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How to Make Leaf Rubbings

Taking the time to draw leaves helps you observe the details. For young children, a wonderful starting place for a homeschool leaf nature study is to make leaf rubbings.

When my children were young, autumn walks always included collecting colorful leaves. We might get home with handfuls of leaves in a rainbow of autumn shades. We would talk about the shapes and what tree each leaf came from or which ones were our favorites. Once home, we’d pull out crayons or markers and attempt to draw a few of the leaves on paper to be hung on the refrigerator or given as gifts to grandparents. Nature study was casual and enjoyable.

As they grew older and we would be out during our homeschool day, I would sometimes follow up with a more detailed nature study lesson using the Handbook of Nature Study or our tree field guide. The amount of information we would cover really depended on the children’s interest and my aim. By high school we were more deliberate in our autumn leaf studies using more scientific vocabulary and I expected them to create a more detailed nature journal as part of our more formal science lessons.

Learning about trees, leaves, autumn, and the neighborhood can build over many years and still seem to be just a part of learning about the world we live in and the trees that share the same space.

I love this quote from Anna Botsford Comstock:

“During autumn the attention of the children should be attracted to the leaves by their gorgeous colors. It is well to use this interest to cultivate their knowledge of the forms of leaves of trees; but the teaching of the tree species to the young child should be done quite incidentally and guardedly. If the teacher says to the child bringing a leaf, ‘This is a white-oak leaf,’ the child will soon quite unconsciously learn that leaf by name. Thus, tree study may be begun in the kindergarten or the primary grades.” Anna Botsford-Comstock

Leaf Homeschool Nature Study: How to Make Leaf Rubbings

I have many resources here on my website that will help your family learn about leaves, some for younger students and some for older and more advanced students. I’ve found that taking time to draw leaves makes you observe them closely and see the specific features each tree’s leaves involve.

I highly recommend starting with simple sketching and/or rubbing of leaves with younger children.

  • You can watch my short YouTube video that shares some of my tips for drawing leaves, how to make leaf rubbings, and using a flower press for pressing leaves here: Tips for Drawing Leaves.
  • You may wish to complete the Outdoor Hour Challenge that features collecting leaves. Click over and read how to complete a simple leaf study: Collecting Leaves.
  • Watercolor crayons demonstration – Fall Leaf for the Nature Journal. I created this YouTube video a long time ago that shows how I use watercolor crayons in my nature journal. It makes me want to go gather some leaves and do this again in my nature journal!

  • Making Leaf Prints with Ink: This activity is wonderful for older students to quickly create a leaf nature journal page using ink pads and leaves they collect.
  • Image of the cover 9/15 NL

Now that autumn is here, I’m trying to embrace its beauty. We don’t have much “fall color” here in my part of the world but the little bit we do have will be appreciated and perhaps even make its way into my nature journal.

Members can look in the library for many more printable tree and leaf activities and notebook pages in the Trees course.

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges 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!

Taking the time to draw leaves helps you observe the details. For young children, a wonderful starting place for a homeschool leaf nature study is to make leaf rubbings.
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Ideas for Drawing in Your Nature Journal

Here are some great resources you can use as ideas for drawing in your nature journal. Several are links to coloring pages but I like their black line drawings that simplify an object so we can learn to draw them on our own in our journals.

Make sure to check out all the links even if they are from a state or habitat other than one where you currently live. Many times there are animals, plants, and birds that you will have in your location too. I don’t necessarily print the coloring book pages out and color them. We will use them as a guide to draw our own sketches of things we see in our Outdoor Hour Challenge or for our nature journal.

Ideas For Drawing in Your Nature Journal

Drawing Wildflowers in Your Nature Journal

Celebrating Wildflowers from the US Forest Service
These coloring pages are in PDF format so once you bring up the page, you can print out just the page you want and there is no need to print every page out on your printer.

Birds Homeschool Nature Study

Feeder Birds Coloring Book from Cornell
These are not only coloring pages but could actually be used as notebooking pages for your nature journal. I print out the table of contents to keep in my notebook as a reference. This way I know what birds are included in the coloring book.

How to Sketch Trees

Guide to Tree Sketching
I’ve shared this one before but it is worth listing again.

Drawing Flowers and Plants

How to Draw Flowers and Plants
Step by step to various garden flowers

Drawing Ducks

How to Draw a Duck on YouTube

Magnifying glass for a close up look at a butterfly in your homeschool nature study.

More Drawing Resources for Your Homeschool

 Here are some great resources you can use as ideas for drawing in your nature journal. Perfect for using for your homeschool nature study.

Hope there is something here that will help you with your endeavors to draw in your nature journal.

More Nature Journal Resources for Your Homeschool Nature Study

Here are several more posts I have shared on using a nature journal with your homeschool studies:

Homeschool Nature Study Membership. Bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool!

Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find a continuing series on nature journaling plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. Plus 25+ continuing courses with matching 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 by Barb May 2008. Updated January 2022 by Tricia.

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Homeschool Nature Journal or Nature Notebook?

Should you have a homeschool nature journal or a nature notebook? What is the difference between the two?

I always remind new homeschool nature study families that the journal page is the icing on the cake. The most important part of nature study is the time spent outdoors together with your children. You are successful whether you end up with a page in your journal each week or not.

Should you have a homeschool nature journal or a nature notebook? What is the difference between the two? We answer this question.
Photo by Amy Law

Homeschool Nature Journal or Nature Notebook?

I had a really good question from Joy and I thought maybe you might like to hear my response.

Here is Joy’s question:
First off, I have read all of Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series as well as Karen Andreola’s Charlotte Mason Companion, along with various others (and I’ve read all that you have on your site concerning Nature Journaling). But, I am still left wondering, is there a difference between a nature journal and a nature notebook?

For example, the notebooking pages that are offered along with the GH challenges (that Tina made) would go into a nature notebook. However, I really like the nature journal idea, with the dry brush method, etc. and it would seem that this would be a different thing all together.

The nature journal would seem to be a sketch book whereas the notebook would be something that would go into a 3 ring binder. So, how do these mesh together, and should I have my children do both? I know these questions are possibly silly to those who have done this for a while, but since I am just starting out, I don’t want to overwhelm my little ones (2nd grade and 1st grade). I really just want a streamlined way to encourage them to interact with what they are learning outdoors.

The Answer To Nature Journal or Nature Notebook:


First off I think this is a really good question and if you ask ten different people, you will get ten different answers. But I will take a stab at it since it relates to the Outdoor Hour Challenges. Clarifying things is always a good opportunity to fine tune our ideas.

I did a little research on what a “nature journal” is and the best explanation of it I found was in Clare Walker Leslie’s book, Keeping a Nature Journal. She explains it this way.

“Simply put, nature journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world around you. That is the essence of the process. The recording can be done in a wide variety of ways, depending on the individual journalist’s interests, background, and training. Some people prefer to record in written prose or poetry, some do it through drawing or painting, others with photographs or tape recordings, and still others through musical notation…..Many people use a combination of these techniques.”

Should you have a homeschool nature journal or a nature notebook? What is the difference between the two? We answer this question.

In the Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Comstock calls the nature journal a “field journal” but it is still the same thing, a nature journal. In Charlotte Mason’s original homeschooling series in volume one, she refers to the nature journal as a nature diary. The idea is all the same idea, to record personal observations and thoughts about the world around you.


So Joy, to answer your question with the short answer, either method is still considered nature journaling whether you use a spiral bound sketch pad with watercolors, markers, or pencils or if you choose to use sheets of paper slipped into a 3-ring binder when you are finished. In our family, we do combinations of both recording in the nature journal and on paper.

Notebooking Pages May Be Easier For Younger Writers

Your children are still very young so you may wish to have them work on individual sheets of paper and slip them into sheet protectors when they are finished and store them in a binder. You may at a later date start them in their own spiral bound nature journal. Either way you can include many different types of mediums.

You can still watercolor and slip them into the binder. You can press flowers and slip those in too. If you come across a nature notebooking page you like you can fill those out and put those in the binder. The notebooking pages are nice for younger children because most of them include lines to write your notes on – which is easier for younger writers. I have one son that likes the notebooking pages because he hates a blank page. If it is in a notebooking page format, he can easily think of things to fill it up.

I hope that clears things up a bit. I know there are a lot of choices and you will eventually come to the answer for your family about which one works the best. Nothing is set in stone either. You can start one way and change at any time. It depends a lot on how you are going to use the nature journals and how your children feel about recording in them. When my boys were little, we filled up lots of pages each year so they loved starting fresh each fall. Now we perhaps make an entry a week and we have slowed down considerably in the volume of notebooks.

Make nature journaling a pleasant experience. I know that many times for myself I end up not liking a page until it is all done. It has taken me many years to develop my own style of nature notebook. Want a glimpse into my nature journal? How to Get Started Nature Journaling

Should you have a homeschool nature journal or a nature notebook? What is the difference between the two? We answer this question.

I have come to the conclusion that the line between nature study and a nature journal is getting sort of fuzzy. You can have lots of nature study and not have a nature journal.

Don’t let your lack of skill in drawing keep you from your nature study

  • Nature walk = Time outdoors + time spent in observation
  • Nature study = Time outdoors + time spent in observation + time learning about your discoveries
  • Nature journal = Time outdoors + time spent in observation + time learning about your discoveries + time recording your observations and thoughts

I am in no way discouraging nature journals but I am convinced that if you spend enough time in nature study, you will have more to write about in your journal.

Homeschool Nature Study membership bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to Life!

Join Our Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

You will find a continuing series on nature journaling in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. Plus 25+ continuing courses with matching 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 May 2008 by Barb. Updated January 2022 by Tricia.

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Using Dover Coloring Books for Nature Study

Using Dover Coloring Books for Nature Study

Tips and a Review

Our family has used Dover Coloring Books for many years and we’ve built up quite a large library of books on a variety of topics. I know there are many new readers to the Handbook of Nature Study blog that might appreciate an introduction to these inexpensive resources and a few tips on how to use them in their homeschooling nature study.

Let’s start off by saying that coloring books can be used in many ways and with different learning styles.

dover coloring nature study (3)

Not all children enjoy coloring in a coloring book and I don’t blame them. It can be tedious to try to find the “right” colors to use or to keep the markers or crayons neatly within the bounds of the black lines. I had one child who no matter what you suggested would color every image his own way…quite the creative spirit.

dover coloring nature study (2)

On the other hand, many children find it comforting to not have to stare at a blank page when creating a nature journal page. They very happily complete the page with realistic colors using either markers, crayons, watercolors, or colored pencils.

Older students find it helpful to use the black line drawings in a coloring book as a starting point for creating their own drawings in their nature journals, using the coloring book drawings as a template for their own work.

However your family would like to use the Dover Coloring Books in your homeschool or nature study plan, you’ll be glad you purchased a few to have in your nature library. Creative and nature loving children will enjoy these as a complement to their own nature journal. We used these coloring books on the long, cold days of winter when we couldn’t get outside to explore.

 

dover coloring nature study (4)

Some of Our Favorite Dover Coloring Books –

Backyard Nature Coloring Book

A Walk in the Woods

Forest Animals

 

dover coloring nature study (1)

Small Animals of North America

Insects

Garden Flowers

Favorite Wildflowers

Herbs Coloring Book

Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to coloring books I’ve purchased and used in our family’s nature study lessons and the Outdoor Hour Challenges.

Most of the ebooks found in the Ultimate Naturalist Library here on the Handbook of Nature Study website include images from the Dover Coloring Books. If you have a membership, look for them at the back of your ebooks.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

If you’d like to become a member, please click the graphic above to go to the Join Us page for more details on purchasing a membership today.

 

You may wish to click over and read more about our family’s experience with Dover Coloring Books.

Dover Coloring Books for Art Appreciation.

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Nature Observer – April 2018

Nature Observer – Nature Journal Examples

April 2018

Things are starting to look like spring around here and we’ve had an abundance of bird sightings and animals to watch. Seeing these things inspires me to get out my nature journal and get busy. I’ve found this to be the key to nature journaling: Find something interesting in nature to put on the page whether it’s a sketch, some words, a list, or a photo.

I’m still struggling with my sketching abilities (note the ground squirrel page below) but I know that practice makes perfect.

I wrote about this dilemma in an earlier blog post:

Drawing and Your Nature Journal

Here’s another entry I wrote that explains a few ways to get started with sketching:

3 Tips for Nature Journaling When You Think You Can’t Sketch

Above all, remember that a nature journal is a personal record of your own experiences in nature. There is no right or wrong way to do it. The only mistake you can make is to not take a few minutes each week to put something down on paper. Photos are great but taking the process to the next step makes a more lasting impression.

 

Here are my weekly entries for April!

Lodgepole pine nature journal

I’m pretty happy with my lodgepole pine nature journal page. I managed to get a decent sketch of the tree shape along with some facts and a quote. Doing the research for this page has enabled me to pick out the lodgepole pines in our forest. My eyes now see the 2 needle bundles and the dead branches at the bottom of the trunk which helps me identify this particular pine from the others.

Shrubs Comparison chart nature journal

In an attempt to get to know my local habitat better, I decided to create a simple chart in my nature journal that compares the most common shrubs in our area. It took some time to do the research but it has already helped me pick out the bitterbrush from the rabbitbrush by contrasting leaf shape and color. I may eventually add a few more shrubs to my journal on another page.

Snipe nature journal page

It is thrilling to identify a new bird! We often saw a bird fly up and away from the edge of the slough when we were out river walking. Many days with binoculars and time on the internet have helped us identify the Wilson’s snipe! Of course, he made it into my nature journal and I’m fairly happy with the sketch.

ground squirrel nature journal page

One day we were sitting and looking out our back window. My husband spotted the ground squirrel scurrying along our fence line. It was the first time seeing them outside their holes, which we’ve seen all over the back of our property. Since that first sighting, I’ve seen several sitting up on top of a dead tree stump in the sun.

wax currant nature journal page

The forest floor is starting to come alive and one of the first things to be sprouting leaves is the wax currant. The leaves are an interesting shape and the little bell shaped flowers are pretty. We’ll be watching to see the berries later in the season.

Surprising things nature journal page

I loved working on this page from the Nature Observer journal this month. The prompt was to note one surprising thing in nature each day for a week. I may do this again in my other journal.

What’s made it into your journal this week?

 

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Have you taken a look at my updated nature journal page? Here’s a link to see some ideas to inspire you in your journaling efforts.

Instagram OutdoorHourChallenge small

Don’t forget that I’m sharing a nature journal page each week on my Instagram account if you want to see the pages as they unfold. Follow me here: Instagram – outdoorhourchallenge. And, if you want to create a page and share it on your Instagram for me to see, use the hashtag #OHCnaturejournal.

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From the Archives: Outdoor Hour Challenge Drawing

Drawing in Your Nature Journal @handbookofnaturestudyFrom the Archives!

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Drawing in Your Nature Journal

This week we are going back to the basics by encouraging everyone to include some drawing in their nature journals. This challenge from the very first series of challenges is one that your family can complete periodically to keep your pencils and minds sharp, looking for ways to draw something interesting in your nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

Members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to this challenge (#3 in the ebook) and its corresponding notebook page in the Getting Started ebook. Make sure to look up the challenge in the ebook, print the notebook page, and then make time to complete the suggested activities soon!

You may also wish to read my entry 3 Tips for Nature Journaling When You Think You Can’t Sketch.

 

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Flower Study

 

Salvia Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Nature Study
Autumn Nature Study Continues Ebook

We are starting off our new Autumn Nature Study Continues series with the study of a beautiful bee-loving plant, salvia. This is a great garden plant or one you can actually grow nicely in a pot on a patio or deck.

Please note that if you don’t have any salvia to study this week….pick another garden flower and create an “autumn flower” nature journal page instead. See the ideas listed below for some ideas on how to accomplish a simple and fun flower study with your family.

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 579-581 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 161). Make sure to read the Leading Thought to get the focus of your study in mind. Pick any of the suggested activities to learn more about the salvia flower.
  • Make sure to go to the images for Salvia at the end of the ebook. You will see a bee on a salvia flower gathering his nectar. Here is an additional short YouTube video: http://youtu.be/XSAYCKvaM8g
  • There are many varieties of salvia. Look at your local nursery for salvia for your garden or make plans to purchase some next spring. You can also look up your state’s native salvia plants by Googling “state name native plant salvia”. (I just purchased some salvia at my local Home Depot.)

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Spend fifteen minutes this week exploring your early autumn garden. If you have some salvia (or really any flower) you can view in person, sit quietly and watch for any bees that might come to visit the flower.
  • Make sure to look at any flower you have access to this week, looking carefully at the structure of the flower. Note the bracts and calyx of each flower. (Other garden challenges and printables are found on the Garden Tab at the top of the website.)

Fall Flowers DrawingFollow-Up Activity:

  • Pull out the Handbook of Nature Study and find the diagram on page 580 showing the blossom of the sage with the parts labeled. You will also see how the bee gets into the blossom to get the nectar.
  • Create a nature journal entry with a sketch of salvia and a caption.
  • Ebook Users: You can use the notebook page included. Younger children can use the coloring page. The advanced study notebook page will help you dig a little deeper into your study of salvia. There is also a bonus Autumn Flower Study notebook page to use with any flower your find during this challenge.
  • Advanced activity: Dissect a salvia flower, creating a journal page showing the flower parts labeled. Make sure to explain how a bee gathers its nectar from the salvia.
  • Additional Activity: Make it a fun flower study activity for your creative child! Put some garden flowers in a vase on a table along with sheets of paper, colored pencils, and magnifying lenses. Invite your child to make a sketch for their nature journal or to put on your nature table.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button

 

Note these are affiliate links to products I love!
Wildflowers, Weeds, & Garden Flowers Notebooking PagesNature Study Notebooking Pages

Download a FREE sample of A-Z Animal Notebooking Pages from NotebookingPages.com.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Spring Ant Study

Ant Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge:

Every day we pass by ants, not noticing them in their busy ways. This week try to slow down and look for some ants in your yard, perhaps under a rock, in a crack in the sidewalk, or on a plant. Find a way to make this fun for your children. Invite them to open their eyes and to look carefully.

Use the ideas in this challenge from the past to get you going: Spring Series #10: Ants.

You can also use the Nature Journal Topper from the May 2014 newsletter to inspire a fun ant related nature study and journal entry.

If you have access to the new printables as part of your membership to this site, there is a new printable sheet with Insect Nature Table and Learning Style ideas for you to print out.

Special Activity:

Make a model of an ant out of clay or Sculpey. Make sure to depict the three body parts of the ant: head, thorax, and abdomen. There is a great video to show you how to do this with clay and wire.

How to Build a Model of an Ant on YouTube.com

Getting Started Suggestion:

If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3.  Use the suggestions in this challenge to make some ant observations and then follow up with a drawing activity for your nature journal. Here is a link to help with drawing an ant: How To Draw an Ant-Step by Step.

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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 5/30/14.

 

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Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow – Literature and Poetry

This post contains affiliate links to a book I highly recommend and have in my own library.

This month I am really encouraging you to look for ways to use literature in your nature study. I want to share a new favorite book, Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadowby Joyce Sidman. This outstanding book is a treat for the eyes and an inspiration for your pens and crayons!

I love it when a book can engage young readers and Butterfly Eyes uses lovely poetry and clever riddles to draw the reader in. The riddles help the children use their imaginations and their knowledge of meadow inhabitants in way that makes learning fun.

So many meadow creatures are featured in this book. I know lots of you may not live near a meadow so this book will introduce many of the animals, insects, and plants you will find there, creating enthusiasm for a future meadow visit with the narratives and illustrations.

The format is poetry riddles that your child will guess to identify the meadow creatures found on the following pages. The poems are on the over-sized pages…sometimes you even have to turn the book sideways to view the whole scene!

The end pages of the book are complete pictures of many of the subjects found in the book and are a great way to review once you are doing with the last page.

The style of the artwork is another great aspect of this book. Done with scratch art techniques, your children may want to imitate this style to create a beautiful scene for their nature journal or to display on your art wall.

Use the ideas in the November 2013 newsletter in the article I wrote on library books to help you get started reading this amazing piece of nature literature to your children.


Follow Up Ideas:

  • Identify the creatures on the dust jacket of the book.
  • Make up your own nature riddles.
  • Create a piece of artwork using scratch art. (Step by step instructions: Scratch Art.)
  • Memorize one of the poems in the book.
  • Pick one animal or insect from the book and create a nature journal page for it using a field guide

Look for other books by this same author at your library!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Drawing Fish


For this challenge, you are going to be drawing some fish in your nature journals. Use the links below to help your family get started. Don’t forget that you can use the Fish Grid Study from the newsletter during any of the fish challenges. I encourage you to get outside and find somewhere to learn more about your local fish.

How to Draw a Fish

If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3. This challenge is going to help you get some sketches in your nature journal. Maybe you will want to draw a fish or if your child wants to draw something else..let them create their own page with their own subject.  

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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 7/30/13.