Posted on 8 Comments

Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Series-Goldenrod or Other Autumn Flowers

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Autumn Series – Goldenrod

This series of challenges has greatly encouraged so many of us to look at the changing season with new eyes.

Goldenrod is a showy yellow flower that is included in the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock encourages us to engage our child’s imagination as we hunt for “golden cities” in our neighborhoods. If you do not find any goldenrod, an alternative autumn flower study could be the aster. You will find information in the Handbook of Nature Study on the aster starting on page 506. You could also study the chrysanthemum using Lesson 131 in the Handbook of Nature Study. Chrysanthemums are available in abundance right now at your local garden nursery in a wide variety of colors.


Inside Preparation Work
Read Lesson 132 (pages 503-506) in the Handbook of Nature Study. These few pages will give you some great ideas for sparking your child’s interest in goldenrod. It is suggested to also read through Lesson 131 on Composite Flowers since the goldenrod is a perfect example of a composite flower to study. Use the illustrations on page 505 to help your children understand a little better what you are looking for as far as disc and ray flowers. (If you still have a sunflower blooming, you can also use it to demonstrate a composite flower.)

Outdoor Activity
Take a “field excursion” to look for goldenrod. In my research I discovered that there are over a hundred species of goldenrod in North America and they can be found in meadows, pastures, and alongside roads and in ditches. Their brilliant yellow color will alert you to their little “golden cities”.

  • The Handbook of Nature Study suggests on page 506 to notice where you found the goldenrod growing. Did you find more than one kind of goldenrod? How many insects did you find visiting the goldenrod’s flowers? Did you find any galls growing on the goldenrod?
  • Anna Botsford Comstock says to not worry so much about identifying a particular species since they are difficult to distinguish.
  • If it is appropriate, choose one sample to take home for further study during your follow-up time. I made a simple nature notebook page for you to use if you wish.
  • If you are studying an aster or a chrysanthemum for this challenge, I urge you to still read about the goldenrod and take the outdoor time with your children to enjoy the season. There is an Aster Nature Study here on my blog for more ideas.

Follow-Up Activity
Allow time for discussion and a nature journal entry. If you were able to bring home a sample of goldenrod, take the time now to really look for the parts that are discussed in the Handbook of Nature Study. Use Lesson 132 on page 505 to guide your detailed observations of the flower heads. There are suggestions for sketches within the lesson.

Autumn Photo Project

If you have a membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can use the Autumn Photo Project activity in the printables section of your membership along with your autumn goldenrod study. Print the page out and take a camera along with you to snap a few of the suggested nature photos. This will keep your whole family involved as you take a walk together.

This is the version of the Handbook of Nature Study that I recommend using along with the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Please note this is an affiliate link to Amazon for a book that my family owns and has used for over a decade.

Autumn 2009 cover graphic

You can find the notebooking pages that go along with this series of challenges here: Autumn 2009 Free Nature Notebook Pages.


8 thoughts on “Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Series-Goldenrod or Other Autumn Flowers

  1. Gotta say..this one’s tough in Florida. I mean..we can find flowers in the stores but mostly we’re “green” down here until Spring.

    will work on this one…

  2. Primal,

    That is why I included chrysanthemums in the challenge. It is a perfectly good alternative to goldenrod. During your outdoor time, just enjoy the time and find something interesting to look at in your local area.

    During your follow up time, use some of the suggestions in the HNS for the composite flower.

    We had to travel about an hour away to find goldenrod…I had remembered seeing some before in a particular spot. We do not have much in the way of wildflowers right now either so you are not alone.

    Hang in there and remember the most important part of each challenge is to get outdoors each week with your children.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  3. I find it difficult to figure out where to look for the various challenges. I know that I remember seeing goldenrod somewhere but I can’t remember where. So do we go out with the hope of finding goldenrod or should we choose another flower we know we’ll find and work from there? I sense that the important thing is to be outdoors and immersed in the natural world but it would be nice to have a bit of structure in the form of a poem, nature page, some small bit of interesting info etc to ‘tether’ things.

  4. Dear Rose,

    Have you worked through the first five challenges already or are you just jumping in with this one? It might help to work more generally at first if you are just getting started. I think you are on the right track if you keep a priority to spend the time outdoors and let your children find something they find interesting.

    Then once you get back inside, talk about it and find what they are interested in learning about.

    If you found goldenrod, great. If you found another flower, great. If you found something else instead, great. Use the HNS to learn more about the subject you found or use the next week to research the subject more for your next nature study.

    The challenges are a way to prepare you for future nature study whether that turns out to be this week or a month from now.

    If you want more structure, scan the previous topics on my right sidebar of my blog and see if anything catches your eye. You can always work on any challenge at any time.

    Hope that helps.

  5. We had a great time with this and I never realized how abundant goldenrod is in our area!

  6. As always Barb, so enjoy each challenge. My daughters love your notebook pages, and it just gives us a framework for something we already love! Thank you again for all of your hard work, it does not go unnoticed!

  7. The “Golden Cities” story in the “Handbook of Nature Study” was a great way to look at goldenrod. We all enjoyed that as well as exploring goldenrod in various stages of growth at our farm:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *