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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Chipmunks Revisited

Outdoor Hour Challenge Chipmunk Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Chipmunk Study and the More Nature Study ebook.

This is an active time of year for chipmunks (and squirrels) as they busy themselves getting ready for the up-coming winter season. On our most recent hikes we have seen them scurrying around on the forest floor and crossing our trail as they gather a storehouse of food. Sometimes, they try to gather OUR food!

Use the ideas in this week’s archive post by clicking the link above for more details.

You also may wish to read our entry: Chipmunks or Squirrels? – Our Study Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge.


There is also a free printable Rodent Study notebooking page in this entry: Squirrel or Other Rodent.

Note: You do not need to purchase the ebooks to participate but they are handy to have for planning and for the regular and advanced notebook pages included in each one. Click the graphic at the bottom of this post to go over to check out the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. If you would like to see a sample of this ebook, you can download a sample here: More Nature Study Autumn Sample.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudyUse the discount code NATURE5 for $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Membership!








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Chipmunks or Squirrels? Our Study Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge

When you spend as much time outdoors as our family does, you eventually come across squirrels and chipmunks. Squirrels are an everyday occurrence in our yard but we do not see chipmunks at all. Chipmunks sometimes find us when we are out hiking, always when you stop to eat a picnic at Yosemite. I think the Chipmunk study as part of the More Nature Study series of Outdoor Hour Challenges will be one that is on-going since we were unable this week to observe any up close.

This past summer we had an experience where we thought we had seen chipmunks but turns out they too were squirrels.

Golden-manteled Ground Squirrel 2

This little rodent was very curious about us as we sat on the granite rock taking a rest after a long hot hike. He was not afraid of us in the least bit, begging a bite of our granola bars. We know better than to feed wild animals but he didn’t understand that people food is not good for him and insisted that he investigate our pack from the inside out.

Golden-manteled Ground Squirrel 4

We thought he was a chipmunk because of the stripes but when we got home and pulled up the field guide we realized he was a Golden-mantled ground squirrel. Our book says he is “medium sized” but we thought he was rather small compared to our other squirrels that we observe in our backyard, the Western gray squirrel and the Fox squirrel.

Golden-manteled Ground Squirrel

So how can we tell in the future that what we see IS a chipmunk? They have stripes on their head and our little ground squirrel does not.

Interesting facts:

  • Traditional hibernator- subject of much research on hibernation.
  • Eats leaves and seeds of grasses, occasionally eats nuts, roots, bulbs, and other underground plant parts.
  • Lives in the coniferous forest at elevations of 5,200 to 12,500 feet.
  • It is prey for hawks, jays, foxes, bobcats, and coyote.
  • Has cheek pouches for carrying food.
  • Digs shallow burrows (up to 100 feet) with hidden openings.
  • Cleans itself by rolling in the dirt.

Since we don’t have chipmunks in our neighborhood but we know we see them all the time when we are at Yosemite. Sounds like a good reason to take the drive soon!

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OHC More Nature Study #6 Chipmunks

“While the chipmunk is a good runner and jumper, it is not so able a climber as is the red squirrel, and it naturally stays nearer the ground.”
Handbook of Nature Study page 239

OHC More Nature Study #6

Inside Preparation Work:

Chipmunk illustration
Golden Treasury of Natural History from 1952

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Go on a chipmunk hunt! Spend a few minutes of your Outdoor Hour time for this challenge looking for chipmunks. Chipmunks and squirrels are diurnal, or active during the day.
  • If you observe a squirrel instead of a chipmunk, make some observations and comparisons. Compare color, stripes, tail, and behavior.
Squirrel illustration
Golden Treasury of Natural History from 1952 – love the expression

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Give the opportunity for discussion and follow-up to your chipmunk hunt. Complete a notebook page (ebook users), a nature journal page, and/or the coloring page (ebook users only) for you nature journal.
  • Advanced Follow-Up: Compare a chipmunk and a squirrel by careful observation. Subjects can include: stripes, tails, behavior, diet, size, voice.
  • Advanced Follow-Up: Research and record in your nature journal about the method the chipmunk uses for building his home. There is a notebook page in the ebook to record your study.

Additional Links:
Chipmunk Lapbook and Unit Study on
For Advanced Study: Chipmunks.

More Nature Study Autumn

This challenge is part of the More Nature Study – Autumn series. All of the challenges are gathered into one ebook with notebooking pages (regular and for advanced students) and additional resources. You can gain access to this ebook by purchasing an Ultimate Naturalist membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study. See the Join Us page by clicking the link at the top of the website for more information about what comes with your Ultimate membership.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy



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More Nature Study With The Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn 2011 Ebook

More Nature Study Autumn Cover image

Nature Study Using the Handbook of Nature Study- Autumn 2011 Series

Completely updated in 2016!

The ten challenges included in this new ebook are written in the format of the Outdoor Hour Challenges that can be found on the blog. Each weekly challenge can be completed as you have the opportunity and you can complete as much or as little of each challenge as you have time and interest.

Each challenge has three parts: inside preparation work, outdoor time, and then a follow-up activity. Each challenge is written so you can adapt it to your own backyard or local area. Use the challenge ideas to get started with simple weekly nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study.

This ebook is written for families with children of all ages. In addition to the regular challenge, new to this ebook is the addition of suggested nature study activities and follow-up for more advanced students. I included “advanced follow-up” ideas and created “upper level” notebook pages to give each challenge a deeper study if you have children who are ready for additional learning opportunities.

Also, a new feature for Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers is the addition of suggested Charlotte Mason style exam questions to be used at the end of the term. The questions are meant to help your child recall and then share in some way his nature study experience. Since this is the first time I have included exam questions, I would love to hear your feedback after using them with your children. I am planning on using them with my high school age son.

More Nature Study Autumn Cover image
Included in the More Nature Study With The Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn 2011/2016 Ebook:
  • Ten challenges centered on the Handbook of Nature Study
  • Eleven notebook pages and eight coloring pages
  • Thirteen Upper Level notebook pages
  • Ten Charlotte Mason style exam questions
  • Complete instructions for each challenge included additional links and resources
  • Nature journal suggestions
  • Complete list of supplies needed
  • Coordinates with the monthly Outdoor Hour Challenge Newsletter ideas
  • 52 pages
  • Sample here: More Nature Study Autumn

Here are the topics covered in this autumn ebook along with alternate ideas for you to include if they are more appropriate to your area. 

  • Milkweed – any other autumn wildflower or weed
  • Leaf Miners – examine leaves with a hand lens
  • Pears – year long tree study
  • Cobwebs of all kinds
  • Fall Color – leaf gathering
  • Chipmunk – squirrel
  • House sparrow – any other bird
  • Leaf Close Up
  • Thistles – any other fall composite flower
  • Maple seeds – any tree that has seeds of any type

As always, please email me with any questions or comments.