Nature Journal Methods

Species Catalog


Last week I gave you a peek into my favorite method of Nature Journaling. A simple method of keeping a journal of the seasonal changes happening right around your own home.
Journal pages.  The yellow pot-it notes have our “species catalogs” on them
Today, I’d like to share another simple journaling method; one that is especially useful when you are away from home and on the move. This method, which was used by such intrepid nature explorers as Lewis and Clark and Charles Darwin, is called “A Species Catalog”. Basically, its a list of all the most interesting finds you come across on your nature excursion.

There are a couple of ways to do this. You can just carry a small notebook or post it pad in your back pocket and jot down anything that the kids call out that catches their eye. Or you can get out your technology and use your smartphone to record your nature find. The advantage of the smartphone is that you can take photos along the way too. Photos of things you don’t know the name for, and, perhaps more importantly, photos of your little naturalist in action!

Personally, I use the  Evernote app on my smartphone to keep my Nature walk species catalogs. This allows me to organize my Nature Notes easily. It also automatically puts a date on the file for me, and I like that I can access the file on my computer as well. From my computer I can add higher quality pictures from my canon camera and I can even print the file out if I choose (although I never have– I just keep these as digital records).
I find this method is particularly helpful with young kids, large groups, or (ah-hem) when on vacation with my husband. Basically anytime when I’m are not going to have the chance to get everyone to sit down long enough to do a journal entry! This method also gives the added benefit of giving mom’s back a break from carrying all those notebooks and pencils and paints. Just one little phone or notebook (and maybe a magnifying glass and butterfly net) and you’re good to go!  The simple act of mom writing down all the little observations and nature finds that a child makes is also very empowering and validating for a child whose drawing and writing skill might not yet be fully developed.

Similar to the phenology calendar, a species catalog can be used to inspire more a involved journal entry late, when you have time to sit down and get out the journals. (Make sure you put the date of the observation, rather then the date you complete the entry if it is done at a later date).  But honestly, even if you never get around to the “prettier” journal pages, your list of your encounters in nature and the validation you provide to your children about their observations hold immeasurable value (I promise!)

An example of a journal page inspired by a Evernote “species catalog” file gathered while on the move on vacation in Arizona

2 thoughts on “Species Catalog”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s