Topic | Bound sketch book v. sheets in a binder

This topic contains 10 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  sheraz 4 years, 6 months ago.

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  • jettlich

    Hi all, maybe I’m “polishing the cannonball,” but what are the reasons one would pick one instead of the other as follows for nature notebooking:

    a) a bound sketch book that you’d get at an art store to use for nature notebooks (and what dimensions?), versus

    b) just doing sketches & writing on white 8.5×11 printer papers and putting them in sheet protectors in a regular 3-ring binder?

    My kids are young and currently not bringing notebooks w/ them on adventures, but they do some narration at home by drawing & writing about their nature experiences. Just wondering why one would pick one over the other?

    Thanks a lot.


    I think the big thing with bound notebooks is that it promotes doing your best each time….  and maybe conversly can help you learn to enjoy things that didn’t work the way you wanted (and stop some of the things from just being tossed…)  And you don’t lose the sheets…

    Advantages of loose sheets put in a binder or something?  Less likely to get an “artist” block with the blank page (ie, fraid to start because you might wreck the page)…  you CAN choose what you want to keep in it.  Problem can be loosing pages…




    I have just been dealing with this question in my own mind since we’re starting our nature notebooks for the first time next week.  I would have preferred at first to have a bound sketch book, but when I went shopping this afternoon, the cheapest one I could find was $3 (x3 kids = $9).  It didn’t even have a hard cover.  I found instead some white cardstock (matte, not glossy) which was $2 for 75 sheets.  I chose the cardstock.  I figure I can just 3 hole punch the cardstock beforehand for their notebooks and it is thick enough that they can watercolor or write a narration and glue it on the cardstock without it warping.  The pre-hole punching will prevent me from setting the notebook page aside to hole punch later and only to end up losing it.  That’s just my thrifty 2 cents, hope it is helpful!


    I’ve done both and I like the bound notebook much, much better.  The loose-leaf ones end up ripping out of the book and they always look messy, no matter how nicely they start out.  The bound ones are all in one place, don’t rip as easily and the boys treat them with more respect.  The paints and colors don’t bleed through and the drawings look nicer.  They try harder and feel great pride in completing a “real artist book”.  

    I try to buy when they are on sale or I have a coupon.  I shopped around at a few stores and found one craft store had the same books for half the price of the one I regularly shopped at.  

    Just my two cents.



    We use both. I have bound notebooks we use often, but we also use some of the notebooking sheets from

    I also dislike 3 ring binders for most things b/c of their bulk, so I use my Pro-Click binder and zip bind them together which allows me to add to them as needed. I use my Pro-Click binder for lots of things, actually.




    I use both.

    The printer sheets have the advantage of being non-intimidating. Also, the paper is almost always available – it’s easy to grab a few sheets of paper and some pencils before heading outdoors. The ease of that has resulted in many nature drawings in our family.

    I love our notebooks and the effort we put into them, too. Over the years, I’ve learned which type of drawing paper I like the best, what pencils I prefer, etc. It’s fun to develop that taste.

    But there isn’t one “right” way to do it or absolutely perfect materials…the main thing is just to do it.


    Thanks everyone. So if I do the bound books, I suppose the size I buy depends on whether or not we’re going to bring the notebook with us on outings or just narrate nature observations & experiences at our art table, after the event. ??

    Do you have your kids do one per academic year? Like “here is my daughter’s 3rd grade nature notebook.” Or, do you just continue in it and whenever it’s complete, it’s complete & you start a new one?

    We’re about to start the new SCM Companion to Outdoor Secrets for our nature study/science this spring/summer. Really excited. I guess the nature notebook we start next week will contain all our work for this study, then start a new notebook for our next sci. program (which will probably be 106 Days of Creation/Considering God’s Creation).

    Thanks so much much, everyone, for your help & ideas!



    Hi Jettlich,

    The format can be up to you – and you can chose different formats at the same time. When we use plain printer paper, I like to display those drawings in our home, rotating them as we make new drawings. For bound notebooks, we have some larger sketchbooks that have lasted years and others that are much smaller and last only a season or so.

    It can be a nice “kick start” to get a smaller notebook that fills quickly. The kids (and you) will get a sense of accomplishment that way. You could also use your copywork book – add poems to a nature drawing, for example.

    Each of us has a journal that we only use on road trips. It’s fun to pull that out and see old drawings and notes about places we visited.

    I guess I’m saying that don’t be locked into one way of doing your drawings. A “working sketchbook” for your nature walks is a good place to start, but you really can do anything you like and vary the materials and situations as you go.


    @Esby: It is so freeing to read your post.  I’m usually an all or nothing type of gal and that makes life unnecessarily stressful.  We will use both and enjoy having twice as much nature fun to look at!! I love the idea of a traveling journal.  I think I will put together a nature journal kit for the car! You’re a genius!!!


    can anyone recommend a good place to find a spiral bound blank book suitable for use as a nature journal?  This may be a silly question – maybe they are all over the place. . .  Thanks!


    I got an artist sketch pad for $3.79 or so at Walmart – I thought the pages were thick enough to draw on and also to use watercolor pencils to sketch with and then wet when we got home.  Hobby Lobby and Michaels, any art supply store shoud have some…

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