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Outdoor Hour Challenge and ebook review!

February 28, 2009

We did an outdoor hour challenge this week!  We have Barb’s brand new Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook here which contains the first 10 challenges from her blog, but also so much more (at a great price!)–numerous photos, her family’s experiences with each challenge, and even more tips and advice on getting nature study going with our own families as well as notebook pages for each challenge and blank ones that can be used in a variety of ways.  It’s a beautiful book and I enjoyed reading through it this week and thinking back through all that we’ve learned from the challenges over the past year.

We decided to go back and do challenge #3 this week.  We’re in those dreary last days of winter, but it’s been warmer and sunnier this week (at least until we decided to go somewhere) so we were very happy to head out to Memory Grove Thursday afternoon. 

Last winter I saw these beautiful red berries and finally identified them as staghorn sumac.  This is more color than we’ve seen in months!  A wants to know if ivy stays that green all winter.  I still need to look that up.


Sumac up close (I just love the color!):


We hiked up the hill to see the Capitol building,


 and on our way back down we saw and heard a bluebird!  Then another one! (and I couldn’t get the camera ready in time, this is as good as it gets.)


Then we saw a robin–Such a lovely site, and a sure sign that spring is truly on its way!


I really like all the notebook pages included in the OH e-book, even though we didn’t fill this one out completely.  It was getting chilly and D was much more interested in running over to check on the river than in drawing.  But he did draw a waterfall and the other two drew bluebirds.  Or one bluebird and a purplebird anyway.


I really love this new ebook for nature study, which you can view at Barb’s blog or at!  Go check it out, I highly recommend it!

Here is an official review that I addedat

“Nature study was something I always wanted to add into our homeschooling, but didn’t have a clue where to start. Enter Barb! We have been using her outdoor hour challenges for the past year and have had a wonderful time. We are definitely nature study novices here and I was completely intimidated by Anna Comstock’s 887-page Handbook of Nature Study, (which is used with this ebook) but the challenges have helped me delve into its pages and I’ve learned so much alongside my children.

I’m so pleased that Barb went to the effort to put the first ten challenges into an ebook format. It is beautiful to look at. Barb has included her own family photo in the introduction and many different color photos throughout, balanced with black and white nature symbols. I got caught up in all the wonderful photos as I was skimming the book at first.

As beautiful as it is, I think I will use it from the computer screen and only print out the specific challenge pages as I need them. After reading the very helpful Getting Started and General Instructions pages, I was able to click directly to the challenge I wanted from the table of contents. For each challenge Barb has included her own family’s experiences completing it as well as different examples of nature journal pages and clickable links back to her blog for examples of how other families did the challenges. It is very helpful and inspiring to see the many different ways to do nature study and journalling, especially for those of us who are just beginning. Throughout the book, Barb also shares more advice and helpful tips gained from her many years of experience doing nature study with her family, which are invaluable.

I also love that there is a notebook page for each challenge that I can print off for each of my children and be ready to go. For us, having a page to fill in is much less intimidating than a blank page in a journal. Each page also has a different and interesting layout so it won’t feel like we’re doing the same thing each time. Barb has also included several different blank journal pages, including a running list and field guide pages, to be used in a variety of ways and her suggestions for such. Some are for writing, others are more for drawing. We can use any or all of them as we feel inclined, but they will all make a lovely nature journal for any student at any level.

This is a great book for beginners and experts alike. While there are now over 50 challenges on her blog, the first ten are the perfect introduction to nature study, but they can also be used over and over again. One of the great benefits of doing these challenges has been getting to know different parks, gardens, and arboretums in our area. We are looking forward to repeating some of these challenges in different locations and making new discoveries. Some days we have only 15 minutes to do nature study in our yard, other times we can take a couple hours and enjoy exploring more. Either way, this book is the perfect companion, and is a fabulous (and inexpensive!) resource. I highly recommend it!”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2009 8:59 pm

    Beautiful plant. So glad to see colors.:)

  2. March 1, 2009 4:17 pm

    Thank you for reminding me about the outdoor challenge. Maybe I can start adding that to our life. I really feel like it is time to start doing something besides eating, cleaning, and watching movies around here. =)

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