Nature Journaling Curriculum

Nature Journaling is a powerful adjunct to teaching science and should be a standard part of every classroom. Journaling is an ideal way to explore with the Next Generation Science Standards. Hear you can find links to two outstanding free resources: The BEETLES curriculum and Opening the World Through Nature Journaling.

The second edition of the acclaimed curriculum, Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts, is now available. Download the curriculum here. It  was created with the support of the California Native Plant Society by John Muir Laws, Emilie Lygren, Emily Brueunig, and Celeste Lopez. This new edition can be used in school yards, camps, nature centers and family outings. It is geared primarily towards children age 8 and up, and meets California state standards for grades 3 through 7 but works just as well for teenagers and adults. The 2nd edition has many improvements and a wonderful new section of poetry writing activities. These activities teach children to become keen observers of the natural world by drawing and writing about plants and animals in the field. In a set of nested games and activities, students gain confidence in drawing and writing to as a way to gather information. Using a set of key prompts, children and adults also discover a language to create poetry from their observations. They employ these skills and tools to put together a field guide, make treasure maps, and to write poems and stories. Keeping a field journal develops and reinforces the most important science process skills; observation and documentation. All other parts of the process of science depend on these skills. We assume that we are naturally good observers, but learning to really see is a skill that must be learned and developed. Journal activities tie directly to the State of California science framework content standards and the visual and performing arts framework content standards. This project is funded to date by the JiJi Foundation.

I am an advisor for the BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) team at the Lawrence Hall of Science. I highly recommend the Field Journaling Sessions and materials. Download the free lesson plans and staff training manual here. Here is a video overview of this work.

8 thoughts on “Nature Journaling Curriculum

  1. The website is not online (disabled by host, it appears). Is there another way to access the free resources mentioned above?
    (I was able to get the one from It looks great!)
    Thank you for the great resources.

  2. Laurie Riley says:

    Dear John,
    Our group of Audubon Canyon Ranch docents is putting together a lecture series for our advanced docent training in Spring 2018. We would be thrilled if you would be available to speak to us on Wednesday, January 17, 2017 at Pitcher Canyon on the Bolinas Lagoon. We meet at 9 a.m. and continue through lunch until 2 pm. There would be time for a morning lecture and hands-on exploration after our brought lunches.
    I know that you have been to the ACR ranch in the past, and we unanimously voted to have you return!
    I look forward to your response.
    Laurie Riley

  3. Dear John,

    I have been a fan for a long time. I am curious if you would be interested/able to come to Colby College Museum of Art in Maine for a public talk/conversation about Nature Journaling as it pertains to the Audubon exhibition we are mounting here this fall.

    Margaret Aiken

  4. Kim says:

    I used your observation lesson of comparing two or more similar things and drawing/writing about what’s the same and different with three classes of 30 fourth graders. In each of the three classes, even with a huge range of ability and temperament, the students were having truly authentic discovery and realizations. It was beautiful! Some compared our three redwood trees (dawn, coast & sequoia), some compared mushrooms, some compared berries, some compared kale types, some compared oxalis types. Each group of students could be heard saying, “I never noticed this…”, “Huh, that’s weird…” “I wonder why…” “I wonder how come…” It was really REAL. The teachers were thrilled. One said to me afterward, “To see Nico actually engaged in something, anything at all, and spending actual time doing something was a first.” Another teacher said, “It was great to hear their different ideas and their wonder.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *