Outdoor Hour Challenge #1

Outdoor Hour button


I’ve been re-vamping our method of home education as of late. All summer I thought I knew what I wanted to do until I read a Charlotte Mason book. Her style of “gentle learning” using Living Books and Nature Study inspired me. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the researching bug. Too obsessed actually. I’ve gotten myself a little frazzled, but that’s for another post.

During my research travels I happened upon a blog called Handbook of Nature Study which is based on the book by the same name. The blog author, Barb, has designed a series of outdoor challenges that I decided to undertake with the children this year.

The assignment:

The first challenge was simply to “spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children” and to “enjoy being outdoors“. Then when we returned we were to discuss something that interested them during the walk and then, perhaps, investigate it further during the week.

Our Experience:

This will be snap, I thought. We enjoy the outdoors together all of the time. We could do one of these challenges everyday, I thought, instead of the once per week she suggested. We did enjoy the walk immensely; the difficulty came when we returned.

First of all, we went way longer then 15 minutes. I decided we’d walk to a nearby path system in our subdivision. We had a splendid time. The children were excitedly finding and collecting several things. I had told them they only needed to find one or two items to study further, but they didn’t want to stop there.

IMG 3267

J was excited from the get-go.


I was concerned that R wouldn’t be interested but he was most enthusiastic to find specimens.

We were a little tired when we returned home so I decided to make lunch and while they were eating, I busied myself with various guides and the computer identifying items from the photos I took. Now bear with me. I am a complete newby when it comes to nature identification. I love walking in nature but have never been able to identify much beyond a dandelion.

Canada Thistle

Canada Thistle

Red-osier Dogwood

Red-osier Dogwood

IMG 3272

Is this a Rose Hip?


Ladybug…of course. 🙂



Gray Squirrel

Gray Squirrel (I had to include this little guy – our yard is filled with them)

The problem:

We loved the walk and I really enjoyed figuring out what each thing was that I photographed. I wanted to share that with the kids. I tried to lure them over to identify the stuff they brought home, but they were more interested in playing. It turns out for R that he was more into the collecting then the studying. And, unfortunately, I got miffed. 😦 I was annoyed because this was technically a “school” project. Sigh. In the end, I let it go. And I remembered Barb’s words: “You have a whole week to spend some time looking it up.” Now I got it. It’s supposed to be fun…leisurely…enjoyable. Not a job. So, why was I turning it into that? It’s definitely something I need to work on. And I will.

I hope I haven’t totally turned the kids off this project. We will take this week entire week before we move on. lol Or at least until Monday.


About Debbie

I am a stay at home mom of 2 energetic children. I homeschool them as well. I have a great husband who, after 7 years of working away from, finally has a job where he is home every night. We are trying to learn how to live together again along with adjusting to the lower pay that came along with the job change.
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7 Responses to Outdoor Hour Challenge #1

  1. Welcome to the OH Challenges….it is really nice to get to know you this week and your kids too.

    I think that you are on the right track and with a little practice you will have it down without too much effort. Just remember that you can choose one thing a week, every week for the whole year and just think of all the things you will know by then. I think my best advice is to realize that this is an adventure and you are setting patterns to follow for a long time to come. It is about the time spent outdoors together and enjoying it more than anything else. All the rest is icing on the cake.

    I really will be looking forward to your next study. Thanks for sharing your link,
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  2. Two Cats Are Better Than One says:

    Let’s try again,WOW,new look!!!!!!!!

  3. Dawn says:

    I like your new look too. It seems like a fun thing to do but I would likely do the same as you and try to encourage more study. It is amazing what T knows after working at the green house for 3 summers. It goes to show how much a person learns just through life experience.

  4. Debbie says:

    Lol…thanks Two Cats. You might see it change a lot over the next while.

  5. Robinella says:

    Oh, your new look is very Nature-y! lol. I love green. We evolved to Charlotte Mason too. I always thought we would stick with TWTM, but common sense took over. I like that Charlotte believed in waiting with kids to get too technical, too involved, too intense. Her way is very gentle.

    We started our nature studies this year too. Our first one was at the zoo. I took along sketch books for the boys and they wanted to sketch the new baby lions. Unfortunatly, the cubs would not sit perfectly still while Pete drew, so he decided to just use the photos I too for him. :o)

    They too will evolve into this. Great job on your first try.

  6. Carla says:

    This seems like a great idea! You got some wonderful pictures. I hope your children warm up to this whole idea.

  7. Laurina says:

    I’m also a homeschooling mom and doing NaBloPoMo this month. That’s interesting about the OH Challenges. Off to find out more. Thanks for sharing!

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