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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Weed Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Weed Nature Study

Winter weeds are a quick and easy nature study topic that you can complete in your yard or neighborhood, or at a local park or alongside a road (be watchful of traffic). Spend a few minutes this week to take notice of any weeds you may have, searching for seeds or signs of animals feeding nearby.

Beloved by homeschool families worldwide, this study focuses on the Handbook of Nature Study and winter weeds this week.

Easy And Engaging Homeschool Nature Study

You can use these links for some specific Winter Homeschool Nature Study ideas:

Beloved by homeschool families worldwide, this study focuses on the Handbook of Nature Study and winter weeds this week.

Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool Nature Study

Download your free copy of our Getting Started ebook and complete challenge #6. You may wish to make a list of weeds you observed in winter and then check the list during the summer to see if you can add some more entries.   

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Support All Year Long

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

This week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge is from the Winter Wednesday Course and Curriculum.

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New Member’s Printables Available- Fungi Photo Hunt and Autumn Changes

Now available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships:

1. Fungi Photo Hunt: Download and print this activity for your family to use as part of a fungi hunt. The suggestions on the printable will help guide your family on a fascinating and fun nature study featuring fungi of all kinds. Our family recently took a fungi hike and we found five different kinds to take photos of and we are anxious to go again soon!

2. Autumn Changes Notebook Page: Autumn is a perfect time for your family to get outside and note the changes you see and then follow up with a nature journal page. Autumn provides plenty of colorful and interesting things to observe and sketch for this notebook page.

Fungi Photo Hunt Notebook Page

Autumn Changes Know Your Own Backyard Notebook Page

(See the end of this post for more information on how you can become a member.)

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Print a complete list of printables available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships by clicking the button above.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

November 2020 Planner Page image

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.

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Autumn Photo Project

Autumn Photo Project

From the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey Level Memberships

It’s always fun to take on a photo challenge and this printable will be something that everyone in your family can use. There are two different photo challenge lists: one for younger children, one a little more advanced.

Autumn Photo Project

Members can print their Autumn Photo Project printable by logging into their membership, scrolling down to the printables lists, and locating the Seasonal section.  Print the page, cut the lists out, and adhere one right into your nature journal as a reminder!

If you would like to go on an autumn photo hunt and you still need to purchase a membership, do it today!

Use discount code FALLPHOTO for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership. Code expires 9/30/2020.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

We did the Insect Photo Hunt in August and now we are going to work on the Autumn Photo Project in September and October.

Insect Photo Hunt printable activity

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Weather and First Day of Summer Ideas

I don’t know about you but I’m so very ready for the summer season! We’ve had a LONG and WET winter and spring this year and finally we’re experiencing a bit of summer temperatures. The most noticeable change is the amount of daylight. The sun is up early and it lingers in the evenings.

While you’re just starting your summer nature study planning, please consider completing this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge and observe your weather and perhaps make a special day of activity on June 21st as we all usher in the summer season.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Weather @handbookofnaturestudy

Link to the Summer Weather Challenge in the Archives: Summer Weather Study.

In addition, here are some terrific ideas for your First Day of Summer Activities.

sunflowers in our containers

First Day of Summer Flower Field Trip: Take a trip to your local garden nursery and let your child pick a plant to add to your backyard garden or patio container garden. After you plant your flower, sketch it into your nature journal along with the name of the flower and the date you planted it.


You can combine this activity with this Garden Flower Nursery Field Trip ideas and printable.

Summer Photo Challenge

First Day of Summer Photo Walk – Take a camera outdoors and find some special First Day of Summer subjects, take a photo, print out a few and safely tuck them into your nature journal. You can combine this with the Summer Photo Challenge.

First Day of Summer notebook page

First Day of Summer notebook page – After a nature walk, preferably under a shade tree, complete this notebook page for your nature journal.

Lava Butte

Are you as excited about summer as I am?

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Outdoor Mom – May 2019

This post is LONG overdue. I’ve had such a crazy last few months that it was hard to put my “Outdoor Mom” thoughts together. I felt more like an indoor kind of mom because of my surgery, recovery, weather, and then having a mom who needed my care. Things just got pushed aside.

Barb McCoy and Amanda at Lake Clementine

Although I never lost the desire to be outdoors, even in the thick of my recovery from double hip surgery, I kept my eyes outside on the birds and wildlife that came my way. Then when I was sitting in the hospital day after day with my mom, I would look out the window and take quick walks around the edges of the parking lot to find something refreshing to observe.

My nature journal has been neglected until the past few weeks when finally things have settled down a bit and I can take those few minutes a week to record my reflections and thoughts.

 Outdoor Mom – May 2019

American River confluence

During our outdoor time this month we went…

While in California, my daughter and I took a long hike along the American River. It was very green and there were already many wildflowers along the trail. We must have seen a hundred butterflies as they fluttered across our path and landed on flowers.

swallowtail butterfly

It was warm and we were so glad we made the decision to hike early to beat the heat and the crowds. It makes my heart happy that my grown children enjoy a hike with their mama when we can make it happen.

kayak little deschutes may 2019

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…

We managed a kayak/canoe paddle down the river one afternoon in the bright sunshine. We didn’t encounter a single other person on the whole trip. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy having the river to ourselves but it makes us wonder why we rarely see anyone on this section of the water. On this particular day, we were joined on our paddle by mallards, swallows, Canada goose, red-winged blackbirds, and a heron. All of us are hoping to get together for many more kayak trips over the next few months.

One last image…or two…or three…

I haven’t shared beautiful wildflower photos in a long time. So, to make up for that, here are some from our hike that I love!


Some variety of white lupine


Variety of pink allium



indian pink

Indian pink

chinese lanterns

Chinese lanterns

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Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge.  If you’d like me to take a look at one of your images on Instagram, use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge.

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…
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • One last image…

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Nature Photos – Seeing Patterns

Nature Photos – Seeing Patterns

Nature Observer patterns page

My assignment: Take time to note the patterns and textures found in nature during the winter.

This was a nature prompt from my new Nature Observer journal, the one I’m working in every day as part of my nature goals for 2018 (see more here). The prompt is for the whole month of January and much like the Outdoor Hour Challenges, it creates the focus for your time outdoors. I have woven it into my river walks and even when we are just out and about in the neighborhood.


Examples of Patterns and Textures from January 2018

ice pattern

Ice: Here in Central Oregon the ice comes in different varieties. A few times we have experienced hoar frost and freezing fog which create ice on everything in spikes and crystals.  Sometimes, even the air sparkles with ice if conditions are just right…magical.

tree bark

Bark: Bark patterns make it possible to identify a tree even without leaves. Our evergreens all have different bark colors, textures, and patterns of growth. My favorite bark “pattern” is the aspen and paper birch. The quintessential winter scene for me is the snowy landscape with white aspen trunks and leafless limbs.

tree cones snow winter

Cones: Can you identify which tree a cone comes from by looking at the pattern and texture? Yes! This is quite amazing when you think about how each tree has a unique cone size, color, and shape. You would never confuse a ponderosa pinecone with a lodge pole pinecone because they are completely different.

These are just a few of the patterns and textures that I’ve observed during my walks in January.


Activity Idea:

Look for patterns and textures in your yard and neighborhood. Take a photo or make a sketch for your nature journal page. Take time to reflect on the beauty of patterns in nature.

  • This page on National Geographic has some amazing images of patterns in nature: Patterns in Nature

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November Nature Walk Project

November Nature Walk Project

As the winter approaches, the temperatures have dropped significantly here in Central Oregon. This makes it hard to remain enthusiastic about getting outside for my daily walk. I did purchase a pair of winter boots to help keep my feet warm and dry on my outdoor excursions.

All I needed now was some motivation.

Then it came to me! Create a daily challenge to walk to the river.

I am such a creature of habit and I know making myself put those new winter boots on and get out the door every day would soon be something I looked forward to doing.  So, I started on the first of November and have so far kept my determination to take the short walk down from my back door to the Little Deschutes River every day.

I chose a spot to take a daily photo, showing the changes and conditions each day. It is just a few paces down from the back fence and it faces towards Paulina Peak centered between two trees and centered over a stump.


November 1st– just a typical autumn day


November 2nd – this was a weather transition day and there were quite a few gray clouds and it was getting cold


November 3rd– woke to a few inches of snow and we took our first snowy walk out to the river.


November 4th– a lot of the snow had melted but the weeds were still crunchy with ice and the river was getting icy on top.


November 5th– Back to a snowy landscape…the most snow we have had to date. We were out on our walk and it started to snow with large amazing flakes. Note: I forgot to take my traditional “over the stump” photo so this one will have to do!


November 6th–  The sun came out in the afternoon and I ventured out with our Kona dog. What a joyous walk! If only every day were this brilliant.


November 7th–  Still a little snow on the ground and the air temperatures never left the 30’s. The Kona dog and I took our romp down to the river’s edge, noted how cold the water looked today and then rushed home to warm up.

The value of a daily nature walk, even in the same place every time, is something I hope you can experience in your family. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair or take very much time for you to see a difference in your attitude and that of your children. The fresh air does wonders for blowing away the cobwebs of an indoor life.

Here a few nature walk ideas from my archives:

No Technology Walk

Use Your Senses Nature Walk

Members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to newsletters with nature walk ideas:

October 2013 – This whole edition is filled with nature walk ideas.

December 2016 – You will find the “3 Questions Hike” idea in this edition.

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No Technology Nature Walk

Outdoor Hour Challenge No Technology Walk @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

No Technology Walk

Taking a walk without technology can free up your eyes, ears, and hands for a more careful and engaged time outdoors with your family.

I have to admit I rarely am without my iPhone these days so going without it on a hike feels sort of like I’m naked. But, the few times I have done it lately and gone completely unplugged, it was very enjoyable. I have challenged my family to do this more often and see what fresh observations come to light when we go without our modern technology.

Afterwards, talk as a family about the experience. Were there some positive aspects to being free of technology? Can you make this a regular feature of one of your nature walks each month?

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

This new ebook will be loaded into the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships soon!

Ultimate Naturalist Library @handbookofnaturestudy

If you aren’t a member yet, you still have time to join and have immediate access as soon as it publishes.

As a special promo, you can use the discount code WILDFLOWER5 for $5 off the Ultimate Naturalist Membership.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Membership

Join us in April for this interesting series of nature study challenges!

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New Printables for Members – Spring Walk and Rock Photo Hunt

Printables for Members March 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

New this month in the Member’s Library!

1. Spring Walk Notebook Page – This is an easy page to complete after a spring walk. Use the prompts to help you record all of the special things you observe.

2. Rock Photo Hunt – As part of your March 2017 newsletter activities, you can print this list of rock related photo ideas to help inspire some enthusiasm for a rock hunt.



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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 March 2017