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No Snow Study- Winter Walk Instead

Winter Walk Snow Nature Study
Our winter continues to be warmer than normal…even record-breaking temperatures. As much as I love the warm afternoons and sunshine, I am concerned for the drying up reservoirs and the very dry forest conditions. I know I have no power to bring on the rain and snow so I am trying to make the best of it.

This week’s Winter Snow challenge was a big challenge indeed. We did find a bit of snow up the mountain from our house but not a whole lot. We opted to complete the Winter Nature Walk- Scavenger Hunt activity from Hearts and Trees.

I took an image of the page with my phone and we used that during our hike to remember the things we were looking for as we went.

Here are our results:

An evergreen
Buds on a tree
We decided this duck weed was more interesting than moss.
Trees that have lost all their leaves – aspens
a bird – Steller’s Jay
We didn’t find any berries but this rose hip was certainly colorful.
Something with thorns
Pinecones – The squirrels had lunch on the picnic table!

One last image from our hike at Taylor Creek. The beavers have been clear cutting a lot of the trees along the water. They have quite a few trees that are ready to fall as well. The dam is getting huge! Amazing creatures with incredible strength.

We are still waiting for some real snow here and I will keep the snow study in the back of my mind for a future time. I hope some of you were more successful with this challenge or you took advantage of the scavenger hunt instead.


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Another Glorious Winter Walk-Searching for Mammals

We had another chance to take a walk up in the high country yesterday. The boys were snowboarding but we preferred to take a slower approach to our day. We took two hours to tramp around in the woods and see what we could find.

Here was something we found interesting. It looks as if an animal scratched the bark off this Jeffrey pine to get at something underneath…insects? If you look closely you can see the chunk of bark sticking out from under the snow.

Here is a close-up.

Lots of prints in the snow…..dogs and otherwise. We aren’t sure about these. They seem too close together to be a dog and there are no marks for the claws like dogs have.

We think these are squirrel tracks.

Some squirrels had a feast on this stump that we came across as we crunched through the snow. I have come to appreciate that there are animals that depend on this food source in the middle of winter. As we stopped at one point along our walk, a huge cone came crashing down just a few feet from us. As you look around the forest floor, you see cones just about everywhere in various stages of being eaten.

Somehow we lost the trail as we wandered around looking at various interesting things. Yes, that is my hubby looking for a way back to the trail. He assured me he knew which way to go. 🙂

If you have to be lost, can you imagine a more peaceful place? It was quiet and sunny and warm and we knew generally that we needed to head towards that mountain to get back to the main trail.

We eventually found our way back and it was a really good thing because I was getting tired and hungry. We saw so many other things but I will share those in another post.

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First Day of Winter Nature Walk Ideas for Your Homeschool

Enjoy these first day of winter nature walk ideas for your homeschool! Getting outside for a walk on the first day of winter may be one of the most refreshing activities you could do with your children.

The temperatures drop and we huddle inside more and more, especially on the shortest day of the year! Make plans to get outside for a brisk nature walk and then to follow up with a nature journal page recording all of the interesting things you found while outside.

Get outside with your family with these first day of winter nature walk ideas for your homeschool! Simple and fun prompts to do together.

First Day of Winter Nature Walk Ideas for Your Homeschool

Encourage everyone to use all of their senses on this walk. Here are some winter nature walk ideas:

  • Did they see something colorful or unusual?
  • How does the air feel on your skin?
  • Is there a particular fragrance to the air?
  • Can you listen carefully for a minute or two to distinguish any particular sounds?

Another idea is to ask your children to find differences in the landscape, comparing your neighborhood habitat on this winter day to what they remember about the first day of summer. This is a little harder and you may need to help them get started with a few of your own observations.

Get outside with your family with these first day of winter nature walk ideas for your homeschool! Simple and fun prompts to do together.

More Winter Homeschool Nature Study Resources

Here are even more winter nature studies for you to enjoy together:

Take Your Homeschool Winter Study Indoors

Taking your winter nature studies indoors when the weather outdoors is proving to be a challenge may be just the thing you need every once in a while. We have a lovely post from the archives to inspire your homeschool nature studies indoors for those days that you can’t face getting outdoors.

Make Memories Together This Winter

Most importantly, take along a good attitude and leave yourself open to whatever the experience brings. Allow your children to direct you to things they find interesting and then share in their excitement. A good nature walk is pleasurable for everyone and allows you and your children to develop a relationship with our Creator.

The best times I can remember with my children are the times we just took it slow and easy, looking for the little things that most people pass by. Turn over a rock and see what’s underneath. Look up in the branches of the trees and see if you can find any birds or other critters. Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or stream and see what comes along. Breathe the air and enjoy the day.

There’s a printable in Homeschool Nature Study Membership for the First Day of Winter Nature Walk for you to use as part of this activity. A simple list and a sketch will make a perfect follow up to your outdoor time.

Get outside with your family with these first day of winter nature walk ideas for your homeschool! Simple and fun prompts to do together.

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

First published by Outdoor Hour Challenge founder, Barb McCoy.

Tricia and her family fell in love with the Handbook of Nature Study and the accompanying Outdoor Hour Challenges early in their homeschooling. The simplicity and ease of the weekly outdoor hour challenges brought joy to their homeschool and opened their eyes to the world right out their own back door! She shares the art and heart of homeschooling at You ARE an ARTiST and Your Best Homeschool plus her favorite curricula at The Curriculum Choice.

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Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Homeschool Nature Walk

We are continuing our festive theme of finding Christmassy reds and greens in nature. This homeschool nature outdoor hour challenge includes the greens of winter with a moss and lichen nature walk. Here is how you can enjoy a greens of winter nature walk too!

Take a Walk to Find Greens of Winter in a Moss and Lichen Homeschool Nature Walk

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk

It was a cold, frozen day but if we stopped and looked closely….there was beauty all around us.

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk

These lichens are just so interesting! Did you know that lichens are not plants at all? The are complex organisms formed by a symbiotic relationship between fungus and an algae. They will certainly make for a fascinating, in-depth study!

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk

Even on the tree branches it was beautiful. So many shades of green!

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk

After a bracing walk hunting for these wonderful non-vascular plants, an afternoon spent painting in your nature journal may just be the perfect way to wrap up the day. You might even decide to paint while warming up next to a warm fire.

Not up for an outdoor walk due to the weather? We share details on Taking Your Winter Nature Studies Indoors.

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk
Shirley’s Nature Journal from Building a Household of Faith

Join the Nature Study Homeschool Membership for Helpful Tips Year Round

Next week we start our first Outdoor Hour Challenge (OHC) of the new year. We will be looking at winter tree silhouettes. The nature study plans for 2022 and the corresponding ebooks are available for our members to download. Be sure to download in preparation of an exciting new year of outdoor hour challenges.

Greens of Winter, Moss and Lichen Nature Walk - Continuing the theme of festive colour found in nature, join us on a greens of winter moss and lichen nature walk.

If you are not yet a member but would like to join and receive access to all the curriculum books, the interactive nature study calendar and fresh new posts every Friday then please consider joining the homeschool nature study membership now.

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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Winter Berry Hunt & Nature Walk

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Winter Berry Hunt – Nature Walk

Our last hike along the river was on a cold but sunny day last week. This particular trail allows for one way hiking on a loop that goes upstream on the Deschutes River and then across a bridge and back downstream on the other side. Although it’s a popular trail, keeping us all hiking in one direction means you can easily space out and feel as if you have the trail all to yourself.

We noticed quite a few shrubs with berries along the trail and it reminded me of this winter berry hunt nature study idea. I was wishing you all could see the many berry colors!

berry shrub


I hope that you can squeeze in a winter berry hunt sometime soon. Let me know what you find along your neighborhood trails.

Winter Berries Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Berry Hunt.   

Snow and Winter Berries

Winter Berry Hunt notebook page 1

Winter Berry Hunt notebook page 2


If you have access to the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook,

there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Winter Nature Study ebooks graphic and promo

Don’t forget there are Winter ebooks in the Member’s Library for you to use in your nature study. Feel free to use any of the winter Outdoor Hour Challenges during this season. You can pick and choose the topics that fit your family best.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudyYou’ll find all of the winter themed nature study ideas by clicking the Winter tab at the top of the Handbook of Nature Study website. Everyone is welcome to use the ideas found there whether you have a membership or not.





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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Winter Weather Walk and More

Use one of the ideas listed below to take a winter weather walk. There are so many variations of this nature study idea that I’m sure you’ll find one that sparks your interest. Why not pick one and get outside this week as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge?

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Weather Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Winter Weather Walk – with a printable

Winter Nature Walk – with a printable

Winter Wonder Walk – printable in the More Nature Study – Winter ebook

Use Your Senses Nature Walk

Winter Silent Walk

If you’re on Instagram, you can use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge to connect with other families using the Outdoor Hour Challenge all around the world. I also check the hashtag and am always happy to see what families are doing each week to get outside together.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

You can follow me on Instagram to see what I’m doing each week.

Have you seen the new ebooks?

Forest Fun ebook cover graphic

We’ll be starting with the challenges in this ebook next week! Click over and see all the interesting topics that we’ll be learning about together with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Creepy Thing Ebook Cover image

Bird Set ebook cover image

If you don’t have a membership yet, you can click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 24 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist decenber 2019



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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Silent Walk

Silent Nature Walk Outdoor Hour Challenge @handbookofnaturestudyOutdoor Hour Challenge

Winter Silent Walk- from the archives

Thinking back on this challenge found in the archives, I remember well the day we accomplished it back in early 2012. My youngest son and I spent an afternoon hiking on our favorite trail but we hiked a distance apart so that we were not tempted to talk or share at all. Comparing our journals later, it brought into focus the idea that two people walking on the same trail can have completely different experiences.

If you can figure out a way to take a silent nature walk, see if you have the same results. Do your individual experiences match the groups? Do you observe things differently? Are you able to see and hear and feel more if you are silent as you walk?

My husband and I regularly take silent walks because we have realized there is a better chance of something catching our attention if we are not preoccupied with conversation. Also, I think the birds and animals don’t scatter as you come down the trail and many times you are able to see the squirrels, deer, etc or at least notice them as they move for cover as you draw near.

Use the suggestions in the archive challenge (or the idea for a Quiet Walk in December’s newsletter) for a variation of your normal nature study activities.

Leave me a comment if you have any success on your walk or you want to share an experience.

Winter Wonder walk journal

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter 2016 More Nature Study WinterThe winter series of challenges will start on January 13, 2017.

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Family Seasons Nature Study Walk – Winter Edition

A week ago, our family took a trip up to the mountains to spend some time together and enjoy the beauty of an alpine lake. I thought this would be the perfect time to take a Seasonal Weather walk as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. The weekend started off with rain, sunshine, and then rainbows. We actually saw a double rainbow a couple of times….amazing!

Boy, did we have weather! The rain turned to snow and dusted the landscape with clean bright snow. The ducks and geese in the lake didn’t seem to mind much. The clouds covered the mountains in the distance but left us with a pocket of sunshine to get out into and explore.
We would watch for the sun to come out, taking advantage of the time to warm up in the bright mountain sunshine and see some more rainbows.
The snow would really fall at times and we enjoyed the beauty of it…we didn’t have to go outside unless we wanted to do so. Mr. A met up with some friends and went snowboarding one of the days we were up at the lake….crazy teenage snowboarders. (Sorry Mr. T that you dislocated your shoulder.)
This was pretty much the pattern for our whole weekend…rainbows and sunshine…snowing in the distance.

One of the days we took a drive around the lake to a spot we like to hike at but the wind was blowing so very hard that just getting out of the car was difficult. This video is just showing how much the large pines were swaying back and forth in the gusts of wind…it also was really super loud just like on the video. Amazing power of the wind! We experienced 50 mph winds (gusts higher than that).

It was hard to even stand up in the blasts of wind….we ended up taking a short hike over to Fallen Leaf Lake where the waves were high enough you could have surfed. This lake is usually calm, flat, and crystal blue but on this day it looked more like the gray ocean. Mr. D bundled up against the wind…it really was that cold!

While we were up enjoying the lakes of the Sierra, back at home the rain gauge was getting filled up. We had to dump it since it was overflowing at 8 inches! There was flooding and our basement sump pump didn’t work once the power went off….wet floors and furniture. The phones were out for a week and so was our DSL. The weather really gave us something to talk about this past week…more than I anticipated.

There is still time for you to take your weather walk and share your experiences with all of us at the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Make sure to send in your blog entries for the up-coming OHC Blog Carnival (due date 12/30/12).

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Winter Rain Walk in the Woods

Moss and Lichen on a Rock
Crustose lichen and moss

We had a rainstorm from Thursday to Monday which dropped more than eight inches of rain…forgot to dump my rain gauge so I don’t have an accurate total. The rain was so very refreshing and brought a measure of relief to my dry yard. I know we still need more rain but it is nice to have a break now to enjoy the sparkling air, the warm sunshine, and the revived plants and bushes.

Sunday we took advantage of a small break in the rain to walk to the river, probably about a mile’s hike. The woods there are mostly oaks with a few pines and a couple of old madrones. Madrones have such wonderfully smooth red bark and perfectly leaf-shaped leaves. They are not common enough for me to pass by without taking note of just what a pretty tree they are. I didn’t stop to take a photo of a madrone this time but I promise to next time we are on this particular trail.

Winter River Scene
Cold gray winter day at the river

The river was roaring down the canyon and we didn’t stay long to enjoy its beauty since we weren’t sure how long the rain was going to hold off. Besides, it was really cold…much colder than I expected and my fleece jacket really wasn’t enough.

Lichen and fungus
Foliose lichen and bracket fungus

We stopped along the trail coming back to inspect and appreciate the many colors and textures of the lichen on the tree trunks and rocks. Can I call the fungus beautiful too? It was.

Fruticose lichen

We made it back to the car and home just in time for it to pour rain again. I am glad we didn’t miss the chance to experience the winter rain in this little woods…it was quiet, green, and refreshing.

Interested in studying moss and lichen more? You can click over to read a past Outdoor Hour Challenge:
#42 Moss and Lichen

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Silent Nature Walk – Winter Nature Study with the OHC

Winter Wonder Collage

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone.

After checking our weather for the next few weeks, we realized that a winter weather nature walk was not going to happen any time soon. Our Winter Wonder Walk became our Silent Nature Walk instead. This was part of the advanced study suggested for the first challenge from the More Nature Study Book 2 ebook plans.

Winter Wonder walk - Silent Activity
We loaded up the Kona dog and headed to our favorite local trail. Mr. B started off ahead of me so we wouldn’t be tempted to talk. This was a good plan since it also separated us a little as we walked and it seemed that we were all alone which allowed the sounds of the woods to be easily heard.

Ferns along the trail
A few of the things I observed on our Silent Nature Walk:
1. Greenness of the ferns growing alongside the trail on the hillside.
2. Dry trail with acorns..crunching leaves.
3. Birds singing in the woods. The only one I recognized is the Northern Flicker. I also heard some wing flutters coming from the bushes lining the path.
4. The buzz of an insect which I couldn’t see.
5. I noticed a pile of feathers where some forest animal had made a meal.

Winter Wonder walk Advanced Notebook Page
Mr. B wrote his observations on a notebook page when we got home and I was impressed with the different things he noted that I missed as noted below:
1. He heard five birds.
2. He noticed the river’s rushing sound and how it changed as we walked down the canyon.
3. Scrunch of the needles and the pat of the dirt.

He brought home an acorn to sketch into his journal and I brought home a few samples of ferns, an acorn, a weed, and a feather.
Wood fern - back
I was fascinated by the spores on the back of the ferns. I won’t detail here all I learned from the Handbook of Nature Study on ferns but we will in the future have a challenge featuring ferns. I found a wealth of information in Lesson 195 on the fruiting of the fern. There is always something new and interesting to learn.

Western Sword Fern - back
I identified my ferns as the Wood Fern, the Western Sword Fern, and California Maidenhair Fern.

Winter Wonder Walk Journal
Silence. It is a great way to glean a little more from a walk if you can give it a try. I have to admit that several times on the walk when I couldn’t see Mr. B or the Kona dog that I was a little uneasy. It can be too quiet sometimes. I think we become accustomed to having background noise in our life from the computers, the clocks, music, traffic, and each other. Seeking out the quiet is something I think we should do on a regular basis and I will be adding this to future challenges, at least for the advanced study option. I encourage you to grow your children into the habit of spending a least a few minutes of every outdoor nature study time being silent and really listening.

More Nature Study #2 button

It is not too late to join us for this new series of nature study challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. All of the challenges for this series are gathered into an ebook format along with custom made notebook pages. Click over and see the details and join us this week for a new posted challenge on Friday.