Posted on Leave a comment

Learning About Seeds Preschool Activities

When spring time rolls around it’s the perfect time to start learning about seeds. We want to share a handful of preschool activities (dirty fingers as well as clean and dry ones) we think you can easily incorporate into your homeschool to help with learning about seeds.

Learning About Seeds Preschool Activities

1. Plant seeds!

We purchased some seed kits from the dollar spot at Target. We do this every year because my toddlers love planting and taking care of their seeds and they usually end up loving these seeds to death. My 3 younger girls each planted different plants: basil, sunflowers, and poppy flowers.

2. Seed sort nature activity

Use 3 -5 different seeds (depending on your child’s ability) and have them sort the seeds by like kinds. What do they notice about seeds? Are seeds all the same shape? Same color? Same size? Homeschool Nature Study Members can print the Seed Sorting Worksheet from their dashboard to compare 4 different types of seeds.

Look around your vegetables and fruits to find seeds. Notice seeds we eat and seeds we discard (cucumbers vs peppers). Notice seeds on the outside of fruits and seeds deep in vegetables. Compare little seeds of an apple to a big seed of an avocado.

4. Make a seed collage

Using an assortment of seeds, glue seeds on a heavier piece of cardstock or cardboard. Arrange seeds to spell out your children’s names. I promise it’ll be, F U N !

5. Learn plant vocabulary

Homeschool Nature Study Members can print the Parts of a Plant and Tree Life Cycle worksheets from their dashboard to learn and match plant vocabulary.

6. Make a flower craft (also can be used as a Bible lesson.)

Print the Don’t Worry Flowers. Children can learn about how God knows what they need and cares for them.

More Nature Resources For Preschoolers

Our monthly membership has everything you need for studying nature together as a family. Learn more about our creative and engaging resources.

Written by Maureen Spell. Updated and new resources created by Stef Layton.

Posted on Leave a comment

Planting a Rainbow Book Activities: Flower Craft and Nature Game

After many, many days of grey, dreary weather–we needed a change! So for this week I checked out Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

This book is a fun way to introduce children to gardening. Each page has vibrant illustrations of bulbs and flowers. Children can see how different plants and flowers come in all different colors—-all the colors of the rainbow.

After reading the book, my daughter worked on a color-matching game and did a flower craft.

Planting a Rainbow File-folder Game:

1 file folder
1 large piece of black fun foam or construction paper
colorful craft sticks glue
1. Glue the craft sticks onto one half of the file-folder in the order shown in the book: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

2. Glue the piece of black fun foam/construction paper over the bottoms of the sticks to represent the soil.

3. Tape a large Ziplock bag on the other half to hold the rest of the popsicle sticks for matching.

4. Have the child place the matching colors on top of the glued-down sticks.

5. Optional: On plain wooden sticks, write the name of each color and have the student try to match the color name to the colored stick.

6. Optional: Use different color flower punch-outs or foam shapes and have the children match the correct color flower to the correct color stick.

Planting a Rainbow Flower Nature Craft

Our Homeschool Nature Study members enjoy this fun Planting a Rainbow nature craft! You can even add a cute, little worm in the dirt!

Plant a Rainbow Garden and Book Extensions

1. Plant your own  rainbow garden.

2. Read: The Black Book of Colors: This is a book of colors that is meant to be felt, not seen. It tells how blind people relate to colors.

After reading this book, go on a scavenger hunt and gather things to create your own color book collage using the items mentioned in the book.

3. Go on a nature color walk.

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

More Nature Crafts For Kids With The Homeschool Nature Study Membership

Nature Study Crafts for Kids: Easy Activities for Learning and Fun! Nature study crafts for kids are a hands on way to learn. What beautiful and easy activities for learning and FUN! Let us show you how.

Do you like the idea of involving young children in nature study but not sure how to start? Do you need a little help being intentional with your nature studies? Nature Study Printables is full of printable tools for you to use to get young children observing and talking about nature! Everything you need for engaging nature crafts for kids!

Nature Study Printables for Toddlers and Preschoolers is a 60+ page eBook included in Homeschool Nature Study Membership containing all of our toddler and preschool nature study printables plus 20 exclusive pages available only in this book! Use these tools alongside Homeschool Nature Study Preschool Curriculum to help informally introduce young children to the natural world around them.

Looking for nature journaling and studies for your older children? You might also like The Ultimate Guide to Nature Journaling: Tips for Writing About Nature and Homeschool Nature Study for Teens: Three Steps for Success.

Join us for even more homeschool nature studies for all the seasons! With a nature study each week, you will have joyful learning leading all the way through the homeschool year for all your ages!

By Maureen Spell, a long-time contributor to the Outdoor Hour Challenges. Maureen helps Christian mompreneurs operate their business from a place of joy, purpose, and excellence because they are clear on how their business is serving their family and others. As a homeschool mom, she believes success at home AND business without the mom-guilt, stress and burn-out is possible! Outside of work, she loves having good conversations over a hot chai or GT Gingerberry kombucha and spending time with her husband and seven children. Visit her at

Posted on Leave a comment

Summer Butterfly Nature Study – How to Make a Butterfly Puddle

Enjoy a summer butterfly nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle right in your own backyard.

Over the years, I’ve observed butterflies along hiking trails in the muddy edges. There will sometimes be 10 or 12 butterflies sitting on the mud slowly opening and closing their wings. This behavior fascinated me! After a little research on the internet, I discovered that butterflies are attracted to mud puddles for not only the moisture but the minerals and salts that are present in the mud.

**Don’t miss the nature study and art giveaway at the end!

Enjoy a summer nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle and attract butterflies to your backyard garden.

Summer Butterfly Nature Study – How To Make a Butterfly Puddle

So, this summer I’ve decided I want to make my own butterfly mud puddle, but make it in a large saucer. During my research, I ran across several websites and videos that explained how to make an artificial mud puddle that butterflies could use in my garden.

Basically, you add sand to the saucer along with some sort of mineral source. I decided to try compost, a little gravel, a few rocks, and a bit of Epsom salts with my sand. Then you add water to moisten your “puddle”.

Here is a step-by-step how to for a butterfly puddle.

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden with a Butterfly Puddle

Here’s a YouTube video for you to watch for a tutorial:

Simple and easy!

I would love for you to give this project a try with your children and let me know if you were successful too!

You can always leave me a comment, email me directly, or post an image on Instagram and use the hashtag outdoorhourchallenge.

More Resources For Homeschool Nature Study

For even more homeschool nature study ideas, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get Outdoors!

Enjoy a summer nature study! Here is an easy step-by-step on how to make a butterfly puddle and attract butterflies to your backyard garden.

By Barb, July 2021

Nature Study and Art Giveaway!

This time of year the butterflies are out, and there’s a cool canopy of trees teeming with all sorts of plant and animal activity. We are blessed with so many beautiful details to study with our children as we enjoy the outdoors.

If you are looking for an engaging way to start the homeschool year, why not raise butterflies and enjoy some nature journaling? We have just the giveaway!

You ARE An Artist, Homeschool Nature Study, and The Homeschool Scientist have teamed up for a fun Nature Study and Art Giveaway!

Here’s what’s included in this hands-on science and art prize pack:

  • A set of 12 NuPastels
  • A magnifying glass
  • A copy of the beautifully illustrated Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story. Read more about the book here.
  • An Insect Lore Butterfly Garden with a certificate for caterpillars (This is so much fun!)
  • A 24-piece set of insect life cycle figurines from Insect Lore

You may enter once per day. Entry closes at 11:59 p.m. on August 9, 2022. You must be over 18 years or old to enter. U.S. residents only. The email provided in the giveaway widget will be used to contact the winner.

Click HERE to Enter to Win!

Posted on 1 Comment

Plant Life Nature Study: Learning The Parts of a Flower

A simple homeschool plant life nature study learning the parts of a flower. Flowers are a wonderful first nature study topic for many children, especially those flowers they find and ask about on your creative nature walks or even in your own backyard. Keep it simple and fun!

“All the names should be taught gradually by constant unemphasized use on the part of the teacher; and if the child does not learn the names naturally then do not make him do it unnaturally.”

Handbook of Nature Study, page 456
A simple homeschool plant life nature study learning the parts of a flower. Flowers are a wonderful first nature study topic for many children, especially those flowers they find and ask about on your creative nature walks or even in your own backyard. Keep it simple and fun!

Plant Life Nature Study – Learning the Parts of a Flower

This plant life nature study is going to be helpful to all families as they strive to learn the technical names for flower parts. Make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study and look up the link in the challenge with a printable with the flower parts labeled. Don’t make this too much of a drill or memorization assignment. As the need arises, use the proper names for the flower parts as you go through your outdoor time and find garden flowers or wildflowers to observe.

More Flower Nature Study Activities

You will also enjoy this parts of a flower printable from our friends at The Homeschool Scientist.

Our sister site, You ARE an ARTiST, has a parts of a daffodil art lesson included in the I Drew It Then I Knew It Science series with Nana.

A simple homeschool plant life nature study learning the parts of a flower. Flowers are a wonderful first nature study topic for many children, especially those flowers they find and ask about on your creative nature walks or even in your own backyard. Keep it simple and fun!

Homeschool Nature Study Lesson Plans

If you are a member here at Homeschool Nature Study, you will find this plant life nature study flower challenge in the Garden Flower and Plant Curriculum ebook in your membership library. In the ebook you will find a custom notebook page designed for use with this particular challenge.

 Published April 2016 by Barb

A simple homeschool plant life nature study learning the parts of of a flower. Flowers are a wonderful first nature study topic for many children
Posted on 13 Comments

How to Make Your Backyard a Natural Habitat for Wildlife

Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having the opportunity to have nature come to you in your very own backyard. Involve your whole family in the project and spend some time outdoors!

When we first moved into our house over twenty years ago, the backyard was fairly generic. It had a big weedy lawn, a pine tree, a few fruit trees, blackberries along the fence, and some bushes in the back. The front yard had a magnolia tree and some lawn. Not really very inviting to either humans or animals. It was not a very big yard either and we did not have a lot of money to do big landscape projects at that time.

We didn’t set out to create a natural habitat for wildlife in our yard, but it has turned out that way with some simple ideas in mind. Working on one small area at a time we managed to eventually build up what we have now.

How to Get Started Making Your Backyard a Natural Habitat for Wildlife

Animals and Birds need some basic things in order to consider your backyard an attractive habitat.

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Somewhere to have their young
Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Food Sources for Your Backyard

Here are some ideas for food sources for wildlife:

  • Wild sources of food in your backyard like blackberries and grasses that produce seeds.
  • You can plant a variety of things to help provide food as well.
  • We have a fig tree, a walnut tree, sunflowers every summer, and flowers whose nectar is attractive to birds and insects like trumpet vine and butterfly bush.
  • A trumpet vine is a favorite of the hummingbirds when it is in bloom. There will three or four all sipping nectar on various sides of the trellis and they are amazing to watch. We also have several types of bird feeders in our yard at varying levels.
  • Platform feeders, hopper feeders, hummingbird feeders, and special finch feeders are filled all year round. We have a suet feeder that we add in the winter.
  • We also have a butterfly/hummingbird garden established with quite a few plants that are attractive to various kinds of butterflies.
  • We have seen Tiger swallowtails already this year and we are hoping to start attracting some Monarchs with the milkweed that we have started in a patch near the back of the garden.
  • We also know that a variety of mammals eat the seed under the feeders. We have seen skunks, voles, and moles. We have seen evidence of other rodents but can’t be sure exactly what else is out there at night.
a water source for your backyard habitat. Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Water Sources for Your Backyard Nature Study

A water source is essential in attracting wildlife to your backyard natural habitat.

  • We have two bird baths that are available for the birds year round. We also have noticed the birds perched on the potted plants getting water from the base. The birds also enjoy the rainbird sprinklers when they are on and we frequently see blackbirds shaking around in the spray.
  • We have seen little raccoon footprints around the bird bath as well. We know we have at least one raccoon because we have seen him up on our deck at night looking in the back window. Too cute.
watering the garden. Homeschool nature study

Shelter for Wildlife

Here are some ideas for shelter for wildlife in your backyard natural habitat:

  • We have not been successful with having birds nest in our birdhouse, but we have had several birds over the years make nests in our magnolia and sequoia trees.
  • There are also birds that nest in the eave of our neighbors garage right along the fence line. They fly in and out and use our feeders. Believe it or not, the birds fly into the space under the beam. If you click the photo you can see where they go in and out.
  • We have three large areas where we have shrubs for the birds to hide in. These photinia bushes behind the garden provide a great spot for the finches and little birds to perch as they wait their turn at the feeders.
  • These areas are near the feeders and the bird baths and the birds seem to like having the option to fly into the shrub and then check the feeder out before perching to eat a meal. The bushes come alive in the winter when the weather is wet because so many birds take shelter there out of the weather.
  • The back oak tree has bats from time to time and if we come out at night we can see them flying around the backyard eating insects midair.
  • We have a section of our yard that has big river rocks and this is where you will find a variety of insects living underneath and also a shelter for the reptiles in our yard. Yes, we have a couple types of lizards and other reptiles in our yard and the boys love it.
  • The grape vines which we planted last year are providing another spot for the birds to perch plus the added bonus of some seedless grapes for us at the end of the season.
  • Another great place that we know we have provided shelter is within our compost pile. This really could go under the category of food as well since we know that birds and other small creatures forage in the compost for meals.
bird nest - Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.

Natural Habitat: Provide a Place to Raise Young

The trees in our yard are a great place for birds to raise their babies. We just had “flying school” for the Scrub jays in our yard for the babies. They have all flown out on their own now and it was fun to watch. The hummingbirds are all up in a pine tree and a cedar tree that borders the back of our property and although we have never seen them, we know they nest and raise babies there.

We do have our limits thought….the six foot fence all the way around was in response to the mule deer that would come in and devastate a whole vegetable garden in one night. We knew we would be forcing them to go elsewhere for a meal but we live fairly close to a riparian habitat that they can graze and get water from. They still make themselves at home in our unfenced front yard and I hear them on hot summer nights snacking on my roses. I guess they must be hungry. The photo above shows where on the side of the house outside the fenced in area, the deer are still taking shelter here and sleeping. You can see where the grasses and plants are all flattened down from where they lay down and rest.

Last year we had a family of skunks move in under the back deck. I had the boys fill up the crevice with rocks as soon as they moved out. As much as I love wildlife, having a skunk family that near to our house was not pleasant…you can only imagine.

So there are some ideas to get you started with your backyard natural habitat. Take it one section and one idea at a time and soon you will have your own nature study laboratory right outside your back door. It has taken us over twenty years to build up the different aspects but it has been a labor of love. We are continually adding little things to help make the backyard beautiful and also attractive to birds and other animals.

You might be interested in what the National Wildlife Federation says about building a backyard natural habitat.
Create A Wildlife Habitat

You will also like these ideas for Creating Your Backyard Homeschool Nature Study Laboratory.

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

written by Barb June 2009, updated by Tricia February 2022

Here are some simple ways you can make your backyard a natural habitat for wildlife. You will love having nature come to you in your very own backyard.
Posted on Leave a comment

Renee’s Garden Seeds: Summer 2021 Results

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Summer 2021 Results

Link to her website: Renee’s Garden Seeds

What a fantastic year for the garden! We have so many success stories to share and positive results as the season is in full swing. Renee’s Garden seeds were a huge part of the colorful and vibrant garden our family and friends have enjoyed as they visited this past month.

Read below for the specific seeds we planted and the results we achieved.

 Renee’s Garden Seeds List

Renees garden seeds 2021 (3)

4th of July Heirloom Cornflowers

Wow! These have really produced an abundance of flowers in the garden. I love the shades of blue and red and so do the bees!

Renees garden seeds 2021 (2)

Lace Mantle Sweet Williams

I get more compliments about this particular flower in my garden than any other flower. Their striking colors are so pretty! I count these as a huge success.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (1)

Rainbow of California Poppies

We had more blooms last year but there are still quite a few of the rainbow-colored poppies for us to enjoy. For some reason, they are leaning and reaching outside the garden box. I really need to figure out what’s going on there.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (10)

Lemon Queen Sunflowers

As always, we’ve had a bumper crop from the Lemon Queen Sunflowers. They’re not only a favorite of the bees, but they’re also a favorite of mine! The soft yellow is such a happy color.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (8)

Classic Slenderette Bush Beans

We planted these beans in pots at the beginning of May. I started with 3 plants when we transplanted them but ended up with only one healthy plant that produces blossoms and beans. I must be honest. These were an experiment to see if they can grow in our climate. The success of this one plant made me realize that I can grow beans in my garden and I have a great plan to be sure to have more plants thrive next year. As of today, the plants are withering from a couple of nights where the temperatures dropped to near freezing. Not sure I can justify the effort to grow these in my Central Oregon garden with such a small window of productivity. I did look back in my records though and we harvested lots of this variety of green bean from our garden in California. So, the failure here is a matter of habitat and climate and not the seeds.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (7)

Astia Container Zucchini

We had plenty of success with these seeds sprouting and growing, putting on blossoms, but no fruit at all. I think it may have to do with the cooler nights we have which make it hard for these to thrive. I wouldn’t count this as a failure of the seeds, just our garden zone.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (6)

Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers

I love these sunflowers so much! They add such a deep burgundy pop to the otherwise very yellow sunflower bed. Another thing I love about them? They make awesome cut flowers. I’ve had a vase continually filled with their happy, vibrant flowers.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (9)

Scarlet Runner Beans

These were started in May in pots and transplanted to the garden in June. We eagerly watched as the plants grew up the twine, put on flowers, and then produced pods that you allow to dry on the vine.  Many mornings I look out the window and see the hummingbirds visiting the scarlet red blossoms.  What a perfect addition to my garden!

Renees garden seeds 2021 (13)

Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Garden

This was a winner from last year’s garden. We added another packet of seeds to the box and once again they are a spectacular display of colors and shapes. I did make the mistake of allowing some volunteer sunflowers to grow in with the seeds. These have overshadowed the flower mix and I think perhaps the flowering of some of the varieties. Nonetheless, there have been plenty of bees and butterflies visiting the rainbow of flowers.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (4)

Knee High White Cosmos

These are some of my daughter’s favorite flowers in my garden. I love the vintage feel of this variety of cosmos.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (11)

Valentine Lemon Sunflower

This is one of the sunflowers that I sprouted and gave to friends. We’ve all had success growing them in our gardens and their slightly smaller flower head and multiple heads on one stem make them a great cut flower.

Renees garden seeds 2021 (12)

Heirloom Pepperbox Poppies

This is a favorite from the last few years here in Central Oregon. I now can’t imagine a flower garden without these poppies! I saved seed from last year’s crop and scattered it early in the spring to see how many would grow. Well, I’m happy to report that I have quite a few of this variety of poppy in several areas of my yard. The bees can be found daily buzzing and sipping from the red blossoms. If you would like a showy display, give these seeds a try.

Renee’s Garden seeds are the foundation of our flower garden. I’ve already made a list of new things to add next year to promote a wider range of colors, shapes, and heights to my flower beds.

I highly recommend purchasing from Renee’s and seeing the gorgeous results for yourself. I do receive a small amount of seed from Renee’s Garden as a promotional gift. In addition to her gift, I purchase many of the seeds myself. I know they’re always of the highest quality.

I also recommend following her on Instagram to see all of the new products available as they are released. #reneesgardenseeds

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Are you interested in using the Handbook of Nature Study for a study of garden flowers? I’ve compiled a list of the topics from the book and coordinated them with the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I hope this is helpful for your family!

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Posted on Leave a comment

Outdoor Mom-August 2021 Prime Summertime Delights

Outdoor Mom

August 2021

Prime Summertime Delights


Please note you can purchase a membership right now for $35 using the code GREATDAY. Code expires on 9/10/2021.

Waking up to birdsong has become my favorite part of summer. It starts early! Mid-July it started around 4:30 AM and it has gradually become later and later, until those morning serenades have stopped. The departure of so many of the dawn singing birds has been replaced by a nip in the air and shorter days. How does that happen so fast?

tent summer 2021

You may wonder how I know that the birdsong starts so early. Well, we spent most summer nights sleeping in our backyard tent. The birds would be so loud that they would wake me up! I heard many a nighttime owl duet from the resident great horned owls. Then there were the frogs in the river meander behind our house that make a ruckus most nights. Finally, the last few weeks we’ve had the sound of yipping and howling coyotes. It’s hard to believe there’s so much going on outside, but it’s there if you happen to listen.

hairy woodpecker bird backyard july 2021 (3)Late Summer Changes

Most of the robins have flown on, the swallows are gone, the bluebirds are scarce, hardly a red-wing blackbird to be seen. The sounds now are of chickadees, finches, doves, and flickers. I’ve been reflecting on the coming and going of the birds as the seasons change. I looked back in my journal where I noted we saw our first robin and red-wing on March 1, 2021. I remember that day with great fondness, happy day indeed. The summer bird season went by entirely too fast.

summer coneflowers

As I write this entry, our garden is still in full bloom and I spend many days watering, weeding, and cutting flowers. I call it my garden therapy. I sometimes linger sitting on the garden bench just so I can watch the creatures who come to visit. There are hummingbirds in the flowers, bees buzzing around, and all kinds of birds who come to take a bath or drink from the bird baths. There are a few chipmunks who zip in and around the garden when they think no one is watching. If I’m lucky, there will be a butterfly, or a dragonfly come to check things out.

butterfly garden sign 2021

I make mental notes of what grew well in the garden and what I would like to do differently next year. I create new plans in my head for areas that need improvement and I also make a mental list of the things that failed.

Some days, our kids show up and entice us down to the river for a kayak. We drag the boats down to the riverbank and slip into the shallow water as we make our way downstream. The river is low this time of year and it’s not unusual to see a few fish or crawdads as we float over.

cow calf july 2021 (1)

The grasses are still quite green from the thunderstorms we’ve had this month. This means the cows and calves are still living out back where we enjoy their antics as they spend their long summer days grazing and sitting under our trees out back. They often are right along the river’s edge as we make our way down river. We noted a brand new calf with spindly legs and soft brown eyes, we named him Hot Cocoa.

family table 2021
Our new family table, built with my husband’s own hands. We have welcomed many family members to this table over the summer and we will continue the tradition next year.

Now I find myself trying to muster up enthusiasm for the autumn and all the changes that come with it. Most people welcome the autumn, but it makes me feel unsettled. Perhaps it’s because I don’t like change and the replacing of my warm, summer sunshine-filled days with the unpredictability that comes with autumn in Central Oregon. We could have a warm day, a cold day, a snow day, or all the above all in one day.

sunflowers 2021

The falling leaves and withering flowers make me sad. The putting away of the lawn furniture and the potted plants and taking down the flower baskets….so melancholy.

I have in the past found it helpful to make an Autumn Bucket List of things I look forward to doing to make the season a little more positive in my eyes. So, I will do that this year in anticipation of trying to put some joy in my autumn. Maybe that will take my mind off the winter season which is cold and long here in La Pine. I can always hope anyway.

sunflower garden 2021

This summer is drawing to a close and I have saved up some memories to pull out on long winter days. This mom is grateful to have had a garden to enjoy this year and a place to spend my days close to the plants and animals who share my space. I also appreciate the ability to share it all with you dear readers.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

You can follow me on Instagram to see more of our outdoor life here in gorgeous Central Oregon.

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time, this month we went…
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) …
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting…
  • I added nature journal pages about…
  • One last image…






Posted on Leave a comment

Nature Goals 2021: 1st Quarter Update

Nature Goals 2021

1st Quarter Update

Nature Study Goals 2021

In the original 2021 nature goals entry, I talked a lot about the process of making goals and then refining goals as you saw the need. Here were the steps:

  • Be flexible.
  • Review your goals periodically.
  • Break larger goals into smaller steps.
  • Make a reasonable list.
  • Create achievable goals.

If you’d like to read the complete entry with all of the suggestions, you can click here: Nature Study Goals 2021.

One way that I review my goals and how I’m doing, is to reflect back at the end of each quarter to see how things are going. You can read the goals for the year in the entry linked above. I will give you a little update for each goal below.

garden prep april 2021
We have cleaned up the boxes and made sure the drip watering system is ready to go for seed sowing. Probably going to wait until May 1st to get seeds started.

Backyard Habitat development:  We just started working in the garden in the past few weeks. But, I have on paper a lot of ideas we want to implement this year. For the first quarter we made plans, ordered seeds, and spent time observing what was already working as far as supporting the local wildlife. This quarter will be the heavy lifting aspects of creating more wildlife friendly habitat. If this is something you are interested in doing for your family, you can read my entry: Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard.

Painted Hills March 2021
Look for an entry in May that reveals our day trip to the Painted Hills.

Local Hikes: We found new places to hike even in the winter as part of this local hikes goal. There are several places along the Deschutes River that are accessible to hiking in the winter. We chose sunny days to explore Sawyer Park and Steelhead Falls. We drove out to the Painted Hills for a day hike with some of the kids. I’m saying this quarter went better than expected and I’m eager to do some spring hiking here in Central Oregon.

Make notes in field guides: I’m keeping up the habit of making notes in my field guides as we identify new species of birds, animals, and plants.

crossbills february 2021
Our unexpected visitors! We had a group of crossbills come through on a Feederwatch count day.

Project Feederwatch and Great Backyard Bird Count: The Feederwatch project is coming to a close here at the end of April. We’ve only missed a couple of weeks of counting and it has helped us be aware of the comings and goings of the birds at our feeders. The GBBC was another enjoyable experience as we took part in the worldwide bird count. I’ll be posting about the particulars soon!

Go camping: We didn’t make it out camping in the first quarter. But, we have several trips planned for the spring season and one for the summer.

succulents april 2021

Learn about succulents: I spent some time reading books about succulents over the quarter. Our library has quite a few to choose from since succulents are a big part of the landscaping here in Central Oregon. I went out yesterday and looked at the ones we have in our yard and they are all looking mighty healthy. I noticed new growth and spreading for many of them. I will continue to work on my knowledge as we get into our real growing season.

I did a pretty good job of keeping all my goals in mind this quarter. Now, I just need to keep it going.

Have you created nature study goals for your family?

Could you use some help in keeping nature study a regular part of your week?

You can join as an Ultimate Naturalist Library member and immediately have access to hundreds of nature study ideas and printables.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Click the graphic above to see the complete benefits of a membership. Join and make 2021 the best year of nature study ever for your family!

Use the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership!


Posted on Leave a comment

Garden Flower Nature Study Planning

Garden Flower Nature Study Planning

This is the season for planning your garden whether it’s a flower garden or a vegetable garden. Anticipating the colorful flowers, the delicious tasting fruits, and the many hours of happily tending the garden is more than half the fun in my opinion. Paging through seed catalogs or scrolling your favorite gardening sites online can fill your cold winter days with pleasant thoughts of things to come.

I’ve already started my garden planning for the year and put in my seed order to Renee’s Garden Seeds. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you already know that I love this seed company. I always have great results from their products and they are my go to place to purchase seeds for the garden.

Because of our short growing season here in Central Oregon (less than 60 days), our garden is mostly flowers now and not veggies. But, I have decided to try a green bean and broccoli raab crop this year as an experiment. I will keep you posted on our results.

Renees Seed Packets

Want to know my list of seeds?

4th of July Heirloom Cornflowers

Lace Perfume Fragrant Dianthus

Lace Mantle Sweet Williams

Rainbow of California Poppies – We grew these last year in our garden and they are gorgeous!

Lemon Queen Sunflowers – These are the sunflowers suggested to grow as part of the Great Sunflower (bee counting) Project.

Classic Slenderette Green Beans – We’re going to try this variety because of its short growing to harvest time.

Early Rapini Heirloom Broccoli Raab – This is another crop we hope we can grow here in our cooler climate.

Astia Container Zucchini – I grew this in California in a big pot on my back deck. I’m hoping to have some success with it here in Oregon.

Sweet Greens and Reds lettuce mix – This is another variety of a lettuce we grew last year from Renee’s.

Garden Babies Butterhead container lettuce – This is a new lettuce for us and I’m hoping it produces a few heads for us to enjoy.

Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers – I’m excited to try a new color of sunflowers in this year’s garden.

Chocolate Daisy – This is an old favorite that I want to try this year in our new garden box. (It does have the fragrance of chocolate!)

I am eagerly awaiting their arrival! It will be a while before I can actually plant them, but I can dream about the warm summer afternoons in the garden while I wait.

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Maybe you would like to start dreaming and planning for your summer flower garden nature studies. I have completely updated my chart of garden flower topics from the Handbook of Nature Study. Each flower has an Outdoor Hour Challenge associated with it on the website and an ebook with notebook pages to use for your study. Use the links in the chart to decide on which flowers you will study this summer!

Download a copy here: Handbook of Nature Study List of Garden Flowers with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Ultimate Naturalist Library members have access to all the ebooks required. If you’d like to purchase an annual membership, click the link above and then use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your membership.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All memberships are valid for one year after your purchase. The library of ebooks, the newsletters, and all the printables will be only a few clicks away.

Ambleside Online Approved @handbookofnaturestudy

For those of you following the Ambleside Online nature schedule, the spring topic is garden flowers and weeds. Please feel free to combine your nature study with the Outdoor Hour Challenges found in the archives.




Posted on Leave a comment

Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard Part 1

Creating a Wildlife Habitat in Your Own Backyard

Part 1 – Make an Assessment

Creating a Wildlife Garden in your Own Backyard

The story of how I decided to create a more wildlife friendly backyard started a long time ago.

growing up with a manicured yard
Our Backyard – 1967

I grew up in a world of manicured lawns and formal flower beds that required a lot of care and attention.

california plot of land
Our First Home in California – 1987

Purchasing our first home back in California, we were happy to be able to afford a plot of land that had a large yard with front yard and backyard lawns and bare ground that had potential for flowers and vegetables in the garden. But in those days, I hadn’t awakened my desire to garden for wildlife, only human needs.

garden beginnings california

Fast forward a few years, we started to homeschool and to spend lots more time in our own yard. Homeschooling introduced us to nature study and I was drawn to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of encouraging lots of outdoor time for children. While my boys played outside in our backyard, I haphazardly planted more pollinator friendly plants and trees as a way to create a space where we had some things to observe and learn about together.

front yard remodel california

Then we made more radical changes by completely removing our front yard lawn and replacing it with native plants and adding additional food and water sources for the birds and other animal visitors. We were creating a more wildlife friendly habitat.

backyard before dry landscape oregon

Then we moved to Central Oregon and its harsher environment. We experienced the truly cold and snowy winter climate and the dry, dry, dry high desert climate in the summer. It was a bit of an adjustment to learn what would thrive in our new yard and what sorts of wildlife we needed to accommodate.

wildflower meadow oregon 2019 (2)

The process has been enjoyable and interesting. It takes patience and a little effort but creating a wildlife friendly habitat is worth all the energy.

Wildlife will come to you!


My husband says it’s a case of “if you build it, they will come”. This truly has been our experience.

There have been doubters in our circle of friends. We’ve had people question our choices from time to time, but once we explain why we plant certain things or leave certain plants/weeds to grow, they better understand that we really do have a plan.

My hope is that you will consider creating a wildlife garden of your own. I assure you that you don’t need a lot of land, a lot of money, or any special knowledge in order to be successful.

Think of the process as a way to invite nature right up to your doorstep.

Assess Your Yard and Make a Plan (make a headline)

Make an assessment of what you already have available in your yard. You can use either of the printables below to get started. Ask your children to help you make an inventory of what may already be working for wildlife.

Wildlife Habitat Plan

Would you like a free printable plan for creating your own wildlife habitat? I created one for you to use as you assess your yard for the four elements you’ll need to become certified.

Download and print yours here: Wildlife Habitat Plan

checklist wildlife garden

Here’s another printable from the National Wildlife Federation that has a detailed checklist for you to use: Garden Certification Walk-through Checklist.

nesting box

Brainstorm Ideas About Who You Would Like to Visit Your Yard

After you assess your yard, create a list of what you’d like to invite into your habitat. Your children may need some guidance in making a reasonable list of things that may come to visit.

collage wildlife garden

Here are some ideas: butterflies, birds, ladybugs, bees, frogs and toads, squirrels.

My next post will help you create a plan to attract wildlife to your yard by planting and creating the habitat that will entice them to visit and stay awhile.

For now, print one of the suggested printables above and make it a family project to gather information about your current backyard habitat. I don’t want you to worry if you think your yard is a barren wasteland to start with. In my next post, I’ll help you to make a start and I guarantee you that anything you do to create a wildlife habitat will be rewarded if you’re patient.

If you want to look for a good book at your public library that will help stimulate interest in this project, I highly recommend this book that I have in my personal library.

Please note that the link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a book I purchased and value as a resource on this topic.

I will be continuing this series in the months to come. I hope it will help you begin to think about your own backyard space as a possible wildlife habitat that will bring some wild things right to you.

Leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions or comments.