Winter weeds are a quick and easy nature study topic that you can complete in your yard or neighborhood, or at a local park or alongside a road (be watchful of traffic). Spend a few minutes this week to take notice of any weeds you may have, searching for seeds or signs of animals feeding nearby.
Easy And Engaging Homeschool Nature Study
You can use these links for some specific Winter Homeschool Nature Study ideas:
Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge In Your Homeschool Nature Study
Download your free copy of our Getting Started ebook and complete challenge #6. You may wish to make a list of weeds you observed in winter and then check the list during the summer to see if you can add some more entries.
Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership For Support All Year Long
With most of us spending more time than usual around the house, getting outside for a walk on the first day of winter may be one of the most refreshing activities you could do with your children. The temperatures drop and we huddle inside more and more, especially on the shortest day of the year!
The Outdoor Hour Challenge this week is to make plans to get outside for a brisk nature walk and then to follow up with a nature journal page recording all of the interesting things you found while outside.
Encourage everyone to use all of their senses on this walk. Did they see something colorful or unusual? How does the air feel on your skin? Is there a particular fragrance to the air? Can you listen carefully for a minute or two to distinguish any particular sounds?
Another idea is to ask your children to find differences in the landscape, comparing your neighborhood habitat on this winter day to what they remember about the first day of summer. This is a little harder and you may need to help them get started with a few of your own observations.
Most importantly, take along a good attitude and leave yourself open to whatever the experience brings. Allow your children to direct you to things they find interesting and then share in their excitement. A good nature walk is pleasurable for everyone and allows you and your children to develop a relationship with our Creator. The best times I can remember with my children are the times we just took it slow and easy, looking for the little things that most people pass by. Turn over a rock and see what’s underneath. Look up in the branches of the trees and see if you can find any birds or other critters. Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or stream and see what comes along. Breathe the air and enjoy the day.
There’s a printable for the First Day of Winter Nature Walk in the Member’s Library for you to use as part of this activity. A simple list and a sketch will make a perfect follow up to your outdoor time.
To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.
Use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.
This week we will ease back into our winter nature study using a simple nature walk idea from the archives. Click over to read the full challenge, including a bit of reading in the Handbook of Nature Study. If you are new to the OHC, this is going to be a great place to start because even if you don’t have snowy weather you can still complete this challenge that will help you see your local winter weather and wonders with your children.
Keep it simple and just take a Winter Wonder walk this week. If you are a more seasoned nature study type family or you have older students, make sure to read the “advanced study” ideas in the challenge.
If you are interested in purchasing an Ultimate Naturalist Membership at this time, you will gain access to the custom notebooking pages that go along with each of the challenges in the ebook.
Note: You do not need to purchase the ebook to participate but they are handy to have for planning and for the regular and advanced notebook pages included in each one. Click the graphic at above to go over to check out the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.
We will be working through a new series of wildflower challenges starting in April using a new ebook that will publish sometime in March. The new wildflower ebook will also be added to the Ultimate Naturalist Library so if you purchase a membership now, you will have the new ebook as soon as it is available. I will posting details about the new ebook soon.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #7.Use the ideas in this challenge to start your own personalized field guide to your backyard and neighborhood. Keep it simple and start with a common insect to your area.
When you spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter months, you are bound to notice the various shapes and sizes of winter weeds. Maybe it the lack of other nature study subjects or the more subdued color palette of the winter landscape, but weeds are hard to miss.
These particular images were taken at Yosemite National Park during our last visit in January. The stalks are still standing tall and the fruits are still visible on many of the plants. I am pretty sure this is Common Cowparsnip.
This set of images comes from our hike at Lake Tahoe last month. The winter weeds are clearly seen emerging from the snowy landscape.
This is a different plant and had far more seeds left attached to the stalks.
Rather pretty isn’t it? Focusing on winter weeds is one way to see the beauty even in the winter scene. I hope this encourages your own winter weed study…one that you can fit in while taking a short walk.
Our winter continues to be warmer than normal…even record-breaking temperatures. As much as I love the warm afternoons and sunshine, I am concerned for the drying up reservoirs and the very dry forest conditions. I know I have no power to bring on the rain and snow so I am trying to make the best of it.
I took an image of the page with my phone and we used that during our hike to remember the things we were looking for as we went.
Here are our results:
Buds on a tree
We decided this duck weed was more interesting than moss.
Trees that have lost all their leaves – aspens
a bird – Steller’s Jay
We didn’t find any berries but this rose hip was certainly colorful.
Something with thorns
Pinecones – The squirrels had lunch on the picnic table!
One last image from our hike at Taylor Creek. The beavers have been clear cutting a lot of the trees along the water. They have quite a few trees that are ready to fall as well. The dam is getting huge! Amazing creatures with incredible strength.
We are still waiting for some real snow here and I will keep the snow study in the back of my mind for a future time. I hope some of you were more successful with this challenge or you took advantage of the scavenger hunt instead.
This week we are going to be completing the World of Color challenge from the Winter Wednesday ebook. This challenge invites you and your family to take a walk outdoors and find some color in your winter world. Even if you have to complete this challenge from your window, it will help train your eyes to see the bursts of color that are out there if you look carefully enough.
Original Challenge: The World of Color.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the Discover Nature in Winter book to use along with the challenge. Take the ideas listed in the blog post to complete a simple color hunt with your children and then follow up with an entry in your nature journal. The journal can be simply a list of colorful things you saw or a sketch of something your child found interesting. Make this a no-pressure challenge for your child.
There are a few other ideas in the ebook to try if you don’t want to go outside for this challenge. Color Cards For Your Winter Color Study
Use these color word cards to stimulate a fun nature study related activity. See how many of the colors you can find during your winter color hunt.
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
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #1.This is the perfect challenge to just take a simple walk outdoors with your children as part of completing challenge #1.Make sure to follow up your outdoor time with a discussion to find out one or two things your child would like to know more about. Don’t worry that you won’t know the answers to any questions they may have…just take the opportunity to learn together using internet resources or a trip to the library.
Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #6. Use the printable notebook page in this challenge to record some of the things you collect for your winter-themed nature table.
You may wish to follow my Pinterest – Nature Display board for additional ideas.
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.
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.
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.
Outdoor Hour Challenges for families since 2008!
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