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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.