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Activity: ABCs of Finding JOY in Nature

How do we find joy during the dark times? (literally or metaphorically -- It hasn't been an easy year for many of us). Or, if you're one of my readers from the Southern Hemisphere, how do you make sure to relish all that sunshine while you have it?

In "Nature Journal Writing Workshop Wednesdays" on December 8 2021, we focused on finding a sense of JOY in our observations of the world around us! Learn a simple, easy activity that would be great to share with your family / friends!

This activity is based on the "ABCs of Winter Wellness", a prompt suggested to me by one of my students in my Nature Journaling for Re-STORY-ation class.


To do this activity, try to find something you can observe in nature around you at this time of year for every lettter of the alphabet! We did this over zoom, but you can also take this activity outdoors. The only rule is that if you include something, it has to actually make you feel a sense of joy!

(Exception: If you are having a hard time with your mental health, and it's hard to feel a sense of joy about anything, then you can write down whatever you want for each letter).

Then, share what you came up with! I used the metaphor that it's like a "nature potluck", or like a holiday cookie party. Maybe you don't like every kind of cookie on the table. Maybe not every nature observation that someone else mentioned is something that brings you joy; maybe it doesn't even exist where you live. But when you look at that table full of cookies, or when you look at the compliation of all our alphabets (see below), there is so much joy that we all share!

Questions from the audience

Do I have to use the English alphabet? Can I use Welsh?

You can use any alphabet / language you want!

What should I do for each letter?

You can write a single word, a phrase, or even make a sketch! You can also add more later if you'd like to make a longer description or journal entry for each letter. It's all up to you!

Can I include things that aren't around at this time of year?

I presented this activity with the idea that we'd record things in nature that we can observe around us right now. BUT, if thinking about something from a different season makes you feel a sense of joy, then you are welcome to include it! Again, it's up to you!

The Compliation of our "ABCs of Finding Joy in Nature"

What would you add? Leave a comment!


Anole, acorns, American wigeon, astronomy, apple, anemones, ants building ant hills, Aroma of rhododendron, A is for the crispness of the still and chilly AIR at night as I step out into the total darkness. Amaranth, still blooming and the birds are eating the seeds. Archways, Ammonite


Blue sky (even when deceiving about how cold it is), Bee voices, bluebells, Birds and bees in my yard today, big bluestem (a type of tall grass on the prairies). Baby Brown Trout going down river, they look like magic flowing underwater. Branches, birds, butterflies (monarch), berries, bluebirds that have come back to Edgewood Park thanks to the nest box program, batsmbubbly creek, buzzards, blue cotton candy


Chickadee’s sweet song, comets, chipmunks, cones - fir, Crunching autumn leaves under feet, circumhortizontal arc, Caterpillars crawling on milkweed in my yard, colors, crunchy fallen leaves, cedar, curve of squirrel's tail. Chwerthyn (Welsh for Laughing) the birds laughing on the telegraph poles outside. chrysanthemums, cumulus clouds, the Color blue in nature, like a rainbow in clouds but not a crystals?, China, clam, claws


Dark winter nights of rest and mystery, dragonflies, dolphins. Diogel - (Welsh for Safe), nature makes me feel safe. Dew, dinosaurs, diving ducks -- bottoms up! Desert Lavender, it smells wonderful after the rain. Dainty Dianthus flower faces, deer, dried and damp leaves, Douglas fir branches with shining backlit moss on them, wild dogs


Eagles, Egrets, eggs, eggplant, evergreens, Eggshells--so many beautiful colors. Elderberry flowers, squirrel's Ears, Evening primrose, Escaping the summer desert heat in July to the cool mountains. Elvers - Baby Eels that were once very common in the small upland rivers at my home. They are so wriggly!! Everyone here today.


Ferns, fungi, fox, flurries, frogs, especially green backs, frosty mornings, Finches on the seedbags, Foliage textures, fronds of ferns, Frost on the window, the sound of frogs, Falling leaves, Fiesta flower leaves, foxes, fangs


Grass. So many different kinds of green. Geese flying overhead. Goats!-How could they not bring you joy, they are so bouncy and full of character and affection and always put their stomach high on their list of priorities :D

Ornamental Grasses. Goldilocks sunflowers, they thrive in the desert in winter. Alpine glow on conifers in late afternoon, great blue heron, green of lush mosses on tree, grassland.


Hummingbirds, herons, Herons standing as still as statues, holly trees, hawks, desert hibiscus, Hammering of woodpeckers on trees, hydrangea, harriers, Homonyms, home


Ice shards frozen on top of water with leaves stuck through them, animals interacting, iridescence of sparkly snow, ivy in trees and on walls, Impatiens fading, white ibis, Iridescence in mallard plumage, Pacific Coast Irises in bloom


Jumping up and down to keep warm, juncos, Joy of being out on the trail, blue feathers of a Jay, Scrub Jays, juniper trees and their lovely smell, Jungle


Kitty, kinglets, Kangaroo rat-native to sonoran desert, kites, red kites soaring, killdeer, king tide, Kalmiopsis in the wild, Kittens


Lizards scurrying around my yard, lichens, Leaves falling silently, long view of seeing the winds blow across a vast field of tall grasses, leaves - colorful and crunchy, Living shoreline, Long tailed tits, Long Mynd- the hill near my home, Luma in full bloom, newborn lambs, isLands. Colorful little leaves on the branch, shedding at a mere whisper of breath. Let’s go on an adventure!


Mountain peaks, moss, magnolia, mushrooms, moonlight, moss vibrant after the rain, manzanitas, monsoon rains in the summer, moon, melting snow, Morning dew on Lady’s Mantle, Mundane = meaningful (Mundo = "the world" in Spanish) , mules, mussels, muscles

~ Most people had to log off at this point, so there aren't as many things for the letters below. ~


Newts, nests, needles of Douglas-fir, Namaste


Octopus, Other people’s dogs


Pumpkin Pie


Quails, Quiet winter mornings, quartz


Ripe raspberries, Ravens, restful evenings, robins, Robin Hood, red flowers (like poppys!), rocks, RED


Snakes, steak, snowflakes falling, snow, snails with shells


Textures of the bark on trees. Trees. Turtles!


Understanding more about nature, Underwater, eUcalyptus, DecidUoUs trees

Umbrella tree, Umbelicaira lichen, Underground


Views unobstructed by leaves, Venus, Virtue


Wolf, water flowing in the creek


Xylem, Xylophone


Yummy. Yuletide Yule Logs – what kind of trees would I use if I were to make one?




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