How to Teach Nature Journaling (Print and free PDF download)

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31 hands-on field activities to connect art, science, math, and critical thinking, while encouraging students and mentors alike to recognize and record the wonder and beauty in the natural world.

Expanding on the philosophy and methods of my last book, The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, I teamed up with experienced curriculum developer and educator, Emilie Lygren, to develop this unparalleled and comprehensive guide to using nature journaling as a tool to engage young people with the outdoors. This teacher-friendly book combines curriculum plans, practical advice, and in-the-field experience so that educators of all stripes can bring journaling to their students or families. Full-color illustrations and sample journal pages from notable naturalists and novices show how to put each lesson into practice.

Best of all, it encourages the things we need most at this moment: routines and rituals, creative expression, observation and concentration, engagement with nature, and connection with each other (even if from a distance!).

Are green spaces near you closed or inaccessible? Nature journaling can happen anywhere, from a kitchen window to a neighborhood stroll. With the right tools and ways of observing, you can document the bird sitting on a telephone wire, the beans in your pantry, the flower blooming in your neighbor’s front yard, the weed pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk, or the vine creeping up the side of your apartment building.

Learn How to:

  • give students step-by-step strategies for effective nature journaling
  • manage student groups in the outdoors
  • encourage participation from all learners
  • modify instructions to meet your students’ needs
  • teach drawing, math, writing, and scientific thinking
  • connect journaling to educational standards
  • incorporate journaling into longer lessons

Can be used with:

  • 5E Instructional Model
  • Charlotte Mason-Inspired Education
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards
  • Waldorf Education, Forest Schools, Outdoor Education, and more

A great way to get started is to watch this video workshop from a class I gave on how to teach Nature Journaling.

Free download! You can download the book today. If you like the book, consider also buying the full version and making a donation to directly support Heyday, our amazing non-profit publisher.  You may download the book for use in your home, classroom, or at your institution. You may not reproduce any part of the book for sale. The version with double-page spreads is best for viewing on a screen or device. If you plan to print the book at home, download the single-page version but be aware that for close to the cost of printing you can get the bound full-color book. Home printing is a good option if shipping the book is too expensive.

Read the foreword by Amy Tan.

Praise for How to Teach Nature Journaling

“From the beginning of time, we have been connected to nature, but for the first time in history, that connection threatens to be broken for most of an entire generation and perhaps generations to come. In this book and this work, I find hope. Laws and Lygren have created a powerful and practical resource for teachers to help children and adults discover, explore, love, and protect the natural world around them. Nature is magic, and everyone needs it.”

–Robert Bateman, artist, naturalist, and founder of the Bateman Foundation

“Here is a natural way for parents and teachers to integrate the beauty and mystery of nature into the lives of children. The book itself is a work of art.”

—Richard Louv, author of Our Wild Calling and Last Child in the Woods

“This book beautifully demonstrates how nature journaling is a valuable, multidimensional approach to science. Through this work, students build neural pathways that enable different brain regions to communicate with each other, resulting in more flexible thinking and creative problem-solving in all areas of life. This approach to nature journaling also offers students an excellent way to learn and practice a growth mindset through nature and science.”

—Jo Boaler, Professor of Education and Equity, Stanford University; founder and faculty director of; author of Mathematical Mindsets and Limitless Mind

“The writing, the illustrations, the demonstration of an intentional, informative, and wonderfully educational approach to nature journal writing—it’s all here. From field activities with clear examples to an inquiry-based approach to learning, this book is a gem for educators, first-time journalers, and for the experienced naturalist as well. It’s art, it’s writing, it’s education, it’s science, naturally so.”

—José González, Founder of Latino Outdoors

“Engaging students in learning about nature is a compelling need in these turbulent times. Just as important is communicating clearly, precisely, and truthfully. Naturalists and educators John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren help teachers achieve these goals with How to Teach Nature Journaling. This is a wonderful response to educators’ request for meaningful ways to implement contemporary standards. The book is useful, full of activities, and manageable for classroom teachers.”

—Rodger W. Bybee, Executive Director, BSCS Science Learning (Retired)

“Imagine if every teacher taught nature journaling, every student spent enough time outside to fill a journal each year, and our kids were becoming writers, artists, and scientists all at once. I’d send my kid to that school. Thanks to Emilie Lygren and Jack Laws, we now have the vision and the tools to make this our reality.”

—Craig Strang, Associate Director, Lawrence Hall of Science

“Nature journaling is the single most valuable tool and skill a teacher can possess and use to move the Next Generation Science Standards and environmental literacy forward in their school. You need to do this!”

—Rob Wade, Science & Outdoor Education Coordinator, Plumas Unified School District/Plumas County of Education

About the Authors

John Muir Laws is an award-winning scientist, educator, artist, and author of The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling and The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, among other titles. For a wealth of nature journaling resources, visit

Facilitator, author, educator, and poet Emilie Lygren has co-written dozens of outdoor science publications with the award-winning BEETLES Project and has published poems in a range of literary journals.

Additional information


Softcover Print Edition, Free PDF single-pages (home printing), Free PDF double-page (screen viewing), Both (Print Edition and double-page PDF)

7 reviews for How to Teach Nature Journaling (Print and free PDF download)

  1. S. Kersten (verified owner)

    Thank you for this wonderful book. I am a biology teacher in Germany and use the book as inspiration for my field trips with children and teenagers. It is very well designed, educationally excellent and just fun to read! Thank you for making the download of the book available for free.
    I also bought the book as a physical copy at the regional bookstore, but the pdf helps me tremendously in my preparations.

  2. Elizabeth Gage (verified owner)

    I’m a Charlotte Mason (ish) homeschooling mom and am using this guide to teach my 2 sons (7 and 9 years old) and their 2 friends (ages 8 and 10) nature journaling. We are all having a wonderful time and even the 6 year old brother got into it and did the best journal page of all. They love exploring. I recommend taking the advice in the book on assembling a journaling kit of supplies- kids love having gear to further the inquiry. This book is well-organized, easy to follow, and the teaching tips are really wonderful. They have helped me become a better teacher in all subjects, not just this one. Thank you John and Emilie. What an incredible resource you’ve created.

  3. Tina

    I am a science teacher who uses nature journaling to teach next generation science standards. This is the book I have been waiting for to help take my nature journaling and teaching to the next level. This book is organized by activities, scientific thinking, techniques, observation and investigation. Student work is shown, along with teaching notes about the time each activity should take, materials needed and step by step directions and prompts. The book addresses the meta reasons why journaling is so critical to science literacy along with specific details breaking down each step. This book is not just for teachers, but for anyone who wants to start or improve their nature drawing. I am now converting lessons from this book for my students during remote learning and my students are loving it. Every page I read I found a new idea to teach something- it is that jam packed with information. It is also organized in a way that you could dip into an activity multiple times with a different focus. This would make a wonderful gift and should be on everyone’s shelf. It is an amazingly inexpensive given the amount of content, framing and drawing tips.

  4. Charleen Morris

    Excellent easy to read and get started

  5. Charleen Morris

    Looks Amazing. Cant wait to get started. Thankyou!

  6. kevin heller (verified owner)

    Such a good book. Very, very inspiring stuff and it’ll make you want to grab some paper and get started. Such a delight to read; such a delight to put into practice!

  7. Analesa Harvey (verified owner)

    What an amazing, beautiful book! I can’t wait to get my little nieces outside to try some of these ideas. It’s like a recipe book for how to be a good aunt. I know they are going to love this.

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