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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Seasonal Weather: Photo and Picnic

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week spend your outdoor time enjoying the daily weather. Keep track of your weather for a week, recording the temperature, rainfall, etc. You can use any of the free printables on my Freebies Page. Look there for the seasonal weather pages and the weather chart.

You can also use any of the Seasonal Weather Challenges from the past that are appropriate for your time of the year:

Printable Notebook Page: 
During your seasonal weather observations, take a photo of something that shows your current weather conditions. Better yet, let your children take the images and then print them out for a personalized nature journal entry. This can be done in each season and recorded in your nature journal’s seasonal section.

Printable Notebook Page:My Seasonal Weather.

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, complete Outdoor Hour Challenge #10.  I realize that this is a cold time of year (or hot for you Southern Hemisphere folks)  for many of you but there are ways to make a “picnic” happen even if you just drive in the car, park under a tree, and enjoy some sandwiches and hot cocoa. Get creative! If you have a picnic, make sure to take a photo to include in your nature journal. I will challenge myself to taking a picnic in the next few weeks with my family and I will post our experiences here on the blog. 

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Weather Walk and Free Printables

Outdoor Hour Challenge:
This week’s challenge kicks off our weather study for the month. Keep your outdoor time very casual and open-ended by just taking a short walk together, noting your weather conditions. You can combine this week’s challenge with a seasonal tree study (printables available)or you can find something for your winter nature table. You will find nature table ideas in the December 2012 newsletter.

The most important aspect of  this week’s challenge is to get outside! Fifteen minutes is not too long for anyone…no matter the conditions. Dress appropriately, have a positive attitude, and watch the magic happen.

Printable Notebook Page
The Four Seasons-In My World: This week the Outdoor Hour Challenge extra activity is another printable for you to use as part of your weather study. Use this page to record the exact dates of each of your seasons, depending on which hemisphere you live in. Discuss with your children how each of the seasons is a little different and have them draw a scene from their favorite season for their nature journal.


Bonus Printable Notebook Pages
December World Notebook Page
Winter Nature Walk from Hearts and Trees

Getting Started Suggestion:
If you already own the Getting Started ebook, turn to Outdoor Hour Challenge #1. Use the ideas there for an open-ended time outdoors this week following your child’s lead. Casually mention the weather and you can discuss the seasons after you come back indoors. Complete the accompanying notebook page if your child has interest.

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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




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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter World Colors

Winter Color Mosaic

Join us this week for a simple December Color Walk. 
Here are some ideas:

Outdoor Time:

  • Pick a color to focus on during your outdoor time. Look for things both natural and manmade that are that color. (The Hodgepodge Family recently took a red and green walk.)
  • Give your child the camera and let them snap photos of the different colors they see during their outdoor time.
  • Try to find a color rainbow.
  • Use some natural items and gather some color. Take a photo.

Follow up with some journal time:

  • Record your color items with little sketches all over your journal page (or you can use the notebook page from the December Newsletter.)
  • Print a photo and add it to your journal. Make sure to give it a date and a caption.
  • Color a winter rainbow.

Make sure to share your December blog entries with the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.

More Nature Study #2 button
Scheduled Publish Date: 12/28/11

More ideas on my Winter Wednesday Squidoo lens.

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Nature Loving in February-It’s For the Birds


“To the nature-lover February is the winter month of special charm. The forests on the snowy hills take on many lovely tints varying from dull to dark blue and from lilac purple to amethyst. The snow is toned with purple shadows and the skies in the morning are dull blue at the horizon and rosy and misty above until the blue of the upper skies is reached. Let us enjoy every day of February whatever the weather and then will our spirit be strong for blustering March.”
Anna Botsford Comstock, The Nature Study Review.

Snow Day 3

Yes, we really do get snow here in our part of California…..not much and it doesn’t stick around too long but this was the second of our snowstorms of the season and we are expecting a much bigger storm over the upcoming weekend (predicting 4-8 inches). We will get to enjoy some winter nature study and winter walks in our own neighborhood.

Snow Day 4

For now our focus outdoors is observing birds as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count but now that the counting time has passed we will continue to enjoy our feathered friends.

Snow Day Bird on the Fence

I already shared our first list of birds spotted on Friday and pretty much our list didn’t change for Sunday and Monday except to add Lesser goldfinches and Canada geese. I love sharing my snow day with the birds.

I think part of the charm of participating in the GBBC is that we get to see what other homeschooling families observe along with their list of common birds. Apparently this is something that has held its charm for over a century. I read this excerpt in the Nature Study Review….copyright 1917. It was titled, “A List of Birds That Easterners Would Like To See”.

“The editor is recipient of the following record from Miss Barbara Marx, eleven years old, and a member of this bird class.”

“I am enclosing the list of birds we have observed. We means the fifth and sixth grades of the Catilleja School of Palo Alto, California. The other morning Miss Hayes, our teacher, divided us up into groups so that we wouldn’t frighten the birds away, and it was then we the owl, cedar waxwing and woodpecker. The only peculiarity we have found worthy of note is that the towhee scratches with both feet at once.

White Crowned Sparrow, Gold Crowned Sparrow, Oregon Robin, California Robin, California Towhee, Willow Goldfinch, Bush-tit, California Jay, Crested Jay, Anna Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Bluebird, Woodpecker, Barn Owl, Cedar Waxwing”

It warmed my heart when I read that little letter. I realized that watching birds was an activity that children enjoyed a century ago and today we still enjoy taking a few minutes to observe the many birds we have in our own neighborhoods. Let’s hope that in another hundred years children are still taking time to learn about the birds in their world….whatever that world may look like.

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2011 Winter Series Outdoor Hour Challenge #6 Salt Study and Winter Wednesday #6 Winter Weeds

Winter Weeds and Snow
Winter Weeds- Look for seeds, pods, or dried flowers.

This week’s combination of challenges will give you two very different subjects to consider.

Winter Series #6 Salt Study
Winter Wednesday #6 Winter Weeds

***The salt experiments are a fun way to learn about an everyday subject that all of us have in our homes. Salt crystalsYou might find the pages in the Handbook of Nature Study an interesting read as part of this challenge.

***Winter weeds are one of my favorite winter nature study subjects. If you would like to participate, here are a few suggestions from the challenge
1. Collect a variety of seeds from weeds in your local area and sketch them in your nature journal.
2. Gather a few varieties of weeds and display them in a vase.
3. Pick a weed you know you have and print out a coloring page for your nature journal.

My daughter has graciously made available her Salt Study Lapbook pdf to go along with this challenge. Please click over to her blog at Hearts and Trees to read more about it!

Winter Winter Wednesday Button

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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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2011 Winter Series Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 Winter Tree Study and Winter Wednesday #2 Snow

Taylor Creek 12 25 09 Hiking to the Lake
Get Outside And Experience Your Winter World

Here are the links to this week’s challenges:

Winter Series #2 Winter Tree Study 
Winter Wednesday #2 World of Snow 

Even if you don’t have snow…take a Winter Nature Walk. Click HERE for nature walk ideas to print out for your family. Please feel free to complete one or both of the challenges as you have the opportunity.

Don’t forget to check in with the additional webpages for these sets of challenges:

Winter Winter Wednesday Button

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2011 Winter Series Outdoor Hour Challenge #1 Cattails and Winter Wednesday #1 World of Color

1 6 11 Snowshoe Cattails Taylor Creek
Cattails from Our Snowshoe Hike January 6, 2011

I have been trying my best to figure out how to link us all up with our winter nature study. I think every Friday I will just list the corresponding Winter Series Challenge and the Winter Wednesday Challenge all in one post.

Here are the links to this week’s challenges:
Winter Series Challenge #1 – Winter Cattail Study

Winter Wednesday #1 – Winter World of Color

Please feel free to complete one or both of the challenges as you have the opportunity. We would all enjoy seeing your entries and even if it is at a later date, please come back to this entry and add your link.

As you can see from the photo above, we were able to go out for a winter snowshoe hike and we found some cattails to observe. I will be posting our Winter Cattail entry and our Winter Colors entry over the weekend. It was *wonderful* to get back outdoors with some purpose. I really am looking forward to spending the next few months sharing our adventures and reading about yours.

I am sending out a really big thank you to all of you who have commented and sent sweet notes about your nature study and how much you are looking forward to finding some interesting things to learn about this winter. It means a lot to me to know I am helping other families.

Have a great week!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Series #7 Winter Birds

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Winter Series #7
Winter Bird Study

For this challenge, instead of picking a particular bird from the Handbook of Nature Study, we will focus on learning about bird migration and then spend some time outdoors looking for birds in our own neighborhoods. In addition, I am encouraging you to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count that takes place in February.  You can participate in the bird count even if you just spend 15 minutes observing birds in your own yard or neighborhood. See their website for more information: GBBC.

Inside Preparation Work:
Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 35-37. This will help explain why you have some birds in your area only during certain seasons. If you are interested in more information, you might want to check the Peterson Field Guides for additional information about particular birds that you have in your feeders or near-by parks. There will be maps in the field guide that show where birds winter, migrate, and spend their summers. I encourage you to pick one common bird you have in your area and see if it migrates. (If you do not have a field guide, use the links in the Follow-Up Activity to research your bird.)

stellars jay
Outdoor Hour Time:
Spend 15-20 minutes outdoors this week looking for local birds. Choose one of the birds to learn more about and to record in your nature journal. If you are participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, plan on spending your outdoor time to tally birds you see in your yard. If the weather is too cold, you can always sit at a window where you can see your birdfeeder and take a tally from there.

Follow-Up Activity:
Give an opportunity for a nature journal after you talk about any birds you observed. Help your child identify any birds they saw if you can. Remember to check the table of contents in the Handbook of Nature Study to see if your bird subject is covered in a lesson. You can use those suggestions to learn more about your backyard birds. If you have a field guide, use the information there to discuss if the bird is a winter resident or a year-round resident. Our family uses this online bird site to help us identify birds: WhatBird? And this website for additional information as well: AllAboutBirds.

Also make sure to log into the Great Backyard Bird Count and record your results from your neighborhood.

Additional bird migration websites:
Bird Migration (Backyard Nature)
Bird Migration (Wild Birds Unlimited)

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy