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Outdoor Hour Challenge #31 Beginning a Tree Focus

We are a perfect time of year to start our tree focus and the Handbook of Nature Study is full of information that will apply to a majority of people who participate regularly in the challenges. Remember that a tree may be something commonplace to you but to a child a tree can inspire imagination and awe. If we are enthusiastic about trees, it is sure to rub off on our children.

“Natural is our love for trees! A tree is a living being, with a life comparable to our own. In one way it differs from us greatly; it is stationary, and it has roots and trunk instead of legs and body; it is obliged to wait to have what it needs come to it, instead of being able to search the wide world over to satisfy its wants.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 618

Outdoor Hour Challenge #31  

1. This week read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 618-622. Highlight any information that you wish to share with your children during your outdoor time. Make note of the labels in the diagram on page 619 showing the names of the tree parts. Use these names during your outdoor time.

2. Spend 15 minutes outdoors this week with your children in your own yard or on your own street. Start to notice all the different types of trees you have close at hand. If you have been following along with the Outdoor Hour Challenges, you will already have picked a tree to study for a year. Do NOT complete your seasonal tree study this week because we will be working on an autumn tree study in a future challenge. Use your time this week to observe trees with all your senses. If you can remember, use the correct tree labels with your children so they will begin to learn the names of the tree parts.

3. After your outdoor time, spend a few minutes discussing any trees you saw during your outdoor time. Were there some interesting cones, leaves, needles, or other parts to any trees you observed? Take a closer look at any objects you brought home with you. Parents: Look in the table of contents of the Handbook of Nature Study for any trees you have growing in your yard or on your street. Highlight trees you think you might encounter over the next six weeks. Read the information about one tree you think you might observe later this week or even in next week’s challenge.

4. Make sure to give time and the opportunity for a nature journal entry. Let your child decide what part of the tree they would like to draw and label. If your child wants to draw the complete tree, this is a great opportunity to label each part using page 619 as a guide. If you have younger children, a leaf or needle rubbing is a great alternative and easy to complete. You could also think about keeping a collection of pressed leaves. You can use your flower press as a leaf press for this focus area. Use the free notebooking page linked below if want a quick and easy journal entry.

5. If you identified a tree this week, start a list of trees in the front or back of your nature journal. You can also use this Running List notebooking page to keep a record of your trees observed.

You can purchase all of the first ten challenges in a convenient ebook along with custom notebook pages.

10 thoughts on “Outdoor Hour Challenge #31 Beginning a Tree Focus

  1. This is GREAT! I’d much rather do trees. As far as what’s in our “yard,” I have no idea. We’ve not figured that out yet.

    I want to start doing your challenges.

    And I wanted to pass on a neat link of something else I want to try: moth feeders.

    Do you realize that this blog has become a complete nature study curriculum??? WOW!
    With this and the Handbook and a few other resources, you’ve got an entire science curriculum for lower grades.

  2. Trees would seem very appropriate for this time of year anyway 🙂
    I can help on clouds- my son is a cloud spotter *grin*.
    You might like to take a look at the Cloud Appreciation Society site:

    Also the Audubon guides help some- I know that’s not the handbook, but it might help you figure somethings out 🙂


  3. Exciting! We will be joining in again this week. 🙂 Can’t wait to start learning more about our trees!

    Jimmie, What a neat link you gave. Those acivities look neat too. Thanks for passing it onward.



  4. Oh Yea!!! I’m glad you picked this one as it was something i had in mind to start, but was having a bit of trouble with it. I’m sure you’ll share lots of good ideas. I would really appreciate ideas on how to get my autistic son involved, as trees don’t really ‘live’ and ‘move’ as much as other things that interest him. (I know they do but when i point things out to him i get a ‘uh huh, that’s nice’ response.

    Anyway…..I’m glad you picked trees next. LOL

  5. What if you don’t know the names of trees? *blush*
    We do know what pines are…..but there are different kinds of pines right????? The only tree we have is a small Japanese maple in our front yard. I don’t know anything about the other trees in our area. We live in the Pacific Northwest if that helps. 🙂

    Patricia in WA

  6. Oh, perfect! We’re still working through the first few challenges. Our focus is lizards, which isn’t really covered in the Handbook, so I decided we should also start a seasonal tree study. My son chose our Florida Red Maple and I chose our grapefruit tree. I hadn’t blogged about it yet. For once, we’ll actually be with everyone else in the study.

  7. I have been looking over your site now for a couple of weeks. I have prepared by printing out all of the challenges and making a book.

    I have wanted to do nature walk/study for a long time. I looked over HNS when we first began homeschooling, but as I was already overwhelmed I didn’t even try.

    Thank you for such an inspiring blog and giving me a place to start. We just completed challenge #1. Looking towards trees.

  8. We are excited about identifying our trees! Thanks for leading us!

  9. We’re thrilled about studying trees again. I love trees! We found a ginkgo this week. And maybe now I’ll find all those leaves we’ve been pressing in all my heavy books and do the tree pages I intended to make way back when for our very own tree guide.

  10. I love trees! For anyone not sure which tree they are looking at, I found this lovely guide here – it walks you through identifying the tree, just by using a leaf.

    It does only give North American species (or those commonly found in North America), but I’ve found it helpful to at least give me the genus of the tree I’m looking at – for example it confirmed to me that the tree I had was a ‘birch’ – I then just needed to google the species of Birch that grow in New Zealand to id our tree.

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