About Us

Welcome to Homeschool Nature Study!

We are veteran homeschool moms sharing homeschool nature study resources to bless your homeschool. We will help you get started and guide you in these simple and joyful times with your family.

It is a quiet revolution going on in families all over the country. Children are spending more time outdoors with their families as they explore their own backyards and neighborhoods. The Outdoor Hour Challenges have provided the needed push for more people to get outside and spend just a few minutes each week learning about the plants and animals they encounter as they venture out their own back doors.

The Outdoor Hour Challenges

The Outdoor Hour Challenges have become a favorite activity among homeschoolers. Now more families can enjoy the benefits of nature study each week with their children. The challenges encourage each family to spend fifteen to twenty minutes each week focusing on nature study close to home in their own backyards, neighborhoods, or local parks. No fancy equipment is necessary and the challenges help families make the small steps needed to get started. Families from all over the world are participating and learning just how many benefits there are to sharing in nature study.


Bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to Life

Tricia Hodges, Owner and Editor

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! Founder, Barb McCoy, is a dear friend of Tricia’s and helped mentor Tricia’s homeschool with practical advice on homeschool resources. Barb also helped encourage Tricia to share her mother’s art lessons with families in ebook form.

When Tricia learned that Barb would be stepping away from The Handbook of Nature Study, she knew that this wonderful resource needed to continue to be accessible to other families. It is Tricia’s passion to continue what Barb began in encouraging fellow homeschool families and sharing a love of getting outside and enjoying nature. Tricia has a heart for homeschool families. She also has a desire to keep Barb’s veteran homeschool voice and her original available for you!

Homeschooling since 2000, Tricia has seen the fruits of home education with five children (three homeschool grads so far!) She began blogging at Hodgepodgemom in 2008, sharing helpful homeschool habits, recipes and her mother’s art lessons. With their You ARE an Artist curriculum, Tricia, “Nana” and her family are passionate about helping others grow a love of art. She also shares reviews of her family’s favorite curricula at The Curriculum Choice and is the author of the book, Help! I’m Homeschooling! Tricia lives in Georgia with her husband, Steve, and the Hodgepodge.


Shirley Ann Vels, Outdoor Hour Challenges Hostess

Shirley and her family have used the Handbook of Nature Study and Barb’s Outdoor Hour Challenges from the beginning of their homeschooling. Having begun their homeschool journey in Cape Town South Africa and finished it in the UK, the challenges and the Handbook of Nature Study have proved to be adaptable and relevant across continents.

The Handbook of Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour challenges were a staple in Shirley’s homeschool and has had a significant impact on her homeschooling and on one of her daughters choice of careers. Her daughter is currently studying illustration at university and intends to pursue a career as a botanical illustrator which they put down to the precious hours spent outdoors observing nature and its rhythms and time spent nature journaling.

Shirley has been and continues to be a contributing author for the Curriculum Choice and for the Handbook of Nature Study’s newsletter up until it’s retirement in 2017.

Shirley’s family still enjoy spending as much time as they can outdoors exploring the English countryside and recording their observations in their nature journals. When Tricia approached Shirley with the proposition to continue hosting the Handbook of Nature Study on Barb’s retirement she was thrilled as it combines her passion for nature and encouraging the homeschooling community. She is deeply honoured to be able to continue encouraging families to get outdoors with a resource that has been so significant in her family’s life.

Shirley lives in Chester, England and blogs at Building A Household of Faith where she writes about homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way, nature study and encouraging homeschooling moms in their great charter as Christian wives, mothers and keepers of the home. She also hand-dyes yarn in her home studio Under An English Sky, which is inspired by the English countryside and of the great living books she and her family enjoyed over their homeschooling journey. No doubt you will be sure to recognise some of the names of her yarn from literary childhood favourites!


Barb McCoy, Founder

Barb McCoy is a retired homeschooling mom of four. She started The Handbook of Nature Study website to share her family’s adventures using the Handbook of Nature Study with other families and it developed into a community of nature study lovers.

Barb and her family enjoys an outdoor life as often as they can and each of her children have developed their own ways to create adventures in the wilderness whether it is hiking in the Sierra, mountain biking in Northern California, or trekking in South America.
She started the Outdoor Hour Challenge for families to complete as they have time. This began with Barb suggesting pages to read in the Handbook of Nature Study and then some simple suggestions for you to complete in a few minutes outdoors with your children.

Barb’s Passion, Your Advantage!
Barb wrote 26 ebooks compiling the Outdoor Hour Challenges! She then created a membership area to make it easy to access everything you need. We hope you will join us and use these resources with your family as a simple way to get started with nature study.

If you haven’t started with the challenges yet or you would like to have the very first ten challenges in one easy to use eBook format, you can get your free Getting Started with the Outdoor Hour Challenges ebook. This ebook is also available in The Handbook of Nature Study membership.