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Our Seasonal Weather Observations: Autumn Series #8

Weather Comparisons – OHC

Our typical November weather is very unpredictable. We can have warm sunny days filled with outdoor activities or we can have cold, wet day where you stand at the window and wonder when it will end. Both were experienced this week as part of our official seasonal weather observations.

Using the chart provided in the ebook, we all worked together to keep track of morning and afternoon temperatures and other factors like wind, rain, clouds, etc. Our outdoor thermometer is broken so we had to take a portable one outdoors to make our measurements each time.

Weather chart for Comparing
Comparing our morning and afternoon temperatures was interesting because of the large span of numbers on a few of the days. We had one day with a 24 degree change in temperature within a few hours and from day to day it was widely varied as well. I am the official record keeper for this challenge since they like the observation part but not the actual writing it down in a journal part.

11 7 thru 11 9 10 fall yard and sky (2)
Unofficial time spent outdoors found us raking leaves for the compost bin, noticing how beautifully the leaves fell in a pile around the base of this tree.

November clouds
Observing clouds was fun this week since we had a variety to enjoy.

Grape Vines in Nov 2010
The changing color in most all the deciduous plants in the yard like this grape vine is happening before our very eyes.

Walnut tree leaves Nov 2010
More raking after the rain came through…these are the walnut tree leaves which have a particular odor that is imprinted in your brain once you smell it.

Snow on the Sierra 11 11 10
We also took a drive over the Sierra on Thursday and saw the mountains with a fresh blanket of snow that will more than likely stay there until late next spring.

Snow at Boreal 11 11 10
We stopped to take in the snow at the summit and it was cold! This is about an hour’s drive from our house and very near to where the Donner Party was stranded if you have read about them in your history study. I highly recommend Patty Reed’s Doll if you are interested in reading a children’s version of their survival during the winter of 1846.

Our weather study will be on-going as we keep adding to our weather chart and it will give us some great data to use to compare to our winter observations.

Thanks for coming along with our study.

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First Day of Summer 2010: Know Your Own Yard

I know that yesterday was the first official day of summer but for some reason I forgot to publish this post so you are receiving it a day late. Perhaps it was that my laptop died and I have been working from a different computer….in any case, enjoy the notebook page and your second day of summer.

Note: I am hoping to continue working on a series of “Know Your Own Yard” posts over the summer and perhaps even into the autumn.

Sunflower with petals

When all else fails, know your own backyard.

Take a few minutes on this first day of summer and explore with your children.

Here is a bonus notebook page for you to use to follow up your outdoor time!

First Day of Summer notebook page

First Day of Summer Notebook Page – Free Download!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge-Signs of Spring Bonus Challenge

This is a simple one:

Make sure to mention to your children that Saturday, March 20th is the first day of spring. Take your Outdoor Hour time this week to look for signs of spring in your backyard or neighborhood.

For many of us, this past week has brought warmer temperatures and with the time change, more light in the evenings. This is an exciting time of year for all of us as we anticipate the many changes the new season will bring.


Some signs to look for:

  • Green grass
  • Wildflowers-dandelions
  • Spring bulbs like tulips, crocus, and jonquils
  • Birds, perhaps nesting already
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Blooming trees
  • Insects

You can use the notebook page below to record your signs of spring or you can use your own nature journal.

Spring Nature Study ebook @handbookofnaturestudy


Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Nature Notebooks-Like a Travel Journal

Indian Sands wildflowers Indian Paintbrush

Nature notebooks, which started with our P.U.S. (Parents Union Schools) have become like travel records and journals for students. They keep notes about all their finds: birds, flowers, fungus, mosses are described and sketched every season in the same way that Gilbert White did. A nature notebook can be kept by anyone anywhere. It can be used to record stars on their course in the heavens, or a fossil of an anemone on the beach at Whitby. These notebooks help to make science come alive and relate to the common man. Science should not be taught merely as a utilitarian means of preparing students for a career!”
Charlotte Mason, volume 6, page 223

I was reading through volume six of Charlotte Mason’s books this week and found this gem of a quote about nature journals. I am in total agreement with her about the nature journal becoming a travel journal for our children as well as for ourselves.

We have traveled with our journals for many years and it is enjoyable to look back at the entries from places far from home with fond memories.

Here are some examples:

Trip to Makaha, Hawaii….homeschooled while we were there for two weeks. Awesome experience for the boys.

Another journal drawing from the Makaha trip.

Yellowstone National Park and a day at the river that we all remember with our journal entries. I can’t explain how taking the time to journal a day is so powerful. It seems to blaze it into your memory so that years later….many years later in this case, we can all remember exactly what we did on that hot summer afternoon. This entry is from my oldest son’s journal.

This journal was done on a trip to Arizona. We had visited the Sonoran Desert Museum outside of Tucson and we saw three different owls that my son recorded in his journal.

Closer to home, this journal entry was done on a family hike to Eagle Lake. I remember that even my husband journaled on this day and it was great to see his experiences. This is my pen and watercolor sketch of the event.

This one I shared this entry not too long ago but it is another great way to document a trip in a nature journal. My son and I journaled on the same page and it is one of my favorite entries in my current journal. I know I will always look back on this page and remember the afternoon that we spent at Curry Village sketching and having a snack. Thanks Mr. B.

One last one from a trip we took a few years ago to the redwoods. It was our first time visiting Redwoods National Park and we made time for several entries while we were there. This particular entry reminds me that these were the falls that the boys climbed up and found their very first banana slug. They made me climb up the waterfall to take a photo of it for them. 🙂

Take your journals with you when you travel. Take time to sketch!

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started

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Yosemite Birds: Photos and Notebook Page

Lest you think that all I took photos of on my Yosemite trip were wildflowers, here are some bird photos. You will also note that these are not my typical “pretty” photos….birds are hard to photograph and they just don’t come close enough for my little camera.

I love to watch for birds in the early morning. The meadow near our campsite was a perfect birding site and I was up early each morning to see what I could find. The first photo is of a white-headed woodpecker and the second photo is a brown creeper.

These are both new birds to add to my life list of birds seen and identified. That is always exciting.

There is a section in the Handbook of Nature Study on different woodpeckers on pages 70-77. You might enjoy reading about the woodpecker in preparation of your next encounter.

Something else interesting is that I found a feather from a Steller’s jayand when I compared it to my Scrub jay feather that is already in my collection, I found out how different the feathers are colored. Both birds are very similar in color and shape but the patterns of color are very different. Here you can see it clearly. The Scrub Jay is on the left and the Steller’s Jay is on the right. There is a section in the Handbook of Nature Study specifically on bird feathers starting on page 29. We found it very interesting to read about the various purposes of feathers and the various kinds of feathers.

Here is a scan of one of my bird nature journal pages that I made during our trip. Nothing fancy but still a really good reminder in my nature journal of the day we saw this woodpecker. You can find the notebook page on my Freebies page.

Hope you enjoyed a little bird stuff today. I still have insects to share and a really big entry with wildflowers. I am trying to decide whether to make a slideshow of the flowers or just share a few of the over forty flowers I took photos of.

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Beautiful Butterflies and Some Nature Journal Ideas

We were on the lookout for butterflies on our recent camping trip to Yosemite. Many were too fast or would not sit still long enough for a photo but here are a few that I can share. All these were butterflies that I saw as we went on various hikes in a variety of terrain and habitat. My daughter decided that she would rather take photos of flowers than insects because flowers stay in one place.

We did see some Monarchs fluttering and flying around the milkweed but there was never a chance to photograph one, maybe next time. 🙂

We are continuing our study for Outdoor Hour Challenge #22 for Butterflies.

Showy Milkweed in Stoneman’s Meadow, Yosemite Valley.

We know this is some sort of Fritillary but which exact one, we are not so confident. If I had to make a best guess, I think it is a Pacific Fritillary or a Western Meadow Fritillary.

Okay, there are two butterflies in this photo. It was taken in a marshy meadow area near Lukens Lake. There is one distinctly blue and one distinctly brown butterfly but I have no idea what particular ones they are even after examining the field guide for a long time. I’m not very good at identifying butterflies….yet.

Here is another blue butterfly sitting on some bird droppings. My best guess on this one is a Lupine Blue.

Now this one I think is a Woodland Skipper. I know it is a skipper for sure and it looks just like the one in my field guide.

You can see why I was able to take some good photos of these beauties, they were otherwise occupied with more important activities at that particular moment. I still haven’t been able to identify this particular butterfly. Any ideas???

Here is one of my nature journal pages that I used to record one of my experiences with butterflies. I was testing out the free notebooking pages for an upcoming Outdoor Hour Challenge E-book that we are putting together to share with everyone. This page shows my attempt to record a bit about our butterfly study this past week.

Someone was asking recently about how I keep a running list in my nature journal. This is so easy to do and it doesn’t need to be fancy. Tina has created an easy to use version of a running list that will also be in the upcoming E-book.

As you can see, I really just list the butterfly name if I know it and the date and place that I observed it. If I am not sure, I make a note and then use my photographs to identify it later when I have time to use the field guide and the internet.

So those are some of the butterflies that I was able to capture with my camera. We saw many, many Tiger swallowtails and a particular yellow butterfly that we have yet to identify. I look at this project as a life-long endeavor and if I don’t catch the butterfly this time, maybe I will the next time.

Edit to add: Heather asked about my nature journal and how I plan on using the notebooking pages if I am using a spiral bound sketch diary as my nature journal. I made a decision to change to a bigger size nature journal, still spiral bound since I find that easiest to work in. I only have three pages left in my smaller spiral bound nature journal so I will be starting over in a 9″ by 12″ spiral bound artist’s sketchbook that I purchased from Miller Pads and Paper. I will be attaching the pages into the sketchbook with double-backed tape; running lists will be in the back and the other sheets will go in order starting in the front. This will give me the flexibility to use the notebooking pages or to just freehand my entries in as I feel the need. I love to have options. This sketchbooks use heavy enough paper that I feel comfortable using watercolors in them as well as pencils and markers. Hope that explains it!