Sticker design contest is now open: Enter here

Nature Journaling for Educators

Nature Journaling for Educators2024-06-09T13:08:52-04:00

Program overview

Nature journaling at its most basic is the practice of observing nature and recording your observations. It integrates writing, art, and numbers with observations, curiosity, and research. Nature journaling encourages a connection to nature and place, teaches scientific observational skills, and helps practice mindfulness. Students of any age can benefit from nature journaling, and it can be integrated into any subject area. In this 5-day intensive course (June 24–28, 2024), we will explore a variety of ways to integrate nature journaling into any educational setting.

What will classes look like?2024-06-09T12:32:59-04:00

We will warm up with some activities and discussions in the classroom, and then we will head out into the local parks to spend most of the day practicing our skills. This class will emphasize hands-on learning; there won’t be much reading or homework. I know we’re all very tired at this time of year, so I want this to feel like summer camp for teachers.  Teachers who are taking the class for graduate credit will complete a very open-ended project due 3 weeks after class where they will create a plan for how they could use nature journaling in their educational settings.

What will I learn?2024-06-09T13:07:59-04:00

You will learn the basics of nature journaling by completing the actual activities that you can then use with your students. We will spend as much time outside as possible and will also experiment with indoor activities for when the weather doesn’t cooperate. In addition to doing a deep dive into science practices, you will learn how nature journaling can enhance ELA, social studies, and math lessons. At the end of the class you will have a completed nature journal that you can then carry into your own personal nature journaling practice.

Do I need to be in great hiking shape?2024-06-09T12:35:07-04:00

Nope! There will be some light hiking, but the nice thing about nature journaling is that you don’t have to go far to make it a rewarding experience. I’m happy to accommodate any mobility level, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Is this class only for nature/science/elementary/secondary teachers?2024-06-09T12:35:30-04:00

No! Nature journaling can be used with any age of students and in any subject. We’ll be experimenting with a variety of activities that can be tailored to any classroom’s curriculum and needs. Newly literate students can focus on drawing pictures and speaking their observations. Math students can collect and analyze statistical data in nature. English language learners can journal in their home language or use journaling to build new vocabulary and connect with their new environment. ELA students can use nature journaling to connect with the environments in their literature and the environments that influenced the authors. High school students can use nature journaling for citizen science projects.

Does my school need to have a forest and trails to do nature journaling?2024-06-09T13:03:19-04:00

No! You can nature journal in a school yard or in a local park. Does your school have a garden? Students can track the development of things they planted. You can even nature journal a grassy field. Any landscaping can provide a wealth of sources, as can any trees.

Is this class only for people with artistic ability?2024-06-09T13:03:56-04:00

No! Art and drawing is only one aspect of nature journaling, and the skills to create beautiful artwork aren’t necessary at all. Drawing is one tool to use to deepen observations, and this can be achieved even with basic drawings. As you practice nature journaling your drawing skills will improve, but you can start from scratch!

Do I need a big nature journaling kit to take this class?2024-06-09T13:04:51-04:00

Nope! You only need a notebook, a writing utensil, and some coloring utensils. The basic kit I use with my students is an inexpensive notebook, a pencil, and Crayola colored pencils. If you sign up for the class I will send you some suggestions for materials to upgrade your own personal kit, but simple is best with students.

Nature Journaling Details

Who: Open to the public, with no prerequisite skills required for the course. Participants should expect some light hiking and off trail exploration.
When: June 24–28, 2024, 9:00am – 3:30pm

Where: Burlington, VT with field trips to nearby field sites
Cost: $695, includes lunch.
Optional: $435 for graduate credits (3) through Vermont State University. Financial aid may be available.

Want a more detailed look at the course

For prospective participants, check out the detailed syllabus, which has details on each day, resources to guide your study, sample worksheets, lectures, field sites, and plenty of other helpful information

Faculty

Caitlin Kurnit

Caitlin Kurnit (she/her)

Naturalist Educator

Teacher Testimonials

“More than anything this course helped me develop a way of thinking about and discovering the stories of a place. Teage gave us so many tools – introducing us to possible sites for field trips, practicing rapid site evaluation and tree ids, but also group discovery process to build our capacity to recognize patterns and unearth what’s happened here.”

Brian, Middle School Teacher

“It deepened my sense of place and understanding of the natural communities in which I teach. I will be able to help kids ask questions, look for evidence, and make their own guesses about what is going on in the natural communities around them, how things got that way, and what they might look like in the future.”

Dylan, Middle School Teacher

“This course is definitely in my top 3 courses of all time! I loved everything about it–the structure (lectures followed by most of the day outside in the field), then content, and the activities. It felt like summer camp for adults. It’s hard to pick one highlight. I really enjoyed learning more about sites around our community–most of which I have never been to. Going to the Lamoille Cave was probably the biggest highlight for me, although I truly enjoyed learning about each site. The food was incredible, too!”

Sarah, High School Teacher

“This course gave me a huge content boost that I needed. While I may not get to the depth of this content with elementary students, it’s important to understand the bigger picture context and details. The hands-on exploration and analysis of field sites is a perfect model to use with students to enable them to apply their knowledge to construct a deeper understanding of landscapes. I can envision using these models with elementary students. I will also take and share the online activities (Where’s Waldo, image identification, etc.) to use with students in the event of continued remote learning. I know colleagues were struggling with ideas to keep kids engaged as time went on.”

Courtney, Elementary School Teacher
Go to Top