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Using Our Senses Nature Walk

We often take quiet walks together but when it is an intentional thing it seems to heighten the senses. I found today that stopping and being still is even better than just walking quietly.

When you stop and are still it gives time for the birds and little animals to come out from hiding and perhaps let you glimpse them. In my case, I was able to see some woodpeckers chasing each other from tree to tree. I heard the squirrels chattering in the trees alongside the trail that I hadn’t heard before.

I stood silently for perhaps five minutes, looking out over a little meadow area where the trees have lost all their leaves and the snow is still a bit patchy. I could feel the warm air in the sunshine as it blew just ever so slightly on my face.

I heard lots of different birds: nuthatches, jays, a flicker in the distance. I also hear the wings of a bird flutter in the bushes.

The walking trail was still covered mostly in snow and ice except where the sun had melted it away. We were alone on the trail all the way out to the road landmark where we usually turn around. I noticed the edges of the trail had lots and lots of freshly fallen acorns. I thought about how the animals in the forest seem to always have a food supply even if the weather is freezing cold.

We smelled the air several times…dampness, creosote from the old train tracks, oak leaves.

The trees made long shadows in the afternoon sun…the shadow of a bird flying overhead caught my eye as we stood along the trail.

This kind of walk refreshes like no other. I know that if you have little ones along on your walk it is a bit challenging to have quiet but it is worth a try. Challenge yourself to experience the quiet of the outdoors. You don’t have to go far or be gone for long periods of time. If your children are not accustomed to being outside, you will need to gradually earn their trust about how much fun it can be.

Most children today are not comfortable just getting outside and walking…they get bored easily. All the more reason to not procrastinate getting outside as a family to learn the benefits of just how much it can heal your spirit and body.

You will not regret it.

I also wanted to share a book with you in this entry. I mentioned it in the newsletter but it is worth sharing again with you.

We pulled out all our national park literature and this one is our favorite. I love the park choices, the art work, and concise park descriptions. Try to find it at your public library or the next time you are at a national park gift shop. I love picking up books as souvenirs and this one is a good for inspiring future travel and sharing a love of the beautiful world we live in.

I’m an Amazon Affiliate and only recommend products that I personally own (or wish I owned) and think my readers will love as well! This post may contain some links that will take you to these products on Amazon where I receive a small referral fee. I greatly appreciate your support!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – December Senses Walk

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Using Your Senses – December Walk

There have been several challenges here on the blog during different seasons that feature using your senses or being quiet during a nature walk. Prepare your children ahead of time by explaining that spending some of your Outdoor Hour Challenge time should be time spent quietly observing. Use the ideas in the links below and the Listening Game in the additional activities below to incorporate some “using your senses” time into your OHC this week. Don’t be discouraged if your children can only manage a minute or two of quiet…it is something they can grow into when they learn the advantages of careful observation.

Don’t forget you can use this month’s (December 2013) Study Grid from the newsletter as part of this challenge.

Additional Activity:
Outdoor Listening Game
Go outside with your children and let each one find a place to sit quietly, choosing a comfortable spot where there are few distractions. Show them how to make cups with their hands and then hold them behind their ears like big deer or rabbit ears. Sit with your “deer” ears on and discover the sounds of your neighborhood or a near-by park.

This is a great training activity for sitting and listening quietly during your nature adventures. 
I am looking forward to getting out with my snowshoes and really using my senses.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #10. Try having a snack or picnic lunch even if it is super cold outside. Our family even found driving to a favorite spot, parking with a view to something natural, and eating in the car is a fantastic way to make a memory. Keep it simple and then come home and record your experience on the accompanying notebook page in the ebook. 
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Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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Our Quiet Nature Walk – Opening Your Senses

Taking a nature walk can bring refreshment to your whole family. Maybe you are having a tough day and the children are a little restless or perhaps the weather is just too nice to stay inside all day…these are perfect opportunities to drop everything else, put on your shoes and take a walk in your own neighborhood or a park close by.

  • Stepping outside can make a world of difference if you are feeling cooped up inside your house.
  • Fresh air can blow the grumpy attitudes away.
  • There is always something new to see outside…let your children show you.
  • Allowing time for children to explore, run, climb, and jump is a healthy way to burn up some built up energy.
  • Moms need a few minutes outside to look up at the sky and remember that each day has something to be thankful for.
I created a simple nature journal with some of the highlights of our Quiet Nature Walk.

We took a hike this week and I made sure to include a few minutes to walk quietly, using all our senses. This idea was included in this month’s newsletter along with three other ideas to use during your outdoor time.

You can find all four ideas in the October 2013 Newsletter on page 3:
Color Walk
Seasonal Walk
Quiet Walk
Follow the Leader
You can still receive this edition of the newsletter until 11/1/13. If you subscribe today, you will get it in the 10/31/13 entry (Blog Carnival) that comes tomorrow. Hurry…don’t miss it before it is gone.

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Silent Nature Walk – Winter Nature Study with the OHC

Winter Wonder Collage

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone.

After checking our weather for the next few weeks, we realized that a winter weather nature walk was not going to happen any time soon. Our Winter Wonder Walk became our Silent Nature Walk instead. This was part of the advanced study suggested for the first challenge from the More Nature Study Book 2 ebook plans.

Winter Wonder walk - Silent Activity
We loaded up the Kona dog and headed to our favorite local trail. Mr. B started off ahead of me so we wouldn’t be tempted to talk. This was a good plan since it also separated us a little as we walked and it seemed that we were all alone which allowed the sounds of the woods to be easily heard.

Ferns along the trail
A few of the things I observed on our Silent Nature Walk:
1. Greenness of the ferns growing alongside the trail on the hillside.
2. Dry trail with acorns..crunching leaves.
3. Birds singing in the woods. The only one I recognized is the Northern Flicker. I also heard some wing flutters coming from the bushes lining the path.
4. The buzz of an insect which I couldn’t see.
5. I noticed a pile of feathers where some forest animal had made a meal.

Winter Wonder walk Advanced Notebook Page
Mr. B wrote his observations on a notebook page when we got home and I was impressed with the different things he noted that I missed as noted below:
1. He heard five birds.
2. He noticed the river’s rushing sound and how it changed as we walked down the canyon.
3. Scrunch of the needles and the pat of the dirt.

He brought home an acorn to sketch into his journal and I brought home a few samples of ferns, an acorn, a weed, and a feather.
Wood fern - back
I was fascinated by the spores on the back of the ferns. I won’t detail here all I learned from the Handbook of Nature Study on ferns but we will in the future have a challenge featuring ferns. I found a wealth of information in Lesson 195 on the fruiting of the fern. There is always something new and interesting to learn.

Western Sword Fern - back
I identified my ferns as the Wood Fern, the Western Sword Fern, and California Maidenhair Fern.

Winter Wonder Walk Journal
Silence. It is a great way to glean a little more from a walk if you can give it a try. I have to admit that several times on the walk when I couldn’t see Mr. B or the Kona dog that I was a little uneasy. It can be too quiet sometimes. I think we become accustomed to having background noise in our life from the computers, the clocks, music, traffic, and each other. Seeking out the quiet is something I think we should do on a regular basis and I will be adding this to future challenges, at least for the advanced study option. I encourage you to grow your children into the habit of spending a least a few minutes of every outdoor nature study time being silent and really listening.

More Nature Study #2 button

It is not too late to join us for this new series of nature study challenges using the Handbook of Nature Study. All of the challenges for this series are gathered into an ebook format along with custom made notebook pages. Click over and see the details and join us this week for a new posted challenge on Friday.

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OHC More Nature Study Book 2: Winter Wonder Walk Challenge

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Wonder Walk @handbookofnaturestudy

More Nature Study Book 2
Winter Weather Walk

Inside Preparation Work:

    • Read the “How to Use This Book” section in Part I of the Handbook of Nature Study (pages 23-24). This information will apply to every challenge in this ebook. If this is your first time reading this section, use a highlighter or pen to underline thoughts you can implement with your family.
    • Ebook Users Only: Before beginning this series of challenges, use the Winter Wonder? Notebook Page to create enthusiasm for this season’s nature study. Print a page for each member of the family and complete it together. Refer to this page as you work your way through the challenges and spend time outdoors this winter. Keep the page in the front of your nature journal as a reminder of the three questions you hope to answer and the three activities you hope to accomplish.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Take a Winter Weather Walk and observe as many things in your neighborhood as possible that are special about the winter season. These can be man-made or natural items. If you downloaded my January 2012 Newsletter you can also use the Study Grid ideas as part of this challenge (newsletter in the archives for Members). More Nature Study Winter Ebook Users: You can take along the notebook page and record your thoughts as you walk outdoors or wait until you return home to complete the page.
  • Advanced study: Challenge yourself to take a walk keeping completely silent. Go as a family or all alone. Ebook Users: You can take the Silent Winter Walk Challenge notebook page along with you and record your observations as you walk or wait until you go back inside to record your findings. Collect a small item to bring inside to sketch in your nature journal or onto your notebook page.
More Nature Study Winter Challenge 1
Three notebook pages are included in the ebook for this challenge.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Record your Winter Weather Walk experiences in your nature journal. Ebook users can complete any or all of the notebook pages associated with this challenge as a follow up to your winter weather walk. You may wish to complete another walk later in the season just to compare your weather and surroundings. File your notebook pages in your nature journal.
  • Advanced study: Keep track of the weather in your nature journal. Design and sketch out your own weather chart. (Handbook of Nature Study, page 807, Lesson 222 has an example.) Suggested topics of study: Rain and snow amounts in inches, temperatures (highs and lows), wind speed and direction, cloud types, anything else weather related that you can think of to include. You can use the free weather chart I posted in this entry: Dry December Leads to a Dry January.

You can view our Winter Silent Nature Walk here on my blog.

 More Nature Study Winter Wonder

 Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy