Children of Terra

A new generation, for a better world.

Journal

What's a Nature Journal and Why You Should Be Keeping One

Posted on October 23, 2019 at 12:35 AM

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post when you’re done. There’s a free printable to help you kick off your nature journal!

A lot of us have kept some sort of journal at one point or another. Some people keep dream journals, so they can remember on reflect on their unconscious mind. Others keep personal diaries as a place to vent their frustrations and keep fond memories. But how many people keep nature journals? I’m willing to bet that number is quite a bit higher than you would expect.

So what’s a nature journal? To put it simply, a nature journal is just a place for you to write about and draw the flora and fauna you encounter throughout your journeys. It can be any blank book, notebook, collection of papers, or even something on your phone or tablet. You can keep track of basic information relating to your encounters, such as time of day and weather conditions. You can write about whatever interests you about your encounter, such as the incredible colors of a flower or the calls of a particular bird. You can practice your artistic skills by drawing or painting what it is you’re observing, and gain a better understanding of the natural world in the process.

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about what a nature journal is, you may be asking “Why should I keep one?” The real question should be why wouldn’t you want to? By detailing the natural world, you can learn to become more observant of your surroundings, from the clouds in the sky all the way down to the tiny creatures living under rocks and in tufts of grass. You can start to learn more about the wildlife in your own neighborhood and recognize certain plants or animals much more quickly and effectively. You get a chance to challenge your artistic skills by drawing the different things you will see and encounter, and maybe even improve those skills or work with new materials or methods that you may not have thought about trying before. You can develop a better sense of understanding, respect, and appreciation for the natural world as you more closely observe the complex lives of the non-human citizens of our planet. Over time, you will create a beautiful keepsake; a reminder of the places you’ve gone and the things you’ve seen and experienced.

From a more scientific perspective, nature journals are sources of raw observatory data. With the information you collect in your journal, you can learn more about the patterns of cycles of the world around us and the creatures that inhabit it. You can look back on your observations and learn when or where may be the best time or place to encounter a specific type of toad, or to see a certain type of cloud, or to hear a certain birdsong. Who knows? Your nature journal may contain information crucial to solving a scientific dilemma or environmental issue.

I can keep listing reasons why you should keep a nature journal, but why should we waste time on the why’s when you can be journaling! There’s just a few basic guidelines to keep in mind when keeping a nature journal:

-Information is key! Keep track of the date, time, temperature, and weather conditions during your encounter. This information can help you with a lot of the things mentioned above.

-Keep it portable. A nature journal is really only useful if it’s not too big or heavy to take out with you. There’s plenty of smaller notebooks on the market. If you can’t find one you like, you can always try making your own custom one.

-Don’t overlook the art! Drawing or painting your observations not only make it easier to remember what you saw, but it can provide visual details you may need to look back on later.

-IN-FOR-MA-TION! Anything and anything you can think to write or draw about can be important later, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. What did it feel like? Sound like? What color was it? What was it hiding under? Just keep reminding yourself to ask these types of questions while journaling.

Now that you have a better understanding of nature journaling, go start one yourself! Whether you’re out on a hike or watching the ant on your windowsill, every encounter is an opportunity to learn! Don’t be afraid to share your journal, either. We love to see your projects, but it’s not just us! There’s a ton of local organizations and groups on social media dedicated to nature journaling and sharing their knowledge and information, so be sure to check some of them out. You might even make a few new friends along the way.

Want to keep a hold of some of the flora you’ve observed in your journal? Check out this portable DIY leaf press project: https://www.childrenofterra.org/apps/blog/show/47384587-bugs-bats-and-birds-building-a-diy-bughouse

CJ w/ Children of Terra-NEO

Visit our https://www.childrenofterra.org/download-links" target="_blank">Download Links section and look for the "Free Nature Journal Printout (PDF)" for a free printable template!

Categories: leafSTEM: Connecting Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math with the Environment

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