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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Summer Wildflowers!

It’s that time of year again! Wildflower season is upon us and it may just be the topic that your children will really enjoy as you take your summer nature walks. Who can help but notice the colors of summer when they start to bloom? Every habitat has something to offer before the season passes.

Use the ideas in the link below to take a closer look at a few of your wildflowers of summer.  After you make some observations, you can create a nature journal page for each flower. Keep your study simple and fun this summer and you’ll be sure to make some fond wildflower memories for your children.


Queen Annes Lace button

Link to the challenges in the archives:

Asters, Daisies, and Black Eyed Susans

Queen Anne’s Lace

Outdoor Hour Challenge Garden Wildflower and Weeds Index @handbookofnaturestudy

You’ll also find a complete list of wildflower nature study lessons (for every flower in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock) here on this link.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

OHC Wildflower Set 2 @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower 3 Covermaker

In addition, you can use any of the three Outdoor Hour Challenge wildflower ebooks to learn more about wildflowers not included in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.


 Handbook of Nature Study Nature Book Club Wildflowers

You may also be interested in reading this entry that features wildflowers and nature study:

Wildflowers to Love


Amazon link to Handbook of Nature Study

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn Goldenrod Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Goldenrod Study

From the Archives and the Autumn 2009 series of challenges (no ebook but printable notebook pages are available)

I am super excited for our autumn flower study, either the goldenrod flower or one of the alternatives listed in the challenge. I love looking at wildflowers in this transitional time of the year. After the abundance of summertime wildflowers, autumn flowers are more subdued but still pretty and very interesting. This is certainly the case with the goldenrod. I think the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study about the goldenrod is one of my favorites.

Please join us for an autumn flower study!


1 Outdoor Hour Challenge Oct 17 to Aug 18 Plans

Remember we start the Autumn 2010 series of Outdoor Hour Challenges next week. You can see the plan in this entry: Autumn 2017 Nature Schedule.


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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Asters, Daisies, and Black Eyed Susans


Outdoor Hour Challenge

Asters, Daisies, and Black-Eyed Susans

From the Archives and the More Nature Study – Summer ebook


Here in Central Oregon we have many asters and daisies to observe.  This week’s challenge takes us into the Handbook of Nature Study lessons on daisies and asters.  Look for these flowers in your garden and yard.  If you can’t find any flowers to observe in person during your outdoor time, you can usually find these flowers in the floral department at your local grocery store.

Make this a fun and enjoyable study by following up with some watercolor paintings in your nature journal. I am always inspired to be creative when I take my paints outside and your children may just be the same way.

Make sure to watch the videos in the original challenge to inspire even the most flower study reluctant boys. They might want to look for the patterns and the Fibonacci sequence in the challenge flowers after learning more about this fascinating aspect of nature.

You can also follow up by pressing flowers for your nature journal or allowing time for your children to arrange a beautiful bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.

Above all, get outside and enjoy your family time!


Vitamin N

My current nature themed read is Vitamin N by Richard Louv. I am gleaning so many new and original nature study ideas from his writings. I know many of you have read his other book, Last Child in the Woods, but Vitamin N takes his ideas one step further by providing specific and practical ideas for enjoying nature with your family. I highly recommend this book! Look for it at your public library.

Looking for the autumn plan for the Outdoor Hour Challenge? Here is a link!

1 Outdoor Hour Challenge Oct 17 to Aug 18 Plans




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Burdock Nature Study

Burdock Plant 8

Here is our burdock nature study happy to have had a chance to see it in person!

Hiking in Utah we saw an area with these plants that had HUGE leaves. I was intrigued and took a photo so I could later look it up in my field guide. I had no idea that what I was looking at was first year burdock!

Burdock Plant 1

Later on in the hike, we spotted these blooming plants and I was pretty sure what we were seeing was burdock. I had read all about this plant when I was writing the current ebook and was sort of on the lookout for it in our travels this summer. I apologize for the blurry photos but it had started to rain and we were moving quickly off the mountain.

Burdock Plant 3

Here is a closer look at the leaves.

Burdock Plant 6

And here is the underside of the leaf. It is much whiter than the top of the leaf.

Burdock Plant 4

Here are a couple more images we took to document our discovery.

Burdock Plant 7

In reflection, the plants and flowers are much larger than I anticipated.

The flowers look like prickly balls with purplish color. The flower is ringed with spiny hooks all around.

We noted that the first year leaves are large and wavy looking while the second year plant with the flowers are much smaller and less wavy.

This was a case of preparation in identifying a wildflower/weed…reading up on things and then looking for them when you are out for your Outdoor Hour Challenge time creates such a sense of satisfaction. Since the Handbook of Nature Study was written for a specific region, many of the topics are not found naturally in California. This never stumbles me since I view the time reading and researching topics for future use a very valuable tool in learning more as I go through life.

Did you find some burdock this week?

Cocklebur weed walking trail (3)

But, guess what? We found something right alongside our walking trail that looks remarkably like burdock. We snapped some photos and made some observations.

Cocklebur weed walking trail (7)

Doing some additional research online, we found out that this plant that looks like burdock is a the cocklebur plant!


Both the cocklebur and the burdock plants are in the asteraceae family…which is probably why they have some of the same characteristics.

What a great find and discovery!

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Autumn Flower Study – Asters of All Kinds

White Daisy (aster)

“The asters, like the goldenrods, begin to bloom at the tip of the branches, the flower-heads nearest the central stem blooming last. All of the asters are very sensitive, and the flower-heads usually close as soon as they are gathered.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 507

I love a good flower study! Reading in the Handbook of Nature Study I learned that the aster has both a disc flower and a ray flower…like a sunflower. Aha! I can see it now that I have slowed down to really look at this pretty flower from the aster family, a Shasta Daisy or an Ox-Eye Daisy…not sure which

We happened to be at the beautiful summer garden found at Tallac Historic Site and I was excited to find a whole range of asters to observe.  We had been on a quest to find some goldenrod but settled for any flowers in the aster family we could find. (We did find some goldenrod…see last flower photo.)

Can you see the disc and ray flowers?

I think you can really see the disc flowers once the ray flowers wilt back. This daisy helps show the way the different kinds of flowers grow in this daisy flower head. Point that out to your kids the next time you see an aster.

Purple Coneflower

How about this flower in the aster family? The Purple Coneflower is one of my favorites and I grow it in my garden every year….well actually it just comes back to life in the spring so I don’t have to do too much to it.

So now come a bunch of images that show the variety that this flower family can produce. Starting with this really large yellow aster with the long ray flowers.

These were some of my favorites! I love the multi-colored flowers and the Black-eyed Susans all mixed together. I am going to make sure to plant an area of my garden with seeds like these so I can enjoy their beauty all summer long.

Drooping ray flowers really show this flower off at its best! I am going to put this one in my nature journal…watercolors or markers? Not sure yet.

Edit to add my journal—I ended up with colored pencils.

This aster was not in the garden at Tallac but was on the trail around over by Taylor Creek. There was a whole section of them blooming. I love the classic lavender and yellow color combination. This may need to go in my nature journal too.

Eureka! We finally saw some goldenrod in bloom. We had seen lots of dried up goldenrod during our hike but this was the first blooming plant we spied. The goldenrod completed our hunt for all kinds of flowers in the aster family.

NOTE: If you haven’t read the narrative section in the Handbook of Nature Study on the goldenrod plant, you are missing out. Make sure to read the Teacher’s Story for Lesson 132 before you study your goldenrod flowers.

Here we are…the intrepid aster hunters. My oldest and youngest went with me this time and it was great to have them along. They are both a lot of fun.

Mr. B took a break from flower hunting to stack some rocks and strike a pose. Like I said, always a lot of fun with these nature-loving kids.

Don’t miss out on the chance to do your own goldenrod, aster, or chrysanthemum study this month. Pop over to the challenge and print out the free Autumn Garden Nursery Mini-Book printable if you need to make this a quick and easy nature study week.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Goldenrod, Aster, and Chrysanthemum Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Goldenrod, Aster, and Chrysanthemum Study

Additional Activity: Autumn Garden Nursery Field Trip Idea

Autumn Garden Nursery Field Trip – Printable Mini-Book

We used a similar mini-book to explore the garden nursery in the spring and now I am encouraging you to take another field trip to see the autumn selections and perhaps look for a potted chrysanthemum to purchase and bring home to pot for your home garden. My local Home Depot had four different colors to choose from and a small pot cost around $3.00. Make sure to print out the Autumn Garden Nursery Field Trip Mini-Book above and take it along with you for some added fun. This is an easy way to entice even the most reluctant child into taking a closer look at flowers. 

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2-Using Your Words.  Make sure to read the page in the Handbook of Nature Study for this challenge. After your outdoor time looking at autumn flowers, spend time putting words to your experiences. Older children can record their thoughts on the accompanying notebook page or for younger children you can write a few words in their nature journal, letting them illustrate the page if they want.

Blog Logo 1

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Garden Flowers – Aster Nature Study

Monarch on the Butterfly Bush
I don’t know about you but ever since we really learned about Fibonacci numbers in nature we have been on the lookout for the patterns and swirls. They seem to be everywhere once your eyes learn to focus on this interesting design in creation. The More Nature Study Book #4 Summer Sizzle challenge for garden flowers shares lots of ideas for getting to know about the Fibonacci sequence and the aster family.

Our Garden Flowers Study using the Handbook of Nature Study led us to discover some different kinds of asters that we have right in our own yard. The clue is the shape and arrangement of the flower petals.

White Daisies
The challenge was actually to study White daisies, Black-eyed Susans, and Asters. We went beyond and tried to find all the flowers in the aster family that we have in our garden. We found quite a few.

There are the dahlias. This surprised me that it was in the aster family. My son grows dahlias in his garden box for me and this year they are all shades of pink. I would like to add a few more colors next year.

Dahlia in a Container
We do have dahlias growing in pots on the back deck. We planted these from seeds that we purchased from Rene’s Garden. The package calls them Watercolor Silksand they live up to their name.

Light Orange Dahlia from the container garden

I bring them in and let them fully open up inside on the kitchen table.

We have lots of Echinacea in our cutting garden. We looked this flower up and it is in the aster family! Can you count the petals?

Bee Balm
We were not sure about the Bee Balm so we looked it up on Wikipedia…no, it is not in the aster family. Knowing what makes an aster an aster, we should have known better. Sometimes it adds to the learning experience to NOT find what you are looking for because it makes you stop and take note of the different attributes of a flower like petal arrangement and the way the flower grows.

The nasturtium is also not a member of the aster family. I would love to have a whole bed of nasturtiums. I settled for four scrawny plants this year. There is a study in the Handbook of Nature Study for the nasturtium and I think our family will be following up this aster study with that one in the near future…just for fun and to record this flower in our nature journals.

Other Miscellaneous Garden Adventures from the Past Month

Cabbage White butterfly
We have lots of Cabbage White butterflies in our garden everyday. I really love this link: Cabbage White. I learned so much by taking the time to look up this butterfly even though it was technically garden flower week. I love it when nature study subjects come to us and we slow down enough to learn a few facts. This is what makes our nature study so rich and satisfying. I think it is such a joy to know about the common everyday things in my garden. There is so much to learn.

Hot Cocoa Rose - Shores Acres

We visited a beautiful rose garden when we were on our Oregon trip last month. Shores Acres has a garden that is so magical that you don’t know where to look and you are afraid you are going to miss something. The rose above is my absolute new favorite…it is called Hot Cocoa. It had a slight chocolate fragrance and the color was reminiscent of cocoa.

Barb at Shores Acres
A rare sighting of me on the blog but I want you to know how much I enjoyed this rose garden. My son obliged me by taking a few photos of me as we wandered around and tried to find our favorites.

Shores Acres Rose Garden 1

My other son decided that the bench was just too inviting and he rested awhile in the rose garden…what a great way to spend a few minutes while you wait for your mom who decided she wanted to read very sign.

OHC Blog Carnival
So have you completed your garden flower study for the summer yet using the Handbook of Nature Study? I would love to see your garden entries in the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival…you have until the end of the month to post your entry and send in your links.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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OHC More Nature Study Book #4 – Flowers: Aster, Daisy, Black-Eyed Susan

This is the last challenge in the More Nature Study Book #4 series of challenges for the summer! I can hardly believe it…this summer has flown by and I know that many of you are back to school already.

I think we left one of the best summer challenges for the last. Garden flowers are such a joy this time of year and whether you make your observations out in your garden, bring the cut flowers inside and place them in a vase, or purchase a pot of flowers from the garden nursery, this challenge is going to help you see some interesting things about flowers.

I will post ideas for nature study for the remainder of August but they will not be formal challenges. The next formal challenge will come on September 7, 2012. Remember to download and read your August newsletter so you will know the latest Outdoor Hour Challenge news, including how the changes in how the newsletter and Friday posts will work together.

More Nature Study Book #4 
Summer Flower Study: 
White Daisies, Black-eyed Susans, and Asters

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 522-524 (Lessons 139 and 140). As directed, see Lesson 131 (Composite Flowers) for suggestions for observations. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 506-508 (Lesson 133).
  • Advanced Study: Fibonacci Sequence in Nature– YouTube Video: Nature By Numbers. (This was fascinating to me…stick with it until the end.) Also this one has more of a broad explanation: Fibonacci and the Golden Mean.
  • Introduce the idea of patterns in nature to younger children. For this challenge you will be counting petals. Ebook users: Take a look at the Count the Petals page and see if you can find the Fibonacci numbers. Be on the alert for flowers with petals to count in your garden.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • This is garden flower week! Spend time in a flower garden…hopefully one in your own backyard. Observe any flowers you have available but especially the daisy-like flowers or composites. Make careful observations of the disc and ray flowers. Sunflowers are a perfect example for beginners to learn about composite flowers if you would like an alternative.
  • Count petals of flowers. Look for the Fibonacci numbers.
  • Bring in a bouquet of flowers to observe in your follow-up activity. (You can purchase a bouquet if needed.)

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Sketch some flowers in your nature journal. Make sure to note the number of petals and if you see the spiral pattern.
  • Advanced study: Complete a nature journal entry for your flower using a field guide.
  • Optional advanced study: Research and record a biography of Leonardo Fibonacci.

Additional Links:
YouTube: How To Grow Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans)
YouTube: Tips for Growing Daisies
YouTube: Learning about Asters

All the summer challenges for 2012 are included in the new More Nature Study Book #4 Summer Sizzle ebook. The challenges in the ebook are the same challenges that will post every Friday here on my blog. If you want to follow along with notebook pages and coloring pages, click over and learn more about the ebook.

More Nature Study Summer @handbookofnaturestudy


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Fall Wildlfowers – Alternate to the Milkweed Study


Many areas do not have milkweed to observe right now and I have had requests for alternate flowers to study. So here are some ideas for an alternative to your More Nature Study #1 Milkweed Study.


I mentioned in the challenge that you can find several alternate flowers in the Handbook of Nature Study. Anna Botsford Comstock gives us some ideas and I suggested “check for other fall blossoming wildflowers to observe like: Jewel Weed (Lesson 134), Late blooming Goldenrod (Lesson 132), or Asters (Lesson 133). ”


I have been doing additional research and you can also look for mullein (Lesson 146), dandelions (Lesson 144), sunflowers (Lesson 159), and several flowers not found in the Handbook of Nature Study– gentians, yarrow, or chrysanthemum. Hope that helps your family to complete the #1Milkweed Study (alternate study-any fall blooming flower).

Dandelion up close
Mullein September
Mullein in my backyard right now…not very pretty.

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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.