Drawing on Nature

Much of our understanding of science comes from interpreting visual images. The images that accompany scientific writing can enhance our knowledge of a subject and can add more precision to our perception.

Drawings that accompany field notes offer researchers several paths which to interpret their experiences. Incorporating drawing into research improves one’s observation skills.

Take your students to an area of the school grounds or somewhere they can see animals. Instruct your students to:

  • Sit quietly and look for an animal – watch it as closely as you can; look at its color, form, and body shape
  • Close your eyes and try to reconstruct the animal in your mind
  • Using a pencil, try to draw the body shape of the animal; sometimes it helps to look at the animal-and not at the paper

Sketching is an important tool to focus observations. The more that students draw, the more they will see. Students who are more comfortable drawing should include writing in their notes as well, while students who prefer writing should include sketches and diagrams with their writing. Combining writing and drawing gives the pages less of the feel an art project and more of a place where information is collected.

Creating a classroom nature comic book is a fun alternative to traditional field notes. Have each student record sequences of animal behaviors in the form of a comic book. Integrating the comic into recording a real nature event will help motivate students to accurately record their data.

Helpful Links

Instructional videos on drawing and sketching in nature

John Muir Laws drawing templates:

Opening the World through Nature Journaling (includes instructions for drawing birds and flowers)

Related Activities:

Project WILD

Adaptation Artistry

Cartoons and Bumper Stickers

Drawing on Nature

Time Lapse