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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Scarlet Saucer Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Scarlet Saucer Nature Study

For many families, this is a perfect time to get out and look for fungus in the woods.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Scarlet Cup Fungus @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Scarlet Saucer.

The scarlet saucer is easy to recognize and you can make it a fungus hunt to capture your child’s interest. Use the information in the original challenge to learn more about the scarlet saucer or if you want to make it a broader study of fungus, members can download the March 2013 newsletter for a fungus grid study and some coloring pages.

Handbook of Nature Study March Newsletter CoverIf you have access to the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

Fungi Photo Hunt Notebook Page

Alternate activity: Look for the Fungi Photo hunt printable in the Member’s Library.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge -Hedgehog Fungi Nature Study

Going on a fungus hunt is one of my favorite things to do! As I was planning this entry, I was so enthusiastic about it that I dropped everything and convinced my husband to go wandering in the woods with me to look for mushrooms. It had snowed a bit a few days before and it was cold as we hiked along, but we were rewarded with finding several different kinds of fungus to look at and take photos of for my nature journal.

fungus collage october 2020

If your family is new to mushroom hunts, you might want to give a little instruction ahead of time about whether you should touch or pick the mushrooms you find. As a rule, I don’t pick mushrooms but get down on my knees to look at them closely. I take a few photos and let them stay where they are as part of the habitat.


You can use this Outdoor Hour Challenge as a means of learning the different shapes of mushrooms. See this post from the archives that focuses on mushroom cap shapes: Mushroom Nature Study with Cap Printable.

Fungi Photo Hunt Notebook Page

Also, there is a new Fungi Photo Hunt printable activity in the Member’s Library if you’re interested in using that idea during your outdoor time this week.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Hedgehog Fungi @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Hedgehog Fungi.  Visit our Outdoor Hour Challenge hosts OHC Fungi post on her blog Building A Household of Faith.

Hedgehog fungi notebook page 3
Hedgehog fungi notebook page 2

If you have access to the ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Newsletter Resources: Members also have access to the two newsletters in the archives that feature fungus/mushroom studies: March 2013 and November 2016.

Alternate study: Within the lesson is the suggestion to read Lesson #198 in the Handbook of Nature Study on mushrooms. I would suggest using the lesson ideas from Lesson #198 to observe any fungi you find for this challenge.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

Sample to view: Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

If you don’t have a membership yet, click the graphic above and join today for immediate access to the 26 ebooks and so much more! Remember that all levels, even the Discovery level membership, include access to all of the archived newsletters!

Topics in this ebook include:

  • Swallows and swifts
  • Catfish
  • Jewelweed
  • Prickly lettuce
  • Cockroach
  • Field horsetail
  • Catbird
  • Calcite, limestone, marble
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Hedgehog fungi
  • Sapsucker
  • Brooks
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Autumn Mushroom Nature Study

Our family loves going on a good mushroom hunt! This week you can read in the Handbook of Nature Study about this fascinating nature study topic and then set off on your own hunt. Remember to create a sense of adventure as you set out to look for mushrooms, building anticipation for finding even just one mushroom to observe.

autumn mushroom

If you don’t have any mushrooms to study at this time, I invite you to view my Flickr gallery of fungi photos for some fun inspiration. The variety of shapes, colors, and sizes will amaze you! Here is the link: Barb’s Fungi Photos on Flickr.

Tip for Finding Mushrooms

My original mushroom challenge suggested that you let your friends and family know that you are looking for mushrooms and they can let you know if they come across any in their travels. Some of our best mushroom studies came from tips I got from my dad who found several interesting species of mushrooms on his property.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Mushroom Nature Study

Autumn Mushroom Nature Study – Handbook of Nature Study Lesson 198, pages 714-719

Archive Outdoor Hour Challenge – Click the link above to see the mushroom study suggestions in the original challenge.

“Fungi, as a whole, are a great boon to the world. Without them our forests would be choked out with dead wood. Decay is simply the process by which fungi and other organisms break down dead material, so that the major part of it returns to the air in gaseous form, and the remainder, now mostly humus, mingles with the soil.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 715


Autumn 2009 cover graphic

You can print and use the mushroom notebook page included in the free autumn notebook page download above.


Make sure to click the link below to read the entire Outdoor Hour Challenge with helpful links, nature study ideas, printable notebooking pages, and suggested follow-up activities.

Autumn Mushroom Nature Study – Handbook of Nature Study Lesson 198, pages 714-719


Mushroom Cap Printable: Click over to read some additional information, find valuable links, and a free printable notebook page to use in your follow-up study of mushrooms.


Optional Art Activity: Watercolor Mushrooms

“Since mushrooms are especially good subjects for watercolor and pencil studies, it would add much to the interest of the work if each pupil, or the school as a whole, should make a portfolio of sketches of all the species found. With each drawing there should be made on a supplementary sheet a spore print of the species.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 718

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

This Outdoor Hour Challenge is part of the 2018-2019 Plan here on the Handbook of Nature Study. We’ll be using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock to discover new things about the world around us. Join us each Friday for a different nature study topic. Make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive the weekly challenge right in your email box.

Benefits by Level Updated size 500

If you want to become a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can click the Join Us button for more details. Benefits include those shown above including access to ebooks, notebooking pages, archived newsletters, and new ebooks and printables published during your membership.

Here are a few of my personal favorites for your mushroom study. Please note I am an affiliate and these are affiliate links to books I own and love.

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3 Questions Nature Walk-December 2016

Fungi Hunt on a December morning @handbookofnaturestudyA friend and I took a hike to the river on a chilly morning. My husband had given me the heads up that there were many fungi alongside the path and that I needed to get down there and see them for myself. He had texted me some images and they made me drop everything, call a friend, load up the dog, and hit the road.

Fungi Hunt December 2016 collage 1

We were amazed at how many mushrooms there were but also the variety of mushrooms that we could see.

 Fungi Hunt December 2016 collage 2

As we hiked along, my friend, who is not an experienced nature girl, kept asking me questions about what we were observing. It was easy to make a list of three questions to research from this experience.


1. Why are there so many in the shady damp areas of the woods and not so many in the sunny areas?

2. What animals come and take bites out of the mushrooms? Do they get sick?

3. Is it okay to touch the mushrooms?


I had some general answers to her questions but since we had the challenge from the December 2016 newsletter to create a list of 3 questions to answer after a nature hike, I decided to take some time and really dig a little deeper into things I should probably know by now.

You can take your own 3 Questions Nature Walk and then follow up with the printable in the member’s library or just record your questions and answers on a blank page in your nature journal.






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Winter Berry Hike – Fungi Too!

toyon berryWe had a chance to hike to the river this week to look for winter berries. The only ones we observed were the bright red toyon berries that lined the trail in certain spots. This is a shrub that we have studied in depth in the past and although it is not in the Handbook of Nature Study, we used the internet to discover what birds or animals eat the berries.

I found information that says that there are many birds,  coyotes and bears eat the toyon berries which help to disperse the seeds.

Here is my Toyon Berry (or Christmas Berry) entry from last year.

This hike though was all about the variety of fungus that we have emerging from the ground in our area since the rainy season has officially started.

IMG_8820So these look like Emetic Russula that my field guide says are present in all western forests. In the comments in the guide it says that they are usually regarded as poisonous and have an extremely acrid taste that would discourage you from eating them anyway. I will just enjoy their bright pops of red on the forest floor as I hike along.

Here is a glimpse into some of the other more interesting fungi we spotted as we hiked. It was actually a little overwhelming to try to see them all…it was a perfect fungi walk!

IMG_8795 IMG_8791 IMG_8790 IMG_8785 IMG_8781 IMG_8777This is my favorite…the trametes versicolor or turkey tail. Don’t you just love it?

The woodlands of our area are coming alive right now as the rains bring on the green grasses and beginnings of the early wildflower plants. As we pass the first day of winter and the days gradually get longer and longer, I feel the pull to be outdoors again even in the cold temperatures. This is actually one of the best times to be outside in our area if the sun is shining. Hats and jackets are required to keep warm but as long as you keep moving or stop only in the sunshine, it is a glorious time outside.

As this year draws to a close, I am reviewing my Nature Study Goals for 2014 and anticipating those for 2015. Stay tuned for those posts soon!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn Mushroom Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Mushroom Study

You can use these ideas from the archives to complete a mushroom nature study:
Mushrooms (2009) – with free printable notebook page
Mushrooms (2012)
Extraordinary in the Ordinary – Mushrooms – with free printable notebook page

You can use these notebook page:
Mushroom Cap Shapes Notebook Page
Parts of  a Mushroom Notebook Page

Additional Activity: Mushroom Shapes
Use clay to form different mushroom shapes. If you need some ideas to get you started, here is a link to different kinds of mushrooms:
Mushroom Chart

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3.  This week you can try to draw some mushrooms in your nature journal or use the notebook page from the ebook to keep a record of your outdoor time.  

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Our Extraordinary Fungi Study – Turkey Tail

We wrapped up our month-long mushroom, moss, and lichen study with a final hike last Friday. Guess what? We saw the first really nice mushroom of the month! I had pretty much given up hope that we would see any actual mushrooms and was resigned to completing our study in a future month when a specimen presented itself.

Well, we were able to complete the month with a great observation session of this big guy! I love the texture of the cap and the size was amazing…about six inches across. There were several smaller mushrooms nearby but we focused on the creamy brownish one.

I created a two page journal entry with March’s grid study (cut apart) and some photos of lichen, the mushroom, and a glorious fungus we found a couple of weeks ago. I love the bands of color and the way it looks like a colorful skirt…natural beauty is hard to beat.

I decided that this would be my Extraordinary in the Ordinary subject for the last challenge of March. Turns out…this was a really good choice.

Doing research about this fungus, which we identified as Turkey Tail, we learned it was being used in treating cancer patients. Who would have thought? There are amazing things to learn all the time when you really dig a little deeper.

Mushrooms, lichen, and moss were a fantastic focus for all of us….if you read the entries in the latest blog carnival I’m sure you realized that too. Looking forward to what April is going to bring with reptiles and amphibians.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary in our nature travels is something we try to do on a regular basis. In my experience, the more you examine a subject, the better you really see it and its beauty….its extraordinary-ness!

Revisit the topic of mushrooms (or fungus) this week and try to find something extraordinary to discover. Make up stories about the mushrooms, recording them in your nature journal. Make sketches or additional watercolor entries in your nature journal. Take photos and add them to your nature journal. Enjoy!
Printable Activity: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary-Mushrooms
Free Printable Notebook Page: Extraordinary in the Ordinary
This is a great activity for using your imagination and for seeing beyond the ordinary. Take some time to find a subject for this Extraordinary in the Ordinary challenge. Take a deep look at any fungus you find in your yard or local area. Try to see the beauty of the structure, the placement, the role it plays in the habitat. Perhaps it provides food for a local animal or insect. Find some aspect to really enjoy as you spend one last week exploring the fungi in your world. 

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If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #9 – Small Square Study. Find a spot where you have some fungus growing and mark out your small square according to the instructions in this challenge. Use you keen observation skills to find as many things as you can in your square and then record your results on the notebooking page

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Mushroom Nature Study with Cap Printable

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
For this challenge we are going to be on the lookout for any mushroom/fungus that we spy in our backyard or local area. Be sure to check out the previous mushroom nature study challenge from the Autumn Series of 2009. There is also a suggestion from the Handbook of Nature Study to capture a series of mushrooms in watercolors (page 717). I think this is such a wonderful idea and hope to start with one mushroom watercolor this week. 

You may wish to print and take the printable below with you during your outdoor time to record any mushrooms you find to observe. If you need an explanation for the vocabulary used with the printable, see the links below (also found on page 717 of the Handbook of Nature Study). 

The printable grid from the newsletter and the printable from the first challenge this month are both applicable to this challenge as well.

Free Printable Activity: Sketch Mushroom Cap Shapes
Free Printable Notebook Page:
Mushroom Cap Sketches

Great Links:
How to Identify Mushrooms and Where to Find Them
Mushroom Chart with Illustrations
Cap Morphology on Wikipedia ***
Fabulous Fungi (UK website)
Advanced vocabulary and diagrams-mushrooms

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #3. Drawing mushrooms in your nature journal can be fun and interesting…a great way to really see all the parts. Include labels, the date and location you found the mushroom, and any other fun facts from your outdoor time. Make it personal and special. 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Mushroom Grid Nature Study

A whole new month is ahead of us….hopefully filled with fungus, moss, and lichen! This is a topic that probably many of us won’t put at the top of our nature study favorites but it is very interesting and it can be like a treasure hunt for your kids. I strongly urge you to give it a try, even if you just use the grid study found in this month’s newsletter.

Above all, have fun outdoors!

Outdoor Hour Challenge:

Print the March Newsletter page with the Mushroom, Lichen, and Moss Study Grid (page 8). Prepare a little before your outdoor time by discussing what the month’s focus is and where you might find some subjects to study. If your children are like mine, they will have some ideas about where to look. Use the printable below to learn a little more about mushrooms and the vocabulary that goes along with your study.

If you need more help getting started, click over to my Misc/Seasonal page and find specific challenges for mushrooms, lichen, and moss which will direct to reading in the Handbook of Nature Study.

Note: We will be focusing on moss next week and mushrooms the next. You can use this week’s challenge as an introduction to the month’s study and then go deeper in the next few weeks if you want to wait.

Special Activity: Parts of  Mushroom

Free Printable Mushroom Parts Notebook Page

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #8.  This challenge is all about looking closely at things you find during your outdoor time. Take along a magnifying glass or bring home a sample to look at under your microscope. Record your results on the accompanying notebook page or in your nature journal. 


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