Cranetivities – Nature Journaling

Welcome to the latest edition of Cranetivities! Join us this week as we learn more about the exciting world of nature journaling. You can find our most recent edition of Cranetivities here.

Activity Description: When you go outside, what do you notice? Do you use your senses (sight, sound, smell and touch) to make observations about the natural world? Join the International Crane Foundation and our partners at Madison Audubon as we explore the endless possibilities of nature journaling in this week’s Cranetivities! Nature journaling can take many forms – writing, drawing or recording – and it can help you learn more about the world around you. Best of all, nature journaling is for everyone!

Grades: All ages

Time estimate: 1 to 2 hours

Topics covered: Science, nature, art, writing and mindfulness

Materials needed: Paper, string, scissors, pen or pencil, colored pencils (optional), phone with audio and video recording capabilities (optional)

Adult involvement: No

Indoor or outdoor: Outdoor


Cranetivities – Nature Video Postcards

Explore.org Live Nature Cameras

White-naped Crane Exhibit Observations

White-naped Crane Species Field Guide

Madison Audubon

Madison Audubon – Nature Journals



This week’s Cranetivities will help you explore the fascinating world of nature journaling! Nature journaling is all about being mindful, making observations and asking questions. There are many ways you can participate in nature journaling – writing, drawing, filming or recording – and this blog post will help you explore them all.

One of the most popular ways to nature journal is by writing and drawing in a notebook. Before you begin, you will need some paper and writing utensils. Many people use notebooks and colored pencils for their nature journals, but you can use any materials you have.

You can also make your very own nature journal using some common household items! You just need paper and something to hold it together – you could use string, tape, glue or staples to accomplish this. The following instructions will help you make a journal using paper, scissors and string:

1. Fold your pieces of paper in half.


2. Poke three holes along the folded edge of the paper. Make sure your holes go through all the layers of paper.


3. Put a short piece of string through each hole.


4. Tie each piece of string in a knot to secure the journal.


5. (Optional) Decorate the cover however you see fit.


Now that you have a nature journal, you’re ready to get started! Head outside and find a spot where you can sit down and make some observations. You can also stay inside and look out a window to make your observations, or you can even do some nature journaling while watching a live nature cam like these from Explore.org.

Once you have found a spot to sit, take some deep breaths and make sure you are comfortable. As you take in your surroundings, try to use your senses – sight, sound, touch and smell – to notice everything around you. When you are ready to begin journaling, write or draw anything that you have noticed. If you’re not sure where to start, try answering the following questions and prompts:

•  Where are you?

•  What is the weather like?

•  Are there any animals or plants nearby?

•  I smell…

•  I see…

•  I hear…

•  I feel…

•  I wonder…

Nature journaling can be relaxing and peaceful, and it can help you feel more connected to your environment. It can also help you learn more about the natural world. As you are writing and drawing, you may find yourself asking questions that you can’t answer just by observing nature. Write those questions down in your nature journal so that you can look them up when you get home! Nature journaling can lead to exciting discoveries and exploration about plants, animals, weather and anything else you are observing.

At the International Crane Foundation, we love nature journaling about cranes! While it may be hard for you to observe cranes near where you live, our educators have prepared a video that might help you do some crane-themed nature journaling. Watch this video of our White-naped Crane exhibit and write or draw about what you see. Do you have questions about the cranes in the video? Try looking on the internet for more information. Here’s a link to our website’s White-naped Crane page that will help you get started.


The International Crane Foundation isn’t the only organization that recommends nature journaling – one of our Nature Net partners, Madison Audubon, loves helping people get started with nature journaling! Madison Audubon’s website has many resources that can inspire you to get outside and begin journaling.

Another option for nature journaling is to record audio. If you have access to a smartphone or other device with audio recording capability, this option may be for you. An auditory nature journal might also be a good fit for you if you don’t like to write or draw. Try recording the sounds of the wildlife around you and narrate what is going through your mind. Maybe you hear a bird call that you don’t recognize, or the sound of a big gust of wind – these could make for a great auditory nature journal entry. Just like with a written nature journal, you can answer some simple questions and use your senses to make verbal observations:

•  Where are you?

•  What is the weather like?

•  Are there any animals or plants nearby?

•  I see, smell, hear or feel…

•  I wonder…


Finally, you can film your nature journal as a video. In last week’s Cranetivities, we learned about making video postcards to document the nature around you. If you’d like to try making a video for your nature journal, read through last week’s Cranetivities and follow the instructions for making a video. While it may not have been appropriate to speak over your video postcard, you can narrate your video nature journal. If you aren’t sure what to say, start with the basics! What is the weather? What do you see, hear, smell or feel? Are there any animals or plants near you? How do the nature sounds, sights, smells or sensations make you feel?

As you can see, there are unlimited options in the exciting world of nature journaling. It’s a perfect way to explore the nature around you and let your creativity shine. Not only that, but it will also help you learn new things about the natural world! We would love to see pictures and videos of your nature journals. You may post these on social media (and tag @savingcranes) or you may email them to info@savingcranes.org. Thank you for participating in this week’s Cranetivities!

Got feedback? We would love to hear your thoughts on our educational resources. This survey will allow you to provide feedback on our Cranetivities series. If you have used any of our other educational resources, like our From the Field series or our online activity packets, you may provide feedback on those resources here. You may also email us at info@savingcranes.org if you have questions or comments for us or would like to share photos of you and your kids’ crane creations! We will see you next time for a new edition of Cranetivities!