What Is A Nature Journal?

A nature journal is a book that records the personal observations, experiences, and reflections of an individual as they explore the natural world around them. Nature journals provide an opportunity to observe and document changes in nature over time, cultivate an appreciation for the environment, and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world. In this article, I will discuss with you what is a nature journal. I will also provide some tips and prompts to start your own nature journal.


What Does Nature Journaling Mean?

Nature journaling is a form of creative expression and reflection in which an individual records their observations, experiences, and reflections of the natural world around them.

This can include everything from sketches and diagrams to detailed descriptions or even poetry!


It is an excellent way to connect with nature on a deeper level by observing minute details that many may overlook.

Nature journaling can also provide insight and develop observation into environmental trends or changes, like climate change as you record your findings over time.


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What goes in a nature journal?

Nature journals can contain anything from drawings and diagrams to stories, descriptions, poems, or observations of the environment.

Include sketches of plants and animals you observe as well as photos and other media if they are available.


Describe what you see in detail – the color of a flower petal, the shape of a bird’s wing, the sound of a stream.

You may even want to include your reflections on the environment, such as how you feel when surrounded by nature or how it makes you think differently about life.


You can use your nature journal to record animal tracks, weather patterns, or changes in the environment.

These types of observations serve scientists and researchers by providing them with data over a long period.


This helps to record significant advances in the environment, such as climate change or species population growth.

These personal observations provide insight into your experience and can help you gain a deeper appreciation for everything around


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What type of journal is Nature?

According to astute nature journalists John Muir Laws and Charles Darwin, there are two types of nature journals: the scientific journal and the creative journal.

The scientific journal is the more traditional type of nature journal. It focuses on accurate and detailed observations while omitting personal reflections and feelings.


Scientific nature journals are used for rapidly disseminated prompt publication and they often involve quantitative data and measurements, such as bird counts or plant heights.

The creative journal is a more expressive type of nature journaling. It focuses on making nature more personal by including sketches, poems, stories, and any other type of creative expression that you want to share with your readers.


What is the purpose of a nature journal?

Learn to observe and appreciate the beauty of nature more deeply.

Improve your observational skills by taking time to look closely at details in the natural world.


Gain access to a personal record of changes in nature over time that can be used for research or just for fun!

Create a meaningful connection with nature, even if you don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces.


Acknowledge and document the small wonders that make up the bigger picture of life on Earth.

Foster an understanding and respect for our environment, its inhabitants, and their interdependent relationships with one another.


Develop creative writing skills while also learning about plants, animals, and other aspects of nature.

Express your unique perspective on the natural world, creating a personal narrative over time.


Use your journal as an opportunity to reflect on yourself and your emotions during outdoor activities or excursions.

Encourage others to explore nature in their area by sharing your discoveries with them!


What do I Write in my Nature Journal?

Here are some prompts on how to start a nature journal:

  • Sketch an animal you have observed in the wild.
  • Describe a plant that has caught your attention recently, and explain why it is special to you.
  • Write about a memorable sunrise or sunset that you have experienced outdoors.
  • Capture the sounds of nature in words, such as birdsong or wind rustling through leaves.
  • Make detailed observations and write down scientific names for plants, trees, animals, etc., that you encounter while exploring outdoors.
  • Create an illustration of what a certain species looks like from different angles or perspectives.
  • Look for fluctuations in temperature throughout the day and record them in your journal with notes on how it felt.
  • Take a photo of an interesting insect, bird, or animal track and make observations about its behavior and habitat.
  • Look for evidence of animal activity, such as footprints, scat, or tracks in the snow.
  • Collect leaves, seeds, feathers, or other natural items that you find during your walks, and draw them in your journal with notes describing their properties.
  • Describe the birdsong at different times of day or seasonally to note any changes in song patterns over time.
  • Notice the subtle differences between two similar-looking species, their size, shape, and coloration, and explain what makes them distinct from each other
  • Record how weather conditions affect the natural environment around you, such as storms or heavy rains, and how it changes over time.
  • Notice how light changes throughout the day, its intensity, color, and direction, and record it in your journal.
  • Describe any patterns in animal behavior that you observe while out exploring nature.
  • Make note of different types of clouds and their shapes throughout the day or night sky.
  • Take note of any seasonal changes in plants and animals that you observe each year.
  • Record your thoughts and feelings while spending time outdoors to connect more deeply with nature.
  • Look up a species of plant or animal you are unfamiliar with and learn about its life cycle.
  • Make observations about the natural environment near you and consider how it might have been different in the past.
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Tips for Maintaining a Successful Nature Journal

Keep it consistent

Set aside a certain amount of time each week or month to explore and record your observations in your journal nature pages.


Choose the right journal

Select a journal depending on what type of writing you plan to do such as notebook, sketchbook, blank pages, etc.


Make it personal

Use art supplies like colored pencils, markers, stickers, and other elements that make it fun and unique for you!


Include photos and sketches

Take photos or draw sketches of plants, animals, or scenery to capture details more clearly.


Journal frequently

Document a moment as often as possible so that you can track changes over time in more detail.


Organize by date/location

Record the date and location of each entry for future reference.


Label & categorize

Label each entry with appropriate categories (e.g., plants, birds, mammals) to make it easier to search later on.


Keep it simple

Start gradually and focus on just a few elements that you enjoy most in your daily life in science and the natural world.


Expand your knowledge

Use resources and prompt publications such as books or online articles by scientists and naturalists to deepen your understanding of the natural world.


Share your discoveries

Inspire others by sharing photos, sketches, and stories from your nature journal entries!


Bottom Line

A nature journal is an excellent way to develop a deeper connection with the natural world around us, its beauty and complexity, while also providing an opportunity to practice our observation skills and learn more about the environment.

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By taking time to journal what we find outdoors, we can gain a better appreciation for nature while also documenting changes over time that may be used for research or just personal enjoyment.

With enough practice and dedication, anyone can become more knowledgeable about their environment and recognize the small wonders that make up its larger beauty!



  • Ben

    I'm Ben, a data engineer who adores journaling. My passion for recording life experiences inspired me to develop Otto's Journal, an online diary app. Join me as I blend data and storytelling in the ever-changing tech world, making journaling more accessible and exciting.

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