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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes Homeschool Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Tree Silhouettes

This week we are going to be on the lookout for interesting tree silhouettes in our own yard and neighbourhood. Here is the link to the previous challenge: Winter Wednesday – Tree Silhouettes

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

In this challenge, be sure to look for the list of four ideas to use when completing this challenge with your children. You can also work on your Winter Tree Study and your Four Seasons Tree Study.

Homeschool Nature Study: Outdoor Hour Challenge

Special Activity: My Tree is a Living World
This may be a great week to revisit this activity:
My Tree is a Living World

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

You might also like to see how Tricia’s family enjoyed this winter tree silhouettes challenge. They did a blind contour drawing. They also noticed how paying attention to winter tree silhouettes made them notice the backyard birds!

Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #4. Use the ideas in the challenge to start a focused study of trees with your children. Use the accompanying notebook page to record your outdoor time and your focus area.   

It is simple to get started. We will show you how. Grab this free Homeschool Nature Study Guide and discover the joys of nature study in your homeschool.

If you do not own the Getting Started in the Outdoor Hour Challenges guide then hop on over to our shop and grab your free copy! We would love to have you join our membership for full access to the new year’s nature study plans as well as access to the curriculum with detailed lesson plans for each weekly challenge.

Homeschool Nature Study Membership - Bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool

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Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

In addition to this winter tree silhouette challenge, our nature study homeschool members enjoy so much more! Membership includes three sets of Winter Handbook of Nature Study curriculum, additional nature study resources and ideas plus a calendar FULL of easy, daily nature study prompts. This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge comes from:

Handbook of Nature Study - An Outdoor Hour Homeschool Curriculum - Winter Wednesdays
Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes

Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Tree Silhouettes? Be sure to tag @outdoorhourchallenge on Instagram and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter

We had a break in our rain today and the sun came out for the first time in days. I have been keeping track of our rain totals and in our rain gauge, I measured over fourteen inches in the past four days! It was a steady rain with strong downpours for periods of time…it was a lot of rain.

Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter

Today, I spent some time wandering in our backyard and noticing the trees. We live in a mixed conifer forested area so our yard has both deciduous and evergreen trees. The best way to share what I did for the tree silhouette challenge is to post lots of images.

Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter
Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter
Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter
Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter
Revelling in the Tree Silhouettes of Winter

The story really is about the trees. I encourage you to try to observe a bare winter tree both from afar and from underneath its branches. Look at the sky through the crisscrossing of the limbs. Take a photo and save it to compare the summer tree’s shape.

“Children should also become familiar with trees at an early age. They should pick about six in the winter when the leaves are gone, perhaps an elm, a maple, a beech, etc, and watch them during the year.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 1 page 52

Try just one tree if you are overwhelmed by six. Keep it simple and fun for your kids. You may wish to visit this entry for more seasonal tree study ideas:
For The Love of Trees

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – December World

Outdoor Hour Challenge
December World Observations

This challenge will help you appreciate your world during the month of December. This slowing down to make careful observations during December will help your child have something to compare with in each successive season. Learning the cycles of the natural world helps your child gain confidence by being about to distinguish the joys and blessings of each month of the year.

We have make careful observations in the past using the challenges listed below. If you would like an additional challenge, use the Shadows and Silhouettes activity below.

November World  with free printable notebook page

December World Notebook Page


Additional Activity:
Shadows and Silhouettes

This really simple photo challenge can be accomplished at any time of the year. Before setting out for your outdoor time, sit with your children and discuss what a shadow and a silhouette are and how to find them. Allow them to take a photo of any shadows or silhouettes they observe during your nature walk. Print one or two of the photos for their nature journal.

Read my thoughts on using digital photography in nature study.
Complete a tree silhouette chalk pastel drawing using Hodgepodge Mom’s free tutorial.

Please note the links above are my affiliate links. I own, use, and highly recommend both books for your family.

You may wish to follow my Nature Study – Winter Pinterest Board


Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #2. Finding words to record in your nature journal after your walk outside is an easy way to remember the experience. Make sure to discuss the walk afterwards with your child and then help them complete the accompanying notebook page for this challenge.  

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Spring Gardens – Filled With Promise

Plum Tree -Spring Leaves
Our Plum Tree – Leaves are coming on fast this week with the little sunshine we experienced. Plum jelly in the making.

I have started reading  An Oregon Cottage and she has a great gardening/home blog that hosts a Tuesday Garden Party meme.I thought this week I would join up and share with all of you what is going on in my garden right now as spring starts to burst forth.

My garden is definitely not a winter garden. I don’t do much more than throw out a few lettuce and carrot seeds in the late fall and those have long been harvested. My boys planted snap peas this past autumn but some critter of the night came and munched them down to the ground. I accept that I live in a habitat that offers yummy treats to my fellow creatures so I took the peas in stride.

Walnut Tree Branches with Sky
Our Walnut Tree – Perhaps the squirrels will leave us some this year. 🙂

I think the theme of this post is going to be the PROMISE of a summer garden and fall harvest since that is what I observed as I toured around yesterday.

3 29 11 Chives

Our garlic chives are starting to grow again…can’t wait.

3 29 11 Oregano

The oregano is filling in and hints at the summer pizza and sauces to come…of course, I had to nip a few leaves just to smell as I walked around the boxes.

3 29 11 Strawberry leaves

My son’s strawberry box is greening up nicely as well. We are going to be adding a new strawberry box as soon as we can get through mud to built it. (see the last photo for a photo of the location)

3 29 11 Onions

This should tell you how badly I need to tend to the garden after a long winter. These onions are popping up despite being mixed in with the mullein and the dusty miller. I know I am not going to get to this part of the garden for at least a couple of weeks….just being honest.

3 29 11 Garden Box with Weeds

So as long as I’m being honest, here is what the state of most of our garden boxes at this very moment. Very sad and in need of a good weeding before we can even think about getting something new planted. The saddest part is that if I put my mind to it, I could have this tidied up in an afternoon.

3 28 11 Tulip

Moving away from the vegetable garden and onto the flower boxes is a little bit more cheerful. The tulips are just beginning to give us a hint of their deep purple blooms to come. I love my little tulip patch and look forward to watercoloring the flowers once they start to really shine.

3 28 11 Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemums that I planted last year look like they made it through the winter nicely. I look forward to seeing their happy little faces in a few months. This box has coneflowers as well so this spot has flowers long into the autumn once it gets started. I decided a long time ago that I needed to include a couple of flower boxes along with the vegetables because it cheers me up to see the color when I look out the window. Food for the soul.

3 28 11 Wallflower

This wallflower has been a great plant in our garden for the last two years. I actually saw some bees buzzing in it too! Happy bees.

3 29 11 Mushrooms

Here are some guys who came uninvited to my garden! My son spotted these whoppers in the back of the bed and of course I had to take a photo.

Now for the exciting part of the post!

New Garden Site

See that fresh garden territory? I finally convinced my husband that this “lawn” was using up valuable garden space and very expensive water (rates just increased again!). We are trying out a few possible configurations to build some raised boxes with one center block bed to hold something artsy. Any ideas are welcome. It usually gets summer sun mid-morning to late afternoon so probably about six+ hours altogether.

So there ends my garden survey for this first week in the spring season. I am truly looking forward to the change of the season.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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2011 Winter Series Outdoor Hour Challenge #4 Winter Weather and Winter Wednesday #4 Tree Silhouettes

Fallen Leaf Lake with Snow and Trees
Fallen Leaf Lake Snowshoe Hike

Here are this week’s challenges:

Outdoor Hour Challenge #4 Winter Weather Study 
Winter Wednesday #4 Tree Silhouettes -More ideas for this study can be found on Squidoo.

These two challenges can easily be combined into one outdoor excursion. Both challenges can also be done from the comfort of your own window if it is bitterly cold outdoors. Observations can be made and then recorded in your nature journal or if you have the ebooks you can record your findings on the accompanying notebook pages.

Tracks in the Snow with Trees
Snowshoe Tracks with Aspen Silhouettes

Even if you don’t do anything else this week, try to get outside for some fresh air and a good walk with your children.

Winter Winter Wednesday Button

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More November World Photos-Ice!

11 24 10 Walking Trail Late Afternoon

Another November world sort of post from my world to yours….it is cold, really cold but no snow as they predicted which makes me very thankful. I am not ready yet for the winter to hit as hard as they thought it was going to this past week.

11 24 10 Walking Trail Late Afternoon Trees
It was 43 degrees when we left the car for our walk on the trail. It was late afternoon and the light was so pretty in the remaining colorful leaves.

11 24 10 Icy Leaves
The mornings are still very cold and the leaves all have pretty patterns of ice to observe if you look up close.

11 24 10 Frozen Leaf
How about this one from our deck railing? Amazingly beautiful don’t you think?

11 24 10 Frozen Leaf with ice
Another one that caught my eye…..lovely, just lovely.

As November comes to a close, so will my November World posts but then again, it will a December World.

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Winter Tree Study: Tuliptree

Winter tree study-Tulip Tree

We completed our Winter Tree Study a few days ago before all the rains started. Last fall we chose our Tulip tree or Tulip Poplar to observe in every season for the next year. It is the tallest tree in our front yard. It lost quite a few branches during our December snowstorm so it has a little different shape than it did back in October.

tree silhouette
There are virtually no leaves left on the tree at this point.

seeds no leaves
The boys noted that there are still a million helicopter type seeds left on the tree.

seeds all over the ground
The ground under the tree is covered in seeds. The boys are going to sketch some of the seeds into their nature journals.

Mr. A wanted me to note that he had to spend the better part of an afternoon last week cleaning out the rain gutters and downspouts and the bulk of the mess was from this tree with its helicopter seeds. They are just thin enough to sift through the screens over the rain gutter.

seeds on tulip tree
Here is a small cluster of the seeds on the ground under the tree. We noted they look like wooden flowers.

looking at the moss on the trunk
The most interesting part of our winter tree study is the moss and lichen growing on the trunk. It is really noticeable now that the tree is bare. We took a few minutes to observe the moss. Words like soft, fluffy, bright green, and spongy were used to describe the moss. It is most definitely more prominent in the winter and far greener than the fall.

Here is a link to our Fall Tree Study so we can compare the two seasons. What a difference! Now we will wait until spring to make our official study of the changes in this great tree in our yard.

As a sidenote…
bulbs peeking out

Here is something that made me smile. Look at those bulbs peeking out of the ground already! I know that underneath the ground there are dozens and dozens of bulbs just waiting to pop out in flowers before long now.

Hope you get to your Winter Tree Study soon.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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Morning Tree Silhouettes: Our Ongoing Tree Study

We have been watching and observing all the different shapes of tree silhouettes we have in our neighborhood. We are all pointing out different shapes and patterns and I can honestly say we are loving our winter trees.

This morning we were looking out and noticed that our trees were filled with American Robins. I counted sixteen of them at one time in the trees along the side of our house.

The sunrise was just so pink and pretty and then the birds with their dark silhouettes….I couldn’t resist trying to get a photo or two or three. If you click to enlarge and look closely, you will see several bird sitting on branches.

All of the photos above were taken within minutes of each other and you can see the sky and the light changed so fast.

Here is my son’s tree silhouette of the walnut tree in our backyard.

I always think of his sketching as sort of gesture drawing. He has such a unique style all to himself.

Great study this week.

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Tree Silhouettes and a New Hike

The shapes of trees have inspired me of late to try some brush painting…don’t they just look like they should be sketched with black ink on blue paper? This particular tree is a very large oak along a new to me trail that we tried out yesterday. It is on the opposite side of the river canyon from “our” trail that we take pretty much every afternoon. This side is the sunny side of the canyon and it has a totally different feel and look about it.

This is some sort of pine and we decided we would call it the “V Tree” since it has the very distinct V in the trunk at the top. Yes, once again we got a late start and the sun was beginning to set on us. It is such a great time to be out in the woods.

This is a rather steep trail from the canyon rim down to the American River. This view is right at the top as you start descending and you can see the river’s bend at Chili Bar. There is a quarry in the background…ugly huh? But the river here at the bridge is the start for river rafting trips that descend down the river and end at Salmon Falls or Folsom Lake. As the crow flies, this is about a mile from my front door….I live on the ridge on the opposite side from where I am standing. We forgot our GPS or I would tell you exactly how far it is.

Here is a little flat section of the way down where we stopped to enjoy the view. The trail has burst out in lots of green. This particular hike my husband does a couple times a week with a co-worker on his way to his day’s work. He does it in full uniform with his heavy boots on for his morning workout. It is a tough climb out of the canyon.

Holes are all up and down the slopes and I am pretty sure they must be gophers. If you venture off the path at all, you sink down in all the holes. Kona had to stick her nose down every hole she could find so she was very busy and had a very dirty nose when we finished.

Here is the only blooming flower we saw along the trail and there was only one flower blooming…the first of the season’s buttercups. I spotted it right away and had to scurry off the trail to get a photo.

Here is the view when you get to the bottom of the canyon. Someday I would like to bring a picnic and my sketchbook and spend some time drinking in all this beauty, maybe meditate a bit on the gifts of the Creator has given us. I imagine in the summertime you do not have this clear of a view of the river once all the trees push out their leaves. We could finish the last little bit down the slope and put our toes in the water if we were hot….a welcome relief in the summertime my husband informs me. He promises to hike down here again with me in the near future when the wildflowers are blooming and the newts are out.

I will post our official tree silhouette entry later in the week.

PS Here is a video that you can watch the artist paint from start to finish…

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Winter Wednesday-Tree Silhouettes

Winter Wednesday Week 4
Trees Part 1

1. Read chapter four in Discover Nature in Winter. Even though the title of this chapter tells us that it is about birch trees, after you read the actual material you realize that it covers so much more in its pages. I do not live where birch trees are native but this chapter gave me lots of ways to observe any tree that I come across. Pay special attention to the sections on branch patterns, twig parts, seed containers, and tree silhouettes. This chapter alone could give you plenty of ideas for a complete season of winter nature study.

2. We are going to complete two of this chapter’s activities:
Tree silhouettes on page 77
Seed containers on page 81

For those families that do not have the book to work from, here are some ideas for you to try with your family.
1. Pick a tree in your yard or on your street and view its branch patterns and silhouette.
2. Find a tree that has lost its leaves and sketch its shape in your nature journal. This activity can be done from a window if your weather is too cold or snowy.
3. Collect some seeds from trees that may still be left over from last season. Look for sweet gum, locust, yellow poplar, ash, mimosa, or sycamore.
4. Collect twigs from different trees and compare them.
Winter Wednesday Button

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