From the Archives: Outdoor Hour Challenge Drawing

Drawing in Your Nature Journal @handbookofnaturestudyFrom the Archives!

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Drawing in Your Nature Journal

This week we are going back to the basics by encouraging everyone to include some drawing in their nature journals. This challenge from the very first series of challenges is one that your family can complete periodically to keep your pencils and minds sharp, looking for ways to draw something interesting in your nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook @handbookofnaturestudy

Members here on the Handbook of Nature Study have access to this challenge (#3 in the ebook) and its corresponding notebook page in the Getting Started ebook. Make sure to look up the challenge in the ebook, print the notebook page, and then make time to complete the suggested activities soon!

You may also wish to read my entry 3 Tips for Nature Journaling When You Think You Can’t Sketch.


Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Great Backyard Bird Count Reminder

Great BAckyard Bird Count 2016

What? The Great Backyard Bird Count
When? February 12-15, 2016
Who? Anyone around the world…for the first time ever!
How? Count birds in your yard and at your feeders. Report the data to the Great Backyard Bird Count

Need so more information?
Great Backyard Bird Count

Video: Great Backyard Bird Count

Get prepared with printable checklists for you area…by zip code or town name.

Our family is going to be counting and I will share our results here on the blog soon!

Here is our bird list results from 2015: Great Backyard Bird Count Results 2015

Grosbeak Feb 2016 (13)


Morristown National Historical Park – Tips and Images

Morristown National Historic Park @handbookofnaturestudy

Our family trip to New Jersey last autumn included a short visit to Morristown National Historical Park. Ever since I visited Mt. Vernon, I have had an interest in learning more about George Washington and Morristown gave me a little bit more information about an interesting person from history. We have all heard the story of Valley Forge but Morristown is where Washington spent the winter of 1779-1780 which ended up being the coldest winter on record (Valley Forge was 77-78).

Not only is Morristown a place of history, it is also a place of natural beauty that has been preserved for our outdoor enjoyment. You can hike on the 26 miles of trails or bike the roads of the park….we enjoyed our short visit and would recommend adding it to your New Jersey itinerary if you have some time.


Morristown Fort Nonsense @handbookofnaturestudy

There are actually three distinct parts to this national historical site. The first stop could be George Washington’s headquarters which are actually in the town of Morristown. We didn’t stop there but headed up on the hill overlooking the town to see Fort Nonsense. There wasn’t much to see there except the signs and a gorgeous view.

Morristown Historic Park Oct 2015 (4)
It gave us a more complete picture of the purpose of making this the stopping stop for the Continental Army that winter. For our California family, this was just a taste of Revolutionary War history…something we don’t get to experience very often.

Morristown Historic Park Oct 2015 (5)

The first challenge in visiting the actual winter encampment is to find the place! We were glad we had our navigation going because it is off the beaten path a bit. Gorgeous area of New Jersey! It was a gray Tuesday and when we pulled into the parking lot of the visitor center there were only a few cars. It may have had something to do with the visitor center being closed…what a disappointment! We should have looked it up ahead of time which was a hard lesson. There was a park brochure with a map available in a box outside the door so we weren’t completely in the dark about how to find some interesting things to do.

Morristown Historic Park Oct 2015 (8)

We followed the paved road in the car up to this area which is called Pennsylvania Line Encampment. There was a nice trail over to where they have recreated some of the log cabins. Can you imagine 2,000 soldiers living here? We didn’t make it over to Jockey Hollow in the park but that is where 10,000 more soldiers stayed during the bitter winter of 79-80! Now the place is a beautifully wooded area with nice trails and paved roads.

Morristown National Historic Park encampment @handbookofnaturestudyHere is a peek at one of the log huts which don’t seem very substantial but we decided that in the winter conditions they would have at least given some shelter from the elements. Tough times! Even though we didn’t have the benefit of an introduction at the visitor center, I think using the brochure and the ample signs gave us a great idea of what this place was all about.

Morristown Reading Signs

This was a quick visit and we wished we had more time and it had been spring or summer. The trails were very inviting and I know I would have enjoyed getting to know this place better.

More Tips:

  • Plan to stop at both visitor centers, one in the actual town and one out near Jockey Hollow
  • Check for current operating hours!
  • There is no entrance fee for Fort Nonsense or the Jockey Hollow Areas we visited. There is currently a $7 fee for Washington’s Headquarters Museum and Ford Museum.
  • There is a Junior Ranger program.

You can read more of my national park entries by following these links: