When my family is exploring in the woods, it can be easy for us to feel hurried or that we must reach our destination, even if there isn’t really one set. I have to constantly remind them and myself to s l o w down and look around to observe everything around us. We get into this quick-paced rhythm of hiking and though that is wonderful for getting your heart rate up and those lungs pumping, you can miss SO much. So to force us to slow down a bit sometimes, I created this free printable kids nature journal for my son to fill out during our nature walks. I figured I would share it with my lovely readers, too!
It is a simple journal that you can print out on paper or card-stock from your home printer. You can staple it together or punch holes and thread yarn through it. You can print several copies out at a time so that when you fill up the first journal, you have another one ready to go!
Why start a nature journal?
If you don’t live in a wooded rural area, you can still have your child observe and record nature! You don’t even have to leave your own backyard. A nature journal helps your child take a closer look at their surroundings, even if you have a small patch of grass. It encourages them to use all five senses to observe all the little details. Nature journaling encourages children to get creative, use descriptive words, and to sit still for a few moments to observe and record.
A few helpful tips :
Keeping colored pencils or crayons in a little bag or tin that stays with the journal is helpful for when you are heading out the door in a hurry. We try to keep most of our adventure bag supplies in the bag and ready to go. We just grab a quick snack and fill our water bottles right before leaving. Because the journal will be printed on paper, I recommend bringing a small clipboard along so that your child can write and draw on a hard flat surface. My son is a BIG snacker, like most kids. Halfway through our walk we usually stop for a snack and that is a perfect time to bring out the nature journal while they kids are munching. Fruit snacks, trail mix, granola bars, applesauce pouches and pretzels are my son’s favorites.
Keeping pocket-sized field guides in your adventure bag is really helpful, too! We have local guides and pamphlets to help us identify different wildflowers, plants, butterflies, and trees. My son’s favorite is a little animal tracks book that he never leaves the house without. The de-thawing earth is making it a perfect place for clear animal tracks right now and he always has his head down scanning the ground for different tracks.
On the first page there is an adventure bag checklist where you can add in a few other items you and your family like to bring on hikes. In addition to the items listed, my son also likes to bring his wood slingshot, a pair of gardening gloves, rope, and extra socks. It’s mud season here in Montana so we have all had our share of soaked feet and needing a fresh pair of socks. My son has a kid-sized lasso he plays with and we have actually used that rope more than a few times in a pinch! Our little yorkie fell down the extremely steep muddy bank into the river and we used the rope to lower ourselves down to grab him without having to go completely into the freezing river. Then the other day my son got stuck in the mud so deep it was almost to his knees and about lost his boots! We used the rope to pull him out and then I lowered myself down the bank to grab the boots. Who knew a toy lasso would have come in handy so many times !
Here are a few great field guides:
I really like the pamphlets because they aren’t as heavy as lugging around books. Plus they are usually laminated so they don’t get ruined in the mud.
In this nature journal you will find spaces for children to write and sketch about different birds, insects, and leaves that they find. There are a couple pages that they can fill out about things they see, smell, and feel around them. This gets children to slow down and observe their surroundings, while learning about the five senses.
The pages that have a large circle are for kids to draw what they see that day and then log the date, time, location, and weather.
There are so many pages I could add to this journal! If there is something you are specifically observing or studying with your kids, you can always take blank pages to add to the middle of the journal and write in your own prompts. Perhaps you are learning about trees or butterflies… or your child takes an interest in bird watching. You can find other printable journals on Pinterest and Etsy or you can make your own!
I do hope you enjoy this nature journal! Please share this post with your friends!
Ready to start journaling with your kiddos? Grab the free printable here.
Tips for printing:
Print the first page (the cover) separately. Next you will print page 2 and 3 together, double-sided flipped on short edges. Then comes pages 4 and 5, then 6 and 7, all double-sided and flipped on the short edge. I recommend printing this out on card-stock if you have it! I just ordered some from Amazon.
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