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Using Sample Lessons to Learn More About the Outdoor Hour Challenge

Have you downloaded any of the sample Outdoor Hour Challenges yet?

There are many nature study lessons you can try before purchasing any of the memberships here on the Handbook of Nature Study.  On the website, click the “Join Us” button. Once there, you should be able to scroll down and see all the samples for the various ebooks. (For the older ebooks you’ll need to click the ebook cover graphic and then scroll down on the ebook’s page to find the sample download link.)

Here’s one to get you started!

Salvia Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Download the Salvia Nature Study Challenge using the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Here’s a link to the original challenge: Salvia Nature Study

The sample linked above will give you the lesson, a choice of notebook pages, images, and a coloring page to use for your family’s study.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover ButtonThis challenge is from the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook.

I developed the Outdoor Hour Challenges to use with my sons many years ago and then started sharing our results here on the blog to inspire families who read my blog. Now that the boys are all grown up, they still remember the times we spent outdoors together looking for adventure and learning about the natural world using the Handbook of Nature Study. I know their love of nature was enhanced by learning to take time to slow down and look at things as they are out on the trail, in the garden, or traveling to new places.

Your family can experience those same benefits by getting started with the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook

Sample from the Getting Started ebook

If you’re interested in starting with a more basic nature study idea, click the link above to download the very first Outdoor Hour Challenge. This is where it all started with our family and you may wish to work your way through the Getting Started ebook with your family. The challenges found in the Getting Started ebook are more general in nature and you can adapt them to fit your family’s habitat and interests.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020If you’re ready to purchase your own family membership, please use the discount code SAMPLE for $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Code will expire on 7/31/2020.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Salvia Flower Study

From the archives and from the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook


Salvia Study 1

Here in the high desert of Central Oregon, we have a variety of blooming flowers that will grow that provide color, don’t need a lot of water, and are pretty much deer resistant. Salvia is one of those flowers. We have some gorgeous deep blue, almost purple, salvia in our front yard and I often times see the hummingbirds and butterflies flying around its blossoms.

This week we’re going to take a closer look at salvia if it’s available in your garden or area. If not, make sure to read the additional activity ideas at the bottom of the challenge.

Fall Flowers Drawing

Here’s one suggestion:

Additional Activity: Make it a fun flower study activity for your creative child! Put some garden flowers in a vase on a table along with sheets of paper, colored pencils, and magnifying lenses. Invite your child to make a sketch for their nature journal or to put on your nature table.

Would you like to see our family’s salvia study from a few years ago? Here is the link:

Family Salvia Flower Study



Nature Study Notebooking Pages

Are you looking for a huge set of nature study related notebooking pages to use with your family? I highly recommend this set from We used them in our family for many years and they are a super easy way to get started with nature journaling.

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If you you use the coupon above to purchase the nature study set, it will bring the cost down to $5.95 for over 293 notebooking pages.

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Family Salvia Flower Study

Salvia Flower Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

We were so excited to start the new series of Outdoor Hour Challenges this week with the Salvia Flower Study.We even went out and purchased a new type of salvia to begin our study with.

I was interested in researching more about salvia and the name “scarlet sage” as listed in the Handbook of Nature Study lesson.

Salvia Study 1

We tried to observe a bee in our salvia but not this time. We did talk about how the bee needs to duck inside to reach the nectar wells.

Now that I am looking at these images in a large format on my computer, I can see the fuzziness of the salvia which is just like the sage we have in our front yard.

Salvia Study 3

The leaves on our two different salvia plants are completely different.


Our autumn flowers have been a little slim pickins this year. But there have been some surprises around the yard, including this sunflower that came from a seed that fell from the birdfeeder right into a pot on my back deck. I wasn’t sure it was going to actually bloom but here it is!

sunflower pollen (4)

It is gorgeous and we enjoyed watching the bees visit it…no wonder! There is so much pollen coming from this sunflower that they can actually just bathe in it as they fly in and out.

sunflower pollen (1)

Look at that pollen!

Zinnias (2)

These zinnias are from my dad’s garden…he had saved seeds from last year and sprinkled them in his flower bed a few months ago. Now, they are blooming like crazy with a variety of flowers that dazzle the eye.

lantana (1)

He also has a bank next to his driveway that he has filled with different colors of lantana. This one is my mom’s favorite color and the hummingbirds and butterflies love it too. This is a great plant to have in your garden to attract birds and insects for observation. (Note to self…plant lantana when we can have a garden again.)

backyard nature  (1)

Our little explorers were more interested in watching birds this week and not going on a flower hunt. Maybe next time….

backyard nature  (4)

We also looked at ants this week since there was a whole nest of them under a rock we turned over to look for insects. Can you believe all the leaves that have fallen already in my backyard?

marigold sketch (2)

I forgot to take photos of their flower drawings but here is mine.

Insect sketch

Here is a sketch that one of the boys did of a black widow spider. He had seen one in his garage and decided to draw it using a book I have on how to draw insects.

It was a really great week observing flowers as the autumn season starts. We will continue to keep our eye on flowers as we work through the next few flower challenges.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button

This Outdoor Hour Challenge is included in the new Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook. It is only one of fifteen nature study topics included along with notebook pages and coloring pages.  If you have an Ultimate or Journey level membership, you will find this ebook in your library!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Flower Study


Salvia Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Salvia Nature Study
Autumn Nature Study Continues Ebook

We are starting off our new Autumn Nature Study Continues series with the study of a beautiful bee-loving plant, salvia. This is a great garden plant or one you can actually grow nicely in a pot on a patio or deck.

Please note that if you don’t have any salvia to study this week….pick another garden flower and create an “autumn flower” nature journal page instead. See the ideas listed below for some ideas on how to accomplish a simple and fun flower study with your family.

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 579-581 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 161). Make sure to read the Leading Thought to get the focus of your study in mind. Pick any of the suggested activities to learn more about the salvia flower.
  • Make sure to go to the images for Salvia at the end of the ebook. You will see a bee on a salvia flower gathering his nectar. Here is an additional short YouTube video:
  • There are many varieties of salvia. Look at your local nursery for salvia for your garden or make plans to purchase some next spring. You can also look up your state’s native salvia plants by Googling “state name native plant salvia”. (I just purchased some salvia at my local Home Depot.)

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Spend fifteen minutes this week exploring your early autumn garden. If you have some salvia (or really any flower) you can view in person, sit quietly and watch for any bees that might come to visit the flower.
  • Make sure to look at any flower you have access to this week, looking carefully at the structure of the flower. Note the bracts and calyx of each flower. (Other garden challenges and printables are found on the Garden Tab at the top of the website.)

Fall Flowers DrawingFollow-Up Activity:

  • Pull out the Handbook of Nature Study and find the diagram on page 580 showing the blossom of the sage with the parts labeled. You will also see how the bee gets into the blossom to get the nectar.
  • Create a nature journal entry with a sketch of salvia and a caption.
  • Ebook Users: You can use the notebook page included. Younger children can use the coloring page. The advanced study notebook page will help you dig a little deeper into your study of salvia. There is also a bonus Autumn Flower Study notebook page to use with any flower your find during this challenge.
  • Advanced activity: Dissect a salvia flower, creating a journal page showing the flower parts labeled. Make sure to explain how a bee gathers its nectar from the salvia.
  • Additional Activity: Make it a fun flower study activity for your creative child! Put some garden flowers in a vase on a table along with sheets of paper, colored pencils, and magnifying lenses. Invite your child to make a sketch for their nature journal or to put on your nature table.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button


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Wildflowers, Weeds, & Garden Flowers Notebooking PagesNature Study Notebooking Pages

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Garden Flowers Focus – Using Notebooking Pages

We have studied many of the garden flowers listed in the Handbook of Nature Study over the years. Using the simple ideas in each lesson make it enjoyable and memorable. For this challenge (Focus on Garden Flowers), we picked just two flowers to study more in-depth- Salvia and Petunias (which will be the star of the next OHC this Friday).

Guess what? We have never had salvia in our garden before so a trip to Home Depot was taken and we found several varieties of salvia to choose from. We picked this purple salvia which we are hoping will apply to the salvia in the Handbook of Nature Study. From the label we learned it needs a sunny spot (6 hours of sun) and water every other day. It blooms summer to fall and will grow to a height of 10-36″.

I decided to plant my saliva in a pot so I won’t forget to water it and so I can watch it grow and blossom and hopefully watch the bees in it. It is a perennial so I will eventually add it to the flower garden.

From the lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 161), we looked closely at the flowers, looking for the corolla-tubes, stamens, and anthers as described in the narrative. The bees apparently have to push their heads agains the inner arms of the stamesn to lift them which causes the anthers to leave a streak of pllen along the bee’s fuzzy sides. The bees then have to crawl almost inside the tubes to get the nectar. I’m not sure that my variety of salvia will provide such a show but we will be watching.

I will be on the lookout for some Saliva as described in the Handbook of Nature Study so we can really get a good look. I printed the salvia notebook page from’s Wildflowers, Weeds, and Garden Flowers set.

While we were at Home Depot, I picked up some more seeds to plant in the garden. They had some larkspur seeds and I will plant those and use along with the lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study, hopefully later this summer. There were two other seeds that caught my eye and I will be planting those today along my fence-line- Hollyhocks and Black-Eyed Susans!

Our garden is all planted and I hope to get a garden entry done sometime in the next week to share all the lovely Renee’s Garden seeds that we have tucked into their garden beds…just waiting!

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