Nature Journals

Children will record changes in nature.

Lesson Objective

Children will observe changes in plants and animals in nature and will record these changes in their journals.


What You'll Need

  • Construction paper – 1 sheet per child
  • Copy paper – 5 sheets per child
  • Stapler (adult use)
  • Crayons – 1 pack per child
  • Pencil – 1 per child

What To Do

Note: This lesson requires (1) taking a walk outside 1 day per week for several weeks and (2) constructing a journal for each child prior to the lesson. To construct the journal, fold the construction paper and the copy paper in half. To make a journal, place 5 folded sheets of copy paper inside the folded construction paper, and staple in place.

  1. Discuss the plants and animals that the children may have seen near the school (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  2. Tell the children that they are going to be nature scientists and that they will be keeping a journal of the plants and animals they see in nature.
  3. Take the children outside for a nature walk.
  4. Upon returning to the classroom, discuss the plants and animals that the children saw and where these items were located (trees, bushes, and flowers in fields, insects crawling, animals, nests in trees, and so on).
  5. Distribute the notebooks, and have the children draw the plants and animals that they observed.
  6. Go for a nature walk each week, and have the children record their observations on a separate page in their journals.
  7. Discuss any changes in nature that the children recorded, such as leaves changing, flowers wilting, grass turning yellow or brown, different animals/insects or no animals/insects, and so forth.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Describe the plants you saw.
  • Describe any animals or insects you saw.
  • Tell me where you saw the plants/animals.
  • Explain how nature changed in your drawings (from page to page).

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Have the children focus on one item, such as a tree. They can draw the tree each week from early spring to early summer or from late summer to early fall to note the changes.
  • Place pictures of nature and the plants and animals common to your region in the discovery or science area for further investigation.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe the plants that they saw?
  • Could children describe the animals or insects that they saw?
  • Could children explain where the plants/animals were located?
  • Could children explain how nature changed as reflected in their drawings?


Did You Know?

Whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or in the country, nature is all around you. Trees, bushes, flowers, and insects live in many different settings. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and a variety of birds are commonly found in cities, suburbs, and in the country.

The natural world is rich with life and opportunities to explore and learn. Providing children with opportunities to find special places to explore will help them create a relationship with nature. As children explore, they automatically connect with their natural surroundings. Giving the children the freedom to discover and enjoy nature inspires a desire to appreciate and care for the natural environment.  

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • nature – the physical world and things in their natural state.
  • scientist – a person who works in or studies a science.
  • journal – a written record of a person’s experiences, thoughts, or daily events.
  • record – to put in writing.
  • observation – a careful look at something.
  • change – to make different.

Lesson Tips

  • You could take the notebooks, crayons, and blankets outside. Have the children sit or lie on the blankets to draw what they see in nature.
  • Be sure to inform parents and guardians that their children will be going outside for a nature walk, so the children should come to school dressed appropriately.


  • Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman
  • Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator
  • Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
  • Winter’s Coming: A Story of Seasonal Change by Jan Thornhill

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS