journal page showing ecosystem web of plants and animals hand drawn
meadowhawk dragonfly on someone's finger up close with red body
watercolor painting of fall leaves
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Spending more time outside these days? Start a nature journal as a family or just for you. Nature journaling allows for meditative reflection, whether you stop somewhere on a trail, pick a spot in your backyard, or look outside your window. A nature journal is a space for you to be creative and let nature be the inspiration for what you create.

Here are a few tips to get your own journal started. Be sure to follow Baltimore Woods Nature Center social media for weekly journaling prompts and to see what our environmental educators are writing in their own journals!

  • 1. Select a journal-a sketch pad or notebook

  • 2. Choose your medium-pen, pencil, markers, or a paintbrush (or all of the above)!

  • 3. Find a sit spot-it can be the same every week or different! Try to find a comfortable spot with few distractions.

  • 4. Start journaling- spend as much or as little time as you like, but enjoy this quiet moment to yourself.

Nature journal entries vary by person and age. Try different methods and pick what feels right to you in the moment. Write a poem, draw something big or small, describe what you see and hear, share your thoughts and feelings, or write down questions to look up later. Use your nature journal to help focus your mind, take a break from technology, and connect yourself to the earth.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram every Monday for the next prompt. If you’re just getting started, you’ll find a list below of topics we’ve already featured.

Weekly Journaling Topics

Week of October 24 -October 30, 2021

Everything in nature is connected and the relationships that form between different species help to build the intricate environment we observe outside. From tiny millipedes and clovers to large herons or hawks, nature is formed from a unique web of connected parts. All of the pieces of an ecosystem rely on each other and shape the area around them, creating a living environment that surrounds us. 

For this week’s nature journal, find a spot to sit outside, or inside next to a window. Look around and notice all of the species around you, from the really small to the really big, and everything in between. Write, or draw, all of these species out in your nature journal in random areas on the page. Next, add in nonliving pieces of the ecosystem you’re in, such as sunlight or water. Now, start to think about how all of these parts are connected. With so much life in such a small area, species must interact with each other. Are some of these species food sources for the others? Do any of them communicate with each other? Do they help each other? Do they occupy the same habitats or compete for nesting spaces? Where are they getting their energy from?

Begin to draw lines and arrows connecting the different species. If it helps, color code different arrows for different kinds of relationships (ex: use red for predator-prey relationships, blue for competitors, etc.) Click here to see a sample! 

By the end, your page should look like one big web of relationships. Lastly, write yourself onto the page. Where do you fall in the web of relationships? If you’re not sure, that’s okay too! Start to think about your part in nature and what role you play in your local environment. Whenever you find yourself out in nature this week, keep a listening ear and a watchful eye for the little connections going on all around you.

Week of October 17 -October 23, 2021

In October, many of us are focused on the grand seasonal transition of autumn and all the fun fall activities, like . apple picking, mushroom foraging, and leaf peeping. But when was the last time we slowed down to notice moments throughout the day itself?

This week, over the course of an entire day, make connections between time and the activity of nature around you. Take a few notes in the morning, afternoon, and evening in your nature journal. Some examples include…What do the birds sound like? What is the weather like? What are people doing? Do the plants seem to be responding to the differences in light? Are there different critters that come out in the morning, afternoon, and evening? 

You can also connect to your own daily activity. Does your mood and energy fluctuate throughout the day? Some people believe that their productivity and mood are dependent on their sleep-wake schedule (“early birds” vs. “night owls”), which is also called a chronotype. Connect your own chronotype to the local animals you observed throughout the day: are you like a nocturnal raccoon, a dawn-loving sparrow, or an afternoon squirrel?

Week of October 10 -October 16, 2021

Nature journaling and field sketching are wonderful ways to deepen your connection with the natural world around you. This week, we hope you enjoy this special guided video that demonstrates tips for drawing a meadowhawk dragonfly!

To view a larger image of this dragonfly to help guide you during the drawing, take a look at this link: https://baltimorewoods.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/meadowhawk-dragonfly.jpg

Would you like to see more future videos like this one or participate in more nature-related art programs? After watching, we would love to hear your feedback via a brief survey.

*Scroll down to watch the video on this page!

Week of October 3 -October 9, 2021

When you hear the word nature what do you think of? Maybe images of lush meadows, rushing waterfalls, or astonishing mountains come to mind. In reality, nature is everywhere. Nature can be as small as a patch of grass next to the sidewalk, a bird sitting on a telephone pole, or even a cobweb in your house.

For this week’s nature journaling prompt, walk no more than five feet outside of your house. Set a timer for five minutes and make a list of all the nature you see around you. Keep listing everything that you consider nature until the timer runs out. Afterward look back at your list and notice how much nature you found right outside your door.

Is your list longer than you thought it would be? Is it shorter? What do you consider nature and what do you not consider to be nature? If you had to create your own definition for the word “nature” what would you say? This week, pay extra attention to all the nature around you, big or small, in your everyday life.

Week of September 26 -October 2, 2021

As the fall progresses, we have a chance to delight in enjoying the colors of changing leaves. Depending on the tree, or even on each individual leaf, there is such a diverse palette of colors to observe. In late September, the leaves are just beginning to become more vibrant.

In your yard or on a local walk, gather a few fallen leaves of different shapes and colors. Try drawing outlines of the leaves or tracing them in your nature journal. If you have watercolors, colored pencils, or other illustration supplies, you can fill in your leaf outlines with color. Try mixing and blending the different colors together to show the subtle gradients between them.

You can also write about the leaves that you see. What do the colors remind you of? Have you seen other things in nature that have similar colors, such as a sunset? How are the leaves similar or different from each other?

Week of September 19 -September 25, 2021

As autumn quickly approaches, the weather is beginning to get a little colder and the leaves are starting to change colors.  While all of this change is happening, take a look around and you might notice that autumn is also a time of preparation. Now is a time for many different animals to prepare for winter and to store lots of nutritious food while it is still abundant. Autumn is often a very busy time, even for people, as seasons change and the days start to get shorter.

Find a comfortable spot to sit outside or inside near a window. Notice and journal what is happening around you. Do you notice any animals storing food or preparing in other ways? Do animals, or people, look busier than usual? What do you think any life that you see must do in order to prepare for colder weather?

Then take a moment to close your eyes and think about your own life. Are there ways that you are preparing for the coming months? Are there areas of life that are changing? What are you preparing for?

Week of September 12 -September 18, 2021

Next week is the fall equinox, a time when the light of the sun and dark of the moon are balanced, equal in time. Balance is also important for us in our busy lives. As the signs of fall appear, what can you do to prepare yourself for this change? Last week in your journal you wrote down some early external signs of fall and now as the equinox approaches, let’s explore our individual preparations for this change.

Take a few moments to be present, check in with yourself to see what it is you need. By taking quiet mindful moments for ourselves before transitioning into a new season we can better tune into the rhythms of nature and ease into the changes that are happening around us.

Find a comfortable spot to sit in or outside. Use all your senses to tune mindfully into the moment. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Ask yourself the question, what do I need to focus on this new season for myself? What does my body and mind need? 

Sit in your space for a few moments letting your thoughts flow then open your eyes and write down your experience. 

Week of September 5 -September11, 2021

The transitions between each season oscillate between reminiscence of the old season and whisperings of the next. As we near the end of summer, there are still many hot and humid days. However, there are also the beginnings of crisp, autumn air. This week, take out your nature journal and look for small, early signs of autumn. Perhaps it is a tree’s leaves turning color early (Sugar Maples are a great example of this), or a particularly cool summer evening. You can even take your nature journal to study humans during this time! Are people starting to dress a bit differently? Do you see more jackets instead of tank tops, boots instead of sandals?

No matter what you choose to record, notice these fickle seasonal transitions with observant, welcoming eyes.

Find More Seasonal Nature Journaling Prompts!