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Nature journal

Fun at home activity

Make a folding nature journal to record the world around you.

Arrangement of paper, cardboard, graphite pencil, colour pencils, glue, ruler and scissors

Inspiration

Start your journey to becoming a natural historian, inspired by the National Museum of Australia’s collection of 19th-century seaweed albums from Port Phillip and Port Arthur.

Look closely at the world around you. Use a magnifying glass to examine the patterns on a leaf, a feather or shells. Look in your yard, at the beach or go on a family bushwalk to collect objects from nature. Collect and glue samples into your journal, make sketches or a shading.

Time and difficulty

About 30 minutes, easy.

What you need

  • cardboard (old boxes are great)
  • A4 paper
  • crayons, textas, pencils or paint
  • tape and glue
  • ruler
  • scissors (remember, these can be sharp, so
    ask an adult for help).

How to make your nature journal

Step 1

Gather your materials. Thick cardboard makes a stronger cover.

Step 2

We’re making a small journal so start by folding the A4 paper in half lengthwise. Then carefully cut down the fold.

Two hands folding paper in half
Two hands folding paper into thirds

Step 3

Fold your two strips of paper into thirds. Each third should be about 10cm by 10cm. When you’ve finished you should have two ‘Z-shaped’ folded pieces of paper.

Step 4

Line up the edge of one piece of paper with the other and glue the edges together, to create the zig-zag pages for the inside of your journal.

Two hands glueing paper
Paper in the form of a zig zag

Step 5

Using your zig-zag pages as a guide, measure two pieces of cardboard for your front and back covers. These cover pieces should be 2cm larger than your pages. Mark them up with a ruler and pencil, then cut them out with scissors.

Two hands measuring cardboard with a ruler and pencil
Two hands applying glue to paper

Step 6

Now you’re ready to put your journal together. Glue the front of your folded pages into the centre of the front cover and press down firmly. Repeat on the other end and back cover.

Step 7

You’re almost done. Decorate your cover, then go outside!

Journal with blank paper
Decorated cover of journal

Step 8

Look around! What interesting things can you see? Do you want to draw them? Can you stick them in your journal? Fill your journal with all the interesting things you can see. Below are some interesting samples we found outside the Museum.

Arrangement of leaves, feathers and seaweed
Decorated journal

Step 9

Don’t stop there! Once your journal’s full, make another one. We made a longer journal by folding and joining extra pages, then decorating the cover by wrapping it in coloured paper. The possibilities are endless and a handmade journal makes a wonderful gift.

Journal with tissue paper over cover
Journal with tissue paper over cover

Tip

One of our favourite places to wander through different ecosystems, compare plants, sit down and draw in Canberra is the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Check out your local gardens if you’re not in Canberra.

Share your creation!

We’d love to see what you made.Shareyour creation with us by emailing a photo or video to schoolholidays@nma.gov.au

See what others have made at our Discovery Space on the National Museum’s Flickr stream

Check out more fun at home activities, videos and games on the Museum’s website