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Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 – Start a Summer Collection


Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 – Start a Summer Collection

From the Archives and from the Getting Started Ebook

This week we are going to take a look at starting a nature collection. Perhaps your family has already started collecting natural objects during your outdoor time and now you are wondering what to do with all of those treasures.

Use the archive link above to be inspired to create a collection of things that interest your child.



You may wish to read this entry where I share five ways to display rocks (or other items):

5 Ways to Display Rock Collections

Summer Nature Study Tip-Keep a Seasonal Nature Collection

Create a summer collection of items from your outdoor time. Once the season ends, box up your favorites or return them to the habitat. Start a new collection for the autumn months.


Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook

If you have access to the Getting Started ebook, there’s a custom notebook page that you can use alongside Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 if you wish, or a number of blank pages you can print and use instead.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

The Getting Started ebook is included in all levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study, including the Discover Level.


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Rock Study #6 – Quartz

Quartz is a common rock found in my part of the world. We see it just about everywhere we go whether it is on our walking trail or down by the river. We mostly have milky quartz.

Here is my specimen gathered locally and now sitting in my collection. Okay, I already had lots of quartz in my collection but since my nature study goals were to collect the samples this year, I decided to get another one…you can never have too many rocks. 🙂

According to Wikipedia, milky quartz is the most commonly found type of quartz and can be found almost everywhere. I know we have found it a lot of places we have traveled. Even though it is very common, it is still beautiful and amazing to look at.

Some more interesting facts I learned this time:

  • All granite has quartz and feldspar crystals in it. The crystals in granite are not large and perfect.
  • Amethysts are crystals of quartz colored a beautiful violet by the presence of a tiny amount of manganese.
  • Quartz crystals are six-sided.
Photo courtesy of Rob Lavinsky at

Another interesting aspect of our quartz study was the knowledge that our local gold mines were commonly quartz gold mines. The gold was extracted using a series of stamp mills, mixed with water, and then extracted using mercury. I have seen the stamp mill replica in our town and was told that when it was in operation the noise echoed all over the town. I can only imagine how that would have sounded!

If you are interested in studying more about quartz using the Handbook of Nature Study, don’t miss this challenge from the archives: Quartz Study

To refresh your memory, I am going to try to collect all fifteen rocks discussed in the Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads (Take-Along Guides).This month we spent lots of time out and about looking at rocks, collecting a few new ones, and enjoying our rock adventures. We did not actually complete any of the fifteen rocks from the book. I can see now that I need to be more purposeful if I am going to achieve this goal in the year 2013.

The affiliate links in this post are to things I own and highly recommend.


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Oregon Camping – Beaches, Tall Trees, and Tidepools

We all were aching to get on the road and start our week long camping trip in Oregon. Part of the joy of driving to Oregon are the views along the Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast. Amazing! The photo above is between Arcata and Crescent City along a stretch of the coast that at this time of year is ablaze with lupine…the fragrance is divine as you walk through the vegetation to the sandy beach.

When the boys get out onto to the sand for the first time it is pure joy! They stretch their legs after a long car ride and enjoy the Northern California wide open sandy beaches. We walked a long way, looking for beach treasures as we went. Then it was back into the car for the last leg of the trip over the California/Oregon border and up to Brookings and our beloved Harris Beach.

Yes! This is our campsite this year which overlooks the Pacific Ocean…looking westward and perfect for watching the sun go down each day. We were surprised at how light it was late into the evening…sunset was about 9 PM each day but it was light much longer than that.

Two of the days we were there we were able to take advantage of the negative tide and do some serious tidepooling.

Lots and lots of anemones to be seen…large and small!

Look carefully in this image and you can see the sea star’s “feet” that are clinging to the rocks at low tide. There were so many sea stars of many colors, sizes, and types. I love being able to see up close all the things we learned about from books.

I brought along a Stomp Rocket for the family to use on the beach. This was a fabulous idea and the boys (and mom and dad) each had turns stomping the rocket and watching it propel off down the beach.

We spent many, many hours walking the beaches and collecting colorful rocks…sometimes my pockets were all filled to capacity. I enjoyed sorting my rocks by colors on the picnic table at the campsite. I left them out each night and in the morning the dew would make them shiny and shimmery again.

These were my favorites…the red, green, and gray ones.

I also like this colorful kind which sort of looks like wood. I have a couple more rock related entries to share with you next month as part of my nature study goals and collecting various kinds of rocks. This was a great way to keep nature study at the forefront of our a good goal.

Mr. A was my fellow photographer at the tidepools. He was willing to really get out where he might slip and get wet to capture some great images of his own. He uses his cell phone camera and they turn our really great.

Here is a shot of my other photography buddy…Mr. D. He is more of an artist with his camera and takes his time to get just the right shot with the right setting. His images are amazing. This was also the very first time that our Kona dog has gone camping with us. She settled right in and had a great time. The wonderful thing about Oregon is that dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are on a leash. She was able to take every hike with us…love Oregon!

We spent two different days in the redwoods hiking in the quiet stillness. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and it was so very refreshing. I already miss it. I am checking off another new hike on my 2013 Nature Study Goals, two down and two to go!

Can you just imagine how far you can walk on this Oregon beach? It was a windy day but it wasn’t cold so we took advantage of the open space and just roamed for a very long time. (I collected a few rocks too.)

Hello Mr. Snail!

Oh wow! These ferns were amazing! I loved seeing the black stems and the graceful way the fronds grow.

Aren’t they just incredibly pretty? I knew that our California Maidenhair fern had a black stem so I though maybe they were related. I looked it up when we got home and sure enough! This is the Northern Maidenhair fern.

On our last day we visited Crissey Field State Park which has a wonderful visitors center. We spent some time viewing all the nature displays and gathered some pamphlets for future use. We had a picnic lunch and then adventured out to the beach which is so very beautiful. Driftwood, dune plants and flowers, and a nice sandy beach are just what we needed to end our trip on a high note.

We were so happy that our trip turned out with gorgeous sunny skies for the majority of the week. We were able to do a lot of hiking, a lot of exploring, and enjoyed each other’s company while visiting the Southern Oregon Coast.

Until next time….

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Marine Invertebrates Notebooking Pages

Please note I am an affiliate for and have used the notebooking pages with my family for years!

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Rock Study #4: Granite!

This month we made sure to observe carefully the granite rocks in Yosemite National Park. We didn’t collect any because that isn’t allowed in a national park but we did learn a little more about the granites found there with a trip to the Visitor’s Center. They have a fabulous display of granites, showing the rock cycle and the way this particular granite was formed.

Everywhere you go in the park you are surrounded by granite! Granite of all shapes and sizes lines the trails and creates the majestic valley walls you see all around you. The biggest piece of granite that looms over you in the valley would be El Capitan.It is a rock climber’s heaven and we read in the Visitor’s Center that the granite that makes up El Capitan was cooled slowly which makes it particularly strong and resistant to erosion. We watched the climbers up there on the nearly 3,600 foot granite face…amazing courage to be up there!

The exhibit has many interesting facts about the granites of Yosemite National Park.

There were also samples of the different granites from different areas of the part…each one with a little different combination of elements. Fascinating!

So even though we didn’t actually collect a sample from Yosemite, we have plenty of other granite samples from our travels locally. We are continuing to work our way through the Rocks, Fossils, and Arrowheads book.

We have high hopes of studying two rocks in June as we travel to Oregon. I know that if we didn’t make this project part of the nature study goals for 2013 we would have let it drop. But, I am determined to get as many done this year as possible.

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Nature Study: Rock Observations for January 2013

To refresh your memory, I am going to try to collect all fifteen rocks discussed in the Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads (Take-Along Guides).This month we spent lots of time out and about looking at rocks, collecting a few new ones, and enjoying our rock adventures. We did not actually complete any of the fifteen rocks from the book. I can see now that I need to be more purposeful if I am going to achieve this goal in the year 2013.

That is the beauty of goals…they keep you focused and on track.

We did however accomplish several rock-related activities.

We added a new rock to our front yard rock spot. We have yet to identify it but that is going on February’s list because I actually think it is some kind of shale or slate which would be one of our fifteen rocks from the book.

We collected a rock from the other side of the river canyon and comparing it to the rocks on our side of the canyon, realized it is different. This I think is going to be the value in labeling our rocks with where we collected them.

Rock Hike to the River @HBNatureStudy

My son, my husband, and I enjoyed a warm mid-winter afternoon sitting on a big rock at the river. I collected a few rocks for a friend as a surprise.

This was a month we spent more time outdoors looking at rocks and talking about rocks and not much was recorded in our nature journals. I already have my rock grid in my nature journal so I just need to sit down with a pen and record this month’s thoughts and discoveries.

I am going to do my best to have one of my official fifteen rocks studied by the end of February.

Next week I will update you on my “using less plastic” goal for 2013…which I did a much better job with this month!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Start a Rock Collection

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
Rock collecting comes naturally to most children. Rocks seem to fill their pockets and many times end up in yours as well. One way to build appreciation for rocks is to start a formal collection. Honestly, your personal collection can be just a few rocks that have special meaning or interest to you. Start small. This week you are encouraged to find one or two rocks that you can add to your collection. Use a rock field guide to help identify your rocks. (See the Amazon widget at the bottom of this entry on the blog for my suggestions.)

You may wish to use some of the ideas from last week’s challenge: Rock Grid Study.

Thank you to Middle Girl at Hodgepodge for making a treasure box for us to see.

Rock Collection Box Printable
To go along with this challenge, I have put together a printable that you can use to create your very own rock treasure box using an empty egg carton. Print out it out and then decorate it with paints, markers, glitter, or any other art materials you have on hand. Use the labels to record the names of your rocks.

My Rock Treasure Box Printable

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #6. 
In this challenge you will find suggestions for starting and making collections of all kinds. Rocks you collect yourself during your outdoor time or while traveling are a perfect way to build up a lifetime appreciation for rocks.
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Our Rock Grid Study – Rocks for Our Collection

Rocks are everywhere! It is hard to know where to start with a study of our local rocks since everywhere we look we have rocks to observe. But, like all nature study, our rock hunt led us to more questions than answers. Using the Rock Grid from the January edition of the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter, we narrowed our focus to a few of the squares.

  • Find a rock you would like to know more about using a book from the library. 
  • Find three rocks to bring home in your pocket. 

So these were the rocks that came home…a little too big for the pocket but we have long admired them along the hiking trail. It is high time that we slow down and learn a little more about them. My husband thinks the flat ones are some kind of slate. I’m not sure…the black ones maybe but the reddish ones will be fun to research. They are definitely sedimentary rocks and break easily. The top right rock is mostly quartz and very pretty in real life. These are going on the nature table until we find a book to help learn more about them.

Rock Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

This is Mr. A’s rock that he wants to know more about. You cannot tell from a photo but I am guessing it is twice as heavy as the same size piece of granite we have on our shelf. It is solid! This rock is found alongside another walking trail we take every week. If you look closely, you will see it is shiny/sparkly around the edges which makes it an interesting rock. Can’t wait to learn more about it…just need to get over to the library and find a good reference book.

Rock List Nature Journal @HBNatureStudy

Here is the start of my rock journal for the year. I listed down the side all the rocks from the Rocks, Fossils and Arrowheads (Take-Along Guides) that I have decided to focus on for the year of 2013. Our family is going to be trying to locate, collect, and then study each of the fifteen rocks from the book. I made a chart to record the date we find the rock and the location.

On the other page, I watercolored a background and then I will adhere the Rock Grid Study for easy reference and as a reminder of a few things we can do while outside for our hikes and walks.

If you haven’t downloaded the January Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter with the Rock Study Grid yet, you still have time to do so. The link will be in every entry for the month of January if you are a subscriber to the blog. I already have quite a few rock-related entries for the next Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival and I invite you to join us with your entry (link on the sidebar).

Have you collected any rocks yet?

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Tree Study Grid

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week we will be using the Tree Study Grid from the October 2012 Newsletter. Print the grid out, cut it to include in your nature journal, and then take a few minutes during your week to complete some of the suggested activities. If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, you can do so now and you will receive the newsletter link in the next entry.

Printable Activity Notebook Page:
This week the challenge extra is a free printable activity notebook page.

My Tree Is A Living World: Record all the living things you find in the tree you observe. Remember to look high, low, on the bark, on the leaves, in the crown, and on the branches. If you don’t know what something is, record a description and then look it up after you return home.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own this ebook, this week’s challenge would be a great addition to Challenge #6: Starting a Collection. Read the challenge for simple ideas to get you started with a nature collection. You could focus this month on collecting things related to trees.

Pictured above is our very casual collection of tree related items and misc natural objects. There are seeds, acorns, nuts, peeled tree bark, galls, leaves, moss, and a few small twigs. These sit right on top of our nature table.

If you need an explanation of how the Outdoor Hour Challenge is going to work from this day forward, please read this entry:
Nature Study Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge – How to Steps and Explanation.

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OHC More Nature Study Book 2 – Quartz Study

Quartz samples

 “Quartz is the least destructible and is one of the most abundant materials in the crust of the earth as we know it. It is made up of two elements chemically united—the solid silicon and the gas oxygen.” Handbook of Nature Study  

More Nature Study Book #2
Rock Study – Quartz Crystals
Inside Preparation Work: 

  1. Read pages 754-755 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 213). This short lesson is packed with information and the lesson suggestions will give you some careful observation ideas.
  2. If you can locate some quartz samples to have on hand, do some close up observations of quartz. Even little ones can describe with words their quartz sample. Compare quartz with some other rocks in your collection.
  3. If you do not have samples, make sure to view the images of quartz with the additional links provided below.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  1. If the weather allows, take your outdoor time in a place that has rocks to pick up and handle. Be on the lookout for quartz crystals. Do not be discouraged if you can’t find quartz in your neighborhood but take the opportunity to observe and describe any rocks you see.
  2. Collect a few rocks to bring home and either start or add to your rock collection.

Rock observation 
Follow-Up Activity:

  1. After your Outdoor Hour time, take a few minutes to follow-up your outdoor time. Bring out your quartz samples and compare them to other rocks you may have collected. Set up a rock observation spot on your nature table. See the image above for ideas.
  2. Give time for a nature journal entry or ebook users can complete the quartz notebooking page and/or the coloring page to follow up this study.
  3. Advanced study: Research more about quartz on Use a printable Mineral Chart for additional information and identification. Learn the identifying marks of quartz. Record your information in your nature journal or a notebook page.

Additional Links: 

You can see how our family completed this challenge here in this post: 
Quartz Study – Rock Collecting Gone Crazy.

More Nature Study Winter Wonder

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 Starting a Collection

“It’s a good thing to learn more about nature in order to share this knowledge with children; it’s even better if the adult and child learn about nature together. And it’s a lot more fun.” Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv

rocks in a bowl
Easy collection of rocks in a bowl.

Now may be a great time to start a collection of items for nature study. This can be an organized collection or various items collected to display on a seasonal table.

If your nature study is going along well and you are enjoying the rhythm of your time together, don’t add anything new. The collections are something that can happen at any point in your study of nature. I would rather see you spending more time outdoors if the collections take away from your energy to keep that outdoor time up. On the other hand, if your children are already bringing items home and they want a way to display them, give the collection a try. 

1. Nature study is something that builds from week to week and this week’s assignment includes elements of the first five assignments . In your focus area, pick another item from your list to read about with your child from the Handbook of Nature Study. After reading about the item to the child, take a few minutes to read the observation suggestions to yourself. Keep these ideas in mind as you head out for your 10-15 minutes of nature time outdoors.

“Out-of-door life takes a child afield and keeps him in the open air, which not only helps him physically and occupies his mind with sane subjects, but keeps him out of mischief. It is not only during childhood that this is true, for love of nature counts much for sanity in later life.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 2

2. After your outdoor time, take time to discuss the outing with your child, helping them to find words to describe their experience. Add anything new to your list of items observed in your focus area that you are keeping in your nature journal. Make note of any additional research that needs to be done for things your child is interested in.

“ In nature study any teacher can with honor say, “I do not know”; for perhaps the question asked is as yet unanswered by the great scientists.” page 3

3. Give an opportunity for a nature journal entry. Remember this can be a simple drawing, a label, and a date. Challenges 2 and 3 have ideas for alternatives to drawing in the nature journal.

4. Think about starting a collection to supplement your nature journal in your focus area.

Some ideas for collections: leaf rubbings, tree bark rubbings, pressed flowers, rocks, feathers, shells, seeds, insects, or photographs or drawings of subjects that are too large to collect like trees and clouds.

Some ideas for storage:

  • Egg cartons work well for things like rocks or seeds.
  • Sheet protectors work well for holding items like feathers, leaves, or photographs.
  • Specialty boxes you purchase for insects, rocks, shells, or butterflies.
  • Wicker paper plate holder to keep each season’s items on your science shelf. (See photo in blog entry.) It works well for things like small cones, leaves, twigs, moss, or seed pods.
  • Shoe boxes work well if you make little compartments with cardboard or cardstock to section off the items.
  • Tic-tac boxes for sand, small rocks, or transporting insects.

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook

This challenge is found in the Getting Started ebook which is included in every level of membership. The ebook provides the challenge as shown above as well as custom notebook pages for your follow up nature journal if desired.