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Guide to Spring Nature Study in Your Homeschool

Spring is a wonderful beginning, so take advantage of the opportunity and season with this guide to spring nature study in your homeschool.

Getting outside with our children can be the sanity saving activity we all need. As spring approaches, have you considered adding a little nature study into your weekly routine? I’ve heard from families that they were reluctant to start a nature study plan, stating that they thought it would restrict their freedom to focus on one topic. But, they found that having a focus each week actually helped them to stay regular at getting outside and it helped them be better at taking a few minutes to learn about an object they encountered, even if it wasn’t the original aim for getting outdoors.

Guide to Spring Nature Study in Your Homeschool

Here are some ideas from year-long nature study topics that we have hosted with the Outdoor Hour Challenge. All of these are available in Homeschool Nature Study Membership.

  • Spring Weather Observations
  • Spring Splendor Walk – spring nature walk scavenger hunt
  • Signs of Spring – Outdoor Hour Challenge
  • Spring Bird Observations
  • Seasonal Cattail Study
  • Seasonal Milkweed Study
  • Year-Long Pond Study
  • Year-Long Queen Anne’s Lace Study
  • Burdock Study – start a year-long study

You may wish to start a new year-long study this spring using some of the ideas above.

Spring is a wonderful beginning, so take advantage of the opportunity and season with this guide to spring nature study in your homeschool.

The key is to make a regular habit of getting outside and taking note of things that interest your family. You can even enjoy spring nature study in your homeschool with multiple ages.

Spring is a fantastic time to start a season of nature study. Please see the offerings listed below along with their specific topics. Consider working through a course in our membership or you can pick and choose subjects from any of the courses. Without a lot of extra effort, you can customize your spring nature study by picking your favorite topics from any of the courses listed. Or you can follow the wonderful Nature Study Plan that your Outdoor Hour Challenge hostess, Shirley Ann Vels, has put together for you. There is a brand new Outdoor Hour Challenge for our members each Friday!

Spring Handbook of Nature Study Curriculum

Spring With Handbook of Nature Study Curriculum

Did you know this course also contains art and music appreciation? Here is a sampling of the Outdoor Hour Challenges you will find.

  • Spring Peepers
  • Jack in the Pulpit
  • Yellow Ladies Slipper/Yellow Adder’s Tongue
  • Trillium
  • Bluets
  • May Apple
  • Newt
  • Petunias
  • Geranium
  • Nasturtiums
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Crayfish
  • Mountain Laurel
nature journaling

More Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenges – Spring Splendor Handbook of Nature Study Curriculum

  • Spring Splendor Walk
  • Buds, Catkins, and Blossoms
  • Spring Birds – Robin
  • Spring Wildflowers – Buttercups and Poppies
  • Spring Mammal – Goats
  • Spring Tree – Dogwood
  • Ferns
  • Vines – Sweet Pea, Dodder, or Hedge Bindweed
  • Garden Snails
  • Blue Flag Iris
Handbook of Nature Study book for homeschool nature study
More on The Handbook of Nature Study book here.

Spring Series Course and Outdoor Hour Challenges for Your Homeschool

  • Signs of Spring-Bonus challenge
  • Maple Tree Observation Sheet
  • #1 Year-Long Tree Study
  • #2 Spring Weather Observations
  • #3 Spring Bird Study
  • #4 Spring Wildflower Study-Dandelions
  • #5 Spring Cattail Observations
  • #6 Apple Tree Study
  • #7 Cats
  • #8 Snakes
  • #9 Earthworms
  • #10 Ants
Garden Handbook of Nature Study curriculum

The Garden Flower and Plant Course and Handbook of Nature Study Curriculum for Homeschool

  • #12 Focus on Garden Flowers – Seeds
  • #13 Garden Flowers – Flower Parts
  • #14 Garden Flowers – Pressing Flowers
  • #15 Garden Flowers – How To Draw A Flower
  • #16 Garden Flowers – Sunflowers
  • #17 Garden Flowers – Collecting Leaves
  • #18 Garden Flowers – Pollen
  • #19 Garden Flowers – Seeds and Germination
  • #29 Sunflowers
  • #30 Weeds and Seeds
Spring is a wonderful beginning, so take advantage of the opportunity and season with this guide to spring nature study in your homeschool.

Spring Nature Study With Art and Music Appreciation

You will have a complete plan at your fingertips for your spring nature study, art appreciation, and music study. You will need to have the Handbook of Nature Study in order to complete the nature study challenges. All of the art prints are included in the ebook and there are links to viewing them online as well. There are three featured composers and their music are offered on one CD: Classical Music Start-Up Kit Volume Two. You can choose to purchase this CD for convenience or use the online links to listen to the music suggested in the music appreciation plans. We have aimed to keep these challenges and studies as simple as possible with very few additional resources needed.

Won’t you join us for spring nature study?

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Early Spring Grid

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Early Spring Grid – Printable from the March 2012 Newsletter

Look in the Newsletter Archives for this Outdoor Hour Challenge.

No matter where you live and what early spring looks like in your world, it should be a perfect time to start getting back outdoors regularly each week as part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have always said that spring is their favorite time to do nature study with their children.

Join us this week for an easy nature study idea!

March 2012 Newsletter Cover

The activities in the Early Spring Grid (March 2012 Newsletter) are simple enough for most of us to complete without a lot of extra planning or work.

March Early Spring Grid Nature Study printable

Print this page out and cut out the grid to adhere in your nature journal. As you finish each suggested activity, cross off the box (or shade it in with colored pencils).

Nature Study Newsletter grid example pages (7)
Here is an example of how to include the grid in your nature journal.

 

Another suggestion is to post the Early Spring Grid on your refrigerator with a magnet. This will be a reminder to do a few spring related nature activities as you go through the month of March.

Newsletter Index download

The newsletter archive is available to all members.

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time. You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

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Spring Ebooks from the Ultimate Naturalist Library!

Spring Ebooks from the Ultimate Naturalist Library!

Getting outside with our children has been the sanity saving activity we all needed this past year. As spring approaches, have you considered adding a little nature study into your weekly routine? I’ve heard from families that they were reluctant to start a nature study plan, stating that they thought it would restrict their freedom to focus on one topic. But, they found that having a focus each week actually helped them to stay regular at getting outside and it helped them be better at taking a few minutes to learn about an object they encountered, even if it wasn’t the original aim for getting outdoors.

The key is to make a regular habit of getting outside and taking note of things that interest your family.

If you’re looking for a more “free form” style of nature study, I invite you to read this post from my archives: Focus and Consistency

Spring is a fantastic time to start a season of nature study. Please see the ebooks listed below along with their specific topics. Consider working through an ebook or you can pick and choose subjects from any of the ebooks. Without a lot of extra effort, you can customize your spring nature study by picking your favorite topics from any of the ebooks listed.

Spring Ebooks Graphic button

Spring Nature Study Continues

Did you know this ebook also contains art and music appreciation?

More Nature Study Book #3 Outdoor Hour Challenges – Spring Splendor

Spring Series 2010 Ebook Challenges:

The Garden Flower and Plant Challenges in the Ebook: 

The Ultimate Naturalist Library currently has 26 ebooks covering hundreds of topics. There are 76 newsletters in the archives and dozens of printables available too!

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Please click over to see all the benefits of a membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Right now, I’m offering a super discount just to get you started.

Use the discount code SPRINGFUN to receive $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership! The discount code will expire on 3/27/2021.

The current library contains 26 ebooks covering hundreds of topics. There are 76 newsletters in the library and dozens of printables in addition to the ebooks!

 

 

 

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Our Early Spring Wildflowers

Last month I posted an entry discussing the emergence of spring wildflowers…the early ones. Read that entry here: Wildflower Succession and Ephemerals.

I’ve been on the lookout for our early spring wildflowers and the list is rather short so far.

Dandelions wildflower or weed

Dandelions – The dandelions in our yard and down by the river are very short. They don’t grow very tall at all and I assume that’s because of our cold temperatures.  They are still such a happy sight after the winter grays and browns.

small white flowers wildflowers april 2020 oregon

Tiny White Flowers – The pasture behind our house has lots of miniature blooming white flowers. I’ve tried in the past to identify them, but so far I’ve had no success.  If you don’t look closely, you’ll actually miss them, they are so very small.

manzanita shrub flowers spring

We took a drive on a long, dirt forestry road this week and we spotted the green Manzanita blooming already. The insects were buzzing around all of the pink flowers dangling from the branches.

Those three flowering plants are really the only ones I’ve observed so far.

As I look at my records for the past two years, I notice that the bushes bloom before the wildflowers here in Central Oregon.

But, there are plenty of signs of flowers that are coming. From our recent wanderings, we’ve noted the promise of a few more flowers.

wild iris wildflower spring oregon

There are thousands of wild purple irises beginning to sprout their green flat leaves. We see them everywhere on our daily walks and they promise to bring beautiful flowers in the near future.

bitterbrush oregon spring leaves

The bitter brush is starting to leaf out and it will soon be loaded with small, yellow flowers.

wild currant shrub wildflower leaves spring

The wild wax currant bushes are also leafing out with their bloom time following closely behind the leaves.

I realized this week how anxious I am for some wildflower beauty in my life. With our short growing season, the flowers bloom consecutively all summer long and end with a flourish of golden rabbitbrush color in the fall.

rabbitbrush oregon fallLearning the bloom patterns of the natives in my neighborhood is a project I really enjoy.

Have you noticed any wildflowers blooming yet?

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 1 promo buttonOutdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook two promo buttonOutdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 3 promo button

 

 

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Spring Nature Study Ideas and Reminders


 Seasonal Topics - Spring Reminders @handbookofnaturestudy

Here are some ideas from year-long nature study topics we’ve done in the past:

Spring Weather Observations – free printable notebook page

Spring Splendor Walk – spring nature walk scavenger hunt

Signs of Spring – Outdoor Hour Challenge – printable notebook page

Spring Bird Observations – free printable bird list

Seasonal Cattail Study – with free printable

Seasonal Milkweed Study – with free printable notebook page

Year-Long Pond Study – with a free printable notebook page

Year-Long Queen Anne’s Lace Study and a free printable notebook page

Burdock Study – start a year-long study

NOTE: You may wish to start a new year-long study this spring using some of the ideas above. Spring is a wonderful beginning, so take advantage of the opportunity and season.

Spring Ebooks Graphic button

The current library contains 25 ebooks covering hundreds of topics. There are 76 newsletters in the library and dozens of printables in addition to the ebooks!

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

Right now, use the discount code SPRINGBREAK  for $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. This offer will be valid until 3/31/2020. 

 

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Wildflower Succession and Ephemerals

Wildflower Succession and Ephemerals

Wildflowers take their “turns” as they bloom through each season. This idea came to me years ago as I hiked the same trail many times a month and I noted that a certain meadow always had a flower blooming. The wildflowers don’t all bloom at the same time but they do bloom in the same order each year. This “cycle” or succession of flowers gives us a way to mark time.

spring wildflowersIn the early spring, the meadow comes alive with popcorn flower. Next to bloom are the shooting stars, the California poppies, and the purple Chinese houses. Making observations of the meadow has become an annual activity for me and it is enjoyable to know which flowers to anticipate as the season goes on.  The early spring wildflowers make their appearance before the surrounding trees leaf out and make shade. These plants quickly flower and go to seed, waiting for the next year to bloom again.

This cycle of flowering and then seed dropping fascinates me. I imagine all those seeds layered there in the soil just waiting for the conditions to be right in order for them to start their blooming cycle again the next year.

Wildflower spring ephemerals lupine

Spring ephemerals: Ephemeral means short lived or lasting for a brief time. In the case of wildflowers, these are usually the first flowers to develop stems, leaves, and flowers. They spring up quickly, bloom, seed, and then disappear once the temperatures heat up and the trees grow overhead.  They don’t really die but go dormant.

Here are some from my Sierra Foothill habitat in California:

¨ Blue Dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum

¨ California Golden Violet, Viola pedunculata

¨ Elegant Brodiaea, Brodiaea elegans

¨ Hooker’s Evening Primrose, Oenothera elata hookeri

¨ Mariposa or Butterfly Lily, Calochortus venustus

¨ Miner’s lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata

¨ Miniature lupine, Lupinus bicolor

¨ Owl’s Clover or Valley Tassels, Castilleja lineariloba

¨ Pretty Face, Triteleia ixioides

¨ Rose Globe or Fairy Lily, Calochortus amoenus

¨ Shooting Star, Dodecatheon jeffreyi

What are the spring ephemeral wildflowers in your area?

 Wildflower Succession and Spring Ephemerals

Activity

Wildflower Succession in Your Neighborhood

Choose a wildflower that grows in your neighborhood to watch each spring. Create a long term record of its initial bloom time each year. Use the data and compare the dates from year to year. Did weather– rainfall, snowfall, temperature– affect its blooming?

Wildflower Related Citizen Science Project Opportunity

Join Nature’s Notebook and make observations of a specific plant (or animal) in your area. By submitting data to this program, you will be helping scientists in their research. See the website for details and instructions. Click here for more information: Nature’s Notebook.

 

Newsletter Index download

This article first appeared in the April 2016 Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter.

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 1 promo button

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook two promo button

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Ebook 3 promo button

You may wish to download one of the wildflower ebooks from your Ultimate Naturalist Library and use it this spring and summer for your nature study time.

 

Here is a list of the wildflowers included in those ebooks:

Ebook #1: Field mustard, Wild radish, Shooting star, Lupine, Purple Chinese houses, Yarrow.

Eboook #2: Henbit, Cow parsnip, Columbine, Chicory, Cocklebur.

Ebook #3: Fireweed, Salsify, Forget-Me-Not, Paintbrush, Common silverweed.

 

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020If you still need a membership, click the graphic above to find out more about joining now.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You can also find many more wildflower nature study challenges on the Wildflower tab on the website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Ebooks from the Ultimate Naturalist Library!

Spring Ebooks from the Ultimate Naturalist Library!

I think we’re all ready for some awesome spring nature study after a long winter’s stretch of cold and gray days. Spring is the perfect time to get started with nature study if you’ve been putting it off! If you use the Outdoor Hour Challenges, there is no shortage of fun and easy nature study activities to choose from…just see the list below.

Spring Ebooks Graphic button

Spring Nature Study Continues

More Nature Study Book #3 Outdoor Hour Challenges – Spring Splendor

Spring Series 2010 Ebook Challenges:

The Garden Flower and Plant Challenges in the Ebook: 

In addition to the Outdoor Hour Challenges listed above, you can use any of the spring newsletters in the archives if you have a membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

Use the code OHC10 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Benefits by Level graphic 2019 to 2020 updated January 2020

 

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Signs of Spring 2019

It may seem like cheating because where I live in Oregon it’s barely thawing out from our record breaking snow storm earlier in March but, I’m going to share some signs of spring from my first day of spring in California. I was staying at my parents’ house in Northern California where it is most definitely spring!

signs of spring bulbs 2019

There were early spring bulbs blooming like daffodils and hyacinths.

signs of spring wildflowers 2019

We took a long hike where we observed quite a few wildflowers and flowering shrubs.

As well as seeing signs of spring with our eyes, we heard many sounds that made us know that spring was well on the way. We heard robins, towhees, frogs, coyotes, and the buzzing of bees. Those sounds always make me think of spring in California.

signs of spring gree 2019

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting spring and now I can look forward to experiencing it again here in Oregon in a few weeks (hopefully).

Signs+of+Spring+Nature+Study+@handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com.jpg

If you would like to see the original Signs of Spring Outdoor Hour Challenge, you can click the link above.

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Our Spring Willow Observations

 

willow spring observations 2019

We had so much snow a few weeks ago that I didn’t think we would see the ground again for a long time. But, during the last week or so the rains have come with warmer temperatures and melted the large mounds of snow. Now that the ground is exposed, we’re beginning to see signs of spring like sprouts of green grass, green leaves of the lilies and other wildflowers poking up through the grass, and the increase in birds that stop by the water and in the grass. What a welcome sight!

willow spring observations 2019 string

We had a chance to go out between rain showers to look at our willow for signs of spring. We had to find the willow with our string attached and it took a bit of navigating to get to it with the standing water from the melted snow and rain. We got fairly close to the willow and it looks slightly greener on the limbs and the buds are getting larger. We also observed some red-winged blackbirds in the area, both by hearing their song and seeing them sitting the willows.

willow spring observations 2019

We’ll soon be seeing new leaves appear on the willows but not quite yet.

willow spring observations 2019

 

This photo was taken a week after the ones in the beginning of this entry. Look how high the river has come up since then!

The most exciting thing we spotted during our walk was a Belding’s ground squirrel racing from his hole to eat under our birdfeeder. We stopped and watched him with his curiously short tail and chubby body. He evidently ate well all holed up in his den this past season.

Now all we need is for the return of the elk and it will really feel like springtime.

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Willow Nature Study

If you’d like to join me in a spring willow study, you can click over to see the original challenge. It’s not too late to get started with a yearlong study of willows!

 

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Spring Weather 2019 – Outdoor Hour Challenge

Start Here:Spring Weather Nature Study

There is nothing better than seeing the beginning of the spring season, whatever that looks like in your local area. I am currently in California and the landscape is very different than back at home in Central Oregon. Here, the California rolling hills are turning green with the first of the spring grasses. The wild mustard is making its appearance with its yellow flowers that dance in the spring breezes. I have seen lots of red-tail hawks sitting in trees and up on telephone poles. The morning has birdsong and I can pick out a few of the main players like the robins and California quail.

It will be months before these are spotted in my own neighborhood once I return home.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the spring season while I can and make mental notes that will eventually go into my nature journal.

This week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge is linked above and the suggested activities will get you started with ideas for your outdoor time. There is a free printable notebook page included in that entry.

Spring+Weather+Observations+@handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com.jpg

Links to prior season’s Outdoor Hour Challenges:

Autumn Weather Nature Study – Free Printable

Winter Weather Nature Study-Free Printable

Spring Ebooks Graphic button

There are many more spring related nature study ideas in the four ebooks shown above. You can find them in the Ultimate Naturalist membership library.

 

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

Use discount code OHC10 for $5 off any membership!