About the Journals

The NC Kids' Exploration Journals are a fun tool to help youth explore their communities and natural surroundings! Each journal contains:

  • 18 multidisciplinary activities with guided prompts.
  • 6 lined journal pages for recording observations and reflections.
  • 4 blank pages for individual creativity.

The journals work well for classrooms, youth programs, and family outings. Though designed for 1st - 5th-graders, older audiences may enjoy them too!

Finding and Requesting Journals

Many of the N.C. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources sites across the state have the NC Kids' Exploration Journals available to families for free. We can also provide journals to schools, libraries, and organizations for youth programming. To request copies, please contact Karen Ipock, Child Education Coordinator for DNCR's Education and Outreach Team, at karen.ipock@dncr.nc.gov or 252-639-3545. 

Digital Journals

Though these journals are designed to help give kids device-free time, we do have digital versions of the journals available for download.  Currently there are 3 versions, our new and improved 2022 edition in English, our original 2021 edition in English, and a Spanish language edition that matches the original edition.  Click on one of the boxes below to open a PDF of the journal you would like to download.  

Tips for Nature Journaling with Kids

Whether you are leading class, group program, or taking a family outing, follow these tips for ideas on how to have a fun, safe, and meaningful nature journaling experience:

  • Pick a location that you feel safe to give them some space to explore. The journals were designed to work in a variety of outdoor spaces.
  • Consider packing some of these items to take along with the journals:
    • Pencil, Crayons, or Markers
    • Pencil Sharpener
    • Eraser
    • Tape and/or Glue
    • A chair, towel, or cushion to sit on outdoors.
    • Water
    • Bag or basket to collect nature items.
    • Magnifying Glass
    • Binoculars
    • Measuring Tape
    • Regional Wildlife Book
  • Set the safety rules. Some possible ideas to share:
    • How far can they wander? Give them easy to spot physical boundaries.
    • How much time do they have?
    • Are there things they are not allowed to do, touch, or collect?
    • Do they need to use the buddy system?
  • The journals have some pages with activity prompts and some that are blank for writing and drawing. Some kids may need extra help or guidance to get started, but try to let them lead and pick what they want to explore, investigate, record, and reflect on.
  • Some additional ideas for activity prompts if they are stuck:
    • Have them write a poem or song about what they see, hear, and feel.
    • Record the day's weather. 
    • Find shapes in the clouds and draw them.
    • Find and draw animal tracks.
    • Draw and label parts of a plant or flower.
    • Map out a bug's crawl or flight path. 
    • Write a play about their place.
  • Respect local laws and rules for collecting items.
  • Use this as an opportunity to teach kids how to be good stewards of nature.
    • Leave No Trace
    • Help Pick-up Litter

Nature Neighborhood Video Series

Check out these videos from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences for more tips and ideas for getting outside and exploring your nature neighborhood!

Nature Neighborhood: Using Your Senses

Nature Neighborhood: Using a Magnifier

Nature Neighborhood: Parts of a Flower

Nature Neighborhood: Trees to Meet You

Nature Neighborhood: Under A Rotten Log

Share Your Feedback

We appreciate hearing feedback on the journals to help guide us for future printings and creating new resources.  If you would like to share you and your explorer's experience with the journals, please click the link below for a quick survey.  

NC Kids' Exploration Journals Feedback Survey