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Outdoor Hour Challenge – December World and Winter Berries

 December World Nature Walk Outdoor Hour Challenge @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

December World (from the archives) or Winter Berries from the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook.

We have reached the last official Outdoor Hour Challenge of 2016. I thought it would be a perfect time to complete one of the two suggested challenges during the next few weeks.

Snow and Winter Berries

Everyone can record their December World observations even if you don’t live where it is currently winter. I know I put snowflakes on the notebooking page but you can make a sketch of anything you want from your outdoor time and then describe your December conditions. Note: This link includes a free printable notebook page. Plus, there is a new December Words notebook page activity in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships in the printables section.

Winter Berry Hunt Activity Image
Winter Berry Hunt – This is found in the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook found in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships.

The Winter Berry OHC is one of my favorite challenges because it makes you realize how much color there is out there in the natural world. I have started to see colorful berries everywhere I go on trees, shrubs, and other plantings around town. Use the ideas in this challenge to open your eyes up to the wonderful world of winter berries. Note: There is a notebooking page included in the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook if you have access to that in your Member’s Library.



Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter 2016 More Nature Study WinterThe winter series of challenges will start on January 13, 2017.


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Magnets, Compass, and Moon Nature Study in our Neighborhood

I am going to combine two of the Outdoor Hour Challenge nature studies from the More Nature Study Book 2 series since we have been working on them over the last few weeks a little at a time. The topics have provided plenty to talk about during our walks and rambles around the neighborhood.

Moon Names and  Magnets and Compass

The compass directions were easy to determine in our yard after years of observation of sunrises and sunsets. We decided to test our sense of direction as we walked our regular trails and found a map of our local area to use as a starting point.

I will readily admit that I have a terrible sense of direction and live in a family of men who seem to never lose their way. This was a good exercise for me in particular. We would walk to a certain point and then try to determine north and south. We had the small map of the area in our pocket and we would check the actual direction after we made our guesses. I am happy to report that I have gained some skill in determining direction. 🙂

Hiking with the Moon
The moon has also been a subject of discussion and observation since it has been visible in the afternoons as well as in the evenings. Tonight it is HUGE in the twilight sky and we even saw Jupiter and Venus while we out there looking (opposite parts of the sky). You can read about them here: This Week’s Sky at a Glance.

Mr. B and I decided on our choice of names for the March full moon (instead of the official Full Worm Moon).

  • Radiant Moon (Mr. B’s choice)
  • Manzanita Moon (my choice)

Manzanita Flowers
The manzanita trees are bursting out in bloom over the last week so I picked that as the full moon name. The blossoms are so delicate and pick and almost look like ornaments that someone has strung on the branches.

3 1 10 Manzanita blooms

Here is a photo from a previous year with a close-up of the delicate pink blossoms.

Do you want to know something? Even though it pains me sometimes to have a challenge to complete each week….keeping myself accountable on the blog…..I realize that if we didn’t have a focus of some sort we would miss out on some really wonderful and insightful discussions and time outdoors together. Even when we just complete the preparation and then the outdoor time with no real follow-up we are gaining something extra from our Outdoor Hour. If nothing else, it gives me an activity to enjoy alongside my teenage son.

We have one more challenge to go in the More Nature Study Book 2 series – Pansies! I am really looking forward to this last study of the season and I am planning on a watercolor project for me and hopefully Mr. B will join me.

I almost forgot to mention that we acquired some rare earth magnets for a project my husband is working on in the shop. We highly recommend these for advanced magnet work and for some awesome fun too. The men are trying to make a magnetic motor…a motor that runs continuously on magnetic power. It keeps them out of trouble. 🙂

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Manzanita and Miner’s Lettuce – Adding to the Nature Journal

Walking trail manzanita

We decided that we wanted to do a nature journal entry for the manzanita that grows alongside the walking trail. We did a little research and found that there are 106 species of manzanita in the world. I found a page that shows manzanita for Northern California with beautiful photos and descriptions.

Walking trail manzanita

It will soon be blooming and the buds are all starting to form. I read in my field guide that it is one of the earliest blooming plants in our area. The flowers are a pretty shape and after they start blooming I will make another journal entry to record those. This time I drew the leaf and a very stylized version of the whole plant.

Manzanita nature journal (1)
I couldn’t get the color of the bark just right….in real life they are such a smooth dark red color.

Miner's Lettuce on Walking Trail

We need to record this plant as well…miner’s lettuce. The official name is Claytonia perfoliata but the nickname comes from the Gold Rush days when the gold miner’s would eat this plant to get their vitamin C. It is a great plant that makes a great addition to a salad.

During the winter season the nature study subjects are smaller in number so we thought we should take advantage of the opportunities that we do have to put something new in our journals.

Here is fun short video on Miner’s to identify and harvest.

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Early Spring Wildflowers Part 1

Last year we had a great time keeping track of all our early spring wildflowers. It became a sort of treasure hunt for our family as we hiked every week. Although none of us felt much like getting outdoors for a walk yesterday, except for perhaps our dog, we kicked ourselves out the door and were rewarded with some beautiful wildflowers to look at as we hiked.

3 1 10 Manzanita blooms
The manzanita is blooming now and technically it is a flowering bush…I still think the buds are very pretty and this one with the bright red bud caught my eye.

3 1 10 Miner's Lettuce
The Miner’s lettuce is starting to bloom as well.

3 1 10 Popcorn flower
There is a special spot in the canyon that we can hike to that has a slope where as the seasons progress it has different wildflowers. Right now it is starting to bloom with this Popcorn flower.

3 1 10 Saxifrage
The saxifrage is starting to bloom now and it is interesting with its red stems.

3 1 10 Hounds Tongue
How about this Houndstongue? Wow! It is so very pretty. Just like it shows in the photo, some of the blooms are almost blue and some are purple.

3 1 10 Grasshopper
Okay, so this one isn’t a photo of a wildflower but he was hopping all over the meadow where we were taking photos. He was a very spirited grasshopper….let’s just say I took about ten photos trying to get him inside the frame. 🙂

We were very glad that we got out and took a hike yesterday. The sun was warm and the flowers cheered us all up. I hope they cheer you up as well.