If you’re looking for unique nature journal ideas for kids to use alongside your regular homeschool or public school elementary science curriculum, use these tips for inspiration.
As a homeschooling family living in a remote northern boreal forest, nature studies form an important part of our home education.
Sometimes we use forest schooling techniques. Other times, I focus on using foraging to teach alongside our academic subjects. And we often incorporate nature journal ideas for kids into our art, story prompts, and observation skill work.
Nature journals help your children take note of what nature has to offer in your area. And nature journal ideas for kids around drawing or story writing add excitement to earth science classes for older kids.
However, nature journaling also helps younger kids take a closer look at the world around them. These nature journal ideas for kids of all ages make nature journaling a great option for large homeschooling families. Each child works at their own level while working on the same project.
Nature journaling also gives families another reason to spend time together outdoors.
What you need to use nature journals in your homeschool
Getting started with nature journals in your homeschool is simple. All you really need is a quality notebook, pencils, an eraser and colored pencils.
Depending on what you plan to do with your journals, you could choose a notebook with lined and blank pages. If your nature journal ideas for kids include sketching, consider a sketchbook and a separate notebook.
To save time and stay organized, put together nature journaling drawstring bags. In each, include the following:
- a bug catcher kit
- magnifying glass
- art supplies
- Baggies for safe samples
These nature journaling bags make it easy to grab your journals and take off on an adventure.
Ways to use nature journals in your homeschool
Maybe your nature studies include a trip to the local botanical garden. Or you could plan family and preschool nature studies down to the beach to observe tide pool animals. I’ve found one of the simplest nature ideas for kids is also the most effective. Just head out your back door.
Go out to your own backyard to look at the bugs, birds, wildflowers, trees, weather, or night sky.
Looking for another simple nature activity? Gather leaves on your autumn nature walk. Then use these fall leaves printables and study ideas with your 3 - 13 year olds.
Make a weather journal
If you’re new to nature journaling with children, a weather journal could be the place to start. It’s easy, and it’s one of those nature journal ideas for kids that’s fun in any season. And you don’t need to live in the middle of the woods to note the weather!
Weather journaling helps children learn to observe weather changes. It can make it easier to chat with your child about how weather forecasters arrive at their predictions.
Try measuring rainfall or snowfall in a measuring cup in your backyard. Then compare the measurements you get in your own backyard with the predictions from your local weather service.
Some years we’ve used a section in our nature journals to write about different types of weather we observe.
This year we might try using a separate weather journal to research and add more information. And my sixth grader is particularly interested in looking at patterns around the recent rapid warming in our subarctic region. that can be useful like how the water cycle works or how tornadoes form.
Journaling hiking trips
Taking along nature journals when our family goes out hiking reminds us to record the plants, wild green edibles, and herbs we see.
Journal your garden
Some families use a nature journal to make notes and sketches of the garden.
Have your child take time to really focus on each plant from the seeds to the blossoms and fruit. And when thinning the garden, show your child the vegetable so your child has a chance to observe the roots up close and personal. Encourage your child to draw everything they see.
Use a magnifying glass to get an up-close look at the small details that may be missed. This teaches your child to take a closer look while helping them learn to identify plants, care for them, and to grow their own food.
We forage wild berries, herbs, and greens regularly. Along with a foraging guide for plant identification, among other supplies, we also bring nature journals. In fact, if you’re looking for a foraging journal, in particular, check out our foraging collection in our shop.
This has been one of the girls’ favorite nature journal ideas for kids. Once they identify each plant, they draw them. Using a lead pencil, they carefully sketch and label each part of the plant.
Next, they jot down notes to help them identify plants in the future. We also use our navigation skills and note where to find them again.
When we return home, we research how to use these herbs and plants in soapmaking, cooking, or herbal remedies.
Study the stars
Studying the night skies is another important part of our earth sciences homeschool education. Events including eclipses and planetary alignments can be observed from many areas of the world.
Take the time to study the stars with your child and take them out to observe for themselves using a telescope. Then over a cup of hot cocoa and home-baked cookies, have them complete their nature journal notes, sketches, etc.
This gives them a great opportunity to use their nature journals to practice a variety of language arts, recall, science, and art skills.
Make studying the starts a regular daily or weekly activity. Encourage them to track the changes they see in the sky, document the constellations, and even track the phases of the moon.
Nature journals are a great place to work on creative writing. From watching birds bathe to fireflies at night nature has so many amazing and inspiring things perfect for encouraging your young writer's creative side.
To add a bit of whimsy, consider putting in a fairy garden with real flowers in one of your flower beds for your young writer to set their stories and become inspired as wildlife comes into the garden while they work.
We've discovered one of the best parts of homeschooling is spending time together outdoors. Nature journals help to incorporate more outdoor time together as a family. At the same time, they help reinforce important skills in science, art, language arts, and math.
My favorite thing about using a nature journal as one of our homeschool curriculum tools is that it helps me appreciate some of the things my adult eyes might not have otherwise seen. And that is simply because our children's eyes see so much more than ours do.
If someone you know needs tips, tools or inspiration on nature journal ideas for kids, please feel free to share this post.