Outdoor Hour Challenge #3: Now is the Time to Draw

“Outdoor journaling is something a family can do together, and it offers reason and focus for being in nature. Linda Chorice, assignment manager at the Missouri Conservation Department’s Springfield Nature Center, points out that journaling demands no special equipment, only a pad of paper or a spiral notebook, several pencils, and a pencil sharpener. ‘While your journal may never be published as a historical document, it will serve as a personal record of your outdoor experiences, allowing you to accurately relive your memories each time you open its cover,’ she says.

All of these activities can teach children patience and respect for the other creatures on the planet, even if the lessons take a little time to accrue.”

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

Outdoor Hour Challenge #3 Now is the Time to Draw
1. Read pages 16-17 of the Handbook of Nature Study. (These pages cover the sections “The Correlation of Nature Study With Language Work” and The Correlation of Nature Study and Drawing”.) Highlight or underline those parts that will help you understand better the connection between nature study, language arts, and drawing.

2. This week take your 10-15 minute nature walk.
If you have tired of your own backyard, venture down your street, around your block, or to a near-by park. Remember Anna Comstock’s words, “Nature study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand.” (page 5) Don’t worry about taking any equipment with you this time. Continue working on being quiet and observing things with your senses. While on your walk, be alert to new subjects for your further research.

3. Follow up with discussion and the opportunity for a nature journal entry.

“Too much have we emphasized drawing as an art; it may be an art, if the one who draws is an artist; but if he is not an artist, he still has a right to draw if it pleases him to do so.”

“From making crude and often meaningless pencil strokes, which is the entertainment of the young child, to the outlining of a leaf or some other simple and interesting natural object, is a normal step full of interest for the child because it is still self-expression.” (both quotes from page 17 of the Handbook of Nature Study)

These quotes are important to remember when we are discussing journals. The purpose of a nature journal is to record a memory of the experience and have a place to keep track of thoughts or observations. It can be as simple as a single drawing with a date and a label to start off with.

Discuss your nature time with your child and again try to draw out some words from your child’s experiences. Keep in mind what you read about the connections between nature study, words, writing, and drawing. Your child might need help deciding on a subject to record in their nature journal. You should explain that you would like them to start making a book of with their experiences from their nature study. If they make a page for the book each time they have nature time, they will have a whole book filled with their own words and drawings to look at by the end of the year. If they are reluctant, write down their descriptive words on a sheet of paper and leave a blank space where they can come back later and draw if they feel like it.

Here are some easy ideas for nature journal pages other than drawing:
1. Make leaf rubbings.
2. Tape small flat things into the nature journal. (leaves, flower petals, seeds)
3. Print out a photo that you took while on your nature walk and let the child write the caption.
4. Press flowers or grasses between pages of a book and later add it to the journal. (We will learn more on that in a future challenge this spring.)
5. Outline an object with a pencil and then color it in.

Nature journaling is meant to be a follow-up activity and not a replacement for your time spent outdoors. Please feel successful in this challenge whether you end up with a nature journal page or not. If they don’t draw this week, maybe they will want to make a page next week.

Optional assignment for parents:

Take a look at your attitude towards outdoor time. Has it changed since starting these challenges? Are you committed to keeping up your Outdoor Hour time because you see the benefits stacking up in your family? Have you started keeping your own nature journal or photo album of your experiences outdoors with your children?

I have truly enjoyed hosting these challenges and reading your experiences. Some of your entries have made me smile, or do a happy dance, or even shed a few tears. This is so much bigger than nature study.

I would like to share a quote with you from Laura’s daughter. (The World is Our Classroom) When she was asked to give three words about what she felt on her nature walk, she said, “My daddy’s hand.” Or how about one last quote from Judah (Judahmo) with his three words, “I had fun.” That about sums it up.

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.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


  1. This looks like a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to dusting off my sketch book!

    Had some technical difficulties when I tried to look at the notebooking pages. I’ll try back later.

  2. We finished Challenge #3.

  3. finally was able to make this entry – good reading this time!

  4. Georgiaberry,

    I agree, this section of the book is a must read for the beginning of every school year. It puts my mind into focus about our nature journals.

    Thanks for the link,

  5. We’re really starting to enjoy this! Looking forward to #4!

  6. We had a great time with Challenge #3! My boys even created a journal entry :) We’re looking forward to the next challenge!

  7. We are getting a slow start but I hope that once we get started again in the fall we can get a little more consistent in doing the Nature study. We are all truly enjoying the instruction and direction of this site. Especially mom!

  8. We are really enjoying the direction that the challenges provide. Our nature walks are more than just our random stumblings through the woods. Thank you so much.

  9. What a day we had today!!!
    I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t have much to do for today’s nature study, but this was great!

    Thanks Barb, again, for coming up with such a motivational way to get us outside!

  10. We have just had a lot of fun creating a piece of art! Not doing any of the challenges in order, but enjoying each one we do though.

  11. My girls chose to do leaf rubbings for this challenge. I did some too. A 1/2 hour spent in some simple, lovely fun.

  12. Great to get the girls contributing a drawing each to our family nature journal. They seemed to be getting more involved now that this is a weekly thing.

  13. Where would our Possum study fit? Here is the link… http://hearts-in-training.blogspot.com/2010/10/natures-sanitation-engineer-possum.html

    Please, feel free to remove it from this link if it would fit better somewhere else :D

  14. We did #3, but with some adaptations:)

  15. We just finished the third Outdoor Hour Challenge. We’ve been enjoying the series of challenges so much. Thank you so much coordinating them! They’ve been such a wonderful addition to our homeschooling.

  16. My boys get so excited whenever I say it’s time to do an Outdoor Hour Challenge. :)

  17. We enjoyed a trip to the mountains and completed this challenge on the top of a mountain while looking at three states! It was our quietest hour yet!

  18. Loving these challenges. If it is teaching anything at ages 5, 4, & 2 it is teaching my kids to look at the world beyond themselves and see how great and glorious creation is!

Add Your Comment