Autumn is here and we can start planning some of our autumn year-long nature study observations. There are so many that you can choose from but the trick is to pick one and remember to complete a study in each season.
Have you picked your topics yet?
Here are some ideas from year-long nature study topics we have done in the past:
Fall fun! It is time to really sink our teeth into some fall nature study and start looking for signs of fall. You can use any of the activities listed below to get your Outdoor Hour Challenge started this week.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #8-Using a Magnifying Lens.This is always a great challenge for children to complete…nature study tools make it so much more fun! Don’t forget to pull out the accompanying notebook page for your child to record their findings or they can use a blank page in their nature journal if they wish.
Use any of the Outdoor Hour Challenges below to complete an Autumn Tree Nature Study. Feel free to pick and choose any of the suggested activities that you think will fit your area and interests. Spend some time outdoors looking at trees with your children…see the beauty in this time of year!
Color Hunt Printable Cards
Use these color word cards to stimulate a fun nature study related activity. Challenge your child to find something of each color during your Outdoor Hour Challenge time. This can be part of your Autumn Tree Study or any other study you complete throughout the year.
TIPS: These cards can be printed on cardstock or cut and pasted to index cards. If you only have a black and white printer, have your children color the words or the border with markers before going outside.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #7-Your Own Field Guide. Use the ideas in this challenge to start your own field guide pages using the trees in your yard or neighborhood. Add to your tree field guide from time to time and as the years go by you will have built a record of many trees right in your own yard! Use the accompanying notebook page to get started or a blank nature journal page for each tree.
Note for those that coming up on their spring season, you can use the Spring Cattail Study if you would like!
Additional Activity – Cattail Acrostic Poetry Activity
Just for fun, I have created an acrostic poetry notebook page for you to use to go along with your cattail study. For each letter in the word “cattail”, have your child write a word or phrase that describes the cattail. Use the box on the page for a sketch, a rubbing, or a photo. This is meant to be a fun way to extend your cattail study so you might offer to help your child or you can skip it until a future date.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started Ebook, you may wish to completeGetting Started – Challenge #9 Small Square Study. You can use the ideas in this challenge to complete a small square study at your cattail habitat. Use the accompanying notebook page to record your results.
Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week spend your outdoor time enjoying the daily weather. Keep track of your weather for a week, recording the temperature, rainfall, etc. You can use any of the free printables on my Freebies Page. Look there for the seasonal weather pages and the weather chart.
You can also use any of the Seasonal Weather Challenges from the past that are appropriate for your time of the year:
Printable Notebook Page: During your seasonal weather observations, take a photo of something that shows your current weather conditions. Better yet, let your children take the images and then print them out for a personalized nature journal entry. This can be done in each season and recorded in your nature journal’s seasonal section.
Printable Notebook Page:My Seasonal Weather. Getting Started Suggestion: If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #10.I realize that this is a cold time of year (or hot for you Southern Hemisphere folks) for many of you but there are ways to make a “picnic” happen even if you just drive in the car, park under a tree, and enjoy some sandwiches and hot cocoa. Get creative! If you have a picnic, make sure to take a photo to include in your nature journal. I will challenge myself to taking a picnic in the next few weeks with my family and I will post our experiences here on the blog.
Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week’s challenge kicks off our weather study for the month. Keep your outdoor time very casual and open-ended by just taking a short walk together, noting your weather conditions. You can combine this week’s challenge with aseasonal tree study (printables available)or you can find something for your winter nature table. You will find nature table ideas in the December 2012 newsletter.
The most important aspect of this week’s challenge is to get outside! Fifteen minutes is not too long for anyone…no matter the conditions. Dress appropriately, have a positive attitude, and watch the magic happen.
Printable Notebook Page The Four Seasons-In My World:This week the Outdoor Hour Challenge extra activity is another printable for you to use as part of your weather study. Use this page to record the exact dates of each of your seasons, depending on which hemisphere you live in. Discuss with your children how each of the seasons is a little different and have them draw a scene from their favorite season for their nature journal.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, turn to Outdoor Hour Challenge #1. Use the ideas there for an open-ended time outdoors this week following your child’s lead. Casually mention the weather and you can discuss the seasons after you come back indoors. Complete the accompanying notebook page if your child has interest.
Autumn in our part of the world has been very mild and sunny. We would have a few days of rain and then the sunshine would be back to draw us outdoors again. Our garden has never been so tidy and neat for the autumn season. We have been able to work in some new bulbs and replant our deck containers. The leaves have fallen in small batches so we have easily kept up with the raking and composting.
That all changed this week.
We had wind and lots of rain. The leaves fell from the trees like crazy and made big mounds in the street gutters. At last, it seemed like a true autumn. The leaves made beautiful mosaics of color on the ground.
My husband sees the leaves differently since has spent the last few weeks being able to keep up with the leaves that fell.
Now he is overwhelmed.
It really is a case of whether you see the glass half full or half empty.
I see the colors and shapes as an inspiration so I run inside to find my camera and to capture the moment.
Here are some more of the images I was able to gather from my yard on this beautiful autumn morning.
This is on the side yard where in the spring I have my daffodils.
Kona was glad to be able to get outdoors with her ball between rain storms.
The birds have cleaned out this birdfeeder in less than a day. This time of year I need to fill them up more often for the finches, sparrows, nuthatches, juncos, towhees, and jays that come to enjoy their daily seeds.
Kona doesn’t see the problem with the piles of leaves since exploring the yard and sniffing the smells of autumn delight her and she never tires of it. She is an optimist like me.
I am going to take the colors from these images and make a color palette in my nature journal…yellows, greens, browns, reds, purples, and oranges. Watercolor crayons or pencils? I will share my colorful mosaic when I finish.
The best part of autumn is taking in the fruits of the season. Apples, apples, apples, and more apples. We visited the apple orchard (which has much more than apples this time of the year) and enjoyed some freshly pressed apple cider, apple doughnuts, and picking out quite a few apples to take home.
Yes, I said apple doughnuts. I don’t usually eat doughnuts but this time of year it is a tradition that I like to indulge in with my men. I eat one and they have two or three. Crumb, cinnamon sugar, glaze??? They are all delicious.
In every plant, and bird and insect there is a life-history to be learned more interesting than any story, and I would urge parents to make themselves acquainted with these life-histories by obtaining and studying some of the many admirable books on Natural History which abound in the present day. They will then be enabled to pass on the information in happy talks with their children till they become eager little naturalists, loving the book of nature and seeing in it, not only endless things to admire and wonder at, but evidences, on all sides, of the works of an all-wise and kind Creator, Who has so marvelously fitted each living thing to fill its appointed place in creation and fulfill the duties assigned to it as a part of a great harmonious whole. Parent’s Review Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 578-584
How much more do we enjoy our apples knowing their life history from twigs and buds in the winter, to leaves and blossoms in the spring, and then fulling enjoying the taste that arrives in a neat little package in the autumn.
It is a wonderful story for children to learn and appreciate.
Applesauce was next on the apple menu…homemade from apples we gleaned from a friend’s orchard. Now we have some jars to enjoy over the next few weeks. Yum!
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We live in an area where Queen Anne’s Lace is abundant and it is a constant part of the scenery all summer long. It lines the roads and fills the empty fields. I am always aware of it now as we hike and spend time outdoors. It makes me think about Anna Botsford Comstock’s words:
“The object of this lesson should be to show the pupils how this weed survives the winter and how it is able to grow where it is not wanted. The weed is very common along most country roadsides, and in many pastures and meadows. It blossoms very late in the autumn, and is available for lessons often as late as November.” Handbook of Nature Study
This year however our family noticed a difference in our summer time Queen Anne’s Lace. Instead of the really tall towering plants with loads of blossoms, we only had short plants which were sparsely covered with flower heads. Our growing season has been very unusual with hotter and drier conditions than the last few years. We are reasoning that that is the cause of the smaller plants. It will be interesting to see the crop that sprouts next year and then make some more comparisons.
Some more Autumn weeds to enjoy.
This is the joy of a year-long nature study of any subject, getting your eyes to see the changes not only from season to season but from year to year.
Since this month’s theme is trees, I thought it might be fun to start a new photo challenge featuring trees.
Here is the challenge:
1. Take a photo of your child (or yourself) with a tree you observe during October 2012.
2. Join my new Pinterest board: Me and My Tree. You can email me with your Pinterest name and I will add you to the board.
3. Pin your photo to the group board. Make sure to leave the tree name in the description and your state and/or country. You do not have to show your child’s face if you don’t want to…be creative.