some people, children or adults, the idea of keeping a journal is agonizing. For a child, the simple act of keeping a journal – even if it is a collection of simple drawings – helps build the child’s self-confidence as they build literacy, observation and drawing skills. See photos of sample Nature Detectives journals at the bottom of this page.
Selecting a Journal
Bookstores feature an abundant selection of bound journals, artist sketch pads or a book with pockets for storing found items. Assembling a stack of blank paper between cover sheets and stapling them together is good enough for a young child’s first journal. Nature Detectives use pre-assembled blank sheets of paper and colored cover stock. Each set is punched with either 2 or 3-holes so the journals can be bound with ribbon. After students select their journal, they thread the ribbon, with or without help. Then everyone decorates the cover before we venture outside.
Using Your Journal
There is no one right way to create a Nature Journal. Some people draw only pictures. Some record data, such as temperature or bird counts. I prefer to draw pictures and write brief comments or narrate the scene. Find the fit that is right for you and your children and have fun! Take journals on vacation, or a day trip to record observations, thoughts, directions, favorite trails or activities, draw pictures, store photos, and mementos,
Your nature journals will become the vessel for preserving memories of family time outdoors – the opportunities are endless! Journals create opportunities for everyone to deepen their relationship with the natural world.
Creating Nature Detectives Discovery Journals is always our first project during the first of our 8-week theme-based sessions. As we explore the outdoor world, students write, draw and record measurements and evidence in their journals. Kindergarten students draw pictures and write fewer words. Third graders create a detailed story around their pictures and experience.
This photo shows the drawing of a Nature Detective describing what she sees at her feet, her knees, and over her head at school.
Contact Janice for more information about bringing Nature Detectives to your school, neighborhood, park or nature area.
To find out about different techniques and resources for nature journaling, visit the Books and Online Information page.