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The Ultimate Mammals Homeschool Nature Study Using Outdoor Hour Challenges

You can enjoy a simple mammals homeschool nature study with these resources we have gathered for you to use in your own backyard. It is such a delight to study and learn about these beautiful creatures!

NOTE: All of the mammals homeschool nature study resources listed are available as an Outdoor Hour Challenge in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. If you have a membership, you will be able to pull up the Outdoor Hour Challenge curriculum and print any notebook pages, coloring pages, or other printables for your mammals nature study.

Wondering how to start? Grab our FREE Getting Started with Homeschool Nature Study Guide!

Mammals Homeschool Nature Study Using Outdoor Hour Challenges (in Nature Study Membership)

  • Animal Tracks Hunt – Mammals Outdoor Hour Challenge
  • Bats – Summer course
  • Bear – Forest Fun course
  • Beavers
  • Cats – Spring course
  • Cattle and Deer – Winter Continues course
  • Chipmunks – Autumn course (An example of a chipmunks and squirrel study with Homeschool Nature Study here)
  • Coyote – High Desert course
  • Elk – High Desert ebook
  • Goats – More Spring Nature Course
  • Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel – High Desert course
  • Horses – Autumn course
  • Moose – Forest Fun course
  • Mountain Lion – High Desert course
  • Mouse – More Summer course
  • Muskrat – Creepy Things course
You can enjoy a simple mammals homeschool nature study with these resources we have gathered for you to use in your own backyard.
  • Pig – Autumn Continues course
  • Pocket Gopher – High Desert course
  • Porcupine – Forest Fun course
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons – Summer course
  • Rats
  • River Otter – High Desert course
  • Sheep – More Winter course
  • Skunks – Summer course
  • Skunks and Badgers
  • Squirrels and Squirrels with Rodent Notebooking Page
  • Winter Mammals from Winter Wednesday course
  • Winter Mammals Hiberation – Winter Wednesday course
  • Winter Mammal Tracks – Winter course
  • Wolf, Fox, and Dog
  • Woodchuck, Groundhog, Prairie Dog, and Marmot
We’re starting with a favorite topic, black bears! Enjoy a bear nature study in your homeschool with this Outdoor Hour Challenge and bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in your homeschool.

Additional Mammal Homeschool Activities Included with Membership

  • Mammal Outdoor Hour Challenge Notebook Page
  • Mammal notebook page
  • Running List of Mammals printable notebook page
  • Looking for Signs and Tracks
  • Mammal nature study journal idea printable. Mammals at the zoo.
homeschool nature study membership for families

Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership for Year Round Support

Can you believe all of these mammals resources you will find in membership? You will also find a continuing series on mammals plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges for nature study in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

first published 2011 by Barb and updated by Tricia 2022

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Raccoon and Skunk Nature Study

Summer Raccoon and Skunk Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Summer Raccoon and Skunk Nature Study

From the Archives and from the Summer Nature Study ebook

Are you having fun using all your senses with the Outdoor Hour Challenge? Use the ideas in this week’s challenge to engage your child’s senses as much as possible.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about these two interesting mammals that are active at night. We’ll probably be focusing on raccoons this time around since we have some that live in our neighborhood.

Make sure to read the lessons in the Handbook of Nature Study as a way of preparing for a future raccoon or skunk sighting.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Using Your Senses

Join us for this exciting series of nature study topics as we work through the Summer Nature Study – Using Your Senses ebook.

This ebook is found in the Ultimate level membership for you to download and use with your family. If you would like to gain access to this ebook, you can purchase a membership now and have instant access.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy


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Nighttime Critters – Our List from the July Newsletter

Summer evenings outdoors….with our chiminea.

We have been working on our July Newsletter Nighttime Critter Challenge all month. I wanted to post a little of what we are observing and learning to give you an idea of how you can pick a few things from your area to study in the evening hours.  I will update our list after the end of the month with any new finds.

Our most predominant nighttime critters of interest are the Brown bats that come every single night to fly in our backyard. I wrote about them back in May as part of mammal study.  For the July newsletter challenge for Nighttime Critters, I decided to share a few of our other nighttime visitors of interest. This study was sort of on-going because when the weather is hot, we tend to drag sleeping bags out to the back deck to sleep in the cool night air. We all lay awake and listen and watch as the nighttime settles in around us.

Shooting stars, satellites zipping across the sky, the moon, the swaying trees in the breeze, and the night sounds all entertain us as we wait for sleep to come.

Great Horned Owl Nature Journal
Fill In The Circle and Fill In With Color Example – Poor owl sketch…he has such a crooked beak.

One of the things that we have discovered sleeping outside on hot summer nights is that we have quite a few great horned owls in our neighborhood. We can hear them calling back and forth right after the sun goes down and then again at around 5 AM. Here is a link to and if you click the sound button, you will hear the two types of sounds we hear from our owls: Great Horned Owls. We have yet to actually see them but they are out there…no doubt about it.

We also are serenaded by crickets when the temperatures get just right. It is amazing how you don’t hear any crickets and then all of a sudden it is as if someone turned on a cricket soundtrack and they all chirp at the same time. The lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study gives a great illustration showing the parts of the cricket and an excellent explanation of how he “sings”. (Lesson 82)

 “The wing covers are much shorter than the abdomen and beneath them are vestiges of wings, which are never used. The male has larger wing covers than the female, and they are veined in a peculiar scroll pattern. This veining seems to be a framework for the purpose of making a sounding board of the wing membrane, by stretching it out as a drumhead is stretched.” Handbook of Nature Study.

Turn in your copy of the Handbook of Nature Study to read much more in the lesson explaining this interesting creature.There is such a simple explanation of the mechanics of the crickets chirping that it is perfect for sharing with younger children. The crickets and the frogs compete in our neighborhood for the winner of the “background” noise. It seems as if one or the other is singing their little hearts out.

We smell skunks quite a few nights a week. Sleeping outside we hear rustling in the garden and I think it is the skunk. I know they dig around the base of the birdfeeder outside our window but over the years I have decided that if he leaves me alone, I will leave him alone. Here is another entry where I talk about our nighttime visitors.

Nighttime Critter LIst - Outdoor Hour Challenge
List from the July Newsletter. I cut it out and taped it inside my nature journal.

One last nighttime critter we have had around the neighborhood is the raccoon. Our neighbor has been sharing how they keep forgetting to bring in the dog’s food dish at night and the raccoon has decided that it makes a easy snack taken just outside their patio door. We have had our share of raccoons in the yard over the years but we haven’t seen any lately. Here is an entry sharing one raccoon experience: Raccoon Visitor.

Well that gives you a taste of what we have around here in the evenings. I just thought of something else I need to put on my list….moths.

I look forward to reading about your nighttime critters. Don’t forget to post your entry and then submit it to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival before 7/30/11 for a chance in the July Newsletter giveaway!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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Our Raccon and Skunk Study: Mammals of the Night

Raccoon at the back door

This is a visitor we had at our back door a few summers ago. We had a family of skunks and a couple of raccoons that frequented our backyard in the evenings all that long summer. The raccoon would stand at our door and look in until we would chase him off…..this is when we started keeping our cat’s food dish inside. We knew he was eating the food because he would wash the kibble in the water dish, making the water brown and his footprints would lead from the dish off to the edge of the deck.

Last summer was the summer of the skunk in our neighborhood. Just about every night we would smell the fragrance of skunk coming in the windows. This summer….nothing. No skunks at all that I have seen or smelled. What a relief! But also now that I think about it, sort of interesting and curious. Now that we have no grass in the front yard it will probably mean we no longer have a skunk digging around for something to eat….didn’t think about that aspect of our yard remodel.

Mr. B and I have spent more than the usual amount of time outdoors at night the past few weeks as part of his astronomy study. I don’t think we have heard any mammals around the yard except for our cats. We listened to crickets the other night as we sat and watched the stars. A friend of ours said they had a mountain lion on their property last week! I am happy to report we do not have a mountain lion this year like we did last year in our neighborhood. It went around knocking trash cans over and making messes on trash night.

That reminds me of a conversation we had when we were camping at Yosemite in July. My boys and I were talking about whether we were more afraid of bears or mountain lions. We all agreed that in our experience bears were far less intimidating than a mountain lion. I thought that was interesting and we talked a lot about why we were more afraid of the mountain lion. We talked about how bears appear and go about their quest looking for food. If you stay out of their way, they usually just go about their business. Mountain lions seem to be all teeth and claws and if you have heard one scream, well, it is frightening. The one in our neighborhood sounded like a loud baby crying….it totally creeped me out. It was almost as eerie as a coyote howling.

Well, that is our mammal post to wrap up our summer nature study series. We are anxious to start the autumn challenges. My husband and I have sat down to plan some field trips to enhance our studies. We may revisit bats this fall since they seem to be out in record numbers this week. There is also a resident squirrel that needs some observations and journals recorded. We realized too that we have not done a formal study of our frequent guest at the feeder, the white-breasted nuthatch so that may get done alongside our autumn bird study for the challenge.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this summer series of nature study a great success and joy.

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Skunks and Badgers: Our Outdoor Hour

Our Outdoor Hour Challenge #50 – Skunks and Badgers

Our area is inhabited by quite a few striped skunks. In the summer time we frequently see them in the evening hours in our backyard as they dig under the birdfeeder and in the yard. We even had a family of skunks living under our house a few years ago.

Every night that summer we would have the fragrance of skunk to contend with. We sort of became used to smelling it at night but when they would sometimes spray right up under the windows, it would make you feel sick to your stomach.

This time of year we only occasionally see skunks and it is a nice break in our “nature study”.

This is a photo from last year and it shows what the skunks come and do at night in our yard. They dig around looking for insects and worms and the holes look like swirls when they are done. This was an especially bad night where I am so grateful they decided to dig in the unlandscaped part of the yard and not a few feet over and into the grassy area. They are very good diggers as you can see. This year we have a dog that sleeps outside in her kennel so we shall see how that goes with the resident skunk population.

On another topic, we did have a special treat this week while we were on our trip to the desert. The Living Desert Museum actually had a badger to view and observe! We had never seen a real badger before and we were surprised at the size and the claws! The badger was busy digging in his enclosure so we stood and watched him for a long time and we can now see how he uses those long claws to dig his burrow.

Skunks are really an ongoing nature study subject for our family since we have them so close at hand. We have learned to live with them and to stay out of their way.

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Outdoor Hour Challenge #50 Mammals-Skunk and Badger

Outdoor Hour Challenge
#50 Skunk and Badger

This week there are some great videos to share with your children to capture their interest.

PBS Nature Skunk
This video series is excellent and we learned more than we ever wanted to know about skunks. You must watch this for yourself even if you don’t watch it with your children.

Here is a video about badgers.

Wow! Those critters can dig!

1. Read pages 245-247 in the Handbook of Nature Study.
Resources for the skunk
Resource for badger

2. Supplemental reading in The Burgess Animal Book for Children: Read Stories 22-23. Use the illustrations on pages 135 and 110 to prompt a narration your child’s narration if needed.

3. This week during your 10-15 minutes of outdoor time, keeping an eye out for signs of mammals as you walk. In our area we many times will smell a skunk but not see him. If you have the opportunity over the next few weeks, point out the fragrance of a skunk to your children.

  • Another idea this week is to carry a small pouch or bag to collect any nature items you find while you are outdoors.
  • Start or add to a nature collection. (see challenge 6)
  • Did you find any animal tracks this week? Take photos or make a mental note of how they looked for further research.

4. After your walk, take a few minutes to discuss anything your child found interesting during their outdoor time. If they collected items in a bag, pull those objects out and take a closer look with your magnifying lens. Use a Mammal notebook page to record what you learned about skunks and badgers this week. Complete the Seasonal Weather Study notebook page and file it in with your autumn observations. You could talk about the differences between what you observed in autumn and those things you recorded this time. How is the scene you drew this week different from the autumn scene? How are the temperatures different? Is there a difference in the number of hours of daylight?

Additional resources for this challenge:


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Picking New Garden Flowers-Green Hour Challenge #12

I thought I would share a little of our family’s gardening history in our Outdoor Hour post this week. We have always been a gardening sort of family and the kids have grown up with their hands in the dirt. Each child has had their own garden box and when spring rolls around they get busy planting.

This is my youngest son working in his garden in 2001….that would have made him five years old. I think the look on his face says it all.

This year he has planted a zuchinni, some spinach, and is now going to add some dill and some violoas to his box. He has herbs from last year growing…chives, oregano, and basil I think.

We went to Home Depot to look for some new things and he wanted something colorful and he wanted seeds so we found some on this really big rack of seed packets. He also picked out a pepper called “garden salsa” and this one he wanted as a seedling. I picked up some morning glories after being inspired by Jenn and I also picked out some coleus seeds for my pot on my back deck.

Our nature study this week has been filled with observing each morning the signs of a skunk in our backyard. Here is what it looks like. They make swirly holes looking for grubs and other tasty treats. I am so glad they are doing this in the unlandscaped side of our yard and not in the grass….yet.

Can you believe how busy these guys are looking for things to eat? Here is my son’s drawing for his nature journal of a striped skunk.

We had another relaxed Outdoor Hour week with a little time each day in the garden and observing birds and reptiles in our backyard. We did have one really sad incident. The baby blue jays that we had in a nest near our window were taken by some bird and then the nest was damaged so there are no longer any babies for us to observe. It has been hard on everyone to watch the “circle of life” drama this week.

I hope that everyone else has an enjoyable week for their Outdoor Hour. Remember, you do not have to focus on garden flowers if you are into another focus or you have something else in mind for your family.