How do I write an essay about an activity relating to nature, such as observing an animal?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, visualize who will be your audience. Think how much you would want a writer to explain about something that they feel is interesting to write about. Then, focus on what exactly you are looking for by observing the animal. It could be:

1. The way it hunts for prey

2. The amount of times a day that it sleeps, eats, or hunts

3. The grooming habits (like cats, when they lick themselves)

4. The different ways that it can achieve movement (flying, running, sliding, slithering, swimming, walking)

Any one of those observations will give you well-over 200 words. In fact, those many words is tantamount to a short answer with detail, so it is not difficult to get to that limit. 

Remember also that a short essay of that kind must have the following:

1. Introductory statement- This is where you tell the audience what they will read about. 

2. Supporting facts- This is where the bulk of your observation will go, and where you make your observations with good descriptions. 

3. Concluding statement- Here you end your observation and move to a brief re-statement of your introduction. 

For example:

As a cat lover I may choose a topic such as this one I just made up: Cats and their offspring: Observing Antoinette (example- this an essay about my cat, Antoinette; a female cat who just had kittens)

Choose ONE trait about Antoinette, or the cat's behavior toward her kittens that you are most interested about. Maybe how she grooms the kittens? How she transports them from one place to another? What she does for feeding? 

Suppose that you picked the topic about how Antoinette moves her kittens from one spot to another. At the beginning of the observation, you would need to make a general statement as your introduction. Something in the lines of:

Female cats are very protective of their kittens. During my observation of Antoinette, a shorthair domestic black cat, I noticed that cats have a very specific way to transport their kittens from one location to another. It is their way to protect them...etc.etc.etc

Your supporting fact would explain what this cat transportation mode is: This is why you need to expand on it later. 

The mother would use her mid-jaw teeth to carefully hold her kittens using her mouth, but without hurting them. Cats have a naturally grown excess of skin on the back of their neck which is used by mother cats as "handles".It is called colloquially "the scruff", but it actually is...etc etc etc.

You should spend more time on the description of this method of transportation, and give some other observations such as how the kittens react to it, how far she takes them, why does she move them, and what does she do after moving them. 

Then, get to your conclusion and summarize what you saw as concisely as you can, showing that what you observed PROVES that FIRST statement you made: That female cats are very protective of their kittens. has a great essay lab that can help you further.  Also, if you want to find out more information on the neck "scruff" of baby cats and how their mothers use it to transport them, check out the link included in the answer. It may help you learn more about this instictive practice among felines. Good luck and thank you for using Enotes!

mlhamilton eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, consider what you want to write about. Choose a topic relating to nature that interests you as you will be spending some time with this topic.

Then, allow yourself to brainstorm on this topic: What interests you about it? What knowledge do you already have regarding this topic? What questions do you have? 

As you are brainstorming, you may find yourself developing a focus for the essay. If you are writing on observing an animal, you may find yourself focusing on how a bird builds a nest (instead of focusing on how a bird flies)

So, aha! You're going to focus on how the bird builds a nest! Now, what do you want to say about that? Think about what you want to say about the nest and develop a thesis statement--this is the foundation for your essay and tells your reader what your stance is on this bird. An example may be: In the building of a nest, a bird must consider not only the safety of her eggs, but also stability in various kinds of weather.

Then, familiarize yourself with the structure of the essay:

Introduction--where you introduce your topic and share your thesis

Body--where you share supporting ideas for your thesis

Conclusion--where you summarize your ideas to leave your reader with a strong understanding of your ideas.

Now you'll create an outline for your essay. This allows you to layout your ideas and determine the best order. Doing this makes the actual writing of the essay much easier and faster! An outline may look like this:

Thesis: In the building of a nest, a bird must consider not only the safety of her eggs, but also stability in various kinds of weather.


1. The bird has built her nest using thick branches rather than thin for stability.

2. She also uses a pattern of criss crossing the branches for strength.

3. The bird built the nest under the overhang of a front porch to avoid rain and the view of predatory birds or other animals.


Use your outline as a guide for your essay. Write without worrying about grammar, punctuation, and spelling and focus on the ideas. Once you are happy with how you've shared your ideas. Go through and check the Grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Finally, ask a friend or family member to read the essay--does it make sense to them? Make any changes that can make your argument more cohesive and you'll have a complete essay!