Outdoor Hour Challenge: Autumn Series-Cattails

Outdoor Hour Challenge-Autumn Series #1
Cattail Autumn Study


Cattails are the focus of this nature study and you will either be able to complete the challenge by observing cattails this week or sometime in the future. Look at the reading of the Handbook of Nature Study as a way to prepare you for a future nature study. Be on the look out for cattails as you drive around your local area and you may be surprised to find them in places you did not notice before.

Inside Preparation Work

  • Read pages 500-503 in the Handbook of Nature Study. View the images of cattails and talk about where you can find them in your local area. I asked my boys and they thought of three places near-by that they remember seeing them grow.
  • Print out the Cattail Seasonal Nature Study notebook page and go over the suggested activities so when you have your Outdoor Hour time your children will be prepared for what to look for.

Outdoor Time

Look for Cattails: Spend your outdoor time looking for cattails and then observing them to record their appearance at this time of the year. You will be revisiting this spot in every season to record your observations and to note the changes that take place from season to season. If your child does not want to sketch the cattail, bring along a camera to have them record the appearance with a photo. Remember the things you read about in the Handbook of Nature Study and see if you can complete the Cattails Seasonal Nature Study notebook page with lots of details. Also, look for other living creatures that might make their home in the cattails or that might visit there if you are still and quiet.

Alternate Idea: Use your fifteen minutes of outdoor time to explore your own backyard. Look for something ordinary that you can learn more about during the next week. The most important part of your Outdoor Hour time is to spend a few minutes with your children outdoors, slowing down enough to observe something closely in your own backyard or neighborhood. Keep the atmosphere relaxed and let your child’s interests guide you to find something to observe. Don’t forget to use all your senses and try to include a few minutes of quiet time to experience the sounds of your own backyard.


Follow-Up Activity

  • Allow your child a few minutes to tell you about their outdoor experience. Help them find a few words to record in their nature journal.
  • Give time for a nature journal entry and remember it can be as simple as a sketch, a label, and a date. Complete the Cattails Seasonal Nature Study notebook page for the Autumn season and file it in your nature journal to compare to future cattail studies. As always, remember that the nature journal entry is a great way to record your outdoor experiences but it is not necessary every time.

Additional Resource for the Cattail Seasonal Nature Study:
There is a great book to look for at your library, Discover Nature in Water and Wetlands. This book has a whole section on studying cattails that I found very useful in preparing this challenge in addition to the Handbook of Nature Study.

Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to books I own and love.


  1. Hi Barb,

    The book Discover
    Nature in Water and Wetlands is online at Net Library. This is the link to the homepage of Net Library:


    I am able to access it for free through our library system here where I live. It might be worth it for your readers to check with their library to see if they can do the same.

    I can even print out the material I want under fair use copyright laws apparently, as there is a print option right on the screen while viewing the book. (I won’t pretend to understand why one can do this, but one can and I did.)

    Looks like great information. I may end up buying this book anyway.

    We’re excited to get started and will be going out to our local nature center this afternoon.

    Thanks for your hard work, Barb.

  2. HI! I found your website through Elizabeth Foss’s shared items :) I hadn’t heard of the outdoor hour challenge, and am looking forward to getting outside with my kids! This is just the thing we need (a challenge!) to get us out. Just ordered my books and we can’t wait to get started on the first autumn challenge. The weather is beautiful here in MD! Thanks!

  3. Julie Wells says:

    I’m new to these challenges and looking forward to trying them. When you say read certain pages from Handbook of Nature Study, do you mean read them to the kids or just on my own? I’ve found in the past that my kids find the info. in that book a little over their heads. Thanks so much for your help!

  4. Julie,

    I write the challenges with the parent in mind. They really are challenges for *you* and then for you to share with your children.

    To answer your question, most participants read the info themselves and then share anything with their children they think they can digest or use to complete the challenge: showing them images, diagrams, reading short accounts of things that are of interest….rarely do I read the whole thing to my children. For instance this week, you probably want to show them an image of the cattail so they know what they are looking for during the OH time. You might also share info about the cattail parts so they know what the fuzzy thing is at the top. :)

    Hope that helps.
    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  5. Thank you, Barb! I will definitely try your suggestions.

  6. Je trouve l’idée vraiment formidable et je vais essayer de vous suivre …

  7. Barb, thanks so much for putting this series together. we are a little “behind the class” but we’ll catch up. We’ve just got to finish up our journal on cattails and start the tree study. I have just the one in mind.

    I am a little confused. Is there something I need to buy to complete this series with you. I have the book, but I see you have downloads of different things. Please point me in the right direction.


  8. Robin,

    There is nothing to buy in order to complete the Autumn Series. All of the challenges are going to be here on the blog and if there is a notebook page to go along with it, it will be free also.

    The other ebooks are compilations of other challenges for convenience only. All of my challenges are listed on the sidebar of my blog.

    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  9. I’ve missed doing your Outdoor Hour Challenges. I’m glad to be back. We had a wonderful time. Thanks, as always for the inspiration.

  10. Yay, our very first link to your much enjoyed blog over the years…thank you for inspiring us! Happy Autumn Barb! p.s. let me know if it works or not, because our blog is private, we had emailed before…I don’t know how that is going to work when others click on it,just curious…My dh is thinking about just making it public…we shall see! The Lord bless you this night! Denise in So. Cal.

  11. Thanks for the study! We love all of your ideas! Here’s our Autumn cattail study: http://littlehomeschoolblessings.blogspot.com/2012/10/autumn-cattail-study.html?m=1

Add Your Comment