Nature Journaling Questions: A Taxonomy

Nature journaling questions are essential to what we do as nature journalers. However, we are not taught how to ask questions. In fact the dominant society and most schools teach us not to ask too many questions. I’m going to show you how to get better at questions in this video. I will show you a taxonomy of questions I am working on. When you have some categories such as these for questions you will be able to use them better.

I made this video as a followup to my class at International Nature Journaling Week 2021. Want to see that class? You can watch and participate in that class here: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/marley-peifer-i-wonder  There are a lot of other cool resources and classes from nature journaling week that you can still access there. In addition to my class there are other classes about curiosity and how to use questions in our nature journals.

3 Benefits of Nature Journaling Questions
  1. Questions are gaining in value while knowing things is losing value. This is a major shift of the time period we are living in and the education systems and people’s thinking around this are stuck in the past.
  2.  Only tool for approaching the unknown. In Nature there is a lot of unknown and questions are the only way to dance with that. If we stick to known facts we can’t engage with the unknown. Most nature journalers are not natural history or science experts. Therefore we have many things we don’t understand in nature when we nature journal. Instead of ignoring these we can use questions to grapple with them.
  3. Flexibility of mind. Practicing asking lots of questions keeps your mind flexible. Regardless of whether they are answerable or not. This is helpful for adults and “experts” who tend to get ossified in their thinking.

To see the full taxonomy of questions be sure to watch the video.

Are you new to nature journaling? If so, then this post has the basics : How to Nature Journal in 10 Steps

Do you need help choosing nature journaling supplies? In that case check out Nature Journaling Supplies: What You Need and What You Do Not

Pets in Your Nature Journal

Pets and nature journaling are a match made in heaven. If you have a pet and you have not nature journaled them yet then you are missing out! In this fun conversation you can learn: four benefits of nature journaling your pet and ten tips to do it better.

Recently, I interviewed Gargi Chugh and Akshay Mahajan about their nature journal pet named Mithuni. Akshay and Gargi shared their excitement, inspiration, and a lot of practical ideas. Even though they have an exotic pet their encouraging ideas apply to cats and dogs as well. First, lets look at some of the benefits.

3 Benefits of Nature Journaling Your Pets

  1. The first benefit is availability. Because many people have busy schedules they might not have time to go to a park frequently. They might get home after dark. However, if you have a pet, you can connect with nature at home. Your pet is an ambassador of nature and a fascinating subject. In short, your pet is more available then the wild animals outside.This also allows you to try more nature journaling techniques.
  2. Next benefit is a fast feedback loop. In the interview Gargi shared how a fast feedback look can accelerate learning. Because you can see your house cat every day it takes less time for you to recognize patterns and make connections. On the other hand you might only see a bobcat in the wild once a year(if you are lucky). Therefore it is much harder to make observations and learn about the bobcat in your nature journal.
  3. Third, by nature journaling your pet you can deepen your connection with the animal. Due to the amount of attention you are directing towards your animal your bond with the animal can grow. Akshay and Gargi found that they have become quite connected with their pet mantis over the weeks that they have observed it so closely.

10 Tips for Nature Journaling Your Pet

  1. Measurements are one of the best tools to use with your pet. Therefore it is useful to start nature journaling as soon as you get a new pet so you can track its growth. There are also other ways to use this tool.
  2. Try creating a journal just for journaling and sketching your pets.
  3. Don’t decide in advance what information is important to record. If you try to create categories in advance you will limit your ability to learn about your animal. You might not foresee what is most important.
  4. Since you don’t know what categories of data about your pet will be most interesting or relevant try using dates as categories. In this way you can just record whatever observations from that day and categorize them later when patterns emerge.
  5. Next, instead of focusing on pretty pet portraits try using diagrams. Diagrams are much easier and fun to do and more rewarding. You will also learn a lot more than if you tried to paint a Mona Lisa of your cat. For more about diagrams check out this awesome class.
  6. Start nature journaling your pet as soon as you get it. Documenting the growth of a pet is very rewarding!
  7. Try setting up experiments to answer your own questions. What fun experiments can you set up with your pet?
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  9. Try to answer your own questions before you look it up on google.

Good Tips For Any Nature Journaler

You all asked for more interviews and shares with different nature journalers in our community so here you go! In 2020 I’m planning on doing lots more interviews like this.