Nature Journals – Engage with the Outdoors
As you travel one of the best ways to engage with the outdoors is through keeping a nature journal. Nature journals can seem intimidating, but you do not need to be an experienced botanist or artist to keep your own journal. A nature journal will help you be more attentive to your surroundings, and will help you notice things you would otherwise miss. Nature journals can also be great learning tools for kids. Read on for tips on how to use nature journals as a way to engage with the outdoors.
In order to keep a nature journal, there are some basic materials you will want on hand. First of all, you will want some sort of notebook or binder. You will want something that is durable, preferably with thicker pages. You will also want travel ready sets of pens, pencils, and perhaps paints with which to record your observations. If you’re not inclined to sketch, consider purchasing a small portable photo printer. You can buy printers that don’t require any ink, so are easy to pack when traveling. Simply print your pictures as you go and write your observations and descriptions.
Create a question list
On the first page of your nature journal you can create a question list to help guide your entries. As you travel and spend time in nature, you can ask these questions at your various stops. Some example questions are:
- What animals do I see? What do I think the animals eat? Where might they be nesting or burrowing?
- What is the most common type of vegetation?
- How does the weather impact the vegetation?
- Sketch what you see – what details in color, size and stage of life do I notice in flowers or animals or other creatures?
- Are there signs of other species around me, such as droppings, tracks, flattened grass or holes?
- How do my surroundings make me feel?
Draw (or add photos) as much as you right
The fun of a nature journal is having visuals to look back on. Sketching out and coloring what you see will help you notice details you might otherwise overlook. The quality of your art doesn’t so much matter here – it’s all about training yourself to observe and record detail!
Look up information afterward
When you return from your trip or outing, you can look up more information on what you observed. Try to figure out the species of birds or animals, and add in notes into your journal about what you’ve learned. There are many websites that can help you identify flora, fauna and wildlife. The more you journal, the more you’ll be able to recognize the next time you’re outdoors.