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3 New Printables for December Nature Study

Now available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships:

Under a Rock * First Day of Winter Walk * Cloud Journal

Use these new printable notebooking pages with your family this month!

Cloud Journal Notebook Page

First Day of Winter Walk Observation Notebook Page

Under a Rock Notebook Page

Under a Rock notebooking page: This was a special request from a family with young children and I thought it was a great addition to the printable library. Take an early winter walk and look for things still to be found under a rock!

First Day of Winter NatureWalk notebooking page: It’s hard to believe that this month we will have the official first day of winter but why not take advantage of the turn of the season to get outside and see what surprises you can find with your children? I am hoping to be recovered enough from my surgery to join you in a first day of winter nature walk on December 21st.

Cloud Journal notebooking page: Print this page at the beginning of any month and keep track of your clouds with simple sketches and words. I am really looking forward to this activity! This journal can be part of your winter weather nature study. Look for the official challenge on December 28, 2018.

Note: If you have any subjects you would like me to create nature notebook pages for, please let me know in a comment here on the blog or in an email:

Printables for Members Button

Print a complete list of printables available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships by clicking the button above.

Please note that members have access to the complete year’s plan in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships. Non-members can follow along by subscribing to this blog and each Friday the Outdoor Hour Challenge will come into your email inbox.

Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now 2

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Watercolor Clouds Nature Journal – Cure for the Winter Blahs

We had plenty of opportunities to observe clouds in the past few days. It has been really cloudy and wet…only a few breaks in the weather where we were able to get outside and breathe some air. I tried to enjoy the rain but it really did just bum me out. I was really glad that this week’s challenge was to pull out some art supplies and make a watercolor entry for the weather in my nature journal.

I collected some water for my watercolor project from the rain gauge. Now that I had my supplies ready I was anxious about actually watercoloring in my journal so I decided to make the painting on a separate sheet of paper and then add the painting to my journal with tape.

I played with my gray watercolor pencil before starting the actual artwork, experimenting with different methods of applying the color to the paper. You should try this if you have a few minutes just to see how different the effects are on your artwork.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, here are the options I used.

  • Left box: Use the pencil to draw the square, then apply water with a brush.
  • Middle box: Dip the tip of the watercolor pencil in water, draw the square.
  • Right box: Use a wet brush on the pencil tip, apply to paper.

All of these squares are made with the same pencil….very different results.

Creating a journal page always cheers me up! Between the journal page and taking advantage of the breaks in the rain to get outside, I was starting to feel not so blah.

One morning we woke to actual sunshine and we decided to take a hike to see our neighborhood waterfall. Kona loves this trail since we can let her off leash. She runs ahead and finds something interesting to sniff, following the scent until she detects another trail to follow. She definitely enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and stretch her legs alongside us on the trail.

We were rewarded for our hiking efforts with the rushing sound of water coming down the hill and over the rocks. We took a few minutes to just enjoy the moment and then we all headed back up the hill, just in time for the rains to return. I realized that without the rain we would have had no waterfall to hike to…..sometimes we need to be reminded of the benefits of all that wet weather.

This will wind down our weather study for the month. Just for fun, I will be keeping our rainfall records as we move through January. We might get a dusting of snow later this week which would be the perfect way to wind up the month.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Cloud Observations

Outdoor Hour Challenge:

Special Activity:Watercolor Clouds
If you are able, observe clouds on several occasions and then use watercolors to record some clouds for your nature journal. To make it fun, use melted snow or rain with your paints! We do this a lot when we are out on the trail, using whatever water source we encounter.

Some added help with getting started with watercolors:
Making a Watercolor Wash
Wet on Wet

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3.  Make sure to read the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study for this challenge. We all need reminders about how to encourage our children in their nature journals. This week you can record some cloud sketches in your journals or use the notebook page from the ebook to keep a record of your outdoor time.  

Blog Logo 1
OHC Blog Carnival
You are welcome to submit any of you blog Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entries to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival. Entries for the current month are due on 12/30/12. Widgets

You may wish to view my daughter’s Cloud Art Show and see how other painters captured clouds. There are so many ways to show clouds in your nature journal…watercoloring is just one way.

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Monsoon Moisture – Our Summer Weather Study

Monsoon moisture July 2012
I captured this image of the clouds at sunset last night coming in off the lake. Gorgeous!

Summer in our part of Northern California is HOT and DRY!

But, occasionally we get the weather phenomenon called “monsoon moisture” which really means that the storms come from the Gulf of California and are tropical in nature, reaching up into the mountains of Northern California with moisture and thunderstorms. (That is my very non-technical explanation of monsoon moisture.) We are going to be using this topic as the advanced study portion of the Summer Weather Challenge.

Mr B with rock tufa at Mono Lake
Monsoon Moisture in the eastern Sierra Nevada at Mono Lake 2006

When this happens, we see quite an interesting buffet of weather activity:
1. Scattered afternoon thunderstorms
2. Down pours of rain
3. Gusty high winds
4. Beautiful clouds (especially at sunset)
5. Increased fire danger because of the chance of dry lightning (no rain)

After an monsoon weather event, the air is sticky with warm moist air. The plants and trees are refreshed, the dry leaves swept away, and the air just smells so nice and fresh.

Reflecting windows and blue sky Bodie
Monsoon Moisture – Bodie State Park,  Eastern Sierra Nevada 2006. We got very wet in the rainstorm that came shortly after taking this photo!

We had such an even last night which will give us an account to share as part of the Summer Weather Challenge in the More Nature Study series. It was really hot at bedtime so we decided to sleep out on the back deck under the stars. It started off fairly innocently with a few wisps of clouds slowly moving across the sky blocking out the stars. Then the wind started to gust and the first flashes of lightning came quickly one after the other. The rumble of the thunder was in the distance. No problem my husband said…he thought it was just going to be a dry lightning event where there is no rain associated with the storm.

Boy, was he wrong!

By 11 PM the lightning, thunder, wind, and rain hit with full force. The wind chimes were ringing constantly and we decided we better give up the idea of sleeping outside. This kind of weather is fairly normal for our area in the summer and we have a couple of these storms usually in July or August. What turned this into an unusual event was the length of the storm. We still were having lightning, thunder, wind, and rain until at least 4 AM. It was a restless night for all of us as we kept getting up to peer out the windows and doors at the awesome display of power in this storm.

July bouquet
The garden still had plenty of beautiful flowers for a bouquet this morning.

The power went out for a short time but all in all there was little other inconvenience from the storm. Today the sun rose and warmed the air and made us all feel welcome. The windows were opened and the fans turned on to drive away the humidity a bit.

Right on time for our Summer Weather Challenge!

Here are a few of our other summer weather entries:
Summer Weather 2011 – Can You Say HOT?
Summer Weather Sunrise/Sunset Observations 2010

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Weather- Find Out For Yourself

Autumn Sky and Trees 1
Late Autumn Sky

“The scientific method of study is: Do not take things for granted, but find out for yourself. This method trains pupils to think for themselves. Too much talking by the teacher allows the pupils’ minds to lie idle and passive. Exercise strengthens them.”
Nature Study and Children

As you can tell if you are a regular reader of my blog, I love to quote old nature study books. These books are full of gems that still sparkle today with wisdom and practical advice. Timeless advice like you see above will help you be a better nature study guide.

Many of us are winding down our academics for the term and this week’s challenge is a great way to transition to the winter break. Weather observations are an easy to do while on a family walk or even from a window. Don’t overlook the power of a simple challenge. Remember the quote above.

Suggestions for this week’s challenge, pick one or do all five!
1. Take a walk and observe the weather. Informal nature study done while spending time together as a family is often the most meaningful. Get outside for a quick walk when you have a few minutes to spare.
2. Keep track of temperature for three days in a row. Record it in your nature journal to compare with future months. You can print a blank calendar page from Hearts and Trees.
3. Observe clouds over the course of a week. Advanced Study: Cloud Chart pdf  and for everyone: Clouds That Look Like Animals and Cloud Types.
4. Complete a seasonal weather notebook page.
5. Finish the grid suggestions from the November Newsletter.

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I Talk To The Clouds

4 19 11 yard and walking trail (22)

“You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.”
Henry David Thoreau

Look up and enjoy your clouds too.

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Summer Weather-OHC #3 Sunrise/Sunset Observations

We have been working on this challenge for a couple of weeks. What an amazing way to learn more about the summer season! We have never taken the time to actually note where the sun sets at different times of the year. We are now more keenly aware of the direction and the making of a landmark to keep track from week to week.

We are not able to see the horizon in any direction from our house. We live on a hill, there are too many trees, and even though it is not a crowded neighborhood, we do have near-by houses that obstruct the view. We decided we could still pick a spot on the front deck to observe the sunrises and a different spot on the back deck to observe the sunsets.

Sunrise with clouds
This challenge made us more aware of the everyday event that happens outside our door…far too early at this time of the year. The sunrise is much more north than I thought it should be. We have all watched the spot and agree that it is not where we expected it to be. We had to get up rather early a few times to discover the landmark but now we have it fixed. This morning there were beautiful clouds that made the day a little cooler to start off with. There were actually a few light sprinkles of rain early in the morning. By noon though, it was hot and humid, granted not a Texas humid but a California humid.

Sunset July
The sunsets are so wonderful from our deck now that we have a few trees missing. Although we can not see the horizon from where we are located, we noted from a particular spot on the deck where the sun goes down. It sets just to the left of our back shop’s peak.

The other weather related “project” we have been working on this summer is to note the build up of thunderheads over the Sierra in the afternoons. Many times we can look out about noon and see the beginnings of a cloud bank and then by mid afternoon we notice the spectacular clouds in the distance. Most of the time we don’t experience anything from the clouds because they are so far away. We did have a little sheet lightning the other evening which is always interesting to watch.

Thunderheads at Sunset
I took this photo last night when we were out for a sunset drive. This is facing east so the pink sunset is reflecting in the thunderheads. Sure wish all those utility lines were not in the photo.

One last observation to share:
Sunrise: 64 degrees and 47% humidity.
Noon: 96 degrees and 46% humidity.
Sunset: 83 degrees and 38% humidity.

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Our Spring Weather Observations

We had a chance to enjoy another perfect spring afternoon hiking on our favorite trail. We were amazed that in the last week so many wildflowers have burst out in bloom.

As part of the Spring Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges, we completed our Spring Weather Challenge. It was warm at 69 degrees (per our car thermometer). There were some breezes moving but not much.

Sunrise 6:34 AM
Sunset 7:35 PM
13 hours and 1 minute of daylight
Official high temperature: 68.8 degrees F
Official low temperature: 40.8 degrees F
Breezes coming from the South.

Our weather forecast is for rain the next two days and then back up into the 50’s the rest of the week.

Clouds and white flowered bush

The chamise is blooming all up and down the foothills right now and with its sweet fragrance it fills the spring sunshine. The clouds were whispy and moving very fast.

cirrus clouds

More cirrus clouds were to be found around the bend. My son has been studying the weather for his aviation course so he is teaching me lots of things about clouds and weather predicting.

Blue Eyed Grass?

This is a new flower to us and we came home to look it up in our field guide. We think it is Blue eyed grass.

poppies on the hillside
Our state flower, the California poppy, is blooming all around town. This is on the hillside next to our walking trail.

Here is our winter weather entry if you want to compare our differences: Winter Weather.

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Moon Gazing and A Few More Winter Sky Moments

We finally were able to view the moon and it was worth the wait! Mr. A and I spent quite a bit of time gazing, watching, and then photographing the moon.

It is very hard to get a good photo of the moon when it is super full and bright.

Here is our best attempt.
Our Best Moon Shot of the Night 1 31 10

I took this photo of Mr. A up on the roof with the tripod where he was trying to capture a good shot of the moon. He decided all of his photos looked like UFOs. Too funny.
Mr. A up on the rooftop  1 31 10

Now two last winter sky photos from the last week or so.

This one was about 4:45 in the afternoon when I was out in the garden. The sun was darkened by the clouds passing in front and it was very dramatic.
Dramatic clouds

This was a different day at sunset…about 5:15 PM. Pink…pink sky.
Pink clouds at Sunset 1 30 10

I find myself watching the sky more and my boys are too. It is wonderful to have them notice a cloud formation or the moon before I do. I love sharing “moments” with them.

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The Right Place…..

Just one of those times that was…..right place at the right time!

What is he taking photos of?
Mr D and Colorful Trees

Is it the colorful trees? beautiful clouds?

Rainblow with Colorful Trees
Wow! Look at that!

Rainbow -complete bow
This was a complete rainbow and in fact, as we snapped photos, it turned into a complete *double* rainbow.

My son and I had a great time together shooting photos of this awesome rainbow from our back deck.

If you didn’t know already, the Handbook of Nature Study has a complete section on water forms starting on page 808.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom