Outdoor Hour Challenge #1: Let’s Get Started

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook

Outdoor Hour Challenge #1
Let’s Get Started!

1. Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study.
Sections to read:
“What Nature Study Is”
through “Nature Study in the Schoolroom“.

Highlight or underline anything that you as the nature study teacher find will help you in your guiding your children. If you read a sentence that you agree with, mark it so you will remember to come back to it when you need some encouragement.

2. “In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chances to interest the pupil.” So here is your challenge this week. Spend 10-15 minutes outdoors with your children, even if it is really cold and yucky. Bundle up if you need to. Take a walk around your yard or down your own street. Enjoy being outdoors. After you come inside, sit the children down and ask them one at a time to tell you something that they saw on their walk. Ask them what was interesting to them. Maybe they picked up a leaf or a stick and brought it back indoors and now they can really take a look at it. Make a big deal about whatever it is that they talk about.

3. After your discussion, come up with two things to investigate further. For instance, if they saw a bird on their walk and they came inside and talked about it, ask them if they want to know more about that bird. You have a whole week to spend some time looking it up. Maybe they found an acorn or a berry on a bush that they were interested in. That could be your focus for the week.

4. After your nature study time with the children, pull out your Handbook of Nature Study and see if the item the children are interested in is listed in the index. If it is, look up the information for yourself and then relate interesting facts to the children sometime during the next week.
Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when it came to nature study. Somehow in our modern life we have forgotten the simple pleasures of outdoor time. For this challenge, just go for a walk. Don’t worry about taking any tools or supplies with you. Enjoy the outdoors and your children and then spend some time talking about your experiences together.

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook
This challenge is part of the Getting Started ebook that is available with every level of membership. In the ebook you will find the same instructions but custom notebook pages to use in your nature journal.


  1. Thanks for offering these challenges. This is a wonderful way to make our entire yard (almost 3 acres) an extension of our classroom.

  2. After searching high and low for a math curriculum that satisfies my personal ‘beliefs’ and offers hands-on activities for my children of various ages, I am going back to a book I’ve had forever… Handbook of Nature Study. I appreciate you organizing this.

    Now I just have to find my book!! LOL I’m going to visit your site for this week and hope to join the challenge next week. I’m going to begin with Week 1. I am excited!

  3. This is wonderful!
    I will be adding this as a favorite! So wonderful of you to do this!

  4. Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into this blog. I have been visiting a little, not reading very deeply, just looking around, left a comment once, but I finally decided that I really ought to find out just what your program is about. Boy am I glad I did. We will be starting this next week. Sounds great and very low key and fun.

  5. I’m so excited to start Challenge #1. I found this site a few months ago, and meant to start then. However, life has just been hectic this Spring, and I haven’t done it.

    Well, my boys have had a few weeks of summer break, and we’re ready for some fun activities. This sounds as though it will fit the bill perfectly. Thanks for all your hard work!


  6. Thanks so much for doing this. We really enjoyed the first week, with a bit of a surprise ending. I think it’s just what we need to add to our day. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  7. Hi! This looks wonderful! I’ve been wanting to get going on these projects for weeks. I finally ordered the book and was shocked at the size! Thanks for the encouragement on that! ;) Then something happened last week that sort of got the ball rolling on our nature challenges. We plan to use some of the challenges while we are on vacation.

  8. We finally got started with the challenges this afternoon. The girls and I had a great time in the yard. Thanks for giving some structure to our nature studies!

  9. I have wanted to participate in this challenge for a long time. We completed our first challenge and while it is very simplistic in nature we really had a wonderful time with it.

  10. I’ve combined the post for our first two challenges, and posted them. We did Challenge 3 yesterday, which I hope to post sometime today.

  11. Thank you so much for putting this blog together. After starting with challenge #29 last week, we went back and started at the beginning today. We had a great day just being outside!

  12. Hi! This is my first attempt using this Mister Linky thing! We also just did our first challenge! I’m looking forward to it through the year. I plan to add pictures tomorrow.
    Thanks for doing all this Barb! It’s a blessing to a newbie like me.

  13. I’ve been meaning to join your green hour challenges and we finally jumped in! I posted on my blog about some frog catching we did as a family, we all had a great time and have been investigating about frogs since.

  14. Thank you! We finally got a chance to start this wonderful study. I’m not even sure if I did it right, but I hope that you can let me know if you get a chance to stop by.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have owned a copy of the Handbook of Nature Study for many years and have always felt that it was a unused resource. I am so thankful for this blog site. Today we did challenge #1 and I called my neighbor who home schools, as well, and she and her children joined us. We had a great walk observing many wonderful things about fall. I will post and let you know what things we are going to be investigating this week. Thank you very much!


  16. Barbara,
    Thanks for putting this together and creating a system of accountability & habit that we sometimes need. :) Enjoyed jumping in late with you here and will see you in a week!
    Melissa (partyof5)

  17. I just wanted to thank you so much for this site. It’s been one of my opening browser tabs now for at least a month, and we just got our book today. My daughter is going through some really rough stuff – and I believe that this nature study will be a gentle way to ease in to home schooling while also providing her with some natural stress relief.

  18. We are so excited to get started on these challenges. Thanks so much!

  19. I am so grateful for your efforts on these challenges. HNS is such a beautiful book – and such an overwhelming one! Your work on breaking it down into something more manageable has helped me take the leap into nature study that I have been wanting to for some time. I just signed Mr. Linky. I just love that program!

  20. What a joy it is to have begun!

    We’ve always done nature walks and a lot of our discussions and artwork are about nature, but this will help us put more structure into our learning. As well as community, not to forget! These are all important, if not for Amie (who is the “natural” learner), then for myself!

    Thank you for doing this and allowing us to participate.

  21. We just did this one… again. It’s the third time for us, as Monkey is just 2. I hope you don’t mind that we keep it simple & link in where we can find something that fits our little efforts!

  22. The work you have done here is amazing – thanks for guiding us through the Handbook!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for encouraging outdoor exploration. I found out about you from Melissa at “In the Sparrow’s Nest” (www.homeschoolblogger/melissa89). The kids and I are having a grand time exploring the outdoors and the beauty God continues to create even in the midst of winter.

  24. Jenny Wren says:

    Thanks for the wonderful blog! We’ve had the Handbook of Nature Study for a year but as we moved twice in the past year, that wonderful book sat in a box for far too long. What I hope to instill in my boys is a love for God’s creation that only closely observing his work can bring. My happiest moments have been spent outside, watching birds and I want to share that joy. We have had fun looking at other blogs and it’s great knowing that other people are doing the same thing across the country. We can hardly wait to start next week’s challenge!

  25. What fun! I finally jumped in and began! Our two items for additional study are Little Green Herons and Ibis.
    Thanks for all your hard work!

  26. This is just what we need to get us doing regular nature study. Thanks for starting this! It might be spring, though, before we can positively identify the tree we picked.

  27. I have been receiving your blog posts by email for quite some time and wanting to get started on the challenges – I feel like celebrating now that we finally did it! Thanks Barb for all of your work in putting this together.

  28. Thank you so much – I am really looking forward to these challenges keeping me more diligent and prepared for Nature Study. What a blessing!

  29. This is cool. I’m so glad I found your site!

  30. CharlotteinBrasil says:

    We are beginning again…again. But we are excited about exploring our new Amazonian home and city. Thanks for giving us some direction. We are excited about next week.

  31. Thank you so much for putting together these challenges! We purchased the eBook for the first ten challenges, and I love your ideas!

    Can’t wait for the next challenge! I’m finally going to use The Handbook of Nature Study I bought so long ago :)

  32. Love the idea of this challenge! What a great way to encourage my young sons (and myself) to get out and explore nature. We’re already excited for challenge #2.

  33. Thanks so much for offering these studies. I have been wanting to start a Nature study with my dd’s and I truly did not know where to start. Your site makes starting so much easier!

  34. We are so excited to be able to do our nature study and share it with everyone. Thanks for making this easy for us to get started.

  35. this is my second entry for #1, since our first experience was a little forced…by, ahem, me. We’ve been going at it more naturally since then, and today was really a fun so i decided to go ahead and blog it. :)

  36. Thank you so much for this. You have no idea how helpful this is going to be. I have wanted to include a nature study in our homeschool but had no idea how to do it. We had such a great time with this challenge and my daughter can’t wait to do the next challenge.

  37. This looks like a wonderful addition to our studies! Thanks!

  38. Thank you for all your hard work!! I’ve wanted to do this for so long but never knew where to start!! Thank you for taking an overwhelming work (at least to me) an making it simpler!! We enjoyed our first Outdoor Hour!!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Just received my copy of the Handbook and I can’t wait to get started on the challenges. I have wanted to do something like this for a while and just didn’t know where to start. Thanks so much!

  40. What a treasure! Thank you and I am so excited to share this with my little ones.

  41. thanks so much for all your effort you put into this – it’s a motivator for me :)

  42. We did the first challenge today and had so much fun! Thank you for the challenges, they help motivate me. :)

  43. We are newbies to participating in your Outdoor Challenges and are so looking forward to them. Thank you so much for offering such a valuable resource for those of us who need our hands held. :)You are a blessing.

  44. Great motivator, even for those of us who have been homeschooling quite some time! Thank you!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for allowing us to use your great ideas to help us get better acquainted with nature! I was so excited to find this site this summer and to start using it with the kids. I already had the Handbook, and had been trying to mull over ways to utilize it better. We are very new at blogging, but are trying that out too! We hope to get a lot out of these challenges – mostly that will depend on our making time and getting out, which will be a great thing all around anyways!

  46. We are really enjoying your blog! We’re going on a vacation this weekend and will start our OH Challenge #1 while we’re away. Thanks for all your hard work!

  47. Thank you so much for your site. I am excited to be joining the challenges. I needed help to get started on this most wonderful journey of ‘Nature Study’. God Bless!

  48. It was an interesting and good experience, and nice to have a clear-cut focus for our nature time.

  49. Thank you for offering this. We look forward to joining and expanding out nature study.

  50. Thanks so much for all your work on this. I have wanted to implement the Nature Study into our homeschool since I first began reading Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. I bought the Handbook at the beginning of this year when I bought our other “text books” but have been intimidated about beginning the journey. Now I have an excellent jumping off point!

  51. I am so excited to begin these challenges! Thanks for all the work you have put into this site for us all to learn from and enjoy!! I love the nature sounds, by the way.

    :) Happy Holidays!!!!

  52. I have had The Handbook of Nature Study for over a year, but have never gotten around to using it. Thanks for making it so easy! I’m so exited to get started.

  53. This sounds so fun. I don’t get my twins out of the house nearly enough in the winter, so thank you for the inspirations.

  54. I am so excited about this. We’ve completed challenge #1 and I can’t wait for the next one! Thanks!

  55. Thanks so much for giving so much of your time blogging your passion. I’m so excited to get started on this nature adventure!

  56. As spring is just around the corner, I’m looking forward to us getting outdoors more. This will be a huge help! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge here and inspiring me to do more with my kiddos!

  57. Today we have just begun the outdoor hour challenges. We plan to follow these challenges once a week – although from time to time we may deviate a little as we are on the other side of the world – Australia. Thank for this site, it has been a great encouragement to me, in continuing nature study in our home.

  58. We just did ours! Thank you for all your encouragement! ~Monica

  59. Thanks so much for all the hard work and effort you put into this Barb. We did our first challenge yesterday and had a blast!

  60. yes…thank you! i am so excited to make this apart of our HS routine!!!!

  61. Barb,
    We took a lovely morning hike at a local Conservation Area this week. I wanted to share our hike but it didn’t seem to fit into any category very well so I linked here!


  62. I am SO excited to jump in, albeit late!

  63. Love this blog! I wasn’t really sure how to go about doing nature studies with my children this summer until I found this blog. Thanks for the ideas!

  64. Thank you so much for your site. This is my second attempt to commit to the challenge. Thank you for the help to get started on this most wonderful journey of ‘Nature Study’. God Bless!

  65. We’re starting up again after the birth of Baby #4…we’re definitely having to take it slower this time around!

  66. Looking forward to diving into the Handbook with the help of the challenges. Thank you.

  67. Hi Barb! Your blog is amazing! Thanks for taking time in making our lives easier. I’m about to complete Challenge #1. And I have to say if it weren’t for you none of this would’ve happened. I just have a question: After reading the first 8 pages of The Handbook of Nature Study and going outdoors with my children they said that what they liked the most were the ants {3 1/2 yo son} and hiking and the breadfruits {8 yo son}. So, where do I go from here???
    Looking forward to reading your answer by email, if possible.
    Peace and Blessings,
    [email protected]

  68. Wonderful blog! Thanks for motivating us to go outside, play and live. :) We have just completed our first challenge.

  69. I am so glad we’ve finally begun. So looking forward. Thank you for your guidance!

  70. I have visited your site many times, and started this OHC last year, but didn’t stick with it — I am really eager to see this through this year!
    I joined the list for #1, and look forward to the next 9!

  71. I’ve been looking forward to starting these challenges for a while, and feel my kids are just old enough. I’m looking forward to what we’re going to learn and how we’re going to make nature study an intrinsic part of our homeschooling life. Thank you!

  72. We completed this one today. I love these challenges that are so do-able! Thank you!

  73. I finally posted about our OHC #1 back in August. Thank you so much for your support, Barb. I hope to keep participating.

  74. Thanks for the accountability! I love the bird sounds, too.

  75. This is a wonderful website. I’m excited about getting outdoors and learning even though it’s cold. Looking forward to the adventures we will find.

  76. My daughters and I completed Challenge #1 and enjoyed braving 0 degree weather while we explored holes in trees left by woodpeckers, tunnels made by voles, and pinecone cores left by messy squirrels.


  77. Thank you so much for arranging these wonderful challenges! We are so excited to continue. :)

  78. We finally took the plunge and started our nature study. We had a great time exploring a nearby park along with some friends this week. Thank you so much for your e-book. It really helped simplify our nature study and to keep us focused while reminding us (the moms) to let the kids have fun, too!

  79. We’re back for another round of nature study! Again, thank you for your blog, Barb! It is such an inspiration for me. :)

    My kids are still so young that we basically have to “start from scratch” at the beginning of each spring. It works well for us.

  80. Thanks for the gentle organization. Being the left-brained person that I am, I appreciate a focus, even if it’s a small one.

    We are going to be studying feathers in greater depth, and also did some research to find out the identify of a “mystery wildflower” that showed up in one flower bed.

  81. Thank you so much for this blog and all your hard work. You have made something I would have thought difficult and tiresome into something simple and enjoyable. We are going to have so much fun learning together.

  82. Thanks for sharing these challenges. Looking forward to learning with some outdoor fun : )

  83. Thanks for sharing these challenges. Looking forward to learning with some outdoor fun : )

  84. We are enjoying this too much. Thank you!

  85. This is awesome! =) Can’t wait to do more!

  86. Thank you for these challenges. We love nature study but I was looking for a little more structure as we are only just starting out and have a whole lot of planning to do!

  87. We had a lot of fun doing this – can’t wait to do some more! Thanks x

  88. We were shocked to see how many things we could find in the winter when it seems like not much is going on!

  89. Thank you for these challenges! We just completed #1! My kids, ages 5, 4, & 2 had a great time. Thank you for the encouragement to get outside.

  90. Thanks for posting these challenges! You’re easing my fear of nature study :) I’m so happy to have “discovered” your website!

  91. Your site is such a wealth of information. Thank you for sharing with all of us out here!

  92. We have enjoyed using your challenges this year. It has been such a treat for me to see God’s Creation come alive for my kids! We are really enjoying our times together outdoors. THANK YOU!!

  93. Virginia Gryta says:

    This is amazing! I have put together two weeks on my own and was so glad to stumble upon this gem (sorry, last week our theme was rocks and minerals!). I train teachers for a living and this is such a wonderful resource for parents and teachers who love getting outside and want to pass on their interests while building on skills that support learning.
    Thank you!

  94. Are these challenges too simple for older (age 11-12) children?

  95. Allison Caldwell says:

    I just bought the Ultimate membership, primarily so I could access all ebooks….but I can’t figure out how to access them. Can you guide me please?

  96. Allison Caldwell says:

    I’m an Ultimate Member….how do I access the ebooks? Can’t figure it out.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      You will need to log into your account and then you have access to all of the ebooks and downloads. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing your account.


  1. […] Is a purposeful, structured  time more your style?  Back in 2008, the Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge began — and is still going.  Years of challenges to get you started and keep you […]

Add Your Comment