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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Birding By Ear

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This will be a great week to get outside and look and listen for birds. Hopefully you have started a list of your feeder birds and now you can take a few minutes to look up on the All About Birds website what your local birds sound like.You can do this by typing in your bird in the search box and then clicking the “sounds” tab a little ways down on the page. Birding by ear is such a great skill for little ones since they many times will hear a bird before they see it. What a great way to work on our listening skills together…outside in the fresh air and exploring our own yards and neighborhoods

Split your Outdoor Hour Challenge time this week between preparing for identifying birds by their call using the All about Birds website and then putting your skills to work. The additional activities this week will give you some more information about just how birds sing. The second video is for all the adults to be inspired by as we endeavor to share the many bird’s songs with our children…be encouraged!

Additional Activity: Videos, a Quiz, and Inspiration

The Language of Birds

Test your knowledge of your local bird calls: eNature Birdcall Quiz (online listening).

Now something special….the power of nature and being outdoors! Want to be inspired? Watch this video Birding by Ear (Blind birdwatchers in Texas!)

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2. This is one of my favorite challenges….to listen and then use simple words to describe your outdoor time. Use the ideas in this challenge to help your child listen carefully during your time outdoors…even if it is just for a few minutes. Record your words in your nature journal or on the notebook page in the ebook. 


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Mammal Grid Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week we will be using the Mammal Study Grid from the November 2012 Newsletter. Print the grid out, cut it to include in your nature journal, and then take a few minutes during your week to complete some of the suggested activities. If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, you can do so now and you will receive the newsletter link in the next entry.

Suggested Activity:
This week’s extra is a YouTube recording with a catchy little song about mammals.
If you don’t see the YouTube player you may need to click this link: Mammal Song.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own this ebook, this week’s challenge would correspond nicely with Outdoor Hour Challenge #4. Start a focus study of mammals this month and see how many mammals you can find to learn more about in your local area. You can use the notebook page provided in the ebook for each mammal you study.

If you need an explanation of how the Outdoor Hour Challenge is going to work from this day forward, please read this entry:
Nature Study Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge – How to Steps and Explanation.

Blog Logo 1


Hearts and Trees Mammal Lapbook Kit

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OHC More Nature Study Book 3 – Vine Study

Vine Study Button
More Nature Study Book 3
Vine Study – Sweet peas, Hedge bindweed, and Dodder

Vines: Plants that have the habit of climbing upon other plants or upon sides of houses. Stems of vines are not strong enough to stand alone, seeking support to help get their leaves up into the life-giving sunlight. Some vines climb by twisting their stems around the support plant while others have special “holders” which are called tendrils. 

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read these pages in the Handbook of Nature Study to prepare you for this week’s challenge. 1. Sweet Pea: 588-590 (Lesson 164) *vines with tendrils. 2. Hedge Bindweed: 518-520 (Lesson 137) *twining vines. 3. The Dodder or Love Vine: 520-522 (Lesson 138) *tendrils with sucker.
  • If you would like to start your sweet peas from seed, follow the instructions in Lesson 164. This study could then continue into the summer months and end in a study of the sweet pea flower using Lesson 164.
  • Read this page and view the images: How Vines Climb. You can watch these videos on YouTube: Twining Motion of Vines, Morning Glory Stop Motion, Time Lapse of Cucumber Tendril (Beware: 1812 Overture plays loudly.)
  • You can see some of our sweet peas in this entry: Sweet Peas and Blackberries.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Use your outdoor time for this challenge to explore your yard and neighborhood looking for vines of any kind. Don’t worry if you can’t find a sweet pea, dodder, or hedge bindweed but apply your knowledge and vocabulary to any vines you do find.
  • Make sure to observe closely how the vine climbs. If the vine is a twining vine, note which direction the vine wraps itself around the support plant. If the vine has tendrils, note their color, size, and direction.
  • Optional: Plant sweet pea or morning glory seeds for your own vines to observe over the next few months.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Follow up your outdoor time with the opportunity to record an entry in your nature journal with your vine observations. Ebook Users: You can use the vocabulary found on the chart in the ebook.
  • Advanced study: Research more vines and how they climb (How Plants Climb). Summarize your information in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Make your own time lapse video of a vine twining or using its tendrils.
  • If you planted sweet pea or morning glory seeds, continue to record their growth over the next few months in your nature journal.

More Nature Study Book 3 Button

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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OHC More Nature Study Book 2 – Mullein and Winter Weeds

More Nature Study Book #3
Winter Weeds – Mullein Study

Inside Preparation:

  1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 537-539 (Lesson 146). Share a few facts and the images with your children so they can be on the lookout for mullein in your area. The distinctive rosette growth, the velvety leaves, and the flower stalk make this plant an easy one to spot, even in winter. (Ebook users have images included in the book and others can use the videos and the links in the Follow-Up section to view mullein.)
  2. Make sure to note that mullein is a biennial (takes two years to mature and produce seeds).
  3. Optional: Watch this short YouTube video that gives you an idea of what a winter mullein looks like: Common Mullein. I also made my own mullein video from my garden: Mullein in Autumn.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  1. Common mullein is found throughout the United States and Canada. During your outdoor time this week, try to find some common mullein to observe in its winter state. First year mullein will be look like green, soft, rosettes. Second year mullein will be the brown plant with the flower stalk. Observe how the leaves grow out between the two of the lower circle, that the upper leaves are smaller than those below, and that the upper leaves do not lie flat.
  2. Observe the mullein plant, looking at ways it survives the winter cold, rain, and snow. Make note of the plant’s location and plan to revisit it over the next year in each season.
  3. Alternate winter weed activity: Find and observe any winter weed in your neighborhood. Even if you have snow, see if you can find a part of a plant sticking up out of the snow and make some observations. You may want to click over and read my Winter Weeds challenge for additional ideas for your family.

Follow-Up Activities:

  1. Complete a follow-up nature journal entry or notebook page for your mullein observations. Ebook users choose from the Common Mullein or Winter Weed notebook pages.
  2. Advanced follow-up: Research the mullein plant online and find how it is used its traditional, medicinal, and health uses. Try this LINK or this LINK (this one is excellent!). Ebook users: Complete a notebook page.
  3. Advanced follow-up: Research annual, perennial, and biennial plants on Wikipedia. Ebook users: Complete the notebook page with a summary of the information and give examples of each kind of plant.

You can view our winter weeds study here: Winter Weeds – On-going Study

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Wyoming Road Trip Video – My Son’s Creation

Want to see a teenage view of the trip?

Here is Mr. A’s video: Yellowstone Trip

I told him he should make videos as a business since he is getting quite good at it. I think I watched this one about five times and I’m not tired of it yet. Something about having the photos and videos all linked together make it interesting.

Anyway, check it out….this one is only around two minutes long.

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Awe-Inspiring Video of Yosemite

I can’t tell you how this video has touched me….this familiar place is my home away from home and this artist has captured the essence of Yosemite on video.

I invite you to enjoy this visual and auditory treat.

Winter in Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.
Winter in Yosemite National Park

If you are interested, he also did one for autumn.
Autumn in Yosemite National Park

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Nature and Art – Goldworthy Inpsired

Something a little different…..

Andy Goldsworthy and his artwork have fascinated me ever since I first heard of him a few years ago. Many times when I am out and about on our hikes I wish I had the gumption to stop and create a little art myself with my kids. Here is a video to spark some interest and hopefully create a desire for you to create a little artwork of your own.

Here is a longer video but worth the visual treat….it has music so be prepared.

Andy Goldsworthy….do it at home project

We had fun making our own simple Goldsworthy inspired leaf sculpture.

Goldsworthy Inspired Leaf Project

You can follow this LINK and find all kinds of ways to learn about Andy Goldsworthy and his artwork.

Goldsworthy Inspired Art - Leaves

Have fun and be creative.

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OHC Summer Series #10: Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Katydids

Summer Series #10
Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Katydids
(See Challenge #24 Crickets.)

Train Your Senses

  • Sight: Look for grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets in your yard. Observe them with a hand lens. Look at a grasshopper jump.
  • Hearing: Listen for the chirping of a cricket or katydids and see if you can follow the direction.

Inside Preparation Work:
1.Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 338-350 (Lessons 80-82). This a lot of information so you might want to break this challenge up over several weeks so you can read, choose some of the suggestions for observation, spend your time outdoors, and then move onto the next insect.

grasshopper in the day lily

Most of us have heard crickets in the evenings and children will be very interested to learn more about these insects that play music with their legs for us to enjoy. Here is a link to a video that shows what a cricket looks like when he is singing:

Katydid Sounds click HERE. Cricket sounds HERE.

2. Read in Discover Nature at Sundown pages 174-188. There are many suggestions for exploring the hopper’s world and you may wish to choose one or two to try with your family. You can collect a grasshopper and keep it for a few hours to observe it up close. Use your hand lens to complete the “Closer Look” activity on page 183.

Outdoor Hour Time:
Try to spend some of your outdoor time in the evening air. Our family likes to sit on our deck and watch as the stars come out after sunset. This is a perfect activity to couple with listening for crickets because it is just about at the same time that you will begin to hear crickets singing their evening songs. You can also spend fifteen minutes looking for grasshoppers or crickets in your yard or a near-by park. This challenge can be split up into two weeks if you want to really study each insect.

Cricket on a rose petal

Follow-Up Activity:
After your observations and outdoor time, have your child tell you some of the things he remembers about the nature study. After you have your outdoor time, provide an opportunity for working on a nature journal entry. Use the Handbook of Nature Study or a library book to find an illustration or photo of an actual cricket to draw in your journal. Have your child label the entry with a title, the date, and the place that you made your observation. Parents can always help the child with this part if needed.

There are also coloring pages included in the Summer Series ebook for the cricket, the grasshopper, and the katydid.

If you would like all the Summer Series Challenges in one place, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. Here is a link to a complete description:
Summer Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges
Summer 2010 Nature Study Final

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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OHC Spring Series #10: Ants


Outdoor Hour Challenge
Spring Series #10
Insect Study-Ants

Inside Preparation Work:

Read pages 294-300 in the Handbook of Nature Study to learn more about insects in general. You might like to introduce your child to the development and structure of insects using the information from the Handbook of Nature Study.
Read pages 369-373 in the Handbook of Nature Study for information about the ant. Make some notes after reading Lesson 91 on the Field Observations of Ants so you will have some ideas for observation when you take your children outdoors. This might be a fun challenge to use a magnifying lens!
*Note if you are using the free download of the HNS, The Ways of the Ant are on page 419 and in the Homeschool Freebie version of the HNS, the ant is in the Insects PDF on page 114.
We have used educational ant farms over the years in our home and they are a fascinating way to study ants up close. I highly suggest this as a family activity. Here is a link to the ant farm we have used in the past: Uncle Milton’s Giant Ant Farm.

Outdoor Hour Time:
For this challenge you can spend some of your outdoor time looking for ants. Ask your children if they have noticed ants in your backyard and have them investigate to find some ants to observe. Look under rocks, logs, along sidewalks, under leaves, on the bark of trees, and on garden plants. Use the suggestions you listed in your inside preparation time to learn some more about your ants.

Some Ideas For a Simple Ant Study

  • Quietly observe ants at work. Count how many ants you can see.
  • Look carefully to see if all the ants are the same size.
  • Do you see ants working together to carry something?
  • Do you see any aphids with your ants?
  • Do you see any ants fighting?
  • Do you see any eggs?  

Follow Up Time:Talk about the ants you were able to observe during your outdoor time. As always, allow time for a nature journal entry. If you are keeping a simple nature journal of your own, remember that a journal entry can be as easy as a sketch, label, and a date. You can also use the notebook page from the Spring Series Ebook or a blank nature journal page from the sidebar of my blog.

You may be interested in viewing this YouTube video from PBS and NOVA, Lord of the Ants. It is rather long but you can choose to watch just a portion of it if you want to with your children.

If you would like all the Spring Series Challenges in one book, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. The ebook also contains art and music appreciation plans for the winter months as well. Please see this entry for more details:
Spring Series Cover
Spring Nature Study with Art and Music Appreciation

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Bright Shiny Day Snowshoe Hike

The sun was out and we jumped on the chance to go to the snow for some fun and refreshment.

Let’s just say it was breathtaking….far too awesome for words.
(Not sure if you are on an email subscription if the video shows up, but you can click over to my blog and view a 30 second video of the landscape.)

It was so quiet and we had the whole place to ourselves. This is the best kind of hike…time to enjoy the quiet and the beauty. Look at those cattails. It reminds me that in the summer this place is hopping with red-winged blackbirds and egrets. This day we saw nuthatches, mountain chickadees, and a raven. It was surprisingly quiet.

Taylor Creek 1
The beavers have actually dammed up the regular waterway and it is now flowing around the right side instead of straight through. Fascinating.

Winter Snow at Taylor Creek
Some of the creek is actually all covered over with snow…you can see openings where the water is frozen over. As many years as we have been coming here in the winter, we have never seen this before.

Mammal tracks at Taylor Creek
Not very many tracks in the snow this time…

Snowshoe Jan 2010
As usual, we end up spreading out and just taking the trail at our own pace. We are usually all within eyesight of each other but keeping a nice distance in between.

As much as I hate to miss a day of regular schoolwork, we really needed this day to wander out in the sunshine and fresh air.