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Study Nature As You Travel This Summer

Right now we are all ready to be outside and doing our normal summer activities. If you are planning a trip to a natural area to enjoy the outdoors, you may want to include nature study for your summer travel plans. Implement some of the ideas below to enhance your outdoor time.

Why not incorporate Nature Study into your family's summer travel plans? These tips and tricks will help you get started.

Four steps to preparing for nature study as you travel this summer

It is so important to prepare ahead by researching the places you will be visiting. You may even need to make reservations to visit your preferred natural area.

From my original post:

“The difference between a good outdoor experience and a great outdoor experience with an opportunity for nature study is sometimes just a matter of preparation. Summer nature study is a perfect fit for most families with the weather being more enjoyable and with longer days to enjoy. Whether you are visiting a new city, exploring your own city, or taking a road trip, including nature study in your plans can make your time more fun and interesting. Our family tries to include some element of outdoor time to each traveling experience.”

Why not incorporate Nature Study into your family's summer travel plans? These tips and tricks will help you get started.

Research the Nature Habitat

1. Do a little research ahead of time for the habitat you will be visiting. Determine what you will encounter on your trip that might make for interesting nature study. I linked some ideas below along with some simple nature study books to get you started. Make sure to use your local library to find more books to prepare your family before your trip so you have some things to look forward to seeing in real life. For example, if you are going to be visiting an ocean beach, learn what plants, birds, and animals make their home there. You can also use the Handbook of Nature Study to read about things you think you might encounter during your summer travels.

Please note the links above and further in this blog entry are Amazon affiliate links.

Habitats Might Include:

Find Nature Field Guides

2. Find resources such as field guides or other nature related books to read or bring along with you. I suggest a good bird field guide, a wildflower field guide, and perhaps a tree field guide as a basic set of resources to have with you. Check your library for books you can borrow and take with you. (See my post on my Favorite Field Guides.) To prepare, you should page through the field guides before you leave on your trip to be familiar with the layout of the book and perhaps to glean a few things ahead of time to be looking for as you go outdoors. Additional field guide ideas will be found on my website (Handbook of Nature Study).

nature journaling

Bring Your Nature Journal

3. Bring along your nature journal or some pre-printed notebook pages. During down time, it is nice to have supplies on hand to make a nature journal entry to record your nature study as you travel. Basic art supplies like markers or colored pencils are easy to pack. I also like watercolor pencils for nature journal entries. Keep it simple. Taking their own photos is fun for children and then to use as they document their own view of the trip. Encourage your children to take photos of things that they observe for future reference in identifying or including in their nature journals.

My suggestions for nature journal supplies and then nature journal ideas can be found here:  
Nature Journals-Ideas and Tips.
In preparing for your trip, you could also look up a few of the Outdoor Hour Challenges before you leave, the first five challenges can be applied to any habitat.

If you have access to the first Getting Started with the Outdoor Hour Challenges Guide, you can have that loaded on your laptop or phone as a reference while traveling.

Research Nature Centers

4. I also like to look up nature centers or nature trails in the areas we visit. A good nature center visit can take an hour or two and can provide a spark to capture the interest of everyone in the family. The staff will be knowledgeable about the local habitat, giving you advice on where to go and what to see. They also can help identify anything you have observed but can’t put a name to as you try to make your journal entries. Most nature centers have bookstores that can provide additional resources to follow-up your nature study time. I found this list of Nature Centers in the United States. (This list does not look complete but it will get you started.)

We just returned from a camping trip to the coast. I had brought along my nature journal supplies and a few field guides. One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to end the day by creating a recap of the daily events and things of interest we observed. Capturing the details as they happen help remind you later of things you may want to research further. Nature study will help you train your children ask good questions and get them to observe things more closely. These skills are ones that will cross over into all areas of their life.

Use the time ahead of a trip to prepare for your nature study and you will reap the benefits as your family takes their learning to a new level. Explore a new place this summer!

homeschool nature study membershiop

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!

Find Out More About Homeschool Nature Study Membership HERE

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get Outdoors!

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August 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

August 2021 Nature Study Plans – Outdoor Hour Challenge

We are finishing off the summer with the rest of the herb Outdoor Hour Challenges! I think that sounds like a perfect way to observe some interesting plants and enjoy a little deliciousness at the same time.

Herb Nature Study ebook cover graphic


August 6, 2021 – Dill Herb Study

August 13, 2021 – Thyme Herb Study

August 20, 2021 – Lemongrass Herb Study

August 27, 2021 – Mint Herb Study

Redwood Forest Habitat Notebook Page

My Nature Walk senses notebook page

Snake Field Guide Notebook Page

Last Days of Summer notebook page 2021.pubNew Printables in the Members Library

Redwood Forest Habitat Notebook Page: Have you visited or are you dreaming of a redwood forest visit? This notebook page will give you a place to record your observations.

My Summer Nature Walk Notebook Page: After your nature walk, follow up by recording what you noted with your senses.

Last Days of Summer 2021 Grid Page: I can’t believe we are at the end of summer already! Use this grid from the archives to stimulate a little nature study before the season is over.

Snake Field Guide Notebook Page: Use this notebook page to record your snake observations or to keep track of your snake research.

Printables for Members Button

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

August 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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Once a Month Nature Journal Project: Using Your 5 Senses – From the Archives

Once a Month Nature Journal Project

Using Your 5 Senses – From the Archives

Summertime is the perfect time to practice using all your senses while outside in nature. Nothing can be more pleasurable than the scent of wildflower blossoms on the warm summer air or the feel of the cool grass under your feet! Or perhaps you hear the buzz of a bee, the flash of color from a butterfly wing, or the taste of a fresh peach picked from a tree. So many summer sensations are out there waiting for you to experience them with your children.

Believe me, if you take the time to use all your senses, your child will have plenty to share in their nature journal once you get home. Using your senses is a basic life skill that families can work on during nature study.

Nature Journal Ideas

Use as many of your senses as possible this month to make observations for your journal entry: sight, touch, smell, sounds, and taste if appropriate. Sketch your sensory memories or make a list of things you observed.

Help your child with his observations if they get stuck. Make it fun and challenge each other to make as many observations as possible using your senses.

5 Senses Nature Journal Reminder Card

Create a reminder card to carry along with you as you spend time outdoors. I made mine on an index card and I will slip it into the front of my nature journal as a memory aid for my next nature journal entry.

Once a Month Nature Journal Project Use Your 5 Senses @handbookofnaturestudy

Link to the original blog entry: Once a Month Nature Journal- Using Your 5 Senses

5 senses nature journal @handbookofnaturestudy
Starting with your 5 senses makes creating a simple nature journal easy.

 summer nature study ebooks button

I created a complete series of Outdoor Hour Challenges to help you get started using your senses during the summertime. Members can log into their accounts and download the Summer Nature Study-Using Your Senses ebook for lots of ideas to use this season.

Here is a sample Outdoor Hour Challenge from that ebook: Summer Tree Study -Using Your Senses.



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Summer Nature Study – Super Easy!

Summer Nature Study – Super Easy!

Summer nature study is easy when you have a bundle of Outdoor Hour Challenge summer ebooks at your fingertips. Pick the topics that interest your family the most and then get started with the activities, videos, and follow up notebook pages.

summer nature study ebooks button

Nature study can be easy and fun if you have access to the Outdoor Hour Challenges.

Currently there are 3 summer themed ebooks to choose from:

Summer Nature Study Continues

More Nature Study – Summer

Summer Nature Study – Using Your Senses

Members can sign into their membership, scroll down to find the ebook of choice, and then download and use the nature study lessons.

Monarch Butterfly in Garden

It’s as easy as that! I love that families can immediately jump on any interest that presents itself during your summer adventures. When you observe a butterfly, follow up with the lesson on butterflies. In our family, if we came home from an adventure and we had a question, I pulled out the Handbook of Nature Study and did an internet search. Well, the Outdoor Hour Challenge is based on just that process. But, I’ve done all the legwork for you.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You can click the graphic above and see the dozens of nature study opportunities that you can make happen in your family.

If you’re new to the Outdoor Hour Challenge, you can find all three of the ebooks in the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. (See below for a discount code to use with your purchase!)

Use the discount code SUMMERfor5 for $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Code is valid until 6/30/2021.



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Wildflower Ebooks for Summer Nature Study

We’re entering wildflower season and I couldn’t be happier! I love looking for new flowers and recognizing my old favorites as the season progresses.

Beginning the first week in June, we’ll be starting a new series of Outdoor Hour Challenges based on my Wildflower Ebook #3.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower 3 Covermaker

Topics include: fireweed, salsify, paintbrush, forget-me-nots, and silverweed.

Please note these flowers are not found in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. I’ve written these nature study lessons with information from field guides and internet sources. In addition, there are observation suggestions and sketching information for each flower.

You can see a sample from the book here: Wildflower Ebook #3.

Members need to log into their accounts and then scroll down to find the ebook for downloading.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020If you need to purchase a membership, you can do so at any time during the year. Your membership will last for one year from purchase.

Please use discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.


What wildflowers are you looking forward to learning about?


Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 EbookShooting Star

Purple Chinese Houses



Wild Mustard and Wild Radish

OHC Wildflower Set 2 @handbookofnaturestudy



Cow Parsnip




Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower 3 Covermaker





Common silverweed



Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy


Additional Wildflower Challenges

I’ve written Outdoor Hour Challenges for every wildflower listed in the Handbook of Nature Study. You can find them under the “Garden” tab on my website. That’s dozens of wildflowers to choose from!

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

You can have access to the ebooks in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships.

summer nature study ebooks button

In addition, there are many other summer related challenges available in the summer ebooks.

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Summer Seasonal Observations Reminders

Right now, in this moment, I think all of us could use something to focus on that is positive and encouraging. In our family, that means spending some time outside and being refreshed by the constancy of nature.

There’s no better way to take your appreciation for nature to the next level like starting or continuing a year-long study of a particular nature topic. Over the years we have completed many of the ideas listed below and learned many valuable lessons from carefully observing a tree, a plant, or the weather over the course of a complete year.

Year Long Nature Study Summer Reminders

It’s now time to start thinking about a summer season observation for your topics of choice. Make it a firm plan by scheduling a day to make your summer observations.

Summer Seasonal Observations

Pick one and get started by clicking the link to the archived entry that will give you lots of ideas for completing your own year-long nature study.


If you have a continuing year-long nature study project, don’t forget to put it on your calendar or you may forget to make your summer observations.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Some of the links above will take you to ebooks that are in the Ultimate Naturalist Library. You’ll need to have a membership in order to get the full benefit of the nature study ideas (printable notebook pages, coloring pages, additional images and links).

Join us now for a complete year’s access to the Library. Use the discount code NATURESTUDYFUN to receive $10 off an Ultimate Library membership.

summer nature study ebooks button

You also may wish to check out the summer nature study ebooks available here on the Handbook of Nature Study. You can click the graphic above to see the topics included in each of the ebooks available.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Willow Year-Long Study

We’re coming up to our fourth and final willow tree study in our Year-Long Tree Study. Take some time this week to revisit your willow tree and make your summertime observations. You may wish to pull out your autumn, winter, and/or springtime observations to make some comparisons.

If this is the first time you’re studying a willow, follow the link to the challenge in the archives for suggestions to get started.  All of the previous season’s studies are listed below for your convenience.

Outdoor Hour Challenge summer willow study


Link to the challenges in the archives:

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Willow Study

The Summer Willow study is found in the Summer Nature Study Continues ebook. If you have access to this ebook in your Ultimate or Journey level membership, make sure to print out the notebook page that goes along with this challenge.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Nature Study Continues ebook

Outdoor Hour Challenge Tree Nature Study Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You’ll also find a complete list of tree nature study lessons (for every tree in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock) here on this link.

Links to prior season’s Outdoor Hour Challenges:

Autumn Willow Nature Study

Winter Willow Nature Study

Spring Willow Nature Study

Summer Tree Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Don’t have a willow?

Complete a summer tree study for any tree you found during your outdoor time.

Seasonal Tree Study Notebook Page from Handbook of Nature Study




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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Wildflowers!

It’s that time of year again! Wildflower season is upon us and it may just be the topic that your children will really enjoy as you take your summer nature walks. Who can help but notice the colors of summer when they start to bloom? Every habitat has something to offer before the season passes.

Use the ideas in the link below to take a closer look at a few of your wildflowers of summer.  After you make some observations, you can create a nature journal page for each flower. Keep your study simple and fun this summer and you’ll be sure to make some fond wildflower memories for your children.


Queen Annes Lace button

Link to the challenges in the archives:

Asters, Daisies, and Black Eyed Susans

Queen Anne’s Lace

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You’ll also find a complete list of wildflower nature study lessons (for every flower in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock) here on this link.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

OHC Wildflower Set 2 @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower 3 Covermaker

In addition, you can use any of the three Outdoor Hour Challenge wildflower ebooks to learn more about wildflowers not included in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.


 Handbook of Nature Study Nature Book Club Wildflowers

You may also be interested in reading this entry that features wildflowers and nature study:

Wildflowers to Love


Amazon link to Handbook of Nature Study

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Our First Day of Summer 2019

I decided to observe the first day of summer by taking a tour of our yard to look for interesting things to note.  First of all, the temperatures have been cool again…really cool at 33 degrees when I get up in the morning. I haven’t lost any of our plants yet to the cold temperatures so I’m hoping they will continue to grow.

sunflower seedlings renees garden

Our transplanted sunflowers are looking good in their new box. I think we may have over planted but my husband just can’t bear to thin the seedlings. I’m dreaming of the colorful flowers to come. The only thing to be concerned about are the deer that may somehow get inside our fence and eat the flowers like they’re at a salad bar. It’s happened before!

I don’t think I have mentioned that the sunflowers we are growing come from Renee’s Garden. I have once again received some complimentary seeds from them to use in my garden.

Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Birds and Bees Sunflowers

I also have a container filled with Junior Sunflowers.

I will share my results once they flower!


wildflowers in the yard june 2019

We’re blessed with an abundance and variety of wildflowers in our yard this year. Partly because we have kept the deer out and mostly because I convinced my husband to let a few areas just grow wildly. This has revealed a number of plants we didn’t know we had growing along the edges like the penstemon, the goosefoot violets, and the salsify.

leaf rollers aspen june 2019

Along with the increase in flowers, there are many more insects to observe. Right now there’s an insect that is rolling itself up in our aspen tree leaves.

We have ground squirrels that are burrowing into our landscaping berms. They are trying to tunnel their way over to the birdfeeder. Our dogs then take the opportunity to dig the tunnels out and chase the squirrels away. This is a problem because they unearth so many of our newly planted flowers in the process. I’m trying to resolve this problem without harming any flora or fauna.

chickadee june 2019

The babies are all hatching in our nests and nesting boxes. There have been a few casualties along the way but I think for the most part the birds are thriving and it has been a successful year of supporting the birds in our habitat.

mushroom june 2019

On a more serious note, we almost had a tragedy involving our puppy and mushrooms growing in our yard. We didn’t realize we had any mushrooms until I started looking carefully when Sierra started acting strangely. She was stumbling around, very agitated, and drooling. I found the mushroom near where she had dug up a small tree stump in our backyard. We rushed her to the vet’s and they were able to get her stabilized with fluids and oxygen. They tried to induce vomiting but were not successful. But, in the end, after a long and scary night, she came out the other side and seems to be recovering. We were very relieved that we caught it in time to get her help and that she’s a strong, healthy puppy.

sierra june 2019

PLEASE check your yard for mushrooms. Doing more research on this topic, I’ve learned that mushrooms are a common cause of poisoning for dogs. You can bet I will be mighty vigilant from now on and pluck any mushrooms up and throw them away as soon as I see them.

We’re looking out over the next couple months with anticipation for all the summer things we want to do while the weather is warm.

What did you do for the first day of summer?

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Weather @handbookofnaturestudy

Here’s a link to the original challenge for many ideas and printables to use as part of your early summer weather study: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Weather



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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?