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Nature Journal – Signs of Spring

We have enjoyed the sweet, sweet days of early spring this week. A little shower of rain and abundant sunshine after that have made for the world of spring to magically open up around us. My gardening days have begun and along with that comes a renewed inspiration to get my nature journal supplies out and create a record of the things around me.

Signs of Spring @handbookofnaturestudy (2)

We have early spring bulbs with a fragrance from heaven. I cut a few to put in a vase for the counter behind my kitchen sink. It makes for a beautiful visual and scent as I do my chores. You can see more ideas for enjoying your Early Spring Bulbs in the Outdoor Hour Challenge from a few weeks ago.

 Early Spring Bulbs and Signs of Spring @handbookofnaturestudy

We have many blooming bushes and plants in our yard…here are a few of my favorites. Use the ideas in the Signs of Spring Outdoor Hour Challenge for your early spring nature study.

It was fun to create a Signs of Spring 2016 nature journal page while I was outdoors. It made me more aware of the surroundings and the many ways we can use our senses to experience the early spring. I could hear the birds singing in the neighborhood, the bushes were moving slightly in the breeze, I saw some sort of insect fly by, and I could feel the warm air and the sunshine on my skin. There is no better way to mark the beginning of the season!

Signs of Spring 2016 @handbookofnaturestudy

I hope you can get outdoors and mark the change of the season in your world…try to make a detailed record of the day.

 Be inspired! Be encouraged! Get outdoors!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Hunt for Early Spring Bulbs

Outdoor Hour Challenge Hunt for Early Spring Bulbs @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Early Spring Bulb Hunt
Archive Challenge

This week take your outdoor hour time to get outside and look for signs of early spring bulbs. You can use the ideas in the Early Spring Bulb challenge from the archives.

Early Spring Bulb Outdoor Hour Challenge

Daffodil nature journal with flowers and watercolors

In that challenge, you will find directions for reading about the crocus, the daffodil, and the tulip in the Handbook of Nature Study. Also, there are suggestions for where to look for bulbs and journaling ideas for your nature journal. You may also wish to view my own entry for ideas on how to complete this challenge: Early Spring Bulb Study-Watercolor Time.

Winter Nature Study ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

If you are a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find this archive challenge in the Winter Nature Study Ebook in your library. In the ebook you will find a custom notebook page designed for use with this particular challenge.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library



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Early Spring Flowers – Nature Study and Art Project

Finch on the Feeder Spring

Our Pansy Study and Early Spring Flowers Challenge

What a splendid time to be out in the garden! Our neighborhood is coming alive with spring blossoms and the birds are flocking to our feeders in record numbers. We have an abundance of house finches this year and they vary in color from light pink to purple to almost orange. Amazing display of creation!

Daffodils and Lavender 2

The early spring bulbs are all up and many are blooming. The daffodils and the grape hyacinth are blazing with color. The forsythia is starting to blossom and the lavender has new flowers for our bees to buzz in. The tulips and iris are all up but just showing lots of green leaves so far.

Daffodils in Vases

We arranged dozens of flowers in the house and our kitchen table is so cheerful and happy. I got out all my vases and dusted them off for the season. I seem to collect pretty vases and I love it even more when they don’t match exactly. Even my hubby had a smile on his face when he spied the colorful flowers on the table.

Pansy Study Collage

So our pansy study consisted mostly of admiring them and recreating them in artwork since we have studied them closely in the past. Mr. B and I had pansy art time on a rainy afternoon. There really is no better way to make yourself examine a subject better than to apply your attention to an art project. Slowing down to discover the shapes, form, and patterns makes a big impression.

Pansy Art - Markers

Mr. B always chooses to work with markers if given the choice but I am still working on feeling comfortable with acrylics. I think these pansy creations are going to be framed and hung in my bathroom vanity area. I have a small collection of floral artwork done by children there already so it will be a perfect fit.

Pansy Art - Acrylics
I played around with the acrylics and a small canvas panel I had from Michaels. I tried not to take myself too seriously and just have fun. Art therapy….even for moms.

So now we are officially finished with the More Nature Study Book 2 – Winter 2012 challenges and we will be going over a few of the suggested Charlotte Mason Exam Questions that are included in the ebook. The thing about Charlotte Mason style questions is that they ask the child to tell back in some way what they know about a topic and never to find out what they don’t know. I do not grade these assignments and look at them as a way for Mr. B to review what we learned and enjoy a little more time together discussing things that are fresh in our minds. I recommend you give it a try if you have the More Nature Study ebook and see how it goes.
More Nature Study Book 3 Cover image
Don’t forget to send me your Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival entries directly since the carnival website is not working.

As a reminder, we will be starting the new More Nature Study Book 3 – Spring Splendor series on March 23, 2012. Just in time for the first days of spring! I look forward to another season of nature study with all of you.

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Spring Was Here and Now It’s Snowing

Snow - Spring Shower
My blog entries over the last few weeks have shown what wonderful spring weather we have been enjoying. This week we had snow, heavy rain, and high winds. In between storms we would rush outdoors to drink in the sunshine and get some fresh air. The daffodils are still blooming, several vases full at a time which contributes to my good mood.

Our signs of spring have been popping up all around us and I made a personal list of things to study in the next few weeks, some with the Handbook of Nature Study and some with my field guide.

1. Dogwood (Handbook of Nature Study page 680)
2. Spotted Towhees-Where do they nest?
3. Red Shouldered Hawk
4. Iris (Handbook of Nature Study page 571)
5. Hair Cap Moss (Handbook of Nature Study page 709)

Dogwood bud 3 16 11

Our new dogwood tree (planted last fall) is beginning to show signs of life. We purchased it when it had lost its leaves already so we are anxious to see it leaf out and blossom too.

Forsythia yellow

Our forsythia continues to spread its own yellowy sunshine in our yard, providing shelter to the sparrows and towhees that sit on its boughs.

Tree Buds

The buds on this tree are ready to burst open and seem to be waiting for just the right moment.

3 17 11 Tulips

Mr. A’s tulip bed shows signs of life this week and on careful examination you can actually see the flower buds forming. Now that says spring!

3 17 11 Laurustinus

Last year I featured this flower in my signs of spring post and I didn’t know what it was called. I have since done my homework to discover its name because I wanted to plant some more in a different area of the yard since it is such a great bloomer. It is Laurustinus – Spring Beauty. I actually found some to purchase at our Home Depot last week and four new plants are happily placed by Mr. A over on the other end of the yard now.

How quickly our weather changes this time of year! We went from sunshine to rain and then to two inches of snow in a matter of hours. Now today it is back to rain again with periods of snow showers that wash away with the next wave of rain.

Daffodils in a Spring Snow

The daffodils still add color to our yard even with the snow coming down. I picked quite a few and brought them inside so it feels like spring at least on the inside of the house.

Birdfeeders in the Snow with Forsythia

The birds were not deterred by the snow and they gathered at the bird feeding station.  We all sat and watched the birds flying in and out as the snowflakes came down all around. They sheltered under the nearby lavender and would pop out to flutter up and take a few nibbles.

So there you go…a wide range of spring weather and lots of promises for a future summer of color and goodness.

Looking forward to seeing your signs of spring this week!

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Early Spring Bulb Study: Watercolor Time

Daffodil journal with watercolors (15)

I started dreaming of spring bulbs blossoming way back in the fall. Although I didn’t feel like getting out and digging the holes and actually planting them, I knew that if we did there would be a springtime show of color.

Well here it comes!

Here is our Early Spring Flower entry for the last challenge of the Winter Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges.

Spring Bulbs 3 15 11

Our fall planted daffodils are adding splashes of yellow to our front yard. You might remember we did a complete remodel of our landscaping last summer/fall and we are just now starting to see the new plants getting green again. It is amazing to look out my front window and see how things are shaping up.

Daffodil 3 16 11

We have had lots of vases inside filled with daffodils….the new ones have rather large blooms.We can all clearly identify all the parts because of previously studying daffodils, including dissecting them. They are still an amazing flower to observe and to marvel at when you think that they come from a dried up old bulb you stick in the ground months ahead of time. They seem to know just when to start growing.

Back of a Daffodil 3 16 11

Don’t you think they are even lovely from the back?


We have jonquils blooming in the yard as well which smell heavenly.

Daffodil journal with watercolors (8)
Another watercolor nature journal today….this one was fun because I used paint splotches at the end to sort of fill in the page. I would love to know from my readers whether my nature journal entries encourage you or discourage you from doing some of your own pages. Leave me a comment or send me an email….

Daffodil journal with watercolors

I have enjoyed seeing your early spring flowers this week and it has recharged me to get going on the next series of spring challenges tomorrow. If you are still experiencing lots of snow and cold temperatures….be encouraged by those of us who are through to the other side of winter already.

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2011 Winter Series OHC #10 Early Spring Flowers

Bulbs 2 13 11 (4)

Winter Series #10 Early Spring Flowers

Hardly seems possible that we will be finished with all our winter nature study after this week! I think completing the challenges makes the time go by faster for some reason. This has certainly been a memorable winter season as far as the weather for most of us and I think we did a great job taking advantage of the opportunities that came our way.

My favorite posts are the ones that share the unexpected joy of winter nature study. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful experiences with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

If you missed last week’s list of spring challenges, here is a LINK.

If you are ready to read some more about the spring series of challenges, I completed a Squidoo page where they are all organized with additional links and ideas.

Thank you to all the Winter Series and Winter Wednesday participants. We enjoyed reading all your entries and sharing your nature study.

Winter Winter Wednesday Button

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Our Early Spring Flowers: Winter Series #10

spring flowers march 10

Today is the warmest day we have had so far this year. It is the kind of day that calls you outside to sit and observe the growing things around you.

I answered the call and sat in the backyard in the sun and soaked in the warmth from the sun, the sounds of birds from every direction, the smells of the garden which were mostly alyssum and lavender, and the colors of the plants, trees, and sky. A hummingbird even buzzed very close to my head just because I imagine he was curious to get a closer look at me.

I have been trying to notice the early spring flowers in our yard and I made note of how others in my life have been noting the blossoms as well. We completed this tour of the garden as part of our Winter Series Challenge #10.

Two blooming tulips
Mr. A came inside yesterday to get me because he noticed that my tulips are blooming on the sunny side of the house. He didn’t know there were tulips planted there so he was surprised. My husband had picked up a inexpensive bag of bulbs from Home Depot and planted them here where we have some daffodils and jonquils already. What a burst of color!

Jonquils in the strawberry bed
Amanda commented on how sweet the jonquils smelled in the vase on the back of the kitchen sink. I love the way I forget where all my bulbs are hiding and it surprises me when they pop up and bloom in unexpected places. These are in the middle of Mr. A’s strawberry bed.

Sideview of Daffodils
Many people I talked to this weekend were talking about the show of daffodils everywhere this week. If you haven’t done a study of the daffodil using the Handbook of Nature Study, I highly recommend it. We completed our study in 2008 and you can read about it HERE.

Grape Hyacinths and dandelions
Mr. A was worried he would cut the grape hyacinths down when he mowed the lawn. Someone planted these bulbs a very long time ago and every year I enjoy them popping up in the front lawn. The purple of the hyacinths and the yellow of the dandelion makes a beautiful picture.

Bulbs in pots
These bulbs are living in containers on my back deck. Every year I enjoy their blooms and then plant annuals over the top once they die back. I think these are daffodils and tulips.

Day lily and the Rabbit
The bulbs here that have sprouted up are not spring blooming but they are day lilies that will bloom later in the summer. I love the way the green leaves are curling around the rabbit and you can see my primroses in the background.

Daylily and the roadrunner
This day lily has a wonderful shape as it grows and I love the way the light was illuminating the edges. You can see my road runner yard art that my husband made me a few years ago in the background. He was inspired by a road runner we saw on a trip.

Tulips still in the bud
One last spot with bulbs to share this time. This bed of tulips I planted two falls ago and it is a complete bed of shades of purple. I am anxiously awaiting its blooms. There is a petunia blooming in the foreground.

Planting spring bulbs is something that comes with a promise. You make the effort to plant and you receive a gift back in the spring with blooming flowers with colors to refresh you after a long winter’s nap. Our think our Creator knew we would need something to look forward to during those cold winter days.

I have to note that I saw California poppies and lupine blooming alongside the freeway today. it is my absolute favorite color combination at this time of year…orange, purple, and green. It is a feast for the eyes.

I look forward to reading everyone else’s entries with their early spring flowers.


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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Winter Series #10 Early Spring Bulbs

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Winter Series Ebook
Early Spring Flowers

“The tulips blossom early, because they have food stored in the bulbs the year before, ready to use early in the spring….These observations may be made upon tulips in school gardens or bouquets.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 554

Inside Preparation Work:
This challenge is to learn a few things about spring flowers and then observe some up close.

Suggested sections in the Handbook of Nature Study:

  • The Crocus: pages 547-549 (make sure to note that it has corms, not bulbs)
  • The Daffodils and their Relatives: pages 549-552
  • The Tulip: pages 552-555

If you can look at real bulbs and observe and sketch them in your nature journal, take time to discuss and compare a bulb to a seed.

Outdoor Hour Time:
Spend your outdoor hour time this week looking for signs of spring bulbs or flowers. If you planted some bulbs in the fall, take a look for any new growth. You may have neighbors that have bulbs sprouting and blooming or there may be some at a near-by park. Many flower nurseries will have blossoming bulbs you can purchase and observe as well.

Follow Up Time:
Use a few of the suggestions from the Handbook of Nature Study (pages 548, 551, and 555) to study your spring flowering bulbs. You can record your observations on the notebook page from the Winter Nature Study ebook, a blank notebook page from the blog sidebar, or in your own nature journal.

Journal Suggestions:

  • Sketch the shape of your flower and record the number of petals.
  • Look for the different flower parts: stigma, petal, sepal, anther, stem, leaves. (See page 548, 551, and 554 of the Handbook for diagrams.)
  • Observe the flower’s colors.
  • Describe the stem’s shape and compare it to other flowers.
  • Study and sketch a flower bulb.
  • Watercolor drawings can be made of any of your early spring flowers.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Tour of My Early Spring Garden Today

Tulips Under the Birdbath
I thought you might like a little tour of my early spring garden since the rain stopped last night and the sun is out this morning. Everything is a little damp from the rain still.

The tulips are all up and promising to give a colorful display very soon. This was my purple garden last year but I added a few new tulip colors so it will be a surprise when they bloom.

Mystery Flower-Orange
I honestly can’t remember this flower from last year, but it is bursting with oranges and greens in the far corner of the garden.

There is an explosion of primroses under my other birdbath. These were transplanted from Amanda’s garden box last year and they love this spot in the garden.

Grape Hyacinths
Ahhhh….this means it really is almost spring here in our neck of the woods. The grape hyacinths are blooming in all their purple glory. Now if I can just keep my boys from mowing them down along with the grass.

Chick Weed
Little tiny flowers…can’t remember the name of this one….are blooming if you keep your eyes focused for the pretty periwinkle color.

My daffodil patch is ever so close to blooming and since it is by my mailbox, I can see it every day as I collect the mail.

Everyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows that I have a “thing” for lavender. This year our plants promise to give us a beautiful show of color and fragrance. The hummingbirds have already spotted these blooms and in the early morning I have seen them out here sipping at the flowers.

Broccoli Flowers
I learned something this year quite by chance. I left my broccoli plants in the ground and in a few pots all winter and this is what happened….beautiful yellow flowers. The hummingbirds have been in these blooms as well. I think next year I will leave a whole bunch of broccoli plants in the ground because they make really pretty blooming plants.

Spring Green Moss
I would call this a true *spring green*. The moss growing between the bricks in my little arbor is thick and soft.

Scrub Jay nest in our Magnolia Tree
We have a new development in the front yard. We noticed today that the Scrub jays are building another nest in our magnolia tree. They fly back and forth with little twigs….hundreds of times over the course of the day so far. They are very busy. If they succeed in building their nest, this will be the third year in a row in this particular tree.

Hope you enjoyed my little tour and if it is cold and you are having winter weather today, I hope it cheered you up.

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The Daffodils and Violets are Starting to Bloom!

“When the flowerstalk first appears, it comes up like a sheathed sword, pointing toward the zenith, green, veined lengthwise, and with a noticeable thickening at each edge. As the petals grow, the sheath begins to round out; the stiff stem at the base of the sheath bends at right angles.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 550-551

We have daffodils. They started blooming yesterday on the sunny, warm south side of our house. I planted a new bed of daffodils in the fall but they are still just all greenness…..there is the promise of bright yellow blooms soon.

Violets 2 18 10

“It is interesting to note the flowers which have impinged upon the imagination of the poets; the violet more than most flowers has been loved by them, and they have sung in varied strains of its fragrance and loveliness.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 476

We also have a bed of violets blooming and when the sun hits the blossoms it smells so sweet and good.

Violets in My Butterfly Dish
I brought in a handful and decided that the stems are just too short for any vases I could find so I thought this glass butterfly dish would cradle the blossoms just so.

Lovely indeed.