Nature Journaling Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Keeping a nature journal is a way to develop an eye for detail and to hone writing abilities. This lesson plan will get students started in nature writing, a practice that can be extended throughout the school year.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • write descriptively about natural surroundings
  • observe and note small details that make up the environment

Length

1-3 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.2

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.5

With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

Materials

  • Paper cut into long, wide strips. Poster paper can be cut into six strips that are four inches by 36 inches. Thicker paper, such as card stock, will work better.
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Art supplies
  • Cameras (optional)
  • Copies of nature journals that are reading level appropriate

Instructions

Creating a Journal

  • Begin class with the journal-making supplies available to students. The size of the paper you provide will dictate the size of the journals and the number of pages within.
  • Demonstrate each step in the journal-making process for students.
    • Fold the long paper in half, then fold those halves in half, and repeat until you have the paper folded like an accordion. If you used poster paper, your final product should be 4 inches by 4.5 inches.
    • Cut out two pieces of cardboard that are the same size as the folded paper.
    • Glue the cardboard to the ends of the folded paper to create the effect of a bound book.
    • Use art supplies to decorate the covers of the book!

Observation

  • Walk with students to the most natural area of the school campus, or if possible, to a nearby location such as a park or a public garden. This could be an opportunity for an inexpensive field trip, if you have the ability to do that.
  • Instruct students that their goal is to observe nature at several distances. They should look at the big picture, focus on a single element such as a tree or flower, and then observe that object very closely to see tiny details. Model this observation for students.
  • At each level, they will also write in their journals. This writing can be single words that come to mind, short phrases, or full sentences. Explain that they should not worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. The important thing is to capture their thoughts as rapidly and accurately as possible.
  • Allow at least 30 minutes for students to record their observations. In larger areas with more to observe, extend that time if possible.

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