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Field Sketching | Nature Journal | Nature Journaling | Nature Journaling Prompts


Helpful nature journaling prompts for adults, kids, beginners and seasoned journalers. FREE PROMPTS LIST DOWNLOAD to help fill your nature journal with fresh ideas.

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Despite the abundance of articles that focus on how to start a nature journal, there aren’t many that focus on how to COMPLETE one. These helpful nature journaling prompts will keep you actively engaged in pursuing a deeper relationship with nature while building knowledge through personal experiences.

Nature Journaling Prompts

Completing a nature journal used to be a tough challenge for me. There were always excuses like “writer’s block” or “not having enough time” to keep me from filling a book cover-to-cover. I’m happy to say this is not the case today. The first lesson that pointed me in the right direction is that nature journaling is not as restrictive as I had once mistakenly believed. It takes on many forms, from bullet lists and data points to hand-drawn maps and thumbnail sketches.

You don’t need to be an artist. You don’t need to be a biologist. All you have to be is curious about nature! With that in mind, I’ve created these helpful nature journaling prompts for you to try on your next outing.

Nature Journaling Prompt: Record Baseline Data

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What do these entries have in common? Baseline data!

Assuming you’ve already settled on your preferred nature journaling kit the easiest prompt you can start with are these three key pieces of info.

  1. Your location
  2. The date, which provides a timestamp for your entry
  3. Environmental conditions in your location, such as the weather, temperature, and wind

Collectively, these pieces of information are known as “baseline data” and they provide a context for everything else that you record in your journal that day.

Even if your journal only consists of baseline data entries, over the course of a year you will have constructed a valuable database of weather events in your location of choice. Pretty cool, right?

Pro Tip:

"Observe the changes that occur in your local environment during a weather-shift. For example, what bird species are actively hunting worms when it rains?"

You should always know before you go! Get detailed weather information in your area. 

Nature Journaling Prompt: When You Can’t Draw, Make A List!

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When I'm on a fast-paced hike, I love making lists of the wildlife I see along the way.

Whenever I’m not in a position to stop and draw to my heart’s content, I supplement my entries with lists of observations. This is a great way to catalogue things on the go, such as bird and wildlife sightings, which plants are blossoming or bearing fruit for the first time in a given season, what foliage is changing color first, etc.

When these lists are paired with the baseline data mentioned above, you’re adding another layer of REAL SCIENTIFIC DATA to your journal. Imagine being able to learn not only WHAT wildlife or plant species you can encounter in your location, but also WHEN and WHERE. 

Nature Journaling Prompt: Use Nature Drawing As A Learning Tool

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Drawing helps me to slow down and LEARN something new!

The whole point of nature drawing isn’t to make pretty pictures all the time. It’s a tool that helps you focus on a particular subject in the field long enough to LEARN something new about it. Even if you can’t finish a sketch, your baseline data provides enough context for it to make sense and become an interesting visual.

If you want to truly study a subject in the field, focus on the subject itself by documenting your observations with notes, rapid gesture sketches, and even icons to show how a subject interacts with its environment. In this case, the quality of the data surmounts the quality of the drawing.

However, if you want to create a fully rendered drawing of a subject, focus on getting a good reference photo so you can take all the time you need to finish after you get home.

Nature Journaling Prompt: Think Like A Natural History Reporter

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Writing down questions is just as important as writing down facts.

Filling your nature journal with questions is equally as important as filling it with observations. Thinking like a natural history reporter opens your mind to possibilities that would otherwise remain undiscovered.

Consider the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions that could make a seemingly ordinary subject suddenly more interesting. For example, I see more pigeons in New York City than I know what to do with (technically, rock doves). One day it dawned on me that every single pigeon does a little head bob when it walks. The simple question “why?” lead me down a rabbit hole of research that resulted in a full-spread entry in my nature journal. Did you know they can fly up to 93 mph? Hawks are faster.

Nature Journaling Prompt: Embed Yourself in a Nature Location

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You can learn a lot from reading a landscape. DRAWING a landscape can teach you even more!

Embedding yourself in a nature location means creating a consistent dialogue about everything that interests you about a given environment. This doesn’t necessarily mean heading to the woods every weekend or hiking every day (although that sounds nice).

During the COVID lockdown, I kept a nature journal that focused primarily on the plants and birds in my backyard. Using these nature journaling prompts, not only did I LEARN more from that patch of land than I would have ever expected, I actually COMPLETED that nature journal in a matter of months!

Remember, the best way to build knowledge is through personal experiences, and it doesn’t get more personal than an archive of nature journals that YOU filled with REAL data from your observations.

Next Steps for Filling Your Nature Journal

I hope you found this article helpful! I’ve added even more nature journaling prompts to this FREE downloadable list. Subscribe and you’ll get 10 nature journaling prompts to try.

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