Home > Nature Study and Activities for Kids > Guide to Setting Up a Nature Table and Journalling with Kids

Guide to Setting Up a Nature Table and Journalling with Kids

No matter how big or small your home is, if you homeschool or your children go to school devoting a little space in your home to a nature table can help your children to appreciate the wider world and the wonders of nature around them. Combined with keeping a nature journal, taking nature walks with your own nature kit and throughout the year doing simple nature activities together, your children will connect with natural history, learn to appreciate the seasons, and discover the awe and wonder of the world around them. Today we’re guiding you to set up a simple nature table and get started with a nature journal inspired by the book Nature Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström.

How to start a nature area and journal with kids pinterest image

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We love being outdoors, especially when the weather is nice and getting out to investigate science and nature in summer is the perfect time the kids don’t even realise that they are learning.  We are keen to get out and about and see what we can find in our forests, parks, and in the tide pools at the beach

To get us started we chose to read Nature Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström for a number of reasons:

  • Great illustrations
  • Very informative without looking too much like a textbook
  • Easy to read and it appealed to all ages
  • Youngsters like the illustrations and older kids liked reading the facts
  • Each chapter deals with a different country or coastal environment

Inspired by book we set up a nature area in the home and then started a basic nature diary to record our find and adventures throughout the coming months.

We switch out the book on our nature table regularly check out some of the other book we recommend for your nature area.

Collecting for a Nature Table

Collage of nature finds on the nature table after a summer woodland walk including leaves, stones, flowers and bark as well as the book Nature Adventures

We collected different items on our nature walk and could not wait to get back home.  Setting up a nature table was quite easy.  We set up our nature table in on a small table below a window so that natural light could enter.  Some of our collection was quite big and was displayed on its own.  Smaller items were placed in some clear, plastic containers.

Some of the things we added:

  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Some feathers
  • Small stones or rocks

We carefully wrote out some labels with some basic details such as where and when we found them.   After some long discussions over what could be added to a group, we sorted our finds into different categories. 

In spring we have added an observational tank to raise tadpoles in and in early summer a butterfly net to see the life cycle on the nature table as well.

After we had labeled our nature collection we decided to keep a nature diary from all the things we collect during the summer holidays!

Keeping a Nature Diary

Collage showing a child's nature diary with flowers and leaves pressed between the pages to label and annotate as they learn about the natural world.

We used a notebook for our nature diary and began to take it with us when we went out for walks in the woods and to the park.  It was easy to collect small things such as leaves and flowers and secure them in the nature diary.

See how we got started nature journaling with our preschooler with simple drawings and created a wormery journal as we observed the progress of our plastic bottle wormery on the nature table.

For larger things, we took photographs and printed them at home.  We then stuck them into our nature diary and noted the date and where the photograph had been taken.

It was also a great idea to do nature rubbings of bark and other surfaces.  We took a piece of paper and placed it on the rough surface.  We then took a crayon or pencil and rubbed it over the surface to reveal the pattern underneath.  This was also added to our nature diary.

Finally, we drew drawings and painted pictures in our diary and labeled them with the date and where we had been.  This works really well if you are observing insects or animals on your nature walk.

Starting a nature table and diary is easy and lots of great fun.  It is also interesting to continue throughout the year and record the changing of the seasons as well.  We cannot wait to add some Autumn leaves and some spring flowers too.

Read more from Helen Witty Hoots here

Helen From CrArty

Helen Newberry runs CrArty which is dedicated to the arts and crafts.  She is a published author, art historian, teacher and business woman.

CrArty Kids has developed into a whole section of CrArty which is dedicated to learning about art and crafts.  The focus is on developing artistic, creative and practical craft skills for the younger members of the family.

You can follow CrArty Kids on Facebook as well as CrArty on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

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