Outdoor Hour Challenge #2: Using Your Words

Outdoor Hour Challenge #2
Using Your Words  
1. Read page 15 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (The Field Excursion) Read page 23-24 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (How to Use This Book) Make note of any points you want to remember. My favorite is “The chief aim of this volume is to encourage investigation rather than to give information.” This is where many people misunderstand the HNS. It is not a field guide but it teaches us how to help our children with nature study.

2. “It is a mistake to think that a half day is necessary for a field lesson, since a very efficient field trip may be made during the ten or fifteen minutes at recess, if it is well planned.” Challenge yourself to take another 10-15 minute “excursion” outdoors in your own yard again this week. Before setting out on your walk, sit with your children and explain to them that when you remain quiet during your nature time, you are more likely to hear interesting things. Brainstorm some sounds they might hear and build some excitement about remaining quiet during their nature walk this week. Take your walk and if they get rowdy, use the universal finger over your lips sign to get them to quiet down. Set a good example and be quiet yourself, modeling how to listen carefully.


3. After your walk, challenge your children to come up with words to describe the following things:
One word to describe something they heard. (For example: rustling, snapping, crunching or chirping)
Two words for something they saw. (For example: tall trees, frozen water, red birds)
Three words for something they felt. (For example: freezing cold wind, rough sticky pinecone)

The point of this assignment is to get them to start thinking about what they see as they go along. Each time they take a nature walk they will develop more and more vocabulary and this will eventually trickle down to their nature journals. If they have difficulty coming up with things to say, help them out with some of your own words to get them started and they will soon catch on. Once we start identifying objects they see on their nature walks, you will be surprised at how easily they remember the specific names of plants, trees, and birds.

4. Optional nature journal entry:
Use their words as the basis for a simple nature journal entry. If the child is too young to write in the journal himself, you can write for them. “Everything he learns should be added to his nature notebook by him or, if he’s too little to write, his mother.” Charlotte Mason, volume 1, page 58.

At this point, you can pull out some colored pencils or crayons and invite them to illustrate their nature journal page if they want to. I always leave it as an option for my boys and I would say about half the time they draw. I feel like the nature walk and the discussion is the meat of our nature study and that it is the most important part of what we do. “No child should be compelled to have a notebook.” HNS page 14 (Next week we will read about drawing in our nature journals in the Handbook of Nature Study, page 17.)

5. If in your discussion of your nature walk your child expresses a particular interest in something they saw or heard or felt, make a note of it for further research later in the week. Remember to check your Handbook of Nature Study index for more information about your nature interests.

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook

This challenge is found in the Getting Started ebook which is included in every level of membership. The ebook provides the challenge as shown above as well as custom notebook pages for your follow up nature journal if desired.


  1. This is fun – and it’s wonderful to have something to help me get outside more often! Thanks so much for all the hard work that has obviously gone into this site!

  2. I am loving this, it gives me a reason to go outside and experience nature everyday. We are in constant amazement of all that we miss when we just go about our busy day.

  3. I am really enjoying this although it’s interesting :-) to see my son’s reaction to learning abut the outdoors he takes for granted as his play place.

  4. While on vacation, we had fun seeing things we don’t normally see in our area.

  5. The girls and I had a great audio walk today. Thanks for reminding us to be still and listen.

  6. We’re rocketing right along through the challenges this week! The kids are loving them so much that they asked to do another one today!

    Thanks again for organizing this blog!

  7. We completed another week in our Nature Journals :) Thank you again for the inspiration!


  8. I forgot to leave a comment earlier when I signed the linky…oops! We enjoyed our nature time together this week and found a wolf spider carrying an egg-sac.

    Thank you SOOO much again for the inspiration to enjoy nature and the outdoors and learn more!


  9. Today we had a wonderful time listening to nature on a beautiful fall day. We actually lay down in the grass and were quiet. So refreshing! Thank you for setting this up for many to use.

    Blessing to you,

  10. Again, many thanks. We did #2 today after doing #1 yesterday, in order to get some inertia going and in order to take advantage of the incredible weather.

  11. Well, we did #1 ages ago. Actually, I’ve read the whole first section of the book now, but I’m taking my kids through them. We combined this one with the one for this week too–Winter Colors. Had fun.
    The kids posted on their own blogs ZippyArt and JohnDeereBoy

  12. We loved this challenge: it’s about words! Amie is an avid talker, and I am a writer (I only *seem* to be the quiet type). We love words, vocabulary, and make up our own (“earmoths”). It’s natural for us humans to go out and name things, and I strongly believe that if we develop words for nature, we develop love of nature.

  13. Onward with the challenges! The directed listening was very enjoyable.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This was a rather neat lesson even for me as I am learning along with the kids how to truely appreciate the wonders of nature. :)

  15. I enjoyed the little poems we came up with following your format of 1 word, 2 words, 3 words. Very nice!

  16. Thankyou for making it so simple!

  17. Having a “challenge” has enhanced our outdoor adventures! Thank you :)

  18. Thank you so much for your blog! We are loving our “Hiking Adventures!”

  19. The quiet part was a little tough but us talkers really enjoyed hearing the sounds around us that we sometimes miss.

  20. We are so enjoying going through these challenges. I know we are going through them quickly, but my kids are 15 & 12 and we are so excited to do this everyday. We’re trying to do the 1st 10 so we can get into the autumn one and have a clue as to what we are doing. Thanks so much for your direction.

  21. I’m thankful for the impetus that got us out and enjoying this unusual beauty!

  22. What a fun outdoor excursion for us all! Thank you…we will have to do more “quiet walks” in the future.

  23. Thank you so much for beginning this! I’m happy to have your guidance to get my family back outside, especially this time of year!

  24. Well, this is week 2 for us – and so far the gentle nudges in an area of focus on our walks has really added an enjoyable dimensions for us, and the girls are a bit more inspired by the variety offered each week.

    Thanks for this idea Barb – it has been a great encouragement to us.

  25. Week 2 is complete! Thanks for all your help for those of us who are a little challenged in this area. ;)


  26. Thank You for this challenge…the girl and I are really enjoying it!


  27. What started as a struggle (Mummy not feeling well) ended up as a beautiful memory. Thank you again for your wonderful site!

  28. We did our second challenge today, and while i think we weren’t really up to par, it is good to stay in the habit of going out, especially with the weather being so lovely in VA!

  29. Had my camera with me today for our second challenge!

  30. I wasn’t sure how the kids would do on this one, but they surprised me. We are so enjoying these this year. Thank you, Barb!

  31. This was a good challenge to get the kids (and me!) thinking.

  32. my kiddos struggled with finding the words, but they loved walking in the rain.

  33. I added a link to the second challenge. We did our nature study by taking a walk with the dogs and my oldest daughter taking her first bike ride of the year! Although we saw two hawks, the most memorable part of the walk was the wind.

    If you’d like to read more, here’s the link:



  34. We are having so much fun with these! We spend a lot of time in nature normally, but I love having a special time where we do it with a purpose. My husband noted that using a nature journal will help our boys later with science (making observations, recording information, etc.)

  35. Thank you for this challenge. We are looking forward to the next one too. We are starting to feel excitement when we head out in nature now, knowing that we have something specific we are trying to accomplish.

  36. Thanks again for putting this together and for reminding us to listen.

  37. Loved this challenge with my 5, 4 & 2 year olds! I loved talking about what words described what we heard and saw and felt! I can’t thank you enough for these fun challenges!!


  1. […] week our assignment in Outdoor Hour Challenge #2 was to use our words. We were to go on a nature walk in our own yard and use all of our senses, […]

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