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Turtle Nature Study for Your Homeschool

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for your homeschool. Includes activities for learning about tortoises and microscopic pond life too.

Turtle Nature Study Inside Preparation Work

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.
  • Read in the Handbook of Nature Study about Turtles on pages 204-209 (Lesson 52). Also read about Pondweed on pages 498-500 (Lesson 130).
  • Homeschool Nature Study Members: Use the Pond Study Cross-section Notebook page in your Pond Course as a way to generate interest for this challenge. You can complete the page during your outdoor time if you would like.
  • Advanced Study: View and read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 400-403 (Lesson 102). Use this information as you make your observations at your local pond. Here is another idea for the field: Guide to Pond Dipping. I also found this excellent resource for identifying things you find when you scoop your pond water: Simple Guide to Small and Microscopic Pond Life.

Pond Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Time

  • Look for opportunities to spend your outdoor hour time at a pond. Ponds are a center of many nature study opportunities. Let your child lead your pond time (with your careful supervision).
  • Use the ideas from the lessons in the Handbook of Nature Study to observe closely any turtles or pondweed that you find. Make sure to keep an eye out for anything of interest that you can follow up with in the Handbook of Nature Study.
Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.

Turtle and Pond Follow-Up Homeschool Activities

  • Follow-up with any interest that you found during your pond study. Use the Handbook of Nature Study as a reference for any additional subjects that came up. Make a nature journal entry for your turtle or pondweed.
  • Homeschool Nature Study Members: Find a Pond Life Study on page three of your Pond Course and accompanying Pond Outdoor Hour Challenge Curriculum.
  • Advanced Study: You can research individual turtles for you nature journal. Use this website for more information: Turtles and Tortoises of the United States.
  • Advanced Study: Use the information from the Wetlands/Ponds video and create your own pond life images. You can record any pond dwellers in your nature journal. Ebook Users: There is also an additional notebook page in the ebook to use if you have more to record.

Additional links:

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for tortoises and microscopic pond life.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership for the Whole Family

Can you believe all of these turtle and pond resources you will find in membership? You will also find a continuing homeschool nature study series plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

– By Barb July 2012, updated by Tricia March 2022

Learn about pond life, pondweed and a pond habitat with this fun turtle nature study for homeschool. Includes activities for studying microscopic pond life.
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Homeschool Ocean Nature Study and Marine Biology Resources

Looking for some help in starting a homeschool ocean nature study or marine biology with your children? Wanting to learn more about tide pools? Looking for help with homeschool lesson plans? Not sure what to do or where to get started?

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!

Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them.

Psalm 69:34

Ocean Nature Study, Ocean Life, Tide Pools, and Aquariums: A Great Marine Biology Unit Study

I’m going to pull together the ocean nature study resources and materials that I found planning our study of marine biology. My boys used these ideas while homeschooling high school but much of the information is absolutely appropriate for younger students. I invite you to read more about how families can learn about marine life together. Tricia has a resource on Homeschool Marine Biology for Multiple Ages.

With a little effort, you can make a homeschool ocean study a fun and exciting family activity.

I am a huge fan of interest driven learning for life. My boys have had an interest in the ocean since they were very little. Not only were they curious about the typical things like sharks and dolphins, but they also wanted to know more about the things that are often hidden from sight deep under the ocean’s surface. As a homeschooling family, we were able to create opportunities to follow their interests, to feed the curiosity that they had about ocean life.

In high school, we made a more formal study of marine biology. All of their previous experiences with ocean creatures in real life were connected together as we worked through this curriculum. They had memories of so many of the topics from personal and up close observations. There could have been no better way to learn these things.

“One is completely stunned by the incredible resourcefulness of the Creator.”

~Carolus Linnaeus, creator of the modern biology classification system

I love when we can combine our personal interests into our homeschooling plans. Our family thoroughly enjoyed our year focusing on an ocean nature study and marine biology because we made it fit our learning styles. It gave us a legitimate excuse to take trips to the ocean, combining school subjects and pleasure. Sometimes it felt like we were having too much fun to call it “school” but that is the freedom that homeschooling gives us.

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!

Homeschool Marine Biology Lesson Plan

Our family used a textbook as the spine for our ocean nature study and marine biology study. In addition, we used some more specific resources that fit the learning styles of our children including a scientific coloring book, field guides, and an additional activity book.

The books and resources we used are listed below. Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to products I have used, owned, and loved.

We used Exploring Creation with Marine Biology (Tricia’s review) as our basic textbook with our high school age boys. This text is a perfect fit for our family and we enjoyed the topics, the information, and the sequence of learning. Each week we learned something new and interesting that we could draw from on our field trips.

Note: If your children are younger, you could use Apologia’s Exploring Creation: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. (Tricia’s review)

As a supplement we used the Marine Biology Coloring Book for our notebooks. I have one visual spatial learner who learned so much from using this coloring book. It’s so much more than just a coloring book and has high school level information that supplements the text above. I highly recommend using it alongside any marine biology text you choose.

These Outdoor Hour Challenges are a nice complement to your Homeschool Ocean Nature Study:

Tide Pool Life Nature Journal Page Set

Tide pooling is a great family activity for your ocean nature study and can be incorporated into field trips and vacations!

Tide Pool Life Notebook Page Set is included with Homeschool Nature Study membership. This is a larger set (14 new pages) of notebooking pages for you to use to learn more about tide pool life. These pages will fit in nicely with lessons and research of note only tide pools, but also marine biology, invertebrates, the beach, and swimming things.

Handbook of Nature Study Seashore course

Seashore Homeschool Nature Study for Tidal Pools

There are pages for:

  • Barnacle
  • Chiton
  • Clam
  • Crab
  • Hermit Crab
  • Kelp
  • Limpet
  • Mussel
  • Sand Dollar
  • Sea Anemone
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Sea Slug
  • Sea Snail
  • and Sea Urchin

With a little preparation, exploring tide pools can be a great hook for additional ocean nature study. Once we observed something in its natural setting, our boys were eager to identify it and learn more.

Listed below are some of our many family tide pooling adventures.

Additional Homeschool Marine Biology Resources

I kept these resources on our nature shelf during our ocean nature study of marine biology. They were used often as we created nature journal pages after our beach and tide pool experiences.

Golden Guide Seashore Life

Seaside Naturalist

Seashore – Northern and Central California

101 Questions About the Seashore

marine biology aquarium field trips

Homeschool Nature Study Ocean Field Trips: Aquariums and Snorkeling

  • Oregon Coast Aquarium – We visited this museum just a few weeks ago and it was fantastic! The aquarium displays are gorgeous…a mixture of art and natural beauty. I printed out the field trip packet and we all completed the pages as we visited the aquarium.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium – This is the premier aquarium on the California coast. We love the setting and the layout of this aquarium. The “backstage” programs are well worth the effort of planning ahead.
  • Then we introduced the boys to snorkeling while on a trip to Hawaii. This added a new dimension to their personal experience with fish of the coral reef. It was exciting for them to swim with the fishes! Read about it here: Hawaiian Fish in My Nature Journal.

Hands On Homeschool Lessons for the Seashore

Our sister website, You ARE an ARTiST, has many ocean and seashore art lessons that go well with any marine biology study, including a whole section of sharks!

  • Starfish
  • Sand Castle
  • Sea Turtle
  • Crab
  • Clown Fish
  • Sand Bucket
  • Jellyfish
  • Night Shark
  • Undersea World

Our Homeschool Nature Study members enjoy a sand castle art lesson in their Seashore course!

More Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenges for the Whole Family

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

Take advantage of the opportunity, especially in high school, to feed your child’s passions. We never regretted our decision to include a formal study of marine biology into our sons’ teen years.

You never know where your study will take you!

If you have any resources you have used in your study of marine biology, feel free to leave me a comment sharing the titles or ideas.

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!
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Rock Cycle Activities For Middle And High School Homeschool Nature Study

An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. This is a great homeschool nature study and a simple way to explore rocks as a nature study in your own backyard!

An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. A great way to explore rocks as a backyard homeschool nature study!

Rock Study of Granite and Other Igneous Rocks

Note To the Parent: There is a lot of great information in this study, far more than can be covered in a week. Use this study as an introduction to geology as it relates to nature study in your own backyard or neighborhood. Read the information in the Handbook of Nature Study and share any facts or ideas with your child that make sense to you. Keep it simple.

Rock Cycle Activities, Nature Study Lesson Plans and Inside Prep Work For Your Homeschool:

  • Read the Handbook of Nature Study pages 743-750 (Introduction to Rocks and Minerals and Lessons 209—210).
  • For this challenge, concentrate on Lesson 209– Granite. You can also observe other igneous rocks: basalt, obsidian, and pumice.
  • View the images and the videos in the Additional Links section below.
  • Advanced study: Interactive Rock Cycle—This is a great overview of the rock cycle and identifying rocks.
Hunt for rocks during your homeschool nature study outdoor hour challenge time.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Go exploring for rocks. Bring along a collecting box or bag and see if you can find some rocks, particularly granite or other igneous rocks. Remember what you read in the Handbook of Nature Study and the images you viewed in your preparation.
  • Collect some samples to bring inside to look at closely. Make sure to take a photo for your Rock Photo Scavenger Hunt notebook page.
An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. A great way to explore rocks as a backyard homeschool nature study!

Follow-Up Rock Cycle Activities For Your Homeschool:

  • Choose one of the rocks you collected outdoors and look at it closely using a hand lens. If you collected some granite, can you distinguish the various components? Record your observations in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Diagram and describe the rock cycle in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Use your observation skills and record your information in your nature journal. Use a rock identification key to identify your igneous rock.
Homeschool nature study rocks - with handbook of nature study outdoor hour challenge curriculum

Rock Nature Study in Homeschool Nature Study Membership

Find rock cycle activities and rock homeschool nature study resources in Homeschool Nature Study Membership! Included in membership:

  • Rocks Big Grid – filled with nature study prompts for weeks of rock study!
  • Rocks notebooking pages for: pyrite, obsidian, coal, chalk, hematite, pumice, zinc, talc, geode, amethyst, flint, coral and sponge.
  • Rock Photo Hunt prompts and notebooking page
  • Under a Rock notebooking page
  • Plus 25+ courses and an interactive monthly calendar filled with nature study prompts and new nature study lessons.
An introduction to geology with rock cycle activities for middle and high school. A great way to explore rocks as a backyard homeschool nature study!
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Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

This homeschool nature study will have you looking at winter birds and in particular the sweet little chickadee.

I consider this particular challenge as a personal lesson/revelation that nature knows no borders. You see when we first started using the Outdoor Hour Challenge and this little bird popped up as the focus of our weekly studies I was disappointed. I live in the UK and we have different birds to those of you in the States. I didn’t think that we would be able to follow along and it was so early on in our nature study days that I did not have the confidence to just find something else on our walk.

As I was gazing out of the dining room window at our bird feeder pondering on my dilemma, who should come along but a coal tit!

They are no stranger to our feeders along with their cousins the great tit, blue tit and those sweet mouse-like birds, the long-tailed tit.

The coal tit looks remarkably similar to the chickadee. After a bit of investigating I discovered that the American Chickadee and the British tits are all in the same genus. Yes, we may live across the pond and have wildlife that is unique to each country but there are similarities and connections.

From that challenge on if it was focussed on an animal or plant unique to the States, I would simply see if we had something similar and go with that. So please be encouraged to do the same whatever country you live in.

Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

Nature Study Lesson Plans for Chickadee Nature Study

Here are some inside preparation ideas for your chickadee nature study:

  1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 68-69 (Lesson 14).
  2. Highlight a few of the questions in the lesson to use during your outdoor time.
  3. Check your bird field guide, using the index to look for chickadees in your area. Share the images with your children.
  4. Younger Children: Read Burgess Bird Book Ch. 37 online or listen to an MP3 recording to hear the chickadee story.
  5. YouTube: Chickadee Documentary and What Do Chickadees Eat? 

Outdoor Hour Time: 

  1. Use some of your outdoor time this week to look for backyard birds. Chickadees should be present during the winter season and are often found at backyard feeders. Remember the questions from the Handbook of Nature Study lesson and gently guide your children to observe the chickadee to find the answers. Chickadees are often seen with nuthatches and downy woodpeckers and are attracted to feeders that offer suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
  2. In areas that do not have chickadees, observe another feeder bird and their habits. Do they sit on the feeder or under the feeder? Which kinds of food do they like? What do they sound like? How big are they? How many of them are at the feeder?

Chickadee Nature Study Homeschool Follow-Up Activity:

  1. Follow-up your outdoor time by pulling out your bird field guide to identify and/or confirm any bird observations. If you saw a chickadee, have your child describe the bird with as much detail as possible. If they have trouble remembering, bring up an image on the computer to help them along.
  2. If desired, allow time for a nature journal entry. Ebook users: Complete a Chickadee notebook page (regular or advanced) or a Winter Feeder Bird notebook page entry to capture the memory of your time outdoors. There is an optional coloring page included in the ebook.
  3. Advanced follow-up: Read Distinguishing Chickadees. Read about Tricky Chickadees (Black-capped and Carolina). Compare two chickadees (notebook page included in the ebook).
Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

Join the Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Nature Study Curriculum and Year Round Support

There are so many benefits to joining. You will access our full range of curriculum, our interactive learning calendar as well as a brand new homeschool nature study challenge post each week!

An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge on the chickadee? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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Homeschool High School Nature Study Ideas

These homeschool high school nature study ideas are meant to encourage your family to consider continuing with some natural science even in the teen years.

These homeschool high school nature study ideas are meant to encourage your family to consider continuing with some natural science even in the teen years. We want to encourage you to include nature study in your high school plans. Our family kept regular times to be outdoors together exploring and observing nature in our own backyard and neighborhood.

Mr. B’s Nicaraguan butterfly

The tone of nature study changes during the teen years and as they find what interests them and develop that interest you can see how this is a life-long passion that will grow as they do. My grown children still surprise me with photos of things they see while on their own adventures…sharing things they know I will enjoy seeing. During Mr. B’s recent trip to Nicaragua, he captured images of a butterfly and a bird for me…sharing them like souvenirs when he came home.

Homeschool Nature Study Ideas For Teens

Mr. A sent me a photo of a snake from his New York hike. I don’t know that I am anxious for them to share snakes with me but it is something he is interested in knowing more about. He has a completely different habitat to explore in New York and with all the experience we had here as he was going through his teens using the internet and field guides to identify things, I know he will be learning so much about the plants, animals, birds, and reptiles of his new area.

These homeschool high school nature study ideas are meant to encourage your family to consider continuing with some natural science even in the teen years.

Honestly, as my children are getting older, they are having to dig deeper to find something they are interested in learning about but the desire is still there. I am feeling the need to spend even more time with them outdoors as they reach their teen and teen+ years, stepping up the observations and learning.

These homeschool high school nature study ideas are meant to encourage your family to consider continuing with some natural science even in the teen years.

Charlotte Mason Style Exam Questions for Homeschool High School

Several of the courses included in Homeschool Nature Study membership include Charlotte Mason style exam questions for advanced students. Author Barb McCoy says, “This series has proved to be a huge success in our family, helping to bring nature study up to a level for my teens. Also, I saw families with large age ranges of children completing the challenges together, each on their own level and enjoying it.”

Include Nature Study in Your High School Plans

Gradually I have learned the value in allowing some leeway in the high school nature study topics we learn more about because I can see the growth in my sons’ love for and connection to the world they live in. I hear their appreciation for the complex system of life that was created for us to enjoy and benefit from.

By Barb November 2013. Updated by Tricia January 2022.

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The Nature Handbook – Book Review

The Nature Handbook Review on

Nature Book Project 2016

This review includes affiliate links.

The book of the month is the The Nature Handbook by Ernest H. Williams, Jr. (ISBN: 9780195171945). This is book number seven in my Nature Book Project for 2016. It is a little heavier reading then most of the books I picked this year so I haven’t actually finished it yet but I will. The purpose of this book is to share the patterns and relationships in nature and not particular species like a field guide. It is organized into three main topics: Plants, Animals, and Habitats. Within these topics, it strives to show patterns that we can look for and learn from as we complete our nature study.

Many people ask me if I have suggestions for a more advanced “naturalist” course for high schoolers. This book is definitely a contender for that purpose.

The Nature Handbook Forest Wildflowers @handbookofnaturestudy
These early spring forest wildflowers demonstrate one of the patterns spoken about in The Nature Handbook.

Something I Really Enjoy About This Book

I am a very visual learner when it comes to nature study. Observing things up close and then reading about them with a guide or book that has clear large images is the way I learn the best. The Nature Handbook has over 500 color photos to supplement the easy to read text. Each time I sit down to use this book, I learn something new!

For instance, in the section on Forest Wildflowers (section 1.6), he explains that wildflowers must bloom before the forest canopy closes in with leaves above. This allows for sufficient moisture and high sunlight intensity through the leafless trees above. Reading this section of the book and reasoning on his words has helped me to understand the forest habitat more deeply. It makes my forest hikes in the spring now more meaningful.

Additional Features:

  • Over 200 specific patterns are discussed in this book! The topics could easily supplement any other nature study subjects you are learning about and works well with more advanced or older students.
  • The index is thorough and makes looking up a particular topic easy.
  • The images are labeled clearly and both common and scientific names are provided.
  • Short sections that would be easy to use for nature narrations for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.

This is a book I will continue to read and use alongside the Handbook of Nature Study and my field guides for my own education as the years go by.

Just a note: This book is a little more expensive than most of the books I review. I do recommend it to my readers (especially as a nature library reference) but I think you should look for it at your library or purchase it used on

This book is part of my Nature Book Project for 2016.

Nature Book Project 2016 @handbookofnaturestudy

Note some of the links below are affiliate links.

January- Discover Nature Close to Home

February-A Place for Birds and A Place for Butterflies

March- A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow

April- The Practical Naturalist

May- Break month.

June-Botany in a Day

July- Rockhounding Nevada (postponed)

August- Break month.

September- The 10 Best of Everything National Parks

October- The Nature Handbook

November- Bringing Nature Home (postponed)

December- Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling



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Writing About Nature – Book Review

Writing About Nature Book Review @handbookofnaturestudy


Writing About Nature by John A. Murray (affiliate link to was a book that came highly recommended on as a book to help to those that are aspiring to write about nature or their nature experiences. In my case, I don’t intend for everything I write to be published, quite the contrary. I write mostly for my own enjoyment and to keep a record of those things I find the most interesting as I make observations both in my own yard and as I travel. This book will help a wide range of writers who find their passion for nature moves them to document in words the creatures, plants, rhythms and cycles experienced in the great outdoors.

From the Preface of Writing About Nature: “To give those who can not or will not attend schools the means to learn about the subject on their own, at whatever pace they choose. To provide teachers from high school on up with fifteen lessons to be completed in a semester, written by someone who has taught the subject enough to know what works and what does not work.”

  • The book is organized by topics: journals, essays, the writing process, opening and closing, word pictures, figurative language, character and dialogue, story-telling, fiction and poetry, revision, and research.

My favorite chapter was on the journal. I have gleaned more out of this part than any other because my aim is not to write magazine articles or essays to publish, but to satisfy my desire to record my time in the natural world in a way that is not only an accurate record but enjoyable to read. After reading this chapter, I completed the practice exercise that suggested writing a journal that covers one season of the year….writing each day through the whole quarter, noting the changes that occur as nature moves through a circle of time. I did the spring season from March to June earlier this year. What a wonderful journal to look back upon!

My second favorite chapter in this book was on the writing process. It outlined and explained how different writers have successfully used methods of writing that fit different objectives. There are quotes and portions of writing from famous writers like Thoreau, Abbey, and Mark Twain. I was able to glean some tips for experimenting with ways to write about nature like keeping random field notes and then writing from those or using a quick write method which makes for a more conversational style of writing. Playing with words and ideas is something that is enjoyable for me so this chapter gave me fresh ways of creating a more polished piece of nature writing.

Each chapter has practice exercises. These suggestions can sometimes be done rather quickly but there are some exercises that take more time that you will need to plan for if you are doing this as part of a writing course.

Teaching high school students? This book would be a wonderful supplement to a high school writing course, a creative writing course, or as an extension of an advanced nature study course.

  • This book is not meant to be read cover to cover and then be put up on the shelf. It is meant to stimulate your writing skills and techniques over time.
  • Contains a complete anthology, index, and list of creative writing programs to investigate.
  • 15 chapters that can be complete writing units taking a week or longer to complete.

I am going to be pulling this off my reference shelf whenever I feel I need to freshen up my nature writing.

Nature Book Project 2015 @handbookofnaturestudy
Previous Month’s Books and Reviews


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Flower Study


Salvia Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Nature Study
Autumn Nature Study Continues Ebook

We are starting off our new Autumn Nature Study Continues series with the study of a beautiful bee-loving plant, salvia. This is a great garden plant or one you can actually grow nicely in a pot on a patio or deck.

Please note that if you don’t have any salvia to study this week….pick another garden flower and create an “autumn flower” nature journal page instead. See the ideas listed below for some ideas on how to accomplish a simple and fun flower study with your family.

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 579-581 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 161). Make sure to read the Leading Thought to get the focus of your study in mind. Pick any of the suggested activities to learn more about the salvia flower.
  • Make sure to go to the images for Salvia at the end of the ebook. You will see a bee on a salvia flower gathering his nectar. Here is an additional short YouTube video:
  • There are many varieties of salvia. Look at your local nursery for salvia for your garden or make plans to purchase some next spring. You can also look up your state’s native salvia plants by Googling “state name native plant salvia”. (I just purchased some salvia at my local Home Depot.)

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Spend fifteen minutes this week exploring your early autumn garden. If you have some salvia (or really any flower) you can view in person, sit quietly and watch for any bees that might come to visit the flower.
  • Make sure to look at any flower you have access to this week, looking carefully at the structure of the flower. Note the bracts and calyx of each flower. (Other garden challenges and printables are found on the Garden Tab at the top of the website.)

Fall Flowers DrawingFollow-Up Activity:

  • Pull out the Handbook of Nature Study and find the diagram on page 580 showing the blossom of the sage with the parts labeled. You will also see how the bee gets into the blossom to get the nectar.
  • Create a nature journal entry with a sketch of salvia and a caption.
  • Ebook Users: You can use the notebook page included. Younger children can use the coloring page. The advanced study notebook page will help you dig a little deeper into your study of salvia. There is also a bonus Autumn Flower Study notebook page to use with any flower your find during this challenge.
  • Advanced activity: Dissect a salvia flower, creating a journal page showing the flower parts labeled. Make sure to explain how a bee gathers its nectar from the salvia.
  • Additional Activity: Make it a fun flower study activity for your creative child! Put some garden flowers in a vase on a table along with sheets of paper, colored pencils, and magnifying lenses. Invite your child to make a sketch for their nature journal or to put on your nature table.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button


Note these are affiliate links to products I love!
Wildflowers, Weeds, & Garden Flowers Notebooking PagesNature Study Notebooking Pages

Download a FREE sample of A-Z Animal Notebooking Pages from

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How to Be a Better Birder: Learning Bird Calls

“When a bird sings, it’s telling you what it is and where it is. Learn bird calls and open a new window on your birding.”
All About Birds website, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

It all started last year with our visit to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology…a desire to be a better birder. I have known that my listening skills are not as sharp as they could be and I made it a goal to learn more of my local bird’s songs and calls, one bird at a time.

We have been at it for about ten months and I have found that just paging through The Backyard Birdsong Guideand listening to the songs has greatly helped me learn to distinguish between a House sparrow and a House finch, a Titmous and a Nuthatch. I think it is like learning a whole new language and as you work on it your ears get accustomed to hearing subtle differences.

This page on All About Birds has some wonderful tips for learning to recognize bird songs: Songs and Calls. I highly recommend it for anyone who is trying to learn this skill. My boys pick up on it faster than I do so don’t hesitate to share the tips with your children.

Last summer I was able to identify a Hermit thrush during our Oregon camping trip by listening and repeating in my head the song he cried out in the forest. I followed the advice to put the bird song into words that I could remember. I now can immediately identify it with no question.

The Steller’s jay that has moved into my neighborhood in the last few months can be heard easily and distinguished from the Western scrub jay with ease.

The titmouse, the Spotted towhee, the Cedar waxwing…all are easily identified now by their sound.

It feels good. You can do it too by taking one bird at a time and making your own memory or aid to remembering.

During my recent trip to Florida, I used my camera video to capture some bird calls for later identifying.

Do I think it is worth the effort to learn the various bird songs of my neighborhood birds? Yes! It has given our family so much more enjoyment in our birding and has helped us to be more skilled at listening. You can use the ideas in last week’s challenge to help you get started: Birding by Ear.

Do you know any of your local bird’s songs? Widgets

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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.