Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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Educators around the country are developing materials to use with Nature's Notebook.

Image credit:
Brian Powell

Nature's Notebook Activities

Explore Nature's Notebook materials created by the National Coordinating Office Staff and partners.

Title Description
Observation Station

The following activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of observation. Observations skills are critical to the field of science, among other things! Knowing how to pay attention to what’s is going on around you is an important life skill. Taking the time to make observations is beneficial to health and wellness too. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about observation skills, encourages people to pay attention to their surroundings, to spend more time outdoors and observe things they may not yet have experienced. It can be adapted for any grade level.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-012-C

The Life of Corn

The following activity can be used as an introduction to the concept of phenology. It demonstrates the life cycle of a corn plant, a plant familiar to many, putting this plant into a new perspective. The Life of Corn highlights the importance of the developmental life-cycle, something which all organisms experience in a predictable manner. The activity increases science literacy by teaching about life-cycle events, encourages people not only to recall experiences outdoors but also to spend more time outdoors and observe things they may not yet have experienced. This activity was adapted from Dandelion Life, presented by NatureBridge.  It is adapatable to all grade levels.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-014-C

Making Basic Phenology Observations

The following activity is meant as an introduction to phenology, the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages. Students make scientific observations of plants and record their observations and record them for Nature's Notebook.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-011-C

Volunteer Training Course Phenology Notes Worksheet


This worksheet can be used in a Master Naturalist or Master Gardener course as an assignment to track phenology throughout the subject areas presented.  Students can make notes each week during lectures and presentations about how phenology informs most, or all, of the subjects presented as part of the training course. 

Because the form is editable, it can also be used in other volunteer training programs.  

Phenology Word Searches

These word searches can be used as activities in the classroom or in an informal setting.  The first, suitable for younger grades, contains six words to find and corresponding questions.  The second has a list of words to find. 

Local Phenology Program Planning & Evaluation Resources

Needs Assessment Worksheet

Before you embark on designing any type of long-term phenology monitoring program consider doing a needs assessment to decide what "need" something like a Nature's Notebook might fill. The first link above is a simple needs assessment form which can be used to determine your first steps in program development. You can also share your information with the National Coordinating Office staff by completing the web form linked from that page.

Nature's Notebook Program Planning Activity

Before you dive into writing up a Program Plan for your long-term Nature's Notebook phenology monitoring program, consider using this worksheet to help you think about short, medium, and long-term measurable outcomes. You also may wish to document some of the information you've gathered from your Needs Assessment Form if you've got stakeholders and resources now available to you. If you've decided upon your needs, decided how Nature's Notebook can help you meet those needs and the resources you have available, then you can work backward to determine what specifically you need to do to get you there.

We also offer a planning worksheet in Spanish if you are working with Spanish speaking audiences.

Program Mapping Worksheet

This worksheet will help you think more specifically about the objectives and action steps you need to do to achieve your stated short, medium, or long-term outcomes for your program. Use this to help you better articulate the Short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes and objectives after working through the Program Planning Activity Worksheet.

Logic Model Worksheet

If you'd like to use a more traditional planning template, check our our Logic Model Worksheet for documenting measurable outcomes.

For more information on Program Planning and Evaluation visit the following helpful websites:

Action Planning Template

How are you going to get from point A to point B? This template helps you to document the steps you are taking (your objectives and activities) and provides a place to record what resources you need for each, who is responsible for completing activities and tasks, and documentation for when it is complete.


Needs Assessment Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-002-C

Program Planning Guide: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2014-007-C (2014-007-CSP - Spanish)

Logic Model Worksheet: USA-NPN Education Resource Number: 2017-001-C

Phenology Monitoring - Site Set up Planning Activity for Students

This worksheet can be used as an activity in a high school classroom where students will be responsible for planning out the long-term phenology monitoring program to be established at the school or within the community.  It includes a series of thought-provoking questions that students can discuss in groups.  It will work best in conjuntion with other preliminary Nature's Notebook activities.

Background information on the physical characteristics of a site can be found on the second worksheet called, Guiding tips for site set up and Sugerencias para ubicar su sitio físico - en español

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-006-C; 2014-006a-C (2014-006-CSP ; 2014-006a-CSP - Spanish)

Phenology Calendar Activities

Use this monthly phenology chart to record what species of animals you see, and what species of plants are leafing, flowering and fruiting.  Use as a quick reference in addition to what you record in Nature's Notebook. Print it out on large paper and hang it in a classroom or nature center for an annual view of what you might see.  

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-003-C

You will also find listed above a Phenology Calendar Activity developed by our partners at Signs of the Seasons Maine  where students can create a month by month calendar of phenological events. 

Phenology and Seasonal Change Study Guide

This KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learned) Chart can be used prior to introducing a Nature's Notebook monitoring program in a classroom (grades 5-12).  This activity elicits critical thinking skills and can be used in context with making weekly observations for a semester or year. 

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2014-004-C



Workshop or Classroom Evaluation & Reflection Activities

These evaluation forms and/or reflection sheet can be used after conducting a classroom, training, or workshop session.  Use them to encourage participants to reflect on their experience and think of any unanswered questions they may still have at the end of the session. 

The reflective evaluation form provides a space for participants to indicate what could have been done better so educators can continuously improve upon their delivery. The questions provided in likert scale format will allow you to better understand the quality of your presentation. 

The Post- and Pre- evaluation form can be used to measure knowledge gain during a short, one time workshop. Ask the participants to first reflect on what they learned during the workshop or class, then ask them to recall what they knew before attending.

Plan to set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of your workshop for presenting one of these evaluation forms.