California Native Plant Society

CNPS Education Program

CNPS Children's Curriculum Now Available

Nature Journaling Curriculum Now Available

Boys journaling in grass
Boys journaling in grass. Photo by David Rosen
The CNPS children's curriculum- Opening the World through Nature Journaling: Integrating Art, Science and Language Arts, by John Muir Laws and Emily Brueunig- is now available for free download at! This wonderful curriculum teaches children to become keen observers of the natural world through drawing and writing. Later, they employ these skills to assemble a field guide, make treasure maps, and write short stories and poems. These journal activities tie directly into the State of California’s science framework content standards as well as the visual and performing arts framework content standards.  

CNPS Field Guide Project
Imagine if there were field guides for every place you wanted to visit. Imagine if there were local tree, bird, and insect field guides for every watershed, mountain, street, city, and school yard. Then imagine a big map on the web where you could find the field guides of your choice. Finally, imagine that third graders had created many of those field guides! What a wonderful world it would be.

The CNPS Education Program is excited to announce the launch of our new Field Guide Project. This project uses nature journaling as a springboard to create field guides for local areas that can later be posted on a web-based map for all to see. School groups, Scouts, nature center groups, or church groups can use our nature journaling templates to create field guides for areas and subjects of their choice. The children choose the subject focus - be it plants, mammals, rocks, invertebrates, or any other natural subject they are studying or interested in. The program encourages creativity as well as observational and recording accuracy. You don’t need to be a kid to make a field guide! Let’s all make one! The principal idea behind the project is that we get to know the natural history of our neighborhoods whether they are urban, suburban, or rural, and share that knowledge with others.

Example child's field guide
Children's field guide example drawn by Spencer Brown of Merry Byles-Daly's 4th and 5th grade class at Grass Valley Charter School. Click for larger image.

Cal Flora has created a  web-based map that will facilitate the plotting of field guide locations on our website CNPS will scan and upload the field guides to the website to correspond with the map points, and site visitors will be able to download and print the field guides for different areas around the state. Children will be able to  see their own field guides once they are posted, and cancompare them to  others and get ideas for creating new ones.

Students may also choose to organize and lead natural history hikes with their field guides to teach others and demonstrate what they have learned. This project educates the students directly involved in the curriculum and journaling program, but also engages the greater public  as family, friends and neighbors start downloading their field guides.

We are just beginning this project. More information will be available on our website as the project moves along!

For questions and further information please contact Deidre Kennely at by email or phone (916) 447-2677 ext 209.


Copyright © 1999-2018 California Native Plant Society. All rights reserved. Contact Us | Privacy