Planning Nature Study for the Year

Planning a Year of Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy


Many of you have written to ask me how to go about planning a year of nature study for your family. It seems like it should be easy enough but when you want to follow your child’s interest and it doesn’t coincide with the Friday topics here on the Handbook of Nature Study you can get frustrated. My advice normally is to find a topic of interest for your family and then use the tabs at the top of the site to find specific challenges to use for your weekly nature study.

This advice works for families that are following the Ambleside Online nature study rotation as well. Find the tab at the top of my site that corresponds with the nature topic for the term and then glean ideas from the challenges and activities listed there on the page.

To make your planning a little easier, I developed Outdoor Hour Challenge Planning Pages. These pages are available in the printables section of the Journey and Ultimate level memberships.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

There are three pages in the Outdoor Hour Challenge Planning Page packet.

Monthly Planning Page 1

This is the first page you can use if you prefer to have monthly nature study topics. I loved the years that we stuck with a topic for a whole month, digging in deeply. The chart at the top of the page gives you some ideas to choose from as you contemplate your seasons and habitat.

Hint: The topics listed in the chart on the page above are going to be the monthly topics found in the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter.

Term Planning Page 3

Some families like to schedule their nature study focus for a complete term or season. The page shown above found in the Outdoor Hour Planning Pages packet allows for a different topic to be planned each term. If you follow the Ambleside Online nature study rotation, this would be the page you could use to plan your year’s topics.

Challenge and Activity Planning Page 2

After you have chosen your topics, either monthly or for a term, you can then use the challenge and activity planning page found in the packet to note specific challenges or ideas that you want to implement during your topical study. The ideas shown above are what I hope to accomplish in September 2015 to go along with the newsletter topic of trees. Even if we don’t end up accomplishing all of the items listed, planning ahead of time will make it more likely that they will happen. You can use ideas from the tabs at the top of the website, suggestions in the newsletter, or ideas from a Pinterest board

HNS Newsletter Planning Page Sept 2015

For families that are following along with the weekly Friday challenges here on the Handbook of Nature Study, there is a planning page each month in the newsletter. It will include the current challenges, field trip ideas, nature journal page ideas, nature table prompts, and nature photo suggestions. These will all coordinate with the monthly theme of the newsletter. Note: You can receive each month’s newsletter by subscribing to the Handbook of Nature Study blog: Subscription Page.

Any more questions!

I hope this helps answer the frequently asked question about nature study planning for your family. Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer in future posts!

Nature Study Goals 2015 Planning Page

Additional Help

You may like to have this page for your nature study goals.

Free Printable Nature Study Goals Planner Page


Ambleside Online Approved @handbookofnaturestudy

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter September 2015 Trees -Leaves and Trees

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter September 2015 button

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

September 2015 – Leaves and Trees


This month marks a new beginning for the newsletter! I am excited to share with you a new condensed format for this edition…packed with lots of nature study goodness! I have streamlined the content to include lots of links to resources from my bookmarks but also from a select few contributors, women who have been offering nature study to their families for many years and love to share their tips and tricks with other moms (and dads too).  I would love to hear how you like the new format or any other comments or questions. You can comment here on the blog or send me an email at [email protected]

Please read the following explanation outlining how to get this month’s newsletter.

The newsletter link is not in this email but will come separately. There may be a delay in your receiving the email so please don’t email me until the second day of the month if you haven’t received the link on the first. For some reason, some email providers take longer to receive the newsletter email.

If you don’t receive the separate email with the download link, you probably aren’t subscribed to the blog yet. This will take less than a minute to do if you follow the steps below.

If you are a subscriber and you haven’t received your newsletter email yet, check your SPAM inbox. Some subscribers have found the email buried in SPAM inbox.

If you need to subscribe:

  • You will need to go to the Handbook of Nature Study, look to the top right corner for the box to type in your preferred email address, and then confirm the email that comes to your email inbox.
  • Once you subscribe, you will receive a thank you email from me with the download link.

This month’s newsletter link will be available only during the month of September so be sure to download it before 9/30/15.

Remember! All of the archived and current newsletters are available as part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library…every level!

Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:

  • Tree and leaf study resources in the form of links to the Handbook of Nature Study website, contributor’s links, and Pinterest. This month’s featured contributors are Heather Woodie of Blog She Wrote and Shirley Ann Vels from Under an English Sky.
  • HNS Newsletter Planning Page Sept 2015
  • September Nature Study Planning Page printable – don’t miss the little extras I have added this month like nature photo ideas, field trip ideas, and a special 15 minute challenge for parents.
  • I have written an article entitled, “Learning to Look at Things“. I endeavor to share why nature study is so important to learning of all kinds and how it will become a refreshment to your family.
  • Leaf Study Notebook Page – This page includes a prompt at the top to help your family go more deeply into a leaf study this month or in the months to come. It can also be used as a nature journal topper if you want to cut and paste the prompt into your own nature journal.

Members: You may also wish to download the October 2012 Newsletter from the archives. You will find additional articles, printables, and links to support your tree nature study. Note: All levels of membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study include all back issues of the newsletter.

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.

Getting Started FAQ Button
Need help getting started with your nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study? Check out the fresh “Getting Started” page here on the website!


Outdoor Hour Challenge – Caddis Fly

Outdoor Hour Challenge  Caddis Fly @handbookofnaturestudy

Outdoor Hour Challenge


Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 408-411 (Lesson #104) in the Handbook of Nature Study. There is a lot of information in this lesson so make sure to highlight a few interesting facts to share with your family.
  • Note: The caddisfly larvae (caddisworms) will be found in creeks, ponds, and streams. Adult caddisflies are moth-like creatures that will be attracted to light in the evenings.
  • Links to information about the caddisfly: Bug Guide and Northern Caddis Fly.
  • This is an awesome video on Youtube: Caddis Fly.
  • Alternate study: Water striders are common insects found “walking” on the water: Water Striders.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Visit a pond or shallow stream, looking for caddisworms (larva) in their cases. Use a dipping net to try to catch a caddisworm to observe. Use some of the activity ideas from the lesson to make careful observations of your caddisfly larva.
  • In addition, sit out under your porch light in the evening and watch for caddisflies to visit. Look at its wings, eyes, and antennae.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Create a nature journal entry showing both the caddisfly larva and the caddisfly. You can draw the life cycle of the caddis fly on the back of your nature journal page if you wish.
  • Advanced study: Research the insect order trichoptera. Use a field guide and complete two additional nature journal entries for insects in this order.
  • Alternate study: Create a nature journal entry for the water strider using the notebook page included in this ebook or in your nature journal.
  • Alternate Advanced study: Research the insect order hemiptera and create a nature journal entry with information on two insects from this order.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library
If you want to purchase the Summer Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Summer Nature Study Continues – New Ebook announcement page for more details.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Summer Nature Study Continues ebook



 This is the last of the summer challenges! We will be starting the Autumn Nature Study 2015 ebook challenges starting on September 4, 2015!

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image