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The Ultimate Mammals Homeschool Nature Study Using Outdoor Hour Challenges

You can enjoy a simple mammals homeschool nature study with these resources we have gathered for you to use in your own backyard. It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures!

NOTE: All of the mammals homeschool nature study resources listed are available as an Outdoor Hour Challenge in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. If you have a membership, you will be able to pull up the Outdoor Hour Challenge curriculum and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your mammals nature study.

Wondering how to start? Grab our FREE Getting Started with Homeschool Nature Study Guide!

Mammals Homeschool Nature Study Using Outdoor Hour Challenges (in Nature Study Membership)

  • Animal Tracks Hunt – Mammals Outdoor Hour Challenge
  • Bats – Summer course
  • Bear – Forest Fun course
  • Beavers
  • Cats – Spring course
  • Cattle and Deer – Winter Continues course
  • Chipmunks – Autumn course (An example of a chipmunks and squirrel study with Homeschool Nature Study here)
  • Coyote – High Desert course
  • Elk – High Desert ebook
  • Goats – More Spring Nature Course
  • Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel – High Desert course
  • Horses – Autumn course
  • Moose – Forest Fun course
  • Mountain Lion – High Desert course
  • Mouse – More Summer course
  • Muskrat – Creepy Things course
You can enjoy a simple mammals homeschool nature study with these resources we have gathered for you to use in your own backyard.
  • Pig – Autumn Continues course
  • Pocket Gopher – High Desert course
  • Porcupine – Forest Fun course
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons – Summer course
  • Rats
  • River Otter – High Desert course
  • Sheep – More Winter course
  • Skunks – Summer course
  • Skunks and Badgers
  • Squirrels and Squirrels with Rodent Notebooking Page
  • Winter Mammals from Winter Wednesday course
  • Winter Mammals Hiberation – Winter Wednesday course
  • Winter Mammal Tracks – Winter course
  • Wolf, Fox, and Dog
  • Woodchuck, Groundhog, Prairie Dog, and Marmot
We’re starting with a favorite topic, black bears! Enjoy a bear nature study in your homeschool with this Outdoor Hour Challenge and bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in your homeschool.

Additional Mammal Homeschool Activities Included with Membership

  • Mammal Outdoor Hour Challenge Notebook Page
  • Mammal notebook page
  • Running List of Mammals printable notebook page
  • Looking for Signs and Tracks
  • Mammal nature study journal idea printable. Mammals at the zoo.
homeschool nature study membership for families

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

Can you believe all of these mammals resources you will find in membership? You will also find a continuing series on mammals 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!

first published 2011 by Barb and updated by Tricia 2022

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Our Winter Willow Observations-Buds, Galls, and Beavers

This was the week we made our winter willow observations. It’s been cold and snowy, but we put on our boots and hiked out to the willow we tied the string onto earlier in autumn. I’m glad we marked it with a string back in the autumn because right now all the willows look very similar.

12 31 18 winter willow study gall  (2)

 

Here’s a photo of the willow, leafless and bare except for a few straggly brown leaves.

12 31 18 winter willow study gall  (3)

 

Isn’t this color amazing? From a distance the willows are a rusty red but up close they are a bright orange. There are small buds just waiting to burst open once the season turns warmer.

12 31 18 winter willow study gall  (5)

It was exciting to find a rose shaped insect gall on a branch. I learned all about this interesting creation last year and it’s still thrilling to discover another one this season.

12 31 18 winter willow study gall  (1)

It looks like a wooden rose on the willow…so pretty.

 

12 31 18 winter willow study gall  (4)

It’s no surprise to us that the beavers have been harvesting branches from the willows since the autumn season. You can see the evidence of their work in the image above. This is just another chapter in our beaver story…I’ve grown to appreciate their part of the habitat and its changing development.

It’s never too late to start your own year-long willow study, even if you didn’t start it back in autumn. Pick up here and join us! Click the graphic below to go to the original winter study challenge here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Willow StudyPerhaps you don’t have any willows to study in your neighborhood, but I invite you to take a look at the winter seasonal nature study ideas I’ve collected over the years. You may just find a topic that interests your family and you can get started with your own year-long study. Click the graphic below and see the complete list.

Seasonal+Topics+Reminders+Winter+@handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com.jpg

Winter Season Nature Study – Seasonal Ideas

 

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Final Nature Goal Update for 2018

2018 Nature Study Goals @handbookofnaturestudy

4th Quarter Updates – Including Our Amazing North American Beaver

The winter season is upon us as well as the end of another calendar year. I won’t lie. I am so ready for the change. Since the middle of October, I have been sitting and gazing out the window for the most part. After a bilateral hip replacement, for weeks I couldn’t even get in my car because my legs hardly bent.

walking to the river in the snow

Thankfully, the view out my window is never boring and it’s constantly changing, providing endless delight with its animals, birds, clouds, and landscape view of the mountains. But, I watch my husband as he hikes to the river each day with our dog and I’m so ready to be out there with them! I’m learning patience.

Now, as I’m writing this update, I’m a little more mobile and starting to use a cane. The trouble is the weather has descended upon us and many days the snow and icy pavement make it a challenge to walk even with help.

Being confined indoors and doing a lot of sitting was conducive to making plans and thinking of future nature study projects. I made lists of new printable notebook pages for 2019 and planned out six new ebooks full of exciting nature study topics. I’m also reading lots of nature related books and field guides. My own nature journal has received a lot of attention as I keep notes of animals we capture on our critter cam and I catch up on things I’ve wanted to learn about from previous adventures. In the end, I’m making good use of my down time as I recover from this major surgery.

Dreaming of the new trails I will explore with new hips and no pain.

 

Now for the results of my 4th quarter goals-

Nature Observer guided journal 2018 collage

Finish up the year in my Nature Observer Guided Journal.

Successfully stuck with this journal all year! I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this project. This pre-planned journal provided just the motivation I needed to keep a regular, almost daily, record of our nature experiences. It has inspired me to continue this routine and even improve on it with some ideas I thought of as I worked through the suggested activities.

This is the nature journal I used for the 2018 year and LOVED it! Please know this is an Amazon affiliate link to a book I purchased and used and love and highly recommend.


Project Feederwatch 2018 tally in Nature ObserverParticipate in Project Feederwatch.

Accomplished this!  Counting birds is just a given in our weekly routine. 10 species so far, 50 total birds counted.
barb at the river for the first time dec 2018
Walk as much as possible, allowing for healing from my hip surgery.

Accomplished! I’m back at my daily walking, even if it’s just down the driveway to look at the trees and birds. I’ve made it out the back gate a couple times, but the frozen snow and ground are a little bit difficult for me still. It will be a joy to walk freely and I’m starting to see the end of this challenging recovery.

Read at least two nature related books from my personal library.

Accomplished! I’ve been reading so much! I pulled lots more books off my own book shelves and ordered up loads of books from my local public library. I rarely get the chance to just sit and read so what a pleasure it has been to stick my nose in a book.

beavers at the river nov 2018
The most exciting nature find of the year happened during this last quarter of 2018. We finally captured a video of the beaver we’ve been chasing since last year. We used my critter cam and put it down by the river where we noticed they were gnawing on a tree. Then, after it was down on the ground, we were able to position the camera between the river and the tree. At last! We not only saw one beaver but two working together to take the limbs off the tree and then drag them down into the water. What an awesome experience!

It’s been a wonderful year of nature study for me personally. As always, I’m looking forward to setting and working on new goals in 2019.

Nature Study Goals 2019 Planning Page

Would you like to join me? I’ve created a planning sheet for you to use as you create your nature study goals. Please feel free to print and share as much as you like. If you post your goals somewhere on the internet, send me the link and I will pop over and read your thoughts!

Nature Study Goals 2019 Planning Page

Thanks for your support of all I do here on the Handbook of Nature Study!

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Outdoor Mom- February 2018

Outdoor Mom – February 2018

It’s been unusually warm here in Central Oregon; some days the thermometer rises up to temperatures that are to be expected in spring. Well, you know that just makes me want to be outside and continue exploring!

tree silhouette

During our outdoor time this month we went….looking at tree silhouettes.

We don’t have a huge variety of trees in our area, mostly pines and a few aspens. I absolutely love the aspens and the big gorgeous ponderosa pines. The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter trees helped us get to know our new habitat better.

tree bark

Side note: It’s hard to take a good tree silhouette photo.

winter grasses

I’m dreaming about….the green grasses and plants of summer.

The Outdoor Hour Challenge for winter weeds focused our attention on the plants we see during our river walks. Mostly dried and packed down by the winter snow, the winter weeds we observed are pretty much done for the season. But, on closer inspection, we can see new green growth starting to sprout underneath….that is exciting.

Our outdoor time made us ask….who made the trails in the weeds?

I noticed last month there appear to be “trails” under the weeds where small animals are moving around beneath the matted grasses. Some of the trails lead to holes and have fresh dirt at the openings. Could these be the subnivean zone trails of our local rodents?

rodent scat

I even found a spot that has a pile of scat, small little droppings sort of like mouse scat but much lighter in color. Fascinating!

feb kayak

The most inspiring thing we experienced…seeing beaver bank dens.

The ongoing hunt to actually see our beavers down at the river continued this month as we took to our kayaks and floated over to the opposite side of the river to check out some activity we could see going on over there.

beaver slide

On this warm afternoon, we spotted lots of signs of beaver activity like gnawed willow branches, beaver “slides” where they enter and exit the water, and trees that the beavers cut down.

beaver cut tree

We spent an hour or so traipsing around the willows and trees and along the river bank trying to see where they are living. We found a spot on the bank that looked like it was a possibility so we got back into the kayaks and checked it out from the water side.

bank den beaver

Could this be it? When we got back home, we researched bank dens of beavers and discovered this is exactly the kind of place they create for shelter. We’ve been looking for the typical beaver lodge with its big mound of branches and a dam. But, we have learned that they will create hollows in the river bank to make a series of dens for living space.

Now we need to get out there at a time they’re active which is typically an hour before darkness or at sunrise. I have a friend who lives down river from us and he says he has seen the beavers out in the late afternoon and he’s heard their tails slapping on the water so that gives me a glimmer of hope that we may see our beavers if we’re persistent.

february elk

One more image….our elk!

Finally, the elk have returned to our neighborhood. We had visitors from California that were keen to see them and we spotted them not too far from the house. Then the next week, we had four elk right behind our fence in the early morning hours. It was barely light enough to spot them but they stuck around for a little while and I was able to get an image. They are such beautiful animals, much larger than expected, and so agile as they move along. I’m looking forward to observing them until the late spring when they return to the mountains.

 

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge

Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. If you would like me to take a look at one of your images on Instagram, use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge

Want to join in the Outdoor Mom post?

Answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on my blog in a comment. If you answer on your blog, make sure to leave me a link in a comment so that I can pop over and read your responses.

  • During our outdoor time this month we went….
  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • One last image…

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Our Central Oregon November World

November World – Central Oregon High Desert

November World Central Oregon

We’ve only lived here in Central Oregon since May so we haven’t experienced all of the seasons yet. The November World Outdoor Hour Challenge suggested comparing the things we see this week with another season. I guess that means I would need to compare my November habitat to that of summertime. We had such a glorious summer season with lots of time spent outdoors so this should be fairly easy.

Image of the frozen slough

The river behind our house runs year round but there is a small slough that was filled up with water in May and almost dried up in mid-summer. Right now it has lots of water and at times is covered in a sheet of ice. When we moved in last May, we could pull our kayaks out to this slough and make it out to the main river, but by the end of June it was landlocked again. We’ve been keeping track of the amount of water as it rises higher with the rains and snow.

Image of grasses

The green grasses of early summer are all gone, either from the cattle grazing or from it turning brown in the freezing temperatures. There are small patches of yellow-gold, tall grass still showing in areas and we read that this is what the winter elk will be eating because it will be sticking up out of the snow. I am anxious to see if the elk come back….they left in late spring when the deer showed up.

Most of the trees in our area are evergreens so they look pretty much the same as in the summer. There are lots of cones on the ground and the squirrels have been very busy gathering them up. We will have up to five gray squirrels in our yard at a time scurrying around under the feeders and up in the trees.

Image of the willows -red

The river willows are all barren but are still very pretty with their reddish-orange colored twigs.  The leaves are gone but there are buds forming with the spring time leaves sleeping inside.

Image of the beaver cut willows

The beavers are cutting the willow limbs and dragging them down to the river. We’ve been trying to find where they are taking all of the willows but have been unsuccessful. We think it may be easier to spot their activity once the snow is blanketing the ground and we can see tracks or other signs of their movements. I am thoroughly enjoying the investigating of the beavers…it’s a bit like finding treasure when we see some tracks or cut willows.

Image of geese

The Canada goose are back on the river. We often see up to 12 at a time as they float in the eddy near our house. I’m not sure if they will be winter residents or not. You know I will be watching! (The image above is my best attempt at sneaking up on the geese and getting a photo.)

All in all, November has been a really good month for being outdoors for our family. There were some cold, snowy days but we are finding that even on a snowy day, if you bundle up right, getting outside is a refreshing experience and makes my attitude more positive.

1 Outdoor Hour Challenge Oct 17 to Aug 18 Plans

If you want to follow along with the next series of Winter Outdoor Hour Challenges, we will be starting them up again in January. Make sure to subscribe to my blog and you will receive a new Outdoor Hour Challenge right in your inbox every Friday. There is no commitment to do every one. Winter can be a hard time to keep nature study going with your family but I guarantee you if you get them outside, even for fifteen minutes once a week, you will see the benefit in better attitudes (including yours!)  Click the link above for more information on the nature study plans for the complete year using the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

You can subscribe to my blog here: Handbook of Nature Study Email Subscription

 Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Use the discount code Nature5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Membership!

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No Snow Study- Winter Walk Instead

Winter Walk Snow Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com
Our winter continues to be warmer than normal…even record-breaking temperatures. As much as I love the warm afternoons and sunshine, I am concerned for the drying up reservoirs and the very dry forest conditions. I know I have no power to bring on the rain and snow so I am trying to make the best of it.

This week’s Winter Snow challenge was a big challenge indeed. We did find a bit of snow up the mountain from our house but not a whole lot. We opted to complete the Winter Nature Walk- Scavenger Hunt activity from Hearts and Trees.


I took an image of the page with my phone and we used that during our hike to remember the things we were looking for as we went.

Here are our results:

An evergreen
Buds on a tree
We decided this duck weed was more interesting than moss.
Trees that have lost all their leaves – aspens
a bird – Steller’s Jay
We didn’t find any berries but this rose hip was certainly colorful.
Something with thorns
Pinecones – The squirrels had lunch on the picnic table!
Feather

One last image from our hike at Taylor Creek. The beavers have been clear cutting a lot of the trees along the water. They have quite a few trees that are ready to fall as well. The dam is getting huge! Amazing creatures with incredible strength.

We are still waiting for some real snow here and I will keep the snow study in the back of my mind for a future time. I hope some of you were more successful with this challenge or you took advantage of the scavenger hunt instead.

 

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Winter Snowshoe Hike – Jays, Tracks, and Weeds

Winter Snow and Weeds
Tahoe National Forest – California

When I posted on Facebook yesterday that we were going to head out to snowshoe, the weather forecast said something like “partly cloudy, high of 52 degrees, and 10% chance of precipitation”. Sounded good to me. Well no one told us that between our house and our hiking spot that there was going to be dense fog, drizzle, and the temperatures were falling into the 30’s.

I knew Mr. B was anxious to test out his new snowshoes so I didn’t want to disappoint him and we kept going up over the mountain. Once over the mountain it cleared up and we had lots of clouds but no rain.

Tracks in the snow
Needless to say, we kept our eyes on the sky, checking for signs we were going to get rained or snowed. We had the snow to ourselves, not counting the many animal tracks that were visible. So many tracks going so many directions…there must be a whole forest full of animals out there.

Stellers Jay in the bushes
Isn’t this a surprising sight of brilliant blue on this winter day? Steller’s jays are common and this one was posing for my camera. I love the blue feathers on the nose. My field guide says that these jays are “inquisitive, intelligent, and noisy”. Yep, that totally describes this bird.

Stellers Jay flying
We couldn’t resist seeing if we could lure the jay closer and Mr. B had a pocket full of pretzels. One little bit of pretzel and that Steller’s jay came swooping down for a tasty treat, making his shook-shook-shook sound as he flew.

Snowshoe Taylor Creek
We had to go the long way around since the beavers have now completely dammed up the water in the creek and the resulting pond has spread over the normal trail. This is where we saw the salmon spawning last fall and the mama bear with cubs. No signs of them now, although it smells rather fishy around this bend in the creek from all the dead fish remains.

Taylor Creek with snow and tracks
We hiked along the creek a little way and we noticed that there are places where the creek mud is piled up onto the banks. We could see lots of little animal tracks around the mud but I’m still not sure what kind of animal did this and what they were doing. Winter hikes can lead to lots of questions. You can see the muddy sludge…it is the black stuff there along the edge.

Aspens in the Snow
I never get tired of looking at the landscape here at Taylor Creek. The patterns of the tree trunks against the Sierra sky in the winter is amazing and beautiful. Some people get to look out their living room windows and view a similar scene and I wonder if they stop seeing the awesomeness of it. I come here a dozen times a year and I never tire of this place.

Snowshoe tracks
When you are on snowshoes, you can follow tracks as much as you want but I am always a little afraid of getting out into the forest too far….I have a terrible sense of direction. This area is easy to navigate because I can hear the highway in the distance and I generally know which direction I need to head to get back to the trailhead. Here is an example of a nice clear print in the snow.

Winter Weeds
We did a little preliminary winter weed study while we were out traipsing around the woods. There were plenty of subjects even with snow on the ground. I just liked the way this one looked. I think it is a corn lily. Next week we plan on doing a whole winter weed study so we will revisit these images then.
Winter Snoeshoe Hike
So our first real snowshoe of the year is over and we didn’t get rained or snowed on. We were bundled up warmly so it was really a delight to be outdoors exploring just the two of us. Mr. B decided his snowshoes were perfect and now we will be able to explore the woods in winter as part of our Outdoor Hour Challenges.

You can read more about hiking in winter on my Squidoo page for tips on how to make it fun:
Winter Nature Walks

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November Nature Study – Autumn Hiking Delights

The mountains and forest had been calling for us to come and explore the season before the winter sets in any time now. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies and perhaps a few snow flurries so we didn’t plan too long of a hike just in case we needed to move quickly to shelter. The sun actually poked through the clouds a few times and that was a welcome treat.

Beaver Work
Right near where we parked the car and started on the trail we noticed that a beaver had gnawed this tree down…can you believe how strong that beaver must be? We weren’t sure if he was going to come back for the log but we marveled at his ability to bring down a rather large tree.

Aspens in November
We hiked through the mixed conifer and deciduous forest, noting that the aspens were all bare but still very beautiful. We listened to the bird sounds and a squirrel chattering too. We saw and heard Steller’s jays, common ravens, California gulls, mallard ducks, white-headed woodpeckers, Canada geese, and an osprey. It was a great day for birds.

Taylor Creek Eagle Habitat
We stopped along the trail to view the meadow and marsh. This spot is known to be an eagle habitat so I had my eyes open wide hoping to see one this day. And…..I was not disappointed. A bald eagle flew very majestically above the meadow from the pine forest and then out over the lake. I was very excited to see this graceful bird as he flew right overhead and then disappeared. It was a moment.

In the photo above you can see how it was snowing up on the mountain peak and we even at one point had soft flakes of snow coming down on us but it didn’t last long or stick to the ground at all. It was a perfect day for a hike.

Tahoe Eagle Journal
Journal tip: It can be overwhelming when you have so many subjects to write about in your journal. It helps to focus on just one of the highlights like our encounter with the eagle and a list of birds. I don’t like to draw birds so I used a photo and then answered the three main questions: when, where, what.

Pinecone - Andy Goldsworthy Style
When I take my creative daughter with me, we always find a way to do something fun. This time we settled on making an Andy Goldworthy style art piece using natural items. There were loads of pinecones on the ground so we decided to feature those in our sculpture.

Pinecones
While we were busy with our sculpture, my husband added this line of pinecones leading down the stairway to our artwork. It made me smile and feel appreciative of the support of a great guy for his nature-loving wife.

Thistles in November
On the hike back we found a patch of thistles to admire. After studying them this autumn I have a new found appreciation for their features. So pretty even now.

Taylor Creek Beaver Dam
We also saw where the beaver is attempting to build a dam across the creek. The creek is flooding part of the trail right now because of the water backed up behind the dam. We had to circle around to avoid needing to wade through the creek. This is exactly where we saw the mama and two baby bear cubs earlier this fall…no signs of them now.

As always, we were rewarded for our efforts to get outdoors and do some exploring. The informal nature study opportunities were everywhere and I made some mental notes on topics we were curious about as we hiked along. Some afternoon on a cold winter day I will pull out some field guides and we will research a few of the answers to our questions. Nature study truly is a life project.

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Beavers, Fur, and Rocks: Our Family’s Outdoor Hour Challenge

This week we took time to review a little bit about beavers since we regularly visit an area where we see evidence of them. If you read my blog regularly, you have seen photos of the beaver lodges and the trees gnawed on by beavers.


My son really enjoyed watching the YouTube videos on beavers and we read the section in the Handbook on muskrats.

Our outdoor time this week was spent exploring an area off the trail we normally take. It led us to what we are now calling Fern Gully. This area is found by following what we think is a deer trail down off the main trail and into a steep little gully. We have heard water running in this area before and we presume that when it rains hard enough there is water running down the rocks. We will test our theory the next chance we get.

Here is another photo looking the other way down the gully.

There are lots of blackberry vines. We are interested to see how this area looks in the summertime. We imagine it being a cool place to sit in the shade. It should be interesting to see how the area changes as the seasons change.

We found more fur on the side of the trail…a lot this time.

We still are puzzled by the fur mystery. I looked at it very closely and it is really fluffy and very soft. It is white…with a slight yellowish color to it. There is no blood or tracks or other signs of struggle. I have no idea where it came from but this is the third spot on the mile and a half trail that we have seen this fur. Last week we began to wonder if it was a dog’s fur but it just doesn’t feel like any dog fur that I have felt before. Someone suggested in a comment that it could be sheep’s wool but it is no way the texture of wool and there are definitely no sheep in this area. Hmmmm…still wondering.


We came across an area that has these wonderful quartz rocks. Really, really pretty.

Here is the backside.

I am so interested in studying rocks but I am nervous about being overwhelmed with trying to identify them. Any suggestions?

Well, that wraps up this post for our Outdoor Hour Challenge this week. We had some adventures and some good questions this week. Last night we had two inches of snow so we were able to complete our Winter Wednesday snow activities from a few weeks ago. I was glad that we had planned ahead of time and had the experiments in our mind as it began to snow. I will post those results soon.

 

Quartz samples

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #48 Mammals-Rats and Beavers


Outdoor Hour Challenge
#48 Rats and Beavers

How about some beaver videos to get some interest started for your Outdoor Hour Challenge?

YouTube Video with Beaver Information:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZVbKwDmr-o

YouTube Video on Beaver Lodges:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuMRDZbrdXc

YouTube Video: Beavers in the Snow
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgAux-KaaMk

We found what looks like a beaver lodge on our walk a few days ago. This one isn’t as large as the one that we observed before but it was still exciting to see in real life. If you look closely, you may be able to see where something has been going in and out. It may be that this is an old or abandoned beaver lodge and something else has taken up residence…not sure.

1. Read pages 219-223 in the Handbook of Nature Study. As you read, highlight or underline some facts you can share with your children. Share some interesting facts about the muskrat with your child.

You may wish to share what makes a rodent different than other mammals. Here is a link to read with them about rodents.
What is a Rodent? (information and activity page)

2. Supplemental reading in The Burgess Animal Book for Children: Read Stories 12-14. After you read each story, pause and let your child narrate back some facts they learned from the reading. Pages 60, 73, and 79 show illustrations for the animals discussed in this week’s challenge. Use these illustrations if needed to help your child narrate some facts about the animals in this week’s challenge.


3. This week during your 10-15 minutes of outdoor time, look for any mammals in your neighborhood or in a near-by park. Many of us do not have muskrats or beavers in our region but we can still take this opportunity to spend time outdoors with our children. If you are fortunate enough to have access to an area with muskrats, the observation ideas in the Handbook of Nature Study suggest looking for muskrat tracks in the mud along a creek, pond, or marsh. The book also suggests looking to see what kind of mark the muskrat’s tail makes in the mud and snow.

You can also use this week’s walk to use all of your senses. Challenge yourselves to touch, observe, smell, listen, and perhaps even taste something while on your nature walk this week. (Caution your children about tasting anything without asking you first.)

4. For your nature journal you can sketch something you observed during your outdoor time or you can complete a mammal notebook page for the muskrat or the beaver. You may wish to sketch the simple diagram on page 220 showing how a muskrat makes his burrow. You could also do some additional research and find two different kinds of rats to learn about and then record what you learn in your nature journal. Another idea would be to compare and contrast a muskrat and a beaver in your nature journal.

Additional resources for this challenge:

Mammals Notebooking Pages

You may wish to check out this product from NotebookingPages.com. I am an affiliate for this fantastic program and would love for you to see if it is a great fit for your family. We used these pages for many years in our own homeschool.