In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of us are hunkering down at home to help stop the spread of the virus. We all want to do our part to protect our communities, but we also recognize the importance of sustaining a connection with nature to maintain our own health and well-being during these stressful times.
One way to maintain (and even grow) your connection to nature is to keep a nature journal. A nature journal is a journal that contains your sketched and written observations on the natural world. People of all ages can keep a nature journal and you don’t have to be the best writer, or the best artist to record your observations; what matters is that you are observing and connecting to the natural world. The best part about nature journaling? You can do it from anywhere and with the tools that you already have on hand. Here’s a prompt to get you started!
Time needed: 15-20 minutes
Materials: Notebook (or a plain sheet of paper) and a pencil
Choose a space for observation. Either outdoors or indoors by a window will work!
Find something to focus on. For your first try, it’s best to focus on something stationary, like a tree, a flower, a leaf, etc.
Time yourself for 10 minutes. Observe your object and begin to sketch, but don’t stop! The key is to put pencil to paper and just draw what you see without worrying about making any edits. Remember nature journaling is about learning to look closely. The more practice you have with sketching, the better you will get at it.
Once the 10 minutes is up, take 5 to 10 minutes to jot down answers to the following questions:
- What is one thing that you notice about your subject? Does it have a specific color or pattern? Is it only growing in one spot? Does it have a smell? Don’t be afraid to explore questions about your subject!
- What is one question that you have about your subject? For example, if you’re observing a pink flower, perhaps you’re wondering why the petals are pink, or if this particular flower attracts a specific pollinator. Make yourself curious! The key is to get yourself to ask questions and to observe nature more closely.
- What does your subject remind you of? Consider searching your memories to develop deeper observations about your subject. Have you seen something similar elsewhere?
Finished? Well done! You just finished your first session into nature journaling! Try keeping up this practice on a daily basis and you’ll start to notice that you’re learning to observe nature more closely.
Want to learn more about nature journaling? Check out these helpful websites and articles:
- John Muir Laws
- The Cornell Lab Bird Academy: Nature Journaling and Field Sketching
- Sierra Club: Keeping a Nature Journal
- Frog Mom: Nature Journaling for Kids
- How to Make and Use a Nature Journal to Record Your Wildlife Observations