[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Eva Varga



When Lewis and Clark began their journey west in 1804, their most valuable possessions were their journals.  Humans may now have explored nearly every inch of our planet, but there is always more to see and describe.  A nature journal is your ticket to a deep exploration of the world around you.  A nature journal is a place to record your encounters with the natural world - from the everyday to the sublime. Field sketches, regardless of the degree of artistic talent with which they are rendered, force us to look closely and observe nature as it really is.

Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you.  The recording can be done in a wide variety of ways, depending on the individual journalist's interests, background, and training.  Some people prefer to record in written prose or poetry, some do it through drawing or painting, and others with photographs or tape recordings. Many people use a combination of these techniques.  This course will help you to integrate nature journaling into your art and science curriculum.  

Appropriate for teachers K-12. 


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

Upon completion of this course, participants will:

  1. Have prepared a field journal of observations and discoveries to use as a basis for instructional planning as well as a reflection tool.
  2. Have developed 12 drawings and taken photos of at least 12 native species of plants and/or animals .  Have talked with resource specialists to learn about the unique ecosystems in their area.
  3. Have observed first-hand the biological diversity of their local ecology.
  4. Have prepared lesson plans to use this information in classroom instruction.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



  • Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. 1986. ISBN-10: 0801493846.   Alternatively, available as a free e-book download at Internet Archive
  • Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

  • Handbook of Nature Study
    ISBN# 9780801493843
    by Anna Botsford Comstock
    Cornell University Press

    Buy from Amazon
  • Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You
    ISBN# 1580174930
    by Leslie, Clare Walker, Roth, Charles E.
    Storey Publishing, LLC

    Buy from Amazon


Texts, Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. 1986. ISBN-10: 0801493846. Available used on Amazon for $11.95. Alternatively, available as a free e-book download at Internet Archive Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You by Clare Walker Leslie, 2003. ISBN-10: 1580174930. Available used on Amazon for $9.00.


Eva Varga, M.A., born and raised in Oregon, has a deep respect for history and nature. As an undergraduate, she pursued a dual degree in General Science and International Studies. During this time, she spent a summer abroad in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Thereafter, she began graduate work at Oregon State University in Elementary Education, earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. She taught for six years in the public schools (four as an elementary science specialist and two as a fifth grade classroom teacher) and has received numerous awards and grant honors for the development and integration of non-native species curriculum. In 2002, she was selected as an Oregon state finalist for the Presidential Award of Excellence for Math and Science Teaching. She has also volunteered with an Earthwatch team studying parasitism of rainforest caterpillars in Ecuador. She teaches online science courses for youth on Outschool as well as English to children in Asia with VIPKid. She homeschooled her two children - the oldest is now at the university while her youngest is yet in high school. In fall 2020, Eva will be returning to the classroom full time as the English Language Development specialist for her local school district. 



Arnosky, Jim.  Drawing from Nature.  Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1987, hardcover, 80 pages.  ISBN-10: 0688070752.
Arnosky is a wonderful children’s author and illustrator.  With Drawing from Nature, he has produced a valuable beginning drawing book. A simple flip through the pages shows many treasures that will inspire beginning students of drawing. No other beginning drawing book is quite like this.

Comstock, Anna Botsford. Handbook of Nature Study.  Comstock Publishing Associates / Cornell University, 1986, paperback, 887 pages, ISBN-10: 0801493846.
Also available as a free e-book download at Internet Archive
This is a GREAT book! Originally published in 1911 to fit in with a Charlotte Mason philosophy, it is geared towards elementary grades and complete with lessons, questions, projects, etc. Over 800 pages of easily understood information. The photos are not as clear as modern field guides but the author’s awe of the world around us is contagious.

Cornell, Joseph.  Sharing Nature with Children, Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 1998.
This is a classic in nature education. This revised 20th anniversary edition offers even greater wealth of ideas for working with children in nature. Includes natural history study and games in ecology education.

Laws, John Muir. The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, Heyday Publications, 2016.
A spectacular how-to guide for becoming a better artist and a more attentive naturalist. It is a colorfully illustrated guide to most everything you might want to learn how to illustrate when observing the natural world. Available in paperback, 368 pages.

Leslie, Clare Walker. Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You.  Storey Publishing, 2003, paperback, 224 pages, ISBN-10: 1580174930.
This book is partially a nature journal itself, yet it is full of real ideas for your notebooks. The authors' drawings and comments guide the reader through small exercises. Sidebars are included with anecdotes of teaching approaches. Suggestions are provided to make the journal more personal, more reflective, and to make it more scientific, too!

Louv, Richard.  Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. North Carolina: Algonguin Books, 2008, paperback, 390 pages, ISBN-10: 156512605X.
This is a thoughtful, well-researched presentation of our children’s increasing distance from the natural world. It includes practical advice for parents, educators and urban planners. The updated edition includes 100 actions for families and communities, along with 35 discussion points.

Tomlinson, Susan Leigh.  How to Keep a Naturalist's Notebook.  Stackpole Books, 2010.
This is an art-filled how-to guide geared to wildlife students and naturalists, based on the author’s college course.  Pages from actual field notebooks clearly illustrate what works and why.

Drawing With Children: Nature Journal Style with Printable Lesson Plans
This Squidoo Lens Hub Page will help you gather the supplies needed to use the book Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes with your children students. The author shares some easy to use lessons to go along with the book that will help you and your children students practice your skills in your nature journal. I have made all the lessons printable so see the end of each lesson for a button to print the information out to use with your children.

Handbook of Nature Study
One family's online nature journal using Anna Comstock's book Handbook of Nature Study as their textbook and the great outdoors as their classroom. Home of the Outdoor Hour Challenges  whereby families can receive weekly challenges and share their discoveries with others.

Jim Arnosky’s Wildlife Journal
Jim Arnosky is a fabulous children’s book author and illustrator.  Visit his website to meet Crinkleroot and explore how his books can enhance your nature study.

John Muir Laws: Nature Stewardship Through Science, Education, and Art
An extensive collection of lesson plans, tutorials, and resources for teaching nature journaling with people of all ages.

A Private Eye Nature
This family studies nature through a loupe and draws what they see;  comparing and contrasting, making analogies, and considering why things are structured as they are. This simple process opens the door to scientific investigation, richer writing, and creative art.