DIY summer nature journal

mott blog - clv 2015 - SUMMER NATURE JOURNALA summer nature notebook is a fun way to notice the changes and special events of summertime.

Throughout the summer, the days grow longer and then shorter again. Temperatures rise and fall. We have days of rain and days of sunshine. Plants grow and bloom. Encourage your child to notice changes, in the light, the stars, in plants and animals and the weather. Have him or her make note of these observations in the journal.

Collecting a few leaves or flowers (with permission, of course) will also tell the story of summer and give you material for beautiful summer cards.


  • A small notebook
  • Plain paper to press plants. Think about how many pages you want to have in your notebook, you can add more later. Stack the paper up and use a three-hole punch to make a row of holes the left side of the pages.
  • Heavy paper or card stock, for summer cards. Cardstock should be cut in half, and folded later to make small cards.
  • Pencils, watercolors, colored pencils, or pens
  • A small collection of plants that you have permission to collect
  • Large heavy books to press your plants or a flower press
  • Online sunrise/sunset calendar

Optional materials:

  • Flower press
  • Wax paper
  • Constellation finder to learn about the summer constellations
  • Other books that help you identify and learn more about plants, animals and weather including cloud activity

Journal Entries

Each journal is unique to the individual, so pick and choose the things that appeal most to your child.

  • Each day write down sunrise and sunset (use the newspaper or a weather app to get the information). Note if it was dark or light when you woke and went to sleep.
  • Note things like:
    • The first butterfly you saw (the name, or a picture of it)
    • The first night you saw a firefly, then when you started to see lots of fireflies.
    • When did it get too dark to see outside?
    • The different types of flowers you see or when they went to seed.
    • When you heard the first cicada singing?
    • A big thunderstorm.
    • Unusual cloud patterns.

Throughout the summer, wherever you go, write down at least one sentence about the light, the plants, stars, clouds and anything else you notice.

Pressing Memories

Before picking anything, ask permission. Select one favorite leaf or flower each day or week. On a sheet of plain paper, write where you found the plant, and something you noticed about the day — maybe the weather. You might also like to write something about what you did that day.

  • Arrange your flower or leaf lying flat on the paper with the writing.
  • Use another plain piece of paper and lay it on top of the plant.
  • Place the two pieces of paper with the plant in a flower press to flatten and dry your plant.
  • If you don’t have a flower press, no worries! Just press the sheets and plant between two heavy books.

With each day or week, add new stacks of paper and plant material. Remember to weigh the paper down with a heavy book or with the flower press. Mark a date at least three weeks away on the calendar when you will open the press. On that date gently open the press. Remove the pressed plants and papers. Choose which pressed plants you want to make into cards, and which ones for the summer journal.

Making a Journal or Cards

Flip the plant and pages so the plain paper with no writing has the plant lying face down on it. Brush glue on the page with writing, covering the area where you will place your plant. Carefully place your pressed plant on the glue, right side up. Flatten the edges and be sure all edges have glue.

You can also cover paper with a sheet of wax paper. Lay a piece of wax paper the same size as the card on top of the glued plant and paper. Place a clean dry cloth on top of the wax paper. With an adult, use an iron to flatten the wax paper and seal the pressed plant to the paper.

To make your journal, stack all the pressed plants and notes by date together so all the holes line up. Thread a heavy string or a ribbon through the holes to complete your very own Summer Survey Notebook.

Enjoy your memories of summer!

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Mott Blog - CLV 2015 - take a pic promo

mott blog - matthaei thumgMatthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two properties in different locations operating as one unit within the University of Michigan, with a mission to inspire and enrich people’s lives through contact with plants and nature.  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is proud to partner with Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum to bring some of the adventures of the outdoors to Mott through regularly occurring activities for our Little Victors at the hospital. You can learn what activities are scheduled at the hospital during your visit by checking in with our Family Center on Level 2.

mott blog - clv 2015 - camp thumbCamp Little Victors is the virtual summer camp program from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.  Each week, for six weeks, participants receive an email full of ideas and activities to help keep families busy, happy and healthy all summer long.  Learn more and sign up.



best children's hospitalUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.