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Field Trip 1- Nature Journaling

Field Trip 1: Exploring Our Coast

Introduction to nature journaling and observation

Activity Description

The goal of this activity is to encourage observation and description.  It should also be a time for students to think of a few "I wonder why" questions.

Estimated Time of Activity

Two to three hour field trip to the most easily accessible coastal environment (sandy beach, salt marsh, rocky shore).

Activity Objectives

  • SWBAT use tools such as journals and cameras to record observations
  • Students observe similarities and differences in flora, fauna, and abiotic factors of two different environments.
  • Students use computers to record observations and sketches, etc…
  • Students generate a few ideas for their research project.

Activity Instructions

  1. The teacher must always visit the field site first.  Determine access points, dangerous areas, etc…
  2. Before the field trip, introduce students to the concept of nature journaling.  This is a good introduction:  The beauty of nature journaling is that students that are more artistic/ creative as well as more scientific/ analytical will be able to use their nature journals in a way that complements their strengths.
  3. Although this trip is introductory, do not let students simply wander about aimlessly.  Begin with an activity such as shell collecting, or bird-spotting.
  4. The students may then choose an area to fill in their nature journals.
  5. As students complete their nature journals, look it over for completeness, then give the early finishers garbage bags to begin cleaning up the shoreline.


  • Visit one other coastal ecosystem and complete nature journal and take photos
  • Upload observations and pictures from both sites.
  • Write a descriptive essay comparing and contrasting sites.


  • Guidelines for nature journaling
  • Buckets
  • Nets
  • Clipboards and pencils
  • Binoculars
  • Field guides
  • Garbage bags and/ or plastic bags (shell and garbage collecting); work gloves

Instructor’s Notes


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