September is here! While the autumn solstice isn’t for another week, many of us feel that fall has already begun! It’s the perfect time to get kids outside as it isn’t crazy hot or freezing cold, and all the changes in trees and plants are perfect learning opportunities! To further encourage that, today I’m sharing the DIY nature journal we made for curious and adventurous kids.
This time of year always makes me feel more in tune with nature than ever. Fall, much like spring, is a beautiful time of transition that sparks so many questions from little ones. Really though, they ask questions all year (about everything, everywhere, all the time, over and over again……). So while we are starting our journal now, it can be used year-round!
Why Keep a Nature Journal
If you already make a habit of getting outside and exploring with your kids, you know how endless their curiosity is. What kind of bird is that? Why is that bee flying to all the flowers? Where did that acorn come from? Their questions are as constant as the changes happening in nature around them.
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Keeping a nature journal is a great learning tool in two main ways. One, it gives them a chance to further reflect on what they’re seeing, and maybe think up more questions they hadn’t already thought of. And two, having a record of their experiences helps them remember what they learned and compare changes over time.
How to Use Your Nature Journal
How you use the journal depends on what you want your kids to get out of it. Leave it blank for them to fill in whatever inspires them, or use some prompts to help them look for or notice certain things. We use a combination of both!
I love having blank pages in our journal because sometimes it’s just nice to let inspiration take its natural course. If we give our kids too much prompting, we may miss out on the brilliance within their own little minds. There have been many times my daughter amazes me with the observations and questions she comes up with!
On the other hand, having some pages with prompts are helpful to give them a jumping off point. If there is a certain lesson you wanted to draw from your exploration, having pages that encourage focus on that aspect can be helpful.
It can also help their own perceptions to grow as the prompts give them new ways to think about their environment in the future! For example, a page focused on bird nests may inspire them to wonder where other bugs and animals live, all on their own.
So, we use both, and both are loved. Sometimes Lu will fill something in her journal once we get home and discuss what we saw. ther times she wants to sit right there in the grass to draw something. And we almost always take SOMETHING home to check out further, like a rock, leaf, or wildflower.
Making your DIY Nature Journal for Kids
Ok, so now let’s get into how we made our beloved nature journal. It’s super easy and doesn’t require very many materials!
- Brown paper bag
- Hole punch
- Papers for inside (blank or printed prompts)
1. Size the bag to the paper
To get our paper bag the right size, I laid the computer paper on top. The bag should be vertical, with the opening at the top. Leave maybe half an inch or so around all sides of the paper and mark the bottom part to be cut.
2. Cut the brown paper bag
Once you make your marker, fold the bag horizontally for a crease and then cut along it. When opened up, you’ll be left with an intact circle that is just a bit longer than your paper. Then choose a vertical crease already made in the page along the sides and cut that to create one wide piece.
3. Fold the sides in for doubled up covers
Use your computer paper for a reference again and fold the paper bag in towards the middle to give the back cover a double layer. Then fold the left side in to the middle so that both the front and back covers line up. We had a middle crease to easily fold to, but use the paper in case your creases are different.
4. Secure the front and back covers and create a pocket
For the pocket, cut the top layer of the bag back a bit, then fold about an inch in and glue it down. Then we stapled along the top and bottom rather than glue, for extra security. I put the pocket in the back so the staples weren’t seen from the front, but you can have the pocket in the front, or just skip it! Then we just glued the 2 layers of the front cover together to make it a little sturdier.
5. Attach the all the papers and make it into an actual book
Next I put 3 hole punches into the left side of the book and papers. Thread the yarn through all the holes and tie it in a knot to keep them all together nicely. Now you can move onto step 6 to decorate, leave it simple as is, or personalize it however you’d like!
6. Personalize your nature book
Once your book is made, all that’s left is to make it look like YOUR kiddo’s nature book. If they really love bugs or butterflies, you can glue some pictures on of those. Or you can keep it really natural and glue leaves or
To make life easier, I’ve created a shortened version of a larger printable nature book for you to download below! You’ll a cover for the journal along with some other prompt worksheets that can be filled in.
We absolutely love this DIY nature journal for kids! We bring it with us for every walk and adventure now. It’s the perfect way to connect with nature and learn.