Outdoor Hour Challenge – Sumac Nature Study

Sumac Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 683-686 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 189). There is a lot of information contained in these pages so I suggest reading it with a highlighter in hand in order to mark the parts you would like to share with your children. Make sure to look at the diagram of the “bob” for future reference.
  • Check this map to see if you have Staghorn Sumac trees native to your state: USDA.
  • Here is a YouTube video: Staghorn Sumac Identification.
  • NOTE: I do not promote or encourage eating any part of the sumac tree.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • The Handbook of Nature Study suggests an autumn study of the sumac tree. Look in Lesson 189 for the section that says, “Method”. There you will find listed some suggestions for observations of the fruit (cherry), leaf,  and the general appearance.  If you don’t have a Staghorn sumac to study, find another tree in the sumac family to study. See below for a short list of alternatives.
  • The Handbook of Nature Study suggests making a watercolor of the sumac in autumn (and also in winter).
  • Advanced Study: Use suggestion #3 to make careful observations of the leaflets, following the drawing instructions for a field nature journal entry.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Create a nature journal entry for the sumac tree. This can be as simple as a sketch of something interesting, a caption, and a date. There are also notebook pages included in the ebook for you to use if you prefer (advanced study notebook page).
  • Advanced Study: Research a plant in the Anacardiaceae family using online resources. Trees in this family include the  cashew, pistachio, Chinese pistache, mango, and wild plum. (You can see more on the list at this website which also has images: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ecoph43.htm)
  • Winter Work: See Lesson 189 in the Handbook of Nature Study, Idea #6 for ideas.
  • May or June Work: See Lesson Idea #7 for study ideas.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn 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 Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button

You can also submit any Outdoor Hour Challenge blog entry from October to the next edition of the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival by sending the link directly to me by 10/29/14. Harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com

New Printables for Members – October 2014

October Printables Button

New Printables in the Member’s Library!

There are new printables for you to use with your family if you are a member of the Ultimate Naturalist or Journey level memberships. You need to log into your account and then check the “Other Releases” section for brand new printables to enjoy along with the Outdoor Hour Challenges in November 2014.

Autumn Bird List


We have been on the lookout for hawks or any birds that might come our way to study as part of our Outdoor Hour Challenge – Hawks assignment.

Monterey 17 Mile Drive (12)

We had the opportunity to travel to Monterey, California last week for a wedding. While we were there we drove the 17 Mile Drive from Pebble Beach along the coast. This is a fantastic drive and winds through cypress groves, along the Pacific Ocean, and allows for many scenic stops at beaches and rocky outcroppings. The image above is the Lone Cypress stop along the drive.

At one stop, we heard and observed a Red-tailed hawk!

Monterey Hawk (4)

We were able to get a really good look at his silhouette and identify him both by his shape and his call. Perfect timing!

This is a month of changing birds at the birdfeeder.

My October Bird List (in our yard)

  1. Anna’s hummingbird
  2. American goldfinch
  3. Western scrub jay
  4. Dark-eyed Junco (returned to our yard 10/13/14)
  5. White-crowned sparrow (returned to our yard 10/13/14)
  6. Mourning doves
  7. Flicker (heard and not seen)
  8. Great horned owl (heard and not seen)
  9. Northern mockingbird (singing his heart out every day from the top of a tree)
  10. Edit to add: Titmouse 10/21/14
  11. Edit to add: Nuttall’s woodpecker on 10/21/14
  12. Edit to add: Spotted towhee on 10/18/14
  13. Edit to add: House sparrows on 10/22/14


Now that the season is finally changing around here we will see more visitors to our birdfeeders. Coming up fast, Project Feederwatch will be here before we know it!

 What birds did you see this week?


Birds of North America Notebooking PagesBirds of the World Notebooking PagesBirds - Basic Study Pages

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