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Spectacular Night Sky Nature Study Ideas for Your Homeschool

Take some time this next week to get outside at night and enjoy a beautiful night sky homeschool nature study. Allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and just enjoy gazing up at the heavens. Use some of these suggestions to get started with some simple night sky observations.

Take some time this next week to get outside at night and enjoy a beautiful night sky homeschool nature study. Allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and just enjoy gazing up at the heavens. Use some of these suggestions to get started with some simple night sky observations.

Spectacular Night Sky Nature Study Ideas for Your Homeschool


Outdoor Hour Challenge
Night Sky Study

Record your night sky observations using this free printable. Barb McCoy created it so you can get two simple journal pages from one sheet of paper. Print the page, cut it in half, and then staple at the top to make a Night Sky Journal. Print several pages if you want to create a larger journal.

Night Sky Journal Printable


Night Sky Journal Printable Notebook Page

Please fill out the form, below, to receive your free night sky journal page!

Get Your Night Sky Journal Page!

Subscribe to get your free night sky journal page.

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Stargazing: Perseids Meteor Shower Homeschool Ideas

    If you aren’t familiar with the Perseid Meteor Shower, it is one of the brightest and longest-lasting meteor showers. And, it happens in August, so it’s usually easy to view because the weather is warm, and the sky is likely to be reasonably clear. 

    Barb McCoy, founder of the Outdoor Hour Challenges, shares some Perseids Meteor Shower encouragement and a journal page:

    Last weekend I visited with a friend who is also a nature lover. She and I talked about the night sky for a long time and how much joy it brings to us to view the magnificent canvas of stars each night. We shared stories of past experiences with viewing meteor showers and agreed that it is something to make time for even if it is late at night.

    Our family was able to view the Perseid meteor shower over the last few nights…it doesn’t disappoint! As soon as it is dark you can view a few “shooting stars” so don’t think you have to keep your kids up too late. It is more spectacular later in the night but just getting your children aware of what is out there is worth the effort.

    We also looked up the next full moon for August and marked it on our calendar. We noted last night’s sunset and the time in our area..planning on checking it a few more times later in the month.

    Take some time this next week to get outside at night and enjoy a beautiful night sky homeschool nature study. Allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and just enjoy gazing up at the heavens. Use some of these suggestions to get started with some simple night sky observations.

    My nature journal entry is a work in progress and as the month goes by I will add more of my thoughts to the box I made on the bottom of the page.

    Getting Started in Nature Study Suggestion


    If you already own the Getting Started in Homeschool Nature Study ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4.

    *Note: the free Getting Started book has the first three challenges. Members enjoy all 10 Outdoor Hour Challenges.

    Have a short discussion with your child about which aspect of the night sky they are most interested in and focus on that as long as they are interested…could be a week or the whole month.

    Some night sky nature study ideas are:

    • stars
    • planets
    • meteors
    • or the moon

    Complete the notebook page from the Getting Started ebook if you want a more formal record of your study. 

    Moon phases homeschool nature study

    More Hands On Night Sky Homeschool Nature Study

    You might also like these fun ways to learn about the night sky:

    For even more homeschool nature study ideas, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

    Enjoy the outdoors at night with your children. If you have early risers, you can even enjoy some time then. It is a special time to share together.

    Take some time this next week to get outside at night and enjoy a beautiful night sky homeschool nature study. Allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and just enjoy gazing up at the heavens. Use some of these suggestions to get started with some simple night sky observations.

    Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

    Tricia and her family fell in love with the Handbook of Nature Study and the accompanying Outdoor Hour Challenges early in their homeschooling. The simplicity and ease of the weekly outdoor hour challenges brought joy to their homeschool and opened their eyes to the world right out their own back door! She shares the art and heart of homeschooling at You ARE an ARTiST and Your Best Homeschool plus her favorite curricula at The Curriculum Choice.

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    New Printables for Members: First Day of Autumn and Full Moon

    Now available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships:

    1. First Day of Autumn Grid Study and Nature Journal Toppers printable:  I think we are all ready for a little change in the season! Using these printables in your nature journal will help jump start your nature journaling year.

    2. Full Moon Planner 2020 notebook page:  I have so enjoyed gazing at the full moons this summer. But,  I seem to lack enthusiasm as soon as the evenings turn chilly. I wanted a way to remind myself to get outside and look at the moon in all the seasons so I created the planner page to help encourage our family to take note of each of the full moons over the next year. Please join me and I hope the helps you create a record of your moon observations.

    (See the end of this post for more information on how you can become a member.)

    First Day of Autumn Printable Notebook Page

    Full Corn Moon is September 2, 2020!

    Full Moon 2020 Planner Page

    Printables for Members Button

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

    Join Us Ultimate Naturalist January 2020

    September 2020 nature planner page

    Members also have access to the Nature Planner pages in their library.

    Print out this month’s page and use it to stimulate your weekly nature study time.


    It’s time to pull out this autumn favorite!

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    Outdoor Hour Challenge – Moon Gazing

    This weeks lesson is Number 135 on page 513

    Outdoor Hour Challenge

    This week’s challenge will help you get started with observing, naming, and thinking about the moon in the night sky. The full moon for March (Full Worm Moon) is on March 12th. Or, we can aim at looking at the next full moon on April 11 (Full Pink Moon). Making observations between the full moons will give you the complete experience of full to new moon and then back to full moon again.

    Encouragement for Moms – Especially Those with Teenage Boys

    In completing this challenge when it was first posted back in 2012, I had some insight into the value of regular weekly nature study.

    “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.”

    Be Encouraged! Be Inspired! Get Outside!

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    Outdoor Hour Challenge – Moon and Craters

    Outdoor Hour Challenge
    Moon and Crater Study
    This challenge will help you learn a little more about the moon and its craters. Use handheld binoculars or a telescope to view the craters on the moon’s surface. Keep it simple and fun. You can also use the Moon and Moon Names Challenge from the archives to support your study.

    Additional Resources For This Challenge
    How Far Away is the Moon? (YouTube video-kid friendly)
    Explore Google Moon!
    Activity: Making Moon Crater- Excellent activity from NASA!

    Moon Crater Research Notebook Page

    Advanced Activity:
    Research more about the moon’s craters and record your information on this free printable notebook page.

    Moon Crater Research Notebook Page

    Additional Information:
    Simple explanation for moon craters
    Additional research: Learn About the Moons of Other Planets (scroll down to the “moons” section)

    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 what the moon looks like in your nature journal along with some thoughts about the moon and its craters. 

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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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    OHC More Nature Study Book 2 – Moon and Moon Names

    Our Best Moon Shot of the Night 1 31 10  
    More Nature Study Book #2 
    Moon and Moon Names  

    Inside Preparation Work:

    1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 855-859 (Lesson 232). Read for your own information only because this week we are just going to focus on enjoying the moon and learning some of the history of the full moon names.
    2. Read this page on Full Moon Names and see what March’s moon name means.
    3. If you have a blog or website, you can add a lunar phase widget to keep up to date.
    4. YouTube video: Moon phases (kid friendly)

    Outdoor Hour Time:

    1. Spend part of your Outdoor Hour time in the evenings looking at the moon. (Full Moon March 8, 2012) Have your child use words to describe what they see in the winter sky. If you have binoculars, make sure to bring those out with you and take turns looking at the moon.
    2. As an alternative, bundle up and go outdoors for this challenge in the evening when it is dark. Have a flashlight for each person as you walk to a safe, predetermined spot (even within your backyard). Turn off the flashlight and allow time for your eyes to adjust. Make some observations. This might be a great activity to do when there is a full moon and then again when there is a new moon.
    3. Advanced Study: Keep a record of your moon observations. The Handbook of Nature Study suggests, “Have the pupils observe the moon as often as possible for a month, beginning with the full moon.”

    Follow-Up Activities:

    1. Talk about your experiences outdoors at night. Record your moon and nighttime observations. You can sketch the full moon with colored pencils or watercolors. View these moon nature journals as examples to get started: Just Before the Full Moon, Waning Sturgeon Moon, Full Worm Moon. These should give your child an idea of how to show the moon and a setting.
    2.  Ebook Users: After viewing the moon or looking at the Mood Words Images page included in the ebook, complete the Moon Words notebook page. Use your moon words and observations to make up a new full moon name. Be sure to record you name for this full moon on the notebook page or in your nature journal.
    3. Advanced Study: Keep a moon journal for a complete lunar cycle (full moon to full moon). Make as many moon sketches as you can during this month to document the lunar cycle. Record your observations in your nature journal. Ebook users: Use the Moon Journal notebook page from the ebook.

    Additional Links: 

    You can see how our family completed this challenge here in this entry:
    Magnets, Compass, and Moon Names.

    More Nature Study Winter Wonder

    Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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    2011 Winter Series Outdoor Hour Challenge #3 and Winter Wednesday #3 Winter Sky

    Moon 1 19 11 (1)

    “After the polar constellations are learned, we are then ready for further study in the still earlier evenings of winter, when the clear atmosphere makes the stars seem more alive, more sparkling, and more beautiful than at any other period of the year.”
    Handbook of Nature Study, page 823

    We have been enjoying the full moon and the brilliant stars just about every night this week. We also were observing the moon this morning when it was still up over the tree tops first thing….amazing. We tried to capture our moon with the camera but it is pretty tricky. This is the perfect winter study for our family and I hope you get to give it a try too.

    Here are the links to this week’s challenges:

    Winter Series #3 Winter Sky (stars and moon)
    Winter Wednesday #3 Winter Sky (constellations)

    Please feel free to complete one or both of the challenges as you have the opportunity. We would all enjoy seeing your entries and even if it is at a later date, please come back to this entry and add your link. I am listing all the entries in this series on the sidebar of my blog for you to add to as you have time. You are never “late” and you can add links whenever you have the chance.

    Don’t forget to check in with the additional webpages for these sets of challenges:

    Winter Winter Wednesday Button

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    Miscellaneous Nature Study Using The Outdoor Hour Challenges


    NOTE: If the challenge is included an ebook, it is noted directly after the challenge. If you have an Ultimate Membership, you will be able to pull up the ebook and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your nature study.
    Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

     

    Outdoor Hour Challenge Mushrooms Lichen Moss Fern Index @handbookofnaturestudy

    The links above are Amazon affiliate links to resources I own and love.

    Mushroom, Lichen, Moss, Fern Challenges
    Bracket Fungi -Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Ferns – More Nature Study Spring
    Field Horsetail – Autumn 2015
    Hedgehog Fungi – Autumn 2015
    Moss and Lichen
    Moss Observation Notebook Page
    Molds, Puffballs, Morels
    Mushrooms -Autumn ebook
    Extraordinary in the Ordinary – Mushrooms
    Mushroom Cap Shapes Notebook Page
    Scarlet Cup -Winter Nature Study Continues
    Stinkhorn Nature Study -Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Parts of  a Mushroom Notebook Page

    Newsletters With a Mushroom, Lichen, Moss, or Fern Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • March 2013 – Mushroom, Lichen, and Moss study grid printable. Mushroom coloring page. Types of lichen.
    • March 2016 – Lichen and moss nature study ideas. Lichen Study notebook page. Lichen vocabulary.
    • November 2016 – Mushroom Cap notebook page. Nature study ideas for fungi.

     

    Outdoor Hour Challenge Weather Index @handbookofnaturestudy

    Weather Challenges
    Autumn Weather – Autumn ebook
    Autumn Weather Challenge #1
    Autumn – Signs of Autumn
    Cloud Observations 
    Fall Seasonal Weather Challenge -with free printable notebook page
    Fall Color Walk – More Nature Study Autumn
    Seasonal Weather with Four Seasons Notebook Pages
    Snow– Winter Wednesday
    Spring Splendor Walk – More Nature Study Spring
    Spring Weather – Spring ebook
    Summer Weather – More Nature Study Summer
    Weather Record Chart – printable notebook page
    Weather Study with Weather Sounds Printable Notebook Page
    Weather Walk – Four Seasons free printable notebook page
    Winter Weather  -Winter ebook
    Winter Wonder Weather– More Nature Study Winter

    Seasonal Challenges
    December World-free printable notebook page
    November World– Autumn ebook
    The Winter World

    Newsletters With a Weather Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • December 2011 – Know Your Own Backyard in December notebook page. December World study grid.
    • January 2012 – January World study grid.
    • February 2012 – Know Your Own Backyard in February notebook page.
    • March 2012 – Know Your Own Backyard in Early Spring notebook page. Early Spring study grid.
    • April 2013 – April study grid.
    • May 2013 – May study grid.
    • July 2012 – Beat the Heat study grid. Know Your Own Backyard When Its Hot notebook page.
    • December 2012 – Weather study ideas. Weather nature table ideas. My Weather notebook page.
    • September 2013 – Fall Fun grid study. Fall Time Field Trip notebook page.
    • November 2013 – Weather Observation study grid.
    • January 2014 – Winter Fun study grid.
    • February 2014 – February Fun study grid.
    • March 2014 – Lion or Lamb notebook page.
    • June 2014 – Summer Fun grid study printable.
    • February 2015 – Winter nature study ideas.
    • March 2015 – Calendar of Firsts for nature observations. Printable nature calendar.
    • December 2015 – Weather chart printable. My Seasonal Weather notebook page. Weather Study big grid printable.
    • October 2016 – Weather nature study and nature journal ideas.
    • December 2016 – Silent Autumn Nature Walk notebook page.

    Outdoor Hour Challenge Reptiles Amphibians invertebrates fish index @handbookofnaturestudy

    The links above are Amazon affiliate links to resources I own and love.
    Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Fish
    Banana SlugCreepy Things ebook
    Black Widow Creepy Things ebook
    Catfish –  Autumn 2015
    Common Shiner – Summer Nature Study Continues
    Crayfish  –Spring Nature Study Continues
    Earthworms– Spring ebook
    Fish Nature Study and  Definition Copywork Page
    Frogs – Summer ebook
    Frog Field Guide Notebook Page
    Goldfish Nature Study-free printable notebook page
    Johnny Darter – Summer Nature Study Continues
    LeechCreepy Things ebook
    Lizard, Gecko, Anole Study –Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Millipede Creepy Things ebook
    Newts -Spring Nature Study Continues
    Snakes-Spring ebook
    Snails -More Nature Study Spring
    Sphinx Moth – Creepy Things ebook
    Spring Peepers -Spring Nature Study Continues
    Sunfish – Summer Nature Study Continues
    TarantulaCreepy Things ebook
    Trout and Salmon –Autumn ebook
    Turtles and Pondweed-More Nature Study Summer

    You may also want to read my review of this awesome resource: National Audubon Society First Field Guide to Reptiles.

    Additional Links You May Find Helpful:

    Newsletters With a Reptile, Amphibian, Invertebrate, or Fish Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • April 2013 – Reptiles and Amphibians study grid.
    • July 2013 – Fish grid study. Fish Study – Trout notebook page.
    • October 2015 – Reptile Study notebook page.
    • August 2016 – Invertebrate nature journal and nature study ideas. Snail Study notebook page.
    • May 2017 – Fish study grid. Fish nature study and nature journal ideas.

    Outdoor Hour Challenge Rock Index @handbookofnaturestudy

    The link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a resource I own and love.

    Rock Related Challenges
    Calcite – Autumn 2015
    Crystal Study– Winter Nature Study Continues
    Feldspar Study– Winter Nature Study Continues
    Granite Study and Other Igneous Rocks – More Nature Study Book Summer
    Limestone – Autumn 2015
    Magnets and Compass – More Nature Study Winter
    Marble – Autumn 2015
    Mica Rock Study  – Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Quartz Study -More Nature Study Winter
    Rock Observation Challenge – free printable chart
    Rock Study Using a Magnifying Lens – free printable notebook page
    Rock Collection Ideas – free printable activity
    Rock Study and printable game activity
    Salt Study – Winter ebook
    Sand and Soil -More Nature Study Summer

    Newsletters With a Rock Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • January 2013 – Rock study grid. Rock collection ideas.
    • February 2016 – Rock nature journal and study ideas.
    • March 2017 – Rock nature study and nature journal ideas.

     

    Outdoor Hour Challenge Sky and Stars Index @handbookofnaturestudy

    Sky and Stars
    Moon and Moon Names– More Nature Study Winter
    Moon and Craters Nature Study-free printable notebook page
    My Backyard At Night Notebook Page  (free printable)
    Night Sky Study- Cassiopeia – Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Orion Study – Winter Nature Study Continues
    Winter Sky and Stars  – Winter ebook
    Winter Sky– Winter Wednesday
    Year-Long Big Dipper Study -free printable notebook page

    Newsletters With a Sky or Star Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • August 2013 – Night sky study ideas. Night Sky study grid.
    • July 2016 – Sky and stars nature journal and nature study ideas. Big Dipper study notebook page.

     

    The link above is an Amazon affiliate link to a resource I own and love.
    Pond, Beach, and CreekStudy
    Cattail Seasonal Nature Study  -free printable notebook page
    Pond Seasonal Study -free printable notebook page

    Newsletters With a Pond, Beach, or Creek Theme (If you have a membership, you have access to all archived newsletters.)

    • August 2011 – Pond and marsh study ideas. Summer Pond Study notebook page. Pond study grid.
    • June 2012 – Beach and tidepool nature study ideas. Beach grid study printable. My Seashore Study notebook page.
    • July 2013 – Year long pond study ideas.
    • February 2016 – Creek nature study in four seasons. Creek Study notebook page.

    Miscellaneous Challenges
    Brook – – Autumn 2015
    Small Square Study – Winter ebook
    Small Square Study – free printable notebook page
    Winter Berries –Autumn Nature Study Continues
    Winter Colors – Winter Wednesday

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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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    Winter Series #3 – Winter Sky

    Winter Sky -Sunset 2

    We have had nothing but cloudy, rainy, snowy weather since this challenge was posted. There has been no opportunity for much stargazing or moon watching. But, my son noticed this beautiful sunset a few weeks ago and we both had a grand time taking photos of the ever changing light and color.

    He took just as many photos as I did I am sure of it. We both remarked that you really need to be watchful for opportunities like this one because they don’t happen every day.

    Winter Sky -Sunset

    What a wonderful way to marvel at the gifts we have in the every day if we are open to seeing them.

    Moon 1 10
    Here is a moon shot we have from a few days ago at sunset. We have some clear weather in the forecast so we hope to get out past sunset and work on our constellations.

    We are prepared.