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Creating a Nature Journal Supply Kit for Your Homeschool

Here are some tips for creating a nature journal supply kit for your homeschool. It is simple, inexpensive and is easy to do!

Creating a nature journal with your children is an experience you all can enjoy. I always told my children (and myself) that there’s really no right or wrong way to create a page, except if you never gave it a try. Over the years, I had to create a routine for nature journaling or we would procrastinate or forget it altogether.

One way to give us a better chance of creating a nature journal was to take our journal and our supplies along on our nature walk so we could create a page right at the moment. But, this meant I needed to be a little prepared before we left the house.

So, we created a nature journal supply kit.

Nature Journal supplies basic. Here are some tips for creating a nature journal supply kit for your homeschool. It is simple, inexpensive and is easy to do!

Creating a Nature Journal Supply Kit for Your Homeschool

What did we take along with us?

When the children were younger they exclusively used spiral bound journals because they were easier to take along with us when we did our sketching. We used No. 2 pencils and colored pencils pretty much for all the entries.

Nature Journal supplies pouch with pens pencils

For variety and as they grew older, we started to use colored pencils and thin markers to create our nature entries. Watercolors often gave a wonderful result but they required a bit more effort because you needed to bring along a water source, the brushes, and a paper towel or cloth in addition to the journal.

Nature Journal Kit in ziploc

I found that keeping our supplies all together in one spot and storing them in an easy to find place, made it more likely that we would actually complete a page while we were taking our Outdoor Hour.

I suggest you find a container like a plastic crate, a tote bag, or a backpack to use as a storage container for your journal supplies. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Don’t use anything too large or too heavy or you won’t want to lug it around on your nature walks.

Nature Journal supplies watercolors

I have a plastic container that I purchased at the Dollar Tree store many years ago that has held up nicely, but I’m sure you have something sitting around your house that you could start off using for now.

Gather your supplies and remember to keep it simple. A few No. 2 pencils with erasers, a small set of colored pencils, a small set of watercolors and a brush, some tape, a pair of scissors, a water container, and a pencil sharpener can form the foundation of your supply kit.

Over time, your family will find favorite supplies to have when journaling on the road. The most important part of journaling is to have experiences to document on the journal pages. Start there. Create the opportunity for a good nature study and then follow up with a little time to work in your nature journal.

“It was time for new nature notebooks for sure. We purchased these smaller versions of our old notebooks at a Michael’s, and I think they’ll be just perfect. We’ve tried them out, and we are finding the smaller size to be super convenient. I love all the fun colors!” – Amy Law

The habit of nature journaling is something that will benefit your child long after they have grown up. It teaches important observation and documenting skills that will benefit other areas of study and real life.

Handbook of Nature Study: an Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum - Nature Journaling

More Nature Journal Encouragement For The Entire Family

Here are some more ideas and encouragement on nature journaling for you and your children:

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How to Make Leaf Rubbings for Your Homeschool Nature Study

Taking the time to draw leaves helps you observe the details. For young children, a wonderful starting place for a homeschool leaf nature study is to make leaf rubbings.

When my children were young, autumn walks always included collecting colorful leaves. We might get home with handfuls of leaves in a rainbow of autumn shades. We would talk about the shapes and what tree each leaf came from or which ones were our favorites. Once home, we’d pull out crayons or markers and attempt to draw a few of the leaves on paper to be hung on the refrigerator or given as gifts to grandparents. Nature study was casual and enjoyable.

As they grew older and we would be out during our homeschool day, I would sometimes follow up with a more detailed nature study lesson using the Handbook of Nature Study or our tree field guide. The amount of information we would cover really depended on the children’s interest and my aim. By high school we were more deliberate in our autumn leaf studies using more scientific vocabulary and I expected them to create a more detailed nature journal as part of our more formal science lessons.

Learning about trees, leaves, autumn, and the neighborhood can build over many years and still seem to be just a part of learning about the world we live in and the trees that share the same space.

I love this quote from Anna Botsford Comstock:

“During autumn the attention of the children should be attracted to the leaves by their gorgeous colors. It is well to use this interest to cultivate their knowledge of the forms of leaves of trees; but the teaching of the tree species to the young child should be done quite incidentally and guardedly. If the teacher says to the child bringing a leaf, ‘This is a white-oak leaf,’ the child will soon quite unconsciously learn that leaf by name. Thus, tree study may be begun in the kindergarten or the primary grades.” Anna Botsford-Comstock

Leaf Homeschool Nature Study: How to Make Leaf Rubbings

I have many resources here on my website that will help your family learn about leaves, some for younger students and some for older and more advanced students. I’ve found that taking time to draw leaves makes you observe them closely and see the specific features each tree’s leaves involve.

I highly recommend starting with simple sketching and/or rubbing of leaves with younger children.

  • You can watch my short YouTube video that shares some of my tips for drawing leaves, how to make leaf rubbings, and using a flower press for pressing leaves here: Tips for Drawing Leaves.
  • You may wish to complete the Outdoor Hour Challenge that features collecting leaves. Click over and read how to complete a simple leaf study: Collecting Leaves.
  • Watercolor crayons demonstration – Fall Leaf for the Nature Journal. I created this YouTube video a long time ago that shows how I use watercolor crayons in my nature journal. It makes me want to go gather some leaves and do this again in my nature journal!

  • Making Leaf Prints with Ink: This activity is wonderful for older students to quickly create a leaf nature journal page using ink pads and leaves they collect.
  • Image of the cover 9/15 NL

Now that autumn is here, I’m trying to embrace its beauty. We don’t have much “fall color” here in my part of the world but the little bit we do have will be appreciated and perhaps even make its way into my nature journal.

Members can look in the library for many more printable tree and leaf activities and notebook pages in the Trees course.

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

Taking the time to draw leaves helps you observe the details. For young children, a wonderful starting place for a homeschool leaf nature study is to make leaf rubbings.
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Nature Journal Project – November 2017

Weekly Nature Journal Project

November 2017


As I prepared to write this entry, I took a few moments to reflect on how much I have come to look forward to the time I can spend in my nature journal each week. It doesn’t feel like a chore but rather an extension of how I’m growing as a person, an Oregonian, and a naturalist. The outdoor time comes first, the observations and questions come second, and then keeping a record of what I have discovered comes with ease.

It’s always easier to make a nature journal page if I have something I’m excited about capturing on paper.

Here are my nature ramblings from the month of November.


Watercolor Landscape Nature Journal

I’m often mesmerized by the landscape scene out my back window. It is ever changing, even from minute to minute. The clouds, the water, the sky, the birds, the plants, the light…always something to marvel at as I stand, many times distracted from chores, at my picture window.  I tried to use watercolors to make a record of a certain day and I love the way it turned out.

November Recap Page Nature Journal

Recaps are some of my favorite pages in my journal. It gives me the freedom to include a lot of different random thoughts all on one page.

Wild Rye Grass Nature Journal

This page illustrates the “whole to parts” idea for a nature journal. Instead of just including a sketch of the whole subject, you add smaller sketches of interesting parts. On this page, I drew the seed head and the roots. Now I have a better appreciation for the grasses that grow out behind my house and their importance to the habitat and the wildlife that frequent there.

American Beaver Nature Journal Page

After researching the beaver, I wanted to make a page to highlight the things I learned and appreciated about this truly amazing mammal. I can look for signs of our beavers as we walk along the river and feel a connection because I have a deeper understanding of how they behave and live. I really hope we find their lodge and perhaps even spy them at some point in the future.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge

Don’t forget that I am sharing a nature journal page each week on my Instagram account if you want to see the pages as they unfold. Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal

Autumn 2010 Outdoor Hour Challenge

Join us for the autumn season series of Outdoor Hour Challenges using the ideas in the Autumn 2010 ebook.


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September Leaf Study – Smoke Tree

September Leaf Study Smoke Tree using the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

“During autumn the attention of the children should be attracted to the leaves by their gorgeous colors. It is well to use this interest to cultivate their knowledge of the forms of leaves of trees; but the teaching of the tree species to the young child should be done quite incidentally and guardedly. If the teacher says to the child bringing a leaf, ‘This is a white-oak leaf,’ the child will soon quite unconsciously learn that leaf by name. Thus, tree study may be begun in the kindergarten or the primary grades.” Anna Botsford-Comstock

The September newsletter was all about trees and a leaf study. I was trying to find a new subject for my study this month and decided upon a fairly new tree I have growing in my front yard. We have not pruned it to be a tree but have let it grow more in the shape of a bush. Our smoke tree provided a wonderful focal point for my leaf study using the suggestions in the newsletter and on the notebook page provided.

Note: If you subscribe to this blog, you will receive each month’s newsletter in an email. If you are interested in access to all the back issues of the newsletter, you can purchase any level of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study and those will be available for download. See the Join Us page for more details.

Doing research on this interesting plant, I learned it has numerous common names including mist tree, cloud tree, wig tree, and Jupiter’s beard. I have always liked these trees because they develop this interesting pink “smoke” over the summer months and then the leaves turn a deep reddish purple in the autumn. Our smoke tree has just started to blush with red color on many of the leaves. Soon it will be ablaze with its autumn splendor.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (4)

 Can you see the hint of red in some of the leaves above? I used the prompt from the newsletter to compare the top and bottom of the leaves. The tops of the leaves are a dark gray green color and the backs are more of a silvery green color. You can feel the veins on the bottom of the leaf but the tops are smooth. Also, you can see the beginnings of the dark little fruits that form on this plant in the fall.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (5)

I used the suggestion on the notebook page to smell the leaf and then to crush it and see if that enhances the scent. Yes! I thought the leaf had the fragrance of spicy earth but when I was doing my reading about the smoke tree, I found that it said the crushed leaf smells like orange peel. Once they put that thought in my head I had to agree…orange peels. In the photo above, you can see a few of the dark small seeds mixed in with the pink smoke.

Smoke Tree Leaf Study using the Handbook of Nature Study (1)

So here is my completed notebook page with all my observations and interesting facts…an a watercolor drawing of the leaf. I may print a photo of the tree and attach it to the back of my notebook page for my journal since I have one that I took that I especially like. My page is now tucked away in my nature journal binder and thinking about it makes me happy.

Using the notebook page, I realized that I need to make the prompt on the next notebook page a little more narrow so if we want to use it as a nature journal topper it will fit in a sketchbook or blank nature journal better. Look for that next month!


Need some additional ideas?

Here is a video I made on how to make a watercolor leaf which is especially good for beginners: Watercolor Leaf on YouTube.

I created another video featuring watercolor crayons that create a beautiful leaf in my nature journal: Watercolor Crayons – Leaf Demonstration.

Here is a link to Hearts and Trees: Fall Nature Study- Things to Do With Leaves (10 things to do with leaves)


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Spring Cattail Observations

Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Cattail Observations @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge:

This is a classic springtime study here on the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Take a few minutes this week to think about where you might find some cattails to observe. If nothing else, take a walk at a local stream or pond to explore the springtime weather with your children.

Spring Cattail Observations: This challenge has some simple cattail observations to try with your family.

Spring Cattail Observations: You will find a free printable notebook page in this challenge.

Special Activity:Watercolor Activity

Take some time this week to pull out the watercolors to record your springtime cattail in your nature journal. Fun Suggestion: Use the water from your stream or pond to watercolor!

I searched on Pinterest for “watercolor cattails” and I found loads of inspiration to get started: Pinterest – Watercolor Cattails.

Getting Started Suggestion:

If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2.   Take a walk and then discuss with your children what they enjoyed during their outdoor time. Help them find words to record in their nature journal or you can follow up with the accompanying notebook page from the ebook. Additional idea: While you are out during your outdoor time, find a wildflower, weed, or leaf to put into your flower press.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Note: You can find the Getting Started ebook in all levels of membership here at the Handbook of Nature Study.

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Nature Journal Topper Printable – Getting Started

This month in the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter I created a brand new printable for helping your children start working in their very own nature journal.

The printable Nature Journal Toppers are a simple way to help a child get over the “blank page” fear by providing a simple prompt.

What is a Nature Journal Topper?
The prompts in the Nature Journal Topper will allow them to cut and then adhere a short nature study idea to the top of any page, then complete the suggestion in their own way. Sometimes the page will include a suggestion for a sketch, a photo, a list, or an observation.

I chose to start with the spring tree Nature Journal Toppers as well as the list prompt provided in the March 2014 newsletter. Allow your child to create a page that fits their style. I used watercolors to paint a background on my page but that is my personal style. I will fill in the page as the month goes by.

Your child can complete as many of the prompts each month as they wish. I am hoping that these Nature Journal Toppers will give you family a little help in encouraging even the most reluctant nature journaler.

I will be including this feature in the up-coming editions of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter. Some families really enjoy the nature study grids from the newsletter so we may go back to those in the future.

I would enjoy hearing how using the Nature Journal Toppers help your family.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Snow Study

The Winter Snow challenge from the Winter Wednesday ebook is a fun one to have on hand whenever you get some snow. I wish you all a great week of nature study!

Original Challenge: Snow
Use the suggestions in this challenge to complete a snow related experiment, recording the results on the accompanying notebook page or in your nature journal. There are also some additional ideas for non-snow related activities to substitute if you live where there is no snow. You can also use the Winter Nature Walk printable from Hearts and Trees.

Special Activity: Watercolor With Snow
Bring a cup or so of snow in and let it melt. Use the resulting water to watercolor a winter scene.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3.  Make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study for this challenge. We all need reminders about how to encourage our children in their nature journals. This week you can record a winter scene in your journals or use the notebook page from the ebook to keep a record of your outdoor time.  

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OHC Blog Carnival
You are welcome to submit any of you blog Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Entries for the current month are due on 1/30/14.

Nature Study Bundle Button

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn Weather Study

Autumn Weather Nature Study
Outdoor Hour Challenge

Use some of the ideas in these autumn weather challenges from the past:
Seasonal Weather – Autumn 2009 -free printable notebook page
Seasonal Weather – Autumn Observations  – with links
Weather Walk – free printable notebook page
Outdoor Hour Challenge #40 Seasonal Weather Study – free printable notebook page
Seasonal Weather – photo challenge with free printable notebook page

Autumn Watercolor – Leaves, Clouds, Acorns, or Anything Else
Bring out your watercolors (or watercolor pencils or watercolor crayons) and create a page for your nature journal as part of your Autumn Weather Challenge.

Watercolor Crayons – Complete Leaf Sketch and Video
Watercolor Clouds

You can also try one of the video watercolor tutorials on my daughter’s blog:
Hearts and Trees – Watercolor and Rubbing Alcohol

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #1. If you haven’t tried any of the Getting Started suggestions yet this season, give Challenge #1 a try…super easy for every family to just take a walk together and then have a follow-up discussion and offer time for a nature journal page. Keep it light and easy. 

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OHC Blog Carnival

You are welcome to submit any of you blog Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Entries for the current month are due on 10/30/13.

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Florida Nature Study – Exploring a New Habitat

Spending part of my time in Florida immersed in nature study was a highlight of my recent traveling adventure. I prepared ahead of time by purchasing a wonderful book focusing on the Florida Gulf Coast. Wow! There was a lot to be excited about! My trip was specifically to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and then a few days in Naples, Florida. Getting the opportunity to explore a new to me habitat is thrilling!

Since my time was limited but I did have a sweet ride in my friend Tricia’s sponsored car from Kia Optima Hybrid, I wanted to have a general plan for our time outdoors. I narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities and we decided that we would visit Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. We started off in the nature center browsing the exhibits and then I asked at the information desk what they suggested we do to make the best use of our two hours that we had available.

They handed us a map and directed us to take the wildlife drive that wound its way through the refuge and would take about an hour and a half. They also suggested that we drive over to the Bailey Tract and look for gators there.

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

We followed their advice and thoroughly enjoyed our time driving along the one lane road through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There were many birds right by the side of the road so we could stop and observe or take photos as much as we wanted. What made it really nice was the fact that the Kia Optima Hybrid is super quiet while running on the battery. We did not scare away the wildlife turning the car on and off….it was awesome.

We saw a mama raccoon and her *four* babies as they walked along the road and then across right in front of us. The whole drive was full of wonderful discoveries like the Roseate Spoonbill and the Anhinga who was sunning himself. What a great time we had and so many memories were made in a short period of time! I was so glad I had taken the time to prepare a little before leaving home.

Alligator and other Reptiles at Bailey Tract

Tricia and I were hoping to see a Florida gator on this trip and we were not disappointed. Along the way we also were treated to many butterflies and a few lizards. I can’t tell you how much fun we had hiking out to look for the alligators. We found one lying in the sun, half in the water and with one eye open. Another item to check off my life list!

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for their fantastic shell beaches. As a native California girl, I have spent my fair share of time at the beach looking for shells, but shelling on these Florida islands is much easier and more rewarding. Tricia and I spent one afternoon walking in the sand, wading in the water, and collecting a few beautiful shells in the Florida sunshine.

Our view from our hotel room was out onto the marina and we saw dolphins a couple of times over the weekend. Two times I saw osprey with fish in their talons flying over the marina. There were nesting platforms along the back side of the beach and one morning I saw some osprey on the their nest. What a great sight!

The Beach at Captiva Island and an Osprey Nest

There were shore birds, skimmers, gulls, sand pipers, pelicans, and plovers. It was a bird fest for this nature loving gal.

Pine Flatwoods at Corkscrew Swamp

Tricia left for home and I met another longtime friend at the second location I was able to explore. I stayed in Naples, Florida and was able to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sactuary. There are miles of boardwalks to investigate as they make their way through a variety of habitats. Slash pine and baldcypress were the main trees but there were some palms and saw palmetto too. The sound of birds singing and the cries of Red-shouldered hawks overhead were the soundtrack for the morning. We also learned to identify the Gray catbird by its call.

Epiphytes or Air Plants

We hiked the complete trail loop and took our time as we stopped to use binoculars and video to try to identify the various birds. There were naturalists out on the trail as well and they were super helpful in giving us information and help when we couldn’t identify a bird. This place was awesome and another place I highly recommend if you ever visit the gulf coast of Florida.

I was overwhelmed by all the things to take in…from the overall impression of the new to me habitat to the calls of some really big birds like the Great Blue Heron and the Anhinga. We saw more gators, squirrels, and more new birds to add to my life list like the Great crested flycatcher, the Pileated woodpecker, and the Carolina wren…all very exciting! I was able to use my iPhone to identify or confirm our sightings and then use the notes section on the phone to keep track of their names. Sometimes technology has its place in nature study and this was one time I was super glad to have it along.

Anhinga and Great Egret

One last stop on my whirlwind nature study adventure…the mangroves at Clam Pass Beach Park. My friend who lives in Naples was able to fit that into our day right at sunset. We walked part of the trail and then rode the shuttle the rest of the way…finding the sun just starting to set and people gathering to try to observe the infamous “green flash” at sunset. We soaked in the mangroves and I saw my first ever Blue jay (we have Scrub jays and Steller’s jays here in California).

Bald Cypress at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Florida

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to include some nature study and hiking into my trip to Florida. What a rich experience I had between the wildlife refuge, the beach time, and the time spent wandering the Florida swamps and mangroves.

I have already recorded my time in my nature journal….I did a quick sketch of the view from our window while in Florida and then finished it up at home with watercolors and details from my notes. I have the memories all tucked away in my heart and in a few good photos.

Would like to see some of Tricia’s Florida nature study images? Pop over to read her entry on her blog: Hodgepodge. While you are over there…check out her review of the Kia Optima Hybrid!

Kia Optima Hybrid Review

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Our Rock Grid Study – Rocks for Our Collection

Rocks are everywhere! It is hard to know where to start with a study of our local rocks since everywhere we look we have rocks to observe. But, like all nature study, our rock hunt led us to more questions than answers. Using the Rock Grid from the January edition of the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter, we narrowed our focus to a few of the squares.

  • Find a rock you would like to know more about using a book from the library. 
  • Find three rocks to bring home in your pocket. 

So these were the rocks that came home…a little too big for the pocket but we have long admired them along the hiking trail. It is high time that we slow down and learn a little more about them. My husband thinks the flat ones are some kind of slate. I’m not sure…the black ones maybe but the reddish ones will be fun to research. They are definitely sedimentary rocks and break easily. The top right rock is mostly quartz and very pretty in real life. These are going on the nature table until we find a book to help learn more about them.

Rock Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

This is Mr. A’s rock that he wants to know more about. You cannot tell from a photo but I am guessing it is twice as heavy as the same size piece of granite we have on our shelf. It is solid! This rock is found alongside another walking trail we take every week. If you look closely, you will see it is shiny/sparkly around the edges which makes it an interesting rock. Can’t wait to learn more about it…just need to get over to the library and find a good reference book.

Rock List Nature Journal @HBNatureStudy

Here is the start of my rock journal for the year. I listed down the side all the rocks from the Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads (Take-Along Guides) that I have decided to focus on for the year of 2013. Our family is going to be trying to locate, collect, and then study each of the fifteen rocks from the book. I made a chart to record the date we find the rock and the location.

On the other page, I watercolored a background and then I will adhere the Rock Grid Study for easy reference and as a reminder of a few things we can do while outside for our hikes and walks.

If you haven’t downloaded the January Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter with the Rock Study Grid yet, you still have time to do so. The link will be in every entry for the month of January if you are a subscriber to the blog. I already have quite a few rock-related entries for the next Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival and I invite you to join us with your entry (link on the sidebar).

Have you collected any rocks yet?