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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.

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

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A Delightful Ladybug Nature Study For Your Homeschool

It’s time for a ladybug homeschool nature study! We love ladybugs in our garden. It is as simple as that. They always make me smile when I see them crawling around in the grass or on the rose bushes. Maybe it is the nostalgia of childhood memories that flood in when I see ladybugs….you know, singing *that* song.

It's time for a ladybug homeschool nature study! Ladybugs make me smile when I see them. Maybe it is the nostalgia of childhood memories.

A Ladybug Nature Study For Your Homeschool

Anyway, here are some thoughts from the Handbook of Nature Study that I enjoyed:

“The ladybird is a beetle. Its young are very different from the adult in appearance, and feed upon plant lice.”

From the Handbook of Nature Study, page 366

“These little beetles are very common in autumn and may be brought to the schoolroom and passed around in vials for the children to observe. Their larvae may be found on almost any plant infested with plant lice. Plant and all may be brought into the school room and the actions of the larvae noted by the pupils during recess.”

“From our standpoint the ladybird is of great value, for during the larval as well as adult stages, all species except one feed upon those insects which we are glad to be rid of.”

From page 365:

“The ladybird is a clever little creature, even if it does look like a pill, and if you disturb it, it will fold up its legs and drop as if dead, playing possum in a most deceptive manner.”

I don’t usually have to go far during the summer to find a ladybug or some aphids. The boys will point out that I have a ladybug in my hair or there will be one hiding among the weeds on the edges of the garden box. They just seem to go hand in hand with summer gardening.

I found a ladybug larva and a ladybug in my garden. This is an example of how taking the time to focus on something different in your own yard leads to a lot of really great information and then satisfaction.

ladybug larva for a ladybug homeschool nature study

I took this photo the other day in the garden and I posted it here on my blog. Someone identified it as a ladybug larva. (Thanks Margie!) I checked it out and they were right. The amazing part about it to me is that it is so big compared to the adult ladybug.

Studying Ladybug Larva

I looked it up in the Handbook of Nature Study and sure enough there is an illustration on page 364 that really shows the differences between the larva, the pupa, and the adult.

“…for they do not in the least resemble her; they are neither rolypoly nor shiny, bur are long and segmented and velvety, with six queer, short legs that look and act as if they were whittled out of wood; they seem only efficient for clinging around a stem….the absorbing business of the larva is to crawl around on plants and chew up the foolish aphids or the scale insects.”

Handbook of Nature Study page 365


Here is another photo I took the other day and I sort of thought it was a ladybug but it wasn’t quite the same as I had seen before.

Now, go look for some ladybugs!

Ladybug Art for Nature Study and Exploration

It's time for a ladybug homeschool nature study! Ladybugs make me smile when I see them. Maybe it is the nostalgia of childhood memories.

Enjoy a Spring Homeschool Nature Study with Art!

Free Getting Started in Homeschool Nature Study Guide

Did you enjoy this ladybug homeschool nature study? Join us for our Outdoor Hour Challenges bringing The Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool! Download your copy here.

If you enjoyed this homeschool nature study, we invite you to join Homeschool Nature Study membership for year round nature study!

published by Barb, May 2008 and updated by Tricia April 2022

Ladybug Homeschool Nature Study
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5 Ways to Use Your Magnifying Lens in Homeschool Nature Study

Looking for ways to encourage your child to explore things in nature? Using a magnifying lens in homeschool nature study is not only fun for children but it helps them see more clearly the wonderful world of objects we have all around us. Try one of the ideas below to help your child get started making careful observations of natural items.

Looking for ways to encourage your child to explore things in nature? Using a magnifying lens in homeschool nature study is not only fun for children but it helps them see more clearly the wonderful world of objects we have all around us. Try one of the ideas below to help your child get started making careful observations of natural items.
photo by Amy Law

5 Ways to Use Your Magnifying Lens in Homeschool Nature Study

“Adults should realize the the most valuable thing children can learn is what they discover themselves about the world they live in. Once they experience first-hand the wonder of nature, they will want to make nature observation a life-long habit.”

Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, page 61

#1 – Nature Station With a Magnifying Lens


Create a magnifying glass station with natural items either indoors or outdoors. Collect a few things to have on hand to start but them encourage your child to find a few of their own while outdoors playing or during a nature walk.

Looking for ways to encourage your child to explore things in nature? Using a magnifying lens in homeschool nature study is not only fun for children but it helps them see more clearly the wonderful world of objects we have all around us. Try one of the ideas below to help your child get started making careful observations of natural items.

#2 – Square Foot Nature Study


Use your magnifying lens in homeschool for a square foot study. There are plenty of ideas here on my blog to help you get started. You can follow-up with this entry: Small Square Study-Living vs. Non-Living.

Examine Insects with a Magnifying Lens

#3 – Examine Insects With a Magnifying Lens

Collect a few insects to examine close up with your magnifying lens. Look for dead insects in window sills, in the garden, or in spider webs. If you can capture a live insect and put it in a clear container, use the magnifying lens to get a closer look. Have your child observe closely the wings, the legs, the antennae, or the eyes of insects using a magnifying lens. Another tip is to place the insect on a mirror and then you can see the underside easily.

Looking for ways to encourage your child to explore things in nature? Using a magnifying lens in homeschool nature study is not only fun for children but it helps them see more clearly the wonderful world of objects we have all around us. Try one of the ideas below to help your child get started making careful observations of natural items.

#4 – Create a New Level of Tree Homeschool Nature Study

As part of a tree study, use your magnifying lens to examine the bark, the leaves, and the cones or acorns of a tree in your yard or neighborhood. You can also use the magnifying lens to compare two trees with careful observations.

For more ideas to use with your magnifying lens and my recommendations for products, you can see my Squidoo Lens: Best Magnifying Lens Plans and Activities.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Homeschool Nature Study Lens Activity

#5 – Use the Outdoor Hour Challenge Homeschool Nature Study Magnifying Lens Activity

Discover the wonder of ordinary objects using this magnifying lens in homeschool nature study activity. Use the suggestions on the page to spark some ideas for objects to collect and observe. There is a place to record a few sketches and some follow-up thoughts if your child is interested in keeping a record of their magnifying lens activity.

Homeschool Nature Study Activities

Find this activity in Challenge 8 Getting Started in Homeschool Nature Study Guide available in membership and HERE.

A magnifying lens in homeschool nature study is fun and helps children see more clearly the wonderful world of objects we have all around us.
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Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Insects

This week we are focusing on winter insects in our homeschool nature study outdoor hour challenges. We are using the Winter Wednesday course and Handbook of Nature Study curriculum with our members. You can join our membership at any time. You will find a button at the end of this post that will take you to the signup page.

We are delighted to have you along for our Outdoor Hour Challenges (OHC) using the Handbook of Nature Study either way so let’s hop right into this week’s challenge.

Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Insects

This OHC is from our Winter Wednesday course which utilizes both The Handbook of Nature Study and Discover Nature in Winter.

This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Insects

1. Read chapter seven in Discover Nature in WinterMake note of any ideas for observing insects that would apply to your area. The purpose of this chapter is to make you aware of the various places that insects over winter: as fertilized eggs, as larvae, a few as pupae, and a few that hibernate. This chapter has lots of great illustrations showing what insects in winter may look like during the various stages. I highly recommend sharing these illustrations with your children.


2. Our family is going to look for and record any overwintering insects we can find using the instructions on pages 140-141. We will be making a chart like the one on page 141 for our nature journal. We will also be on the lookout for galls and taking photographs for our nature journal. See pages 142-143 for more information.

For families wanting to participate that do not have the Discover Winter in Nature book, I will list a few simple nature study ideas that you can try with your family.

1. This might be the perfect time to learn the life cycle of a common insect such as the monarch butterfly or a dragonfly.
2. Look for signs of insects: on bare tree branches, under rocks, on the backside of leaves, on or under a fallen log, in a woodpile, in the soil.

Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Insects

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership

By joining the Homeschool Nature Study membership you get access to all the curriculum, the interactive calendar and a brand new Outdoor Hour Challenge each week.

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

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July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

July 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

This is the month many of my readers have been waiting for! I know that it has been a long time coming, but we are going to finally be working through the series of Outdoor Hour Challenges for herbs!

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

We have one last wildflower study and then we are off to use our senses to learn about some more familiar herbs grown in our gardens. I think you whole family will enjoy learning about the benefits and uses of the herbs. It is not too late to pick up some of the herbs at your garden nursery and grow a few in pots. You can create your own little herb “lab” for your nature study this summer.

7/2/2021 –Forget-Me-Nots Nature Study (last wildflower challenge)

7/9/2021 – Cilantro Nature Study

7/16/2021 – Basil Nature Study

7/23/2021 – Bee Balm Nature Study

7/30/21 – Oregano Nature Study

My Nature Walk senses notebook page

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page

New Printables in the Members Library

Butterflies of Summer Notebook Page: What could go better with a study of garden herbs? I think making some butterfly observations would be a perfect complement to your herb study. 

My Nature Walk Notebook Page: Use your senses to create some summertime memories this month. Take a nature walk, perhaps in the early morning or the evening. Then create a notebook page for your nature journal using the new page in the Member’s Library.

Printables for Members Button

Click the graphic above to view the complete list of printables available as part of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

 

July 2021 nature planner page

Members also have access to the Nature Planner pages in their library. Print out this month’s page and use it to stimulate your weekly nature study time.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020If you would like to have access to the member’s printables and the newsletter archive, I invite you to join with an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Your membership will be valid for one year from the date of purchase. Click the graphic above to see the many benefits of an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Cockroach Nature Study

This week is an insect hunt. Take time to prepare for your nature study by reading the lesson for cockroaches in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. You may not find a cockroach but don’t be discouraged!

Look for any insects in your yard or neighborhood. Talk about what makes an insect an insect. (Find information on this in the Handbook of Nature Study in the introduction to insects section. In my copy of the HNS it’s found on pages 294-300.)

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Insect Study Cockroach @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Cockroach.

There are suggestions in this challenge for observing any insect you find during your Outdoor Hour Challenge time. Remember there are many insects listed under the Insect Tab on the website for many common insects you may encounter. Feel free to study a different insect this week if your children are interested in learning about their insect discovery. In addition, there is an Insect Photo Hunt activity printable available to everyone if you decide you want to try that challenge.

Cockroach nb page 1Cockroach nb page 2Cockroach nb page 3

There are easy to use notebook pages in the ebook for members to use after their cockroach nature study.

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Swallows and swifts
  • Catfish
  • Jewelweed
  • Prickly lettuce
  • Cockroach
  • Field horsetail
  • Catbird
  • Calcite, limestone, marble
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Hedgehog fungi
  • Sapsucker
  • Brooks

 

 Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

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Outdoor Mom – August 2020

This has been a month for insect watching! It’s been a long time since I picked a “focus” nature topic for the month and it’s reminded me of the value of being alert to seeing things I might otherwise miss.

dragonfly lake hosmer kayak float july 2020

Dragon flies were the star for several of our outings on the water.  I have a fun memory of floating on the river with blue dragonflies landing on my arms and hat. Then there were the larger black and white dragonflies that look like small hummingbirds. They were spotted high up on tops of reeds and sticks, hanging out over the water where they sat waiting for a meal.

 wildflower garden august 2020

The wildflower garden has been abuzz with all kinds of insects. It makes me happy to sit nearby and listen and watch as they hop on, hover over, and dip into the colorful flowers.

We decided the meadow out behind the house should be called “grasshopper acres” this month because of the abundance of hopping and leaping that happens as you walk through the grasses. They are everywhere.

insect nature journal page august 2020

I’m keeping myself accountable this month with an insect page in my nature journal. It’s nothing fancy but it will remind me of a few of the insects I encountered during this month of looking for insects.

partial list august birds 2020

Our bird list this month has some surprise entries. The most inspiring addition was the Common Nighthawk. I wish I could post a video of the flying acrobatics of this amazing flyer! We noted the pointy wings, the white patches under the wings, and watched it on several late afternoons and evenings over the river.

Then there was the exciting visit of five Great Egrets. We observed them flying down at the river with their long thin necks, stick-like legs, and long yellow beaks. This is the first time we’ve seen a group of egrets here in our Oregon neighborhood.

But, the most compelling visitor we had this month is the Cooper’s hawk. He’s been hunting at my bird feeder. Twice I watched him dive at the feeder as the little birds flew off in every direction. Afterwards, both times, he sat in the tree over the feeder, unsuccessful in capturing anyone. I was able to get a good look at him as he actually posed for a few photos. A rather large and handsome hawk, he sat and patiently waited for a long time before flying off.

window decal review 2020
It’s hard to capture them in a photo.

 

On another bird related note, I installed some window decals that are designed to alert birds and prevent bird strikes. Our living room has a HUGE picture window and it has been the scene of many bird strikes and deaths in the past. I purchased the Window Alert window decals in the hope of reducing the number of birds who run smack into our window glass. They were easy to adhere to the exterior of the window. I was worried that they would annoy me as I look out the window but I’m happy to say that I don’t even really notice them anymore.

Do they work? I can’t say they have eliminated ALL of the bird strikes from happening, but I have noted that the very few that still hit the window must see the decals and slow down enough that it isn’t a fatal collision. We haven’t had a single bird death since putting the Window Alert decals up.

I call that pretty successful. I purchased them at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store for $6.95. The package says to replace the decals every four months since the UV coating will eventually fade and not be as effective. I guess I’ll get another set next spring.

Here are a few more fun things we did outdoors this month.

fishing crooked river august 2020

We made a day trip to the Crooked River to have a picnic and go fishing.

Koosah falls oregon august 2020

We took a new hike at Sahalie and Koosah Falls. What a magnificent place to take a 3-mile hike alongside the McKenzie River. I think this is my top pick for a day hike here in Oregon.

lavender farm hood river july 2020

My daughter and I had an awesome time cutting lavender at the Hood River Lavender Farm. What great memories we made that day! It was a hot day and the scent of lavender was thick in the air. We tasted lavender lemonade for the first time and loved its refreshing flavor.

 

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Are you following me on Instagram? I post regularly about my garden, the Central Oregon habitat, and our adventures. If you add the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge to your Instagram posts, I’ll come visit your images!

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…

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

All members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to the 2020-2021 nature plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Look for it in your library.

 

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Cicada Nature Study

This week will be a lesson in learning to listen and distinguish the sound of the cicada. In the past we’ve listened in the evenings for other insects like the cricket. Now we’re going to learn about the cicada by listening and observing like investigators during the daylight.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Cicada Nature Study

Use this link to learn a little about the cicada: Very informative website with photos, sounds, and descriptions of North American cicadas. Note that some appear periodically, every 13 or 17 years: Cicada Mania.

See the Creepy things ebook for more cicada nature study ideas, videos, and printables!

An alternative nature study would be the cricket or the grasshopper.

You may be interested in reading this about cicadas:

“But the most distinctive peculiarity, which has no parallel in any of the other groups, appears in the organs of sound (of the males). These consist of two large parchment sacs, ribbed and gathered into numerous plaits, furnished with powerful muscles, and situated in large cavities at the base of the abdomen. When in action, the air is driven in great force against the ribbed surfaces, and vibrations are set up which produce the sound in accordance with the number and form of the fluted spaces and ribs.”

An Introduction to Entomology

By John H. Comstock and Anna Botsford Comstock.

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog. You’ll find the detailed challenge in the Creepy Things ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Download a sample from the Creepy Things ebook here: Banana Slug Nature Study.

Creepy Thing Ebook Cover image

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Banana slug
  • Tarantula
  • Black widow
  • Scorpion
  • Leech
  • Muskrat
  • Sphinx moth
  • Cicada
  • Millipede
  • Poison oak

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

 

 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Sphinx Moth Nature Study

The first time I saw a sphinx moth, I thought it was a hummingbird! It flew into my house and started flying around a vase of flowers we had on the kitchen table. It took a minute before I realized that it wasn’t a hummingbird but a very big flying insect. I have since seen several more while at the garden nursery and even in my own yard a few times when we lived in California.

I no longer think of these large flying insects as creepy but I include them in the Creepy Things series of Outdoor Hour Challenges so you can learn to appreciate their beauty too!

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Sphinx Moth nature study

Don’t know what a sphinx moth is? Use these ideas to learn more:

  • Use an insect field guide to gather facts about the sphinx moth.
  • Use this link to learn more about the white lined sphinx moth.
  • Read lesson 75 in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.

See the Creepy Things ebook for more sphinx moth nature study ideas, videos, and printables!

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog. You’ll find the detailed challenge in the Creepy Things ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Creepy Thing Ebook Cover imageAlternate study this week: Moths – Summer ebook and another moth study

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Banana slug
  • Tarantula
  • Black widow
  • Scorpion
  • Leech
  • Muskrat
  • Sphinx moth
  • Cicada
  • Millipede
  • Poison oak

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

 

 

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Insect Photo Hunt Printable Activity

I’m excited to start a new month of nature study using the Outdoor Hour Challenges! This is really going to be a month of looking at and learning about insects using the topics in the Creepy Things ebook.

To supplement the regular activities in the scheduled challenges, I’ve wanted to do a little photo hunt idea featuring insects. So, I created a brand new printable activity for all of us to use.

Insect Photo Hunt printable activity

This Insect Photo Hunt printable activity will be available to download for the rest of August to anyone who would like to use it for their own family. I’ll also add it to the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership printables page for members to use even after August. (See your membership page for the download link.)

Download the printable here:Insect Photo Hunt printable activity

Complete instructions are on the printable.

I hope you enjoy getting your children out to look for insects of all kinds. This time of year is perfect for finding so many interesting and beautiful insects to view up close.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

I’ll be posting my insect photos on Instagram using the hashtag #OHCinsects. Please feel free to use the hashtag too so I can see all your insect captures.

Printables for Members Button

You can view the complete list of Member’s printables available by clicking the graphic above.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Insect Nature Study Challenges Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You can find all of the Outdoor Hour Challenges for insects by clicking the graphic above or by clicking the “Insects” tab found at the top of the Handbook of Nature Study website.