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

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Brian Powell

Nature's Notebook Activities

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

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Title Description
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.


Species Phenophase Photo Guide Templates

Phenophase Photo Guides are species-specific guides that provide a photo reference for each of the life cycle stages on the Nature's Notebook protocols. The National Coordinating Office is slowly working on creating useable guides that will eventually appear on our species profile pages. In the meantime, we invite you to help us by using our templates to create your own Phenophase Photo Guides. If you do make photoguides, please consider sharing them with us by emailing them to

You may also wish to consider using our Phenophase Primer for Training and Education. This Primer includes photographic examples of sample species in each of the Nature's Notebook plant functional groups.

Templates for creating Phenophase Photo Guides

The National Coordinating Office has created Phenophase Photo Guide templates for you to use in your programs. There are editable PowerPoint templates for several of the functional groups we identify in our protocol. You can begin by viewing the Species Profile page and reviewing the details for your species. In the top left corner of the printable datasheet linked from the species page, you will find the corresponding functional group for your species of choice. 

The blank templates include the full definitions as described in our protocol. You do not need to edit the definitions (see the image below), simply add photos of your individual example of the species where indicated. You may wish to add your logo at the top of the page. Each of the plant functional group templates can be downloaded from the list at the top of this page.


Please do not re-interpret the phenophase definition and display what you believe to be an abridged version containing the same meaning - it compromises data quality by introducing inconsistency across observers. See the details below for more information. 


For some guidelines for creating the Phenophase Photo Guides from these templates, download this PDF document

At this time these Phenophase Photo Guide templates are designed only for plants. However, if you wish to create Phenophase Photo Guides for the animals you may be observing please be sure to use the exact definitions for each of the phenophases found in our protocols.

A few things to keep in mind when creating your own Phenophase Photo Guides

  1. Pairing the Nature's Notebook definitions with photos is a best-practice - if you are going to create your own photo guides, the National Coordinating Office recommends utilizing the standard phenophase definitions, verbatim, to ensure high-quality data collection. Please do not re-interpret the phenophase definition and display what you believe to be an abridged version containing the same meaning - it compromises the data quality by introducing inconsistency across observers. If you feel you need to use a shorter definition, please use our Simple phenophase definitions, but make it clear to your observers they still need to refer to the full phenophase definitions found in the Nature's Notebook mobile app or on the phenophase definition sheet linked from the species' profile page on the Nature's Notebook website.
  2. The full phenophase definitions were designed to standardize the way data are collected by observers participating in our nation-wide program. Changing the wording and content leaves too much room for different interpretation of what is meant to be observed in Nature's Notebook, thus compromising the consistency and quality of the data in our database. Researchers who use the data want to be confident that information collected in Maine or Florida or Oregon is as similar as possible, and the only way to make that happen is to ensure everyone is starting from the same place in terms of the phenophase definitions. For more information about how and why the standardized phenophases in Nature's Notebook were developed, please read our reports in the USA-NPN Technical Series entitled, "USA-NPN Phenology Protocols" and the "Plant and Animal Phenophase Definitions."
  3. Groups are welcome to use their own photos of the species and phases they encourage people to monitor throughout the year, as long as they are certain that the species and phases are correctly identified using our described protocols. 
  4. If you collect photos for your own guides, please consider contributing them to our USA-NPN SmugMug Phenophase Photo Galleries (previously our Phenophase Photo Flickr Page) by following guidelines outlined in the Phenophase Photo Guidelines. Please only submit photos taken by you or one of your volunteers who has given permission to share them. We cannot upload photos collected on the internet via Wikimedia Commons or another similar source. 
  5. Consider adding natural history information and photos of the plant in full form to help participants locate and understand the reason the species has been selected for monitoring.
  6. We encourage groups to keep the USA-NPN logo and the Nature's Notebook logo on materials they develop for use with the Nature's Notebook program, in addition to adding logos from partnering organizations.
  7. Once your Phenophase Photo Guides are complete, share them with us at


Introduction to Journaling & Phenology Observation

Making observations in nature is a way to connect with your environment.  If you enjoy spending time in a garden or natural space, taking some time to record what you observe can be a valuable exercise.  Observational records collected through time allow you to remember what you saw, what species visited your space, what the temperature or weather conditions were on a particular date during a particular season, and much more.  Ultimately, observations can become a critical addition to a scientific study about how things may be varying or changing through time.

This activity is best suited to learners in Grades 9-12 and adults. The purpose is to familiarize the student with the concept of making accurate and careful observations in nature, as a pre-cursor to participating in the Nature's Notebook citizen science program. The questions contained within this lesson are directly related to the protocols found in Nature's Notebook and suggest the types of things the program asks participants to pay attention to and record for science.

If you are working with younger audiences, you may wish to simplify this activity or provide them with an opportunity to record a subset of these things in a age-appropriate nature journal.


La actividad es disponible en Español tambien:

Observar la naturaleza es una manera de conectarse con el ambiente natural. Cuando  disfrutas pasar tiempo en un jardín o espacio natural, puedes observar fenómenos que ocurren a tu alrededor. Los registros de la naturaleza a largo plazo te ayudan a recordar tus experiencias, los animales que viste, cómo era el clima en esos días, y mucho más. Al final, las observaciones se pueden convertir en una importante base para el estudio científico sobre como nuestro mundo va cambiando. 

La actividad es designada para estudiantes de 14 a 18 años y adultos. El objetivo es familiarizar el estudiante con el concepto de la toma cuidadosa de observaciones de la naturaleza como fundamento para participar en el programa Nature's Notebook. Las preguntas encontradas en la actividad se relacionan directamente con los protocolos de Nature's Notebook, y introducen los fenómenos naturales de enfoque.

Si usted trabaja con audiencias mas jóvenes, podría quitar algunas preguntas o cambiarlas para otras mas sencillas.


USA-NPN Education Publication Numbers: 2014-005-C; 2014-005a-C; 2014-005b-C (2014-005-CSP; 2014-005a-CSP; 2014-005b-CSP - Spanish)

Nature's Notebook Observation Guide - Join a Group

This info sheet can be handed out participants in any setting.  It describes phenology, Nature's Notebook and how to join your Partner Group. It is an editable document that allows the Local Phenology Leader the space to change the text to reflect the name of the Group their participants should join.

USA-NPN Education Publication Number: 2013-001-C (2013-001-CSP - Spanish)



Signs of the Seasons: Phenology Calendar Exchange

Monitor Signs of the Seasons plants or animals on your school grounds or in a local park, and compare your observations with those of a school or youth program in another region of Maine. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenlogy Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Monarch-Milkweed Ecology Graphing

Students learn to graph a small dataset about the timing of monarchs and milkweed appearance in Maine.  The exercise involves graphing comparisons between groups, making predictions, and thinking about variability, an important concept in statistics and data literacy. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Mapping and Graphing Your Observations

Using dandelions, since they are numerous and easy to identify, students learn basic mapping and graphing skills, and practice making sense of the phenology data they have collected. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Festival Dates

Students visit the local library or a historical collection to look through source materials (newspapers, magazines, photo collections, etc.) to find dates and/or photos of annual festivals related to phenology (apple festivals, lilac festivals, maple sugar festivals, etc.). Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Phenology Snapshots

Students compare phenology of the current season with historical phenology changes by comparing dated historical photos with present-day photos of the same locations. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenlogy Program.

Signs of the Seasons: Bird Feeder Notebook

Watch a feeder as a group/class and keep records of what you see. Compare your notebook with historical records for the same species in your area, if you can find any. Created by Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Program.