Creative Journaling

Plant drawing

Creative Journaling


Subject area: 
Literacy, Expressive Arts

Experiences and Outcomes:
Lit 3 – 24a, Lit 3 – 14a,
ExA 2 – 03a, ExA 3 – 02a,
ExA 3 – 03a

The aim of this lesson is for your pupils to observe in detail, and then draw the natural world around them, such as the components of plants, their leaves and flowers. They should then learn their Latin as well as their common names and label their drawings. 

Before you begin ask your class to look through the John Muir graphic novel and read the A Marriage Made in Heaven section:

‘After years in the mountains, I came back to the human world. I married and became a fruit farmer. Soon Louie and I had two daughters, Wanda and Helen.

John Muir: Daisy, buttercup, forget-me-not, dandelion...
Helen: Daddy lion?
Wanda: Do we need to learn the names of ALL the flowers?
John Muir: You wouldn’t like it if people didn’t know your names!’

Print the Creative Journaling and Leaf-Flower Pupil Activity Worksheets and provide a copy to each pupil.

Then download and show your class via a white board these eight free videos. (Total running time approximately 40 minutes)

These videos will show your pupils some basic techniques to help them quickly and accurately draw plants, either for field sketching or careful botanical illustrations. The videos describe how to make use of paper models which can be cut out and manipulated to teach the fundamentals of foreshortening leaves and flowers. Your pupils should use the Leaf-Flower Pupil Activity Worksheet as they watch the videos because following along with their own model is much more helpful than simply watching the videos alone.

Creative Journaling

Once your pupils have learnt how to draw plants and flowers use the glacier section in the John Muir graphic novel to show them how John Muir tried to draw the glaciers he discovered during his travels.

Like John Muir, their challenge is to start using their new techniques in their own Creative Journal.

They should use their creative journaling to capture their personal observations of a local park, woodland, garden, school ground or mini nature reserve. The idea is that they create a visual link with their surroundings using words and images in the same way that nature writers record their favourite moments with nature.

Outdoor Learning

Before you head outside to complete this task, to help inspire your pupils, print and read the poems created by pupils from Lochaber School on worksheet Poems from Lochaber School to your class.

Back in the Classroom

Once they have been outside and captured through words and sketches the natural world around them, they should return to the classroom and using botanical books and/or print the The OPAL Tree Guide created by The Open University to discover what the common and Latin names are for the trees/plants they have sketched and then label them accordingly.

Reflecting on Learning

  • Did learners know that most plants and trees have Latin names as well as common names
  • Had learners considered how John Muir through observations and sketches able to determine how glaciers shape the landscape

Learners can:

  • Observe in detail and know how to draw the component parts of plants, flowers and leaves
  • Be able to label their drawings using both the common and Latin names for plants
  • Record through creative words and drawings the natural world around them