1. Fold construction paper end to end, lining up edges.
2. Take 3-4 sheets of copy paper and line up perfectly. Fold end to end again.
3. Place in construction paper, making sure border is even on top and bottom.
4. Staple 3 times along left side.
5. Using a ruler, fold the front cover back. You will have 6 or 8 journal pages.
As you can see from the photo, I like to put a sticker on the front, chosen from the many stickers I get from environmental organizations. Or I might glue a nice nature photo on the front. I also put the year so I don't have to put the year on every journal page.
The information you should include on each journal page is:
- Weather including description such as rainy, sunny partly cloudy, etc.
I added a little colored pencil to a sketch of the spider I saw. I usually annotate the drawing with notes on distinguishing marks to help identification.
This one was done in 2007. A couple of weeks later, I observed another bug, maybe the same one, on a sunflower leaf:
At the time, I did not know what the bug was but now most of us know it as the invasive, alien, and destructive stink bug. Most articles I have read say the stink bug first appeared in Virginia in 2009 but I sketched this bug in 2007. This highlights one use of nature journals in citizen science. Since the page is properly dated and includes a detailed drawing, it can be considered to be scientific evidence.
So, citizen science is one good reason to keep a nature journal. Other reasons include:
- help you to remember identifications
- know when to look for flowers or birds the next year by referring to your journal.
- use as resource for writing or art projects.
- helps you to express your feelings about nature.
The American Museum of Natural History has instruction on field journal activities here:
Also, the Smithsonian has lesson plans on journals:
This blog post has some good information on nature journals: