2 minute read

Write Outside Your Door


Kathryn A. Kahler is associate editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. Nature journal courtesy of Katryna Ritchie.

Summer is here and school is out — time to have some fun outdoors with nature journaling.

What’s a nature journal? It’s a journal you take along every time you go outdoors. Bring it with you on hikes, family camping trips, to the park or even to your own backyard.

Draw pictures, take notes, write poems or write about how you feel. There are no rules. It’s yours and you can keep it — like a diary — for the rest of your life.


• A spiral notebook or three-ring binder with paper

• Colored pencils or markers

• Small ruler to measure pine needles, bugs or leaves

• Magnifying glass for up-close looks

• Plastic sealable bag for specimens


First and most important, get outside where nature lives!

Next, slow down, look around and pay attention. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. What do you smell and hear? Try to describe a bird’s call or how flowers smell.

Get up close. Take a peek at flowers, butterflies and bugs through a magnifying glass. How many legs do the bugs have? How many petals are on the flower?

Start writing and drawing. Be sure to note the date, place and weather. After that, what you write is up to you.

If you have questions about what you see, write them down and look up answers later. Field guides about birds, insects, flowers and trees can help identify what you find.

Add to your journal each time you’re outside. You also can collect things like leaves that have fallen from trees — put them in your plastic zip-top bag for safekeeping and to study again later.

Because some things in nature are protected, it’s important to leave them alone. Instead of picking wildflowers or leaves off trees, draw pictures of them so you can remember what you saw.

Rachel Hershberger