Places to Observe in Your Nature Journal

My spring nature journal at John Heinz NWR at Tinicum

Choosing places to focus your nature journal on, will help you more easily see and connect with the natural world. These nature journal writing prompts show the many choices available to you.

You can observe right where you visit every day or on vacations. You don’t have to travel to national parks or nature preserves to observe and learn about the Earth.

You can also focus on several spots but with the same theme.

Suppose you observe, draw, or photograph the native plants outside where you work, regularly walk or go on vacation. One theme but many places.

What you end up creating is a field guide to your own special places.

Where to journal?

Your backyard habitat – Observe the animals that visit, bloom time of plants, the stars in the sky overhead.

Your garden – observe the plants and the ecology, plantings, and harvests. Watch the interaction of insects, birds and “weeds”. Note seasonal changes, bloom dates, frosts, and dew.


In Your Home – Okay, we have seen bugs and insects crawling around our houses like they pay a mortgage. Who are they and what are they doing? Do they help or hinder us? What is the mold growing on the basement wall?


One Square Foot (Meter) – observe one square foot of ground. Mark off with string, the areas you choose to study. Observe the plants and animals that live there. You can do one spot or several in your chosen area.


Sky – Try charting the movement of the sun, moon, and stars. Where does the sun rise on the solstices? Is the same spot in winter and summer? On the equinoxes? Are the same stars over your house every day of the year? Name the most common constellations. Which way is north?


Travel – While traveling, keep your eyes open for nature happenings in new areas. Research an area before arriving and find common characteristics between home and the new area.


Mountains – What mountain range are they apart of? What are they made of? How do scientist think they are formed? Who lives and grows in the mountains?


Seashore – Study tidal pools, shorebirds, seashells, beach plants, life in the dunes, the beach after a storm, tides, things washed ashore and endangered species.


Water – Record the life and seasonal changes at wetlands, lakes, ponds, streams, backyard ponds and pools.

The Best Books on Keeping a Nature Journal – links to

Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker and Charles E. Roth 

The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws

The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie


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