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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Spring Weather Observations


Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week use the ideas in the challenges listed to make some simple Spring Weather Observations. 

 Spring Weather (2010)Suggested Observations
  • Have your children describe any clouds they see in the sky.
  • Notice how hard the wind is blowing by how things are moving: leaves rustling, trees bending, etc.
  • Notice the wind’s direction. Where is it coming from?
  • Describe the temperature of the air and/or look it up on a thermometer.
  • Notice any precipitation that you may have this week: sprinkles, rain, mist, sleet, snow, fog, hail.

Printable Notebook Page: 
During your seasonal weather observations, take a photo of something that shows your current weather conditions. Better yet, let your children take the images and then print them out for a personalized nature journal entry. This can be done in each season and recorded in your nature journal’s seasonal section.

Printable Notebook Page:My Seasonal Weather.

Nature in Verse by Mary Lovejoy is a whole year’s worth of poetry organized by seasons. You can click the link and scroll to the table of contents. Look for any poems that relate to spring. Read some aloud to your children and perhaps pick a line or two to copy onto a nature journal page.

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. Along with a sketch, your child can add a verse or two of spring poetry to their nature journal. Keep it simple and light…


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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 – Autumn Tree Nature Study Hour Challenge
Autumn Tree Nature Study

Use any of the Outdoor Hour Challenges below to complete an Autumn Tree Nature Study. Feel free to pick and choose any of the suggested activities that you think will fit your area and interests. Spend some time outdoors looking at trees with your children…see the beauty in this time of year!

Color Hunt Printable Cards

Use these color word cards to stimulate a fun nature study related activity. Challenge your child to find something of each color during your Outdoor Hour Challenge time. This can be part of your Autumn Tree Study or any other study you complete throughout the year.

TIPS: These cards can be printed on cardstock or cut and pasted to index cards. If you only have a black and white printer, have your children color the words or the border with markers before going outside.

Printable Color Word Cards

Tree Poetry Printable from the Archives

Tree Poetry ideas with free printable activity (October 2012)

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #7-Your Own Field Guide. Use the ideas in this challenge to start your own field guide pages using the trees in your yard or neighborhood. Add to your tree field guide from time to time and as the years go by you will have built a record of many trees right in your own yard! Use the accompanying notebook page to get started or a blank nature journal page for each tree. 
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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Autumn Cattail and Small Square Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Autumn Cattail Study with a Small Square Study Too!

Additional Activity – Cattail Acrostic Poetry Activity 

Just for fun, I have created an acrostic poetry notebook page for you to use to go along with your cattail study. For each letter in the word “cattail”, have your child write a word or phrase that describes the cattail. Use the box on the page for a sketch, a rubbing, or a photo. This is meant to be a fun way to extend your cattail study so you might offer to help your child or you can skip it until a future date.

Cattail Acrostic Poetry Printable Activity

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started Ebook, you may wish to completeGetting Started – Challenge #9 Small Square Study. You can use the ideas in this challenge to complete a small square study at your cattail habitat. Use the accompanying notebook page to record your results.

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Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


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Poetry in Your Nature Journal – Autumn Trees and Weeds

“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day,
“Come over the meadows with me, and play;
Put on your dresses of red and gold;
Summer is gone, and the days grow cold”
-from Songs of Autumn

I love Google Books…you can find so many wonderful books that are in the public domain to use in your homeschooling and nature study. I have had one ebook downloaded and on my desktop just waiting to use with our nature journals…and to share with you.

Nature in Verse by Mary Lovejoy is a whole year’s worth of poetry organized by seasons. Whether you read these aloud or use them as copy work in your nature journals, this downloadable ebook is a gem.

Another one you may like to download is Nature Study in Elementary Schools: Myths, Stories, and Poems.

Poetry is another way to use the words you find as you spend your time outdoors. Not everyone likes to take a stab at poetry but if it is your interest or you are a linguistic learner (or your child is a linguistic learner), it is fun to listen to poetry and to play with words. See last week’s challenge for more ideas on using poetry in your nature journal.

We attempted to write some poems for our nature journal but it just didn’t happen this week. We did have fun manipulating words and it was sort of a silly time for the two of us…I cherish those times with my son just as much as any poem we could have written.

Just the act of slowing down and gathering words, giving our children more words to describe their outdoor experiences, and then taking time to share word pictures is a gift they will carry with them into their adulthood.

“The habit of storing mental images can’t be overrated. It can comfort us and refresh us. Even in our busiest times, we can stop and take a mini-vacation in our own piece of nature to be refreshed and gladdened by ‘the silence and calm of things that can’t speak or feel.’…..anyone who tries hard to really see can have it, and parents can train their children to do this.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 1 page 50

Sometimes I just like to record words that come to mind and after they are written in my nature journal they end up sounding like poetry…free form style. Some people collect items for a nature table and some of us like to collect images and words to remember an experience.

This week we found some thistles during a walk with the Kona dog. They always look so pretty but I know that if I touch them they are rather dry, hard, and the thorns will give a good poke. We took some photos and then I drew some autumn thistles in my nature journal along with some words. My words record the experience of seeing some goldfinches hanging upside down to glean some seeds from the thistles. How do they do that without getting stuck by the thorns? They seemed very happy and content as they enjoyed the thistle seed meal.

So whether you actually write a poem or just play with words in your journal, I encourage you to give it a try. Start with a simple sketch and then perhaps a word or two to express your feelings about the subject. Remember that a journal is a personal expression for you and your child….no need for perfection.

“As soon as a child is old enough, he should keep his own nature notebook for his enjoyment. Every day’s walk will give something interesting to add–three squirrels playing in a tree, a blue jay flying across a field, a caterpillar crawling up a bush, a snail eating a cabbage leaf, a spider suddenly dropping from a thread to the ground, where he found ivy and how it was growing and what plants were growing with it, and how ivy manages to climb.” Charlotte Mason in Modern English, volume 1 page 54

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Using Your Words with Tree Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge: 
Ready for a simple nature study challenge this week?  Let’s use Challenge #2 Using Your Words to enjoy our outdoor time as we notice trees in our own backyard and neighborhood. Spend your fifteen minutes observing a tree up close and then follow up with some words. Your children can share their special words orally and then write them down if they wish.

Poetry and Nature Study Activity:
This week the challenge is to record your special words about trees in poem form for your nature journal.

Tree Poetry:Use this notebook page to record the words from your outdoor time. Choose one or more of the suggestions to get you started with your very own poem.

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook
Getting Started Suggestion:
This week’s challenge comes directly from Challenge #2 Using Your Words. If you own the ebook, then you have a custom notebook page you can print to use in your nature notebook.

If you need an explanation of how the Outdoor Hour Challenge is going to work from this day forward, please read this entry:
Nature Study Using the Outdoor Hour Challenge – How to Steps and Explanation.