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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.

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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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New Printables for Members – Lichen Study and Six Trees

Printables for Members February 2017 @handbookofnaturestudyNew this month in the Member’s Library!

1. Lichen Up Close Notebook Page printable: Use this page along with your tree bark study to get more detailed in your observations of lichen.

2. Six Trees Project: One of the activities suggested in the February 2017 newsletter is to identify six trees in your neighborhood. Use these journal pages to add photos of your trees to your nature journal.



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Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section. You can download a complete list of printables available to members here:

Handbook of Nature Study Members Only Printables List February 2017

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Lichen on Rocks and More

Lichen Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Lichen Nature Study

This week we are going to take a closer look at lichen using the Outdoor Hour Challenge.
From the archives: Outdoor Hour Challenge #42 Moss and Lichen.

If you own the Discover Nature Close to Home book, you can find loads of information on pages 110-119. (Note this is an affiliate link.)

For members of the Handbook of Nature Study, you can look up the March 2013 newsletter that featured mushrooms, lichen, and moss. All levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study include the newsletter archives.


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Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter – March 2016 Lichen and Moss

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter March 2016 Cover

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

March 2016 – Lichen and Moss


Please read the following explanation outlining how to get this month’s newsletter.

The newsletter link is not in this email but will come separately. There may be a delay in your receiving the email so please don’t email me until the second day of the month if you haven’t received the link on the first. For some reason, some email providers take longer to receive the newsletter email.

If you don’t receive the separate email with the download link, you probably aren’t subscribed to the blog yet. This will take less than a minute to do if you follow the steps below.

If you are a subscriber and you haven’t received your newsletter email yet, check your SPAM inbox. Some subscribers have found the email buried in SPAM inbox.

If you need to subscribe:

  • You will need to go to the Handbook of Nature Study, look to the top right corner for the box to type in your preferred email address, and then confirm the email that comes to your email inbox.
  • Once you subscribe, you will receive a thank you email from me with the download link.

This month’s newsletter link will be available only during the month of March so be sure to download it before 3/31/16.

Remember! All of the archived and current newsletters are available as part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library…every level!
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Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:

  • This edition of the newsletter features ideas, resources, and links to enhance any study of lichen and moss.
  • Contributions from Outdoor Hour Challenge participants Paige Hudson  , Nadene from Practical Pages, and Alex from Life on an Island Studio.
  • March Nature Study Planning Page with field trip ideas, nature photo ideas, and a special 15 minute challenge for parents.
  • Lichen Study printable notebook page which can be used as a nature journal topper as well.

Resources for your Nature Library: I have started to build a nature library store on Amazon that will feature by category my favorite nature study books and resources. Take a look and see if there is anything you would like to put on your wish list for your family’s nature study library: Handbook of Nature Study Nature Library Suggestions on Note this is my affiliate store to items I personally recommend and have read or seen in person.

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.


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Need help getting started with your nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study? Check out the fresh “Getting Started” page here on the website!


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Lichen and Moss Nature Study

“The mosses are a special delight to children because they are green and beautiful before other plants have gained their greenness in the spring and after they have lost it in the fall; to the discerning eye, a mossy bank or a mossy log is a thing of beauty always.” 
Handbook of Nature Study, page 709 

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week continue looking for lichen and moss to examine closely. Use lots of descriptive words as you observe your subjects. You can view and use the information from Outdoor Hour Challenge #42: Moss and Lichen. 

Weekly Challenge Activity: Moss Observation

Free Printable Moss Observation Notebook Page

Use this notebook page to record your sketch and notes about any moss you find this month as part of your outdoor time. The Handbook of Nature Study has information about Hair-cap moss in Lesson 197.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2.  This is the perfect challenge to put all those wonderful moss and lichen words in your nature journal records. Help your child get started by spending a few minutes discussing all the amazing things you noticed about moss and lichen while outdoors. 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Family Mushroom/Lichen/Moss Grid Study

Fungus, lichen, and moss have been at the top of our nature study list for a few weeks now in anticipation of this month’s grid study….that is one advantage to being the author of the challenges. 🙂

I feel like we have done a decent job so far at keeping our eyes open and finding some subjects for our fungus, lichen, and moss studies.  I highly recommend pulling out your March Newsletter and printing out the Study Grid….keep it in sight so you will remember to spend a few minutes each week looking for subjects to enjoy.

Words that come to mind as part of this grid study are amazing, colorful, and surprising.

Amazing – How do I miss really seeing all these lovely things? The more time we spend looking at them up close, the more amazed we are at their variety and heartiness.

Colorful – From deep greens and bright spring greens to orange and then all the way to black….there is no end to the variations.

Surprising – We found subjects at the river’s edge, alongside our walking trail, up in the mountains in the snow, and in our own yard.

Here is my number one moss, lichen, and fungus hunting buddy….after her swim in the river. Kona is always ready to accompany us on our expeditions…especially if there is water involved. She is also amazing, colorful, and surprising…

Hopefully you are finding some things of interest for your own Mushroom/Lichen/Moss study….make sure to share your entries with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.

OHC Blog Carnival
You are welcome to submit any of you blog Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Entries for the current month are due on 3/30/13..

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Don’t Make the Mistake in Thinking You Aren’t Interested in Moss or Lichen

Have you started off this month thinking that you can’t face a month long study of mushrooms, moss, and lichen? Did you print the newsletter and look at the grids and wonder how your could possibly find anything interesting to occupy you for this month’s grid study? I don’t think you are alone…in fact, a number of years ago I might have felt the same way too.

Honestly, this month and next month are the months that I have sort of dreaded preparing for the monthly challenges. Both this month’s topic and next month’s topic of reptiles and amphibians are not easy ones for many of us girl types.

But, I would like to encourage you with yesterday’s family walk to the river where we found an abundance of moss and lichen to get our interest and our powers of observation going. Once we started looking for moss and lichen, we saw it everywhere!

The shapes, patterns, colors, and textures were all so different and interesting. There was moss on rocks and tree bark and lichen on riches in varying colors. It made our hike to the river and back a delight.

My best advice is to give it a try by printing out the Mushroom, Lichen, and Moss Grid and bookmark. Share it with your children and then follow along each Friday with the suggested study, preparation, and then activities. I almost guarantee that you will learn something interesting.

Who knows? You may even end up enjoying this month’s study and become fascinated with this topic like I have over the years.

Here is a list of the twelve topics that we are covering this year on the Handbook of Nature Study.

  • September 2012 Insects
  • October 2012 Trees
  • November 2012 Mammals
  • December 2012 Weather
  • January 2013 – Rocks and Minerals
  • February 2013 – Birds (Great Backyard Bird Count)
  • March 2013 – Moss-Lichen-Mushrooms
  • April 2013 – Reptiles-Amphibians
  • May 2013 – Garden Flowers-Crops
  • June 2013 – Wildflowers-Weeds
  • July 2013 – Fish (Ponds)
  • August 2013 – The Sky and Stars

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Summer at a Northern California Beach

Point Reyes National Seashore sign

Summer days at the California beach. This is typical Northern California beach weather for July/August….foggy mornings with the fog lifting later in the afternoon for an hour or two.

My daughter and I had planned a day trip to go hiking at Yosemite but the weather was way too  hot to enjoy a day on the trail up in the Sierras so we went the opposite direction and headed for the coast instead. The cool weather was a welcome relief!

Point Reyes National Seashore 2

We got out our California map and scanned for a new place to explore.

Point Reyes National Seashore! We packed a lunch and zipped down the highway. Two and a half hours later we were at the Pacific Ocean with our toes in the sand.

Point Reyes is much larger than we imagined but after a quick stop at the Visitor’s Center at Bear Valley, we had a map and a plan. It wasn’t far to North Beach where we ate our lunch surrounded by the sound of roaring waves. The fog was lifting but you still couldn’t see very far up or down the beach.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Next stop was the Point Reyes Lighthouse…..we walked the 4/10 of a mile from the parking lot to the Visitor’s Center and then descended the 308 stairs down to the lighthouse on the point. It was windy! It was cold and misty!

But, that was the price to pay for a fabulous viewpoint of this part of the California coast.

Reyes Lighthouse 300 steps

See? I made it the 308 steps. Going down was the easy part though and huffing back up the stairs reminded me that I need to do more hills in my weekly workouts.

Amanda was like a gazelle with her super long legs and she made it up with little effort. Ahhh…to be young again.

Point Reyes lichen 1

The rocks alongside the stairs have a bright orange lichen on them. What a pop of color on a rather gray day!

Reyes lichen and wildflowers

Tucked in the nooks and crannies were wildflowers where they were fairly protected from the strong wind that was blowing.

We had one more stop for the day.

Drakes Beach Pt Reyes
At last the sun came shining through and the fog lifted, allowing a wider view of the coast. The wide sand beach at Drake’s Beach was perfect for a long walk before we started the car ride back home again.

What a great day with Amanda! We both enjoyed the adventure of a new place, exploring the facets of a Northern California beach in the summer.

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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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Wildflowers – Sierra Spring 2011 (Part 3)

Natural Bridge landscape
Perfect day for a hike but a lot of pollen in the air.

I was determined to take a hike last weekend even though conditions were still windy and the pollen count was off the scale. I did something I rarely do and that is to take an antihistamine. Sometimes they work just fine and then other times they make me feel worse so it was a gamble. Other than feeling tired more quickly, I think it ended up being a good day outdoors.

Wildflowers and Creek
Looking down from about half way to the water.

Some of the family had other plans so in the end it was my husband, my oldest son, and I who hit the trail. I like hiking in small groups so this worked out great for taking our time and quietly enjoying the views and wildflowers.There were a few other families on the trail but everyone was friendly.

Unidentified Flower 2

I had my usual wildflower game going where I try to name the flowers as we pass them by…mostly in my head but sometimes out loud if the guys happened to stop to point one out. This plant is something new and we almost missed it growing right along the trail in a rock face.

Unidentified Flower
How it can manage to grow stuck right in the crack of the rock is amazing. You can see the delicate yellow flowers with the cute little pansy-like faces. It is always frustrating to me when I can’t readily identify a plant, although I think I learn more when I have to really break the plant down and look at its parts to work with the field guide. I will come back to edit if I discover the name of this one.

Poppies in the Rock

Here is another angle where you can see a poppy determined to grow right in the same crack. The rock is along a steep section of the trail and there was much graffiti scratched into the surface.

Ferns in a Rock

How about a fern on the same rock?

Back to the hike…it was warm and there were birds singing practically the whole way down to the water (which was our destination).

Hiking Landscape
We had parked at the top of the canyon and began the trail which wound around and down a steep grade. We took our time and noticed quite a bit of poison oak already flourishing at the trail’s edge and I was so glad we didn’t have the dog with us. She is oblivious to poison oak.

This plant is growing in patches alongside the trail on rocky outcrops. It is a striking color and seems to grow right on the rocks. I believe it is a variety of Dudleya, perhaps this one.

Chinese Lanterns
More Chinese lanterns in the shady spots….love this flower.

I have been noticing the abundance of thistle this year. It is very pretty right now with its purple flowers.

Tidy Tips

This is one trail where I know to look for Tidy tips. Look carefully and you will notice the notice the difference between this and other yellow flowers.

Maverick Clover

I really want to take the time to record this flower in my nature journal, partly because it is my favorite color but also because I like the way when you slow down to observe it closely it has the purple dots on the petals that seem to point the way for insects to come and investigate its pollen.

Natural Bridge
So this was our destination….the natural bridge. The creek comes right through the rocks here in this spot….looks like a cave but it is more like a tunnel. You can wade through the water and come out the other side if you want to, which I don’t. We were content to enjoy the sound of the water rushing through the rock and seeing the water cascading down at the opening.

Natural Bridge 2

There are formations on the top that are covered in moss…stalactites from the top rock that hang down. Sort of on the creepy side but still very interesting.

We reached our destination and found a place to sit on the rocks to rest and enjoy the setting. There were quite a number of birds including robins, towhees, swallows, and one bird that sang and sang and sang. I had my mini binoculars with me and I was able to capture a glimpse at him in a tree on the other side of the creek. Between the song and the quick look, I identified him as a Black-headed grosbeak.

We sat near the water for quite a long time just enjoying our first real spring hike of the year. We drank some water and then started back up the hill to the car. Even with allergies, allergy head, and with the heat, I was able to keep up with the men.


One last interesting image from the day….bright orange lichen covered many of the rocks. What a punch of color!

Hope you enjoyed seeing our spring hike and some of our wildflowers….more to come. You can count on that.