Nature Journaling: The Art of Observing Nature

Nature Journal pages of Jennifer Jay

International Nature Journaling Week (June 1 to 7, 2020)

This week is International Nature Journaling Week. Nature journalists are coming together as a worldwide community to celebrate and document the beauty and diversity of the natural world.

Each day has a focus on a different aspect of nature, which is a starting place for journal pages for that day. Included below with the daily themes are instructional videos by John Muir Laws. The daily themes for International Nature Journaling Week are as follows:

Have fun and keep in touch on social media by using #SMDnaturejournaling and #naturejournalingweek!

For those not familiar with what nature journaling is about, keep reading.

Nature Journaling: The Art of Observing Nature

John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914), also known as “Father of the National Parks,” was an influential naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States.

A leaf, a flower, a stone—the simple beauty of nature filled Muir with joy. In his journals, he sketched and wrote his detailed observations about plants, animals, mountains, and landscapes. Using the notes in his nature journals, he wrote and published over 300 magazine articles and 12 books. In these he shared his love of nature, his adventures in the Sierra, and the interconnectivity of it all to enlist people’s support to preserve the wilderness.

Anybody can keep a nature journal like John Muir did. Nature journaling doesn’t require that you be a talented writer, artist, naturalist, or scientist.  It doesn’t require that you be out in the wilderness hiking the Sierra. And it doesn’t require that you know the names of plants, insects, birds, or animals.

A nature journal is about you in relationship to nature. It’s not a personal diary, but a record of your personal observations in nature. Nature journaling is for all ages and can be done in your own yard or neighborhood, requiring only a notebook, pen or pencil, unbounded curiosity, and keen observation. If you don’t have a notebook or journal, draw on anything, such as napkins, paper scraps, or printer paper.

Part of the lure of keeping a journal is the world you enter when you open it. Working in it sets up an island of quiet deliberation, which slows yourself down to be present to pay attention to the now. Even if you can only set aside 10 minutes a day to put pencil miles into your journal, you will improve your observation, memory, curiosity, learning, and art skills over time.

Free Nature Journaling Resources

How to Teach Nature Journaling

How to Teach Nature Journaling

To get you or your child started in nature journaling, John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren have released for free their complete PDF download of their new book, How to Teach Nature Journaling. It’s a guidebook that helps adults and children discover the natural world through a combination of art, writing, and science. A physical copy of book is also available for purchase.

This interdisciplinary approach exemplifies the California Native Plant Society’s goals in creating educational programs: to engage students of all ages in the incredible natural world of California, to inspire them to become keen observers of the wildness in their own backyards, and to foster in them a desire to protect wild habitats.

Opening the World Through Nature Journaling

Opening the World Through Nature Journaling

Also offered for free download is Laws’s second edition of his nature journaling curriculum, Opening the World through Nature Journaling. The curriculum includes more great kid-tested sketching activities, poetry writing, and more detailed tips on drawing in nature.

John Muir Laws lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is an award-winning naturalist, educator, artist, and author of  The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, and The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. He is not related to the famed naturalist John Muir. His mother, Beatrice Laws, was a Sierra Club lawyer and wanted her son’s middle name to be Muir. He was taught to draw at an early age as a child. The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada has 2,700 watercolor illustrations.

An Introduction to Nature Journaling – John Muir Laws

Be a Nature Journal Ambassador – John Muir Laws

Participate in Save Mount Diablo’s Community Conservation!

a young woman journaling amid wildflowers during a Conservation Collaboration AgreementSave Mount Diablo’s Conservation Collaboration Agreement program connects local schools with youth from kindergarten classrooms to colleges, and local companies and organizations, with nature.

Part of the outing includes a solo on the land for each participant to do a contemplative nature journal writing exercise reflecting on their part in the Mount Diablo natural area. For more information, check out Save Mount Diablo’s page on Community Conservation.

As well, Save Mount Diablo offers Discover Diablo, free guided public interpretive hikes directly connecting participants with nature and who are interested to learn about the incredible flora and fauna of the Mount Diablo area.




Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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