Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Series-Oaks and Acorns


This challenge involves finding an oak tree to observe. We studied oaks last year during our tree series but since it is a great tree to learn about in the autumn with its acorns and galls, I decided to include it again this time as part of the Autumn Series of Outdoor Hour Challenges.

There is plenty to learn about an oak so if you have already completed the oak challenge you might want to revisit your oak or find a different variety of oak and compare the two. Oaks should be a tree that many of us have in our local area and I encourage you to read the Handbook of Nature Study and then to keep your eyes out for a tree to observe this week.

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Autumn Series #4 Oak Trees and Acorns
(See Also Challenge #33)

Inside Preparation Work
This week read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 638-642 to learn more about oak trees. Make sure to note the ideas suggested for studying oaks in the lesson at the end of the section-Lesson 176 and incorporate those suggestions into your follow-up time if you wish.

If you own the Peterson Guide: A Field Guide to Western Trees (this is an affiliate link to a product I own and highly recommend) turn to the index and look up oaks. You will find the plate numbers to turn to for oak identification. The great thing about the Peterson Field Guide is that it shows the leaf and the acorn so this time of year you should have an easier time identifying your oak. Scan the book before you go outside and remember to bring back a leaf and an acorn if possible for your follow-up time. This challenge can be completed without identifying your oak if you have younger children or you do not have a field guide.

Outdoor Time
Spend 15 to 20 minutes outdoors this week with your children in your own yard or on your own street. The weather should be getting cooler for most of us and it is a very enjoyable time to be outdoors.

If you have an oak tree of any variety in your yard or on your street, use the ideas from the lesson on page 641 and 642 to guide your observation of the oak tree. Take along your magnifying lens if you want to get a closer look at the bark or leaves of your tree as you spend time outdoors. Don’t forget to look for acorns. Bring home one acorn and several leaves to look at more closely and to use for identification if you wish.

There is no reason to be concerned if you do not find an oak. See if you can spot a tree that is turning colors or any other tree that captures your child’s interest. Make sure to look for creatures that can be found around trees this time of year like squirrels or blue jays.

Follow-Up Activities
After you outdoor time, talk about anything that interested your child. This would also be a good time to look up any oak trees you observed in your field guide and see if you can learn more about your particular oak tree.

In the Handbook of Nature Study in the lesson for oaks it suggests completing Lesson 173 on making leaf prints. The directions include using kerosene and gasoline. I found much easier and safer directions for making leaf prints using an ink pad.
The Naturalist’s Apprentice: Making Leaf Prints

I used the instructions and made beautiful leaf prints with my boys. Make sure to use an ink pad with plenty of ink and I found it made a better print if you inked the backside of the leaf. I suggest using washable ink since little fingers will be getting inky. :) I wrote a blog entry about our experiences with leaf prints made with ink HERE.

Making Leaf Prints Ink @handbookofnaturestudy

The Handbook of Nature Study suggests planting your acorn to see if it sprouts.

Complete a nature journal entry for your oak, its leaf, and the acorn. Here is a free notebook page for your oak study: Autumn 2009 Notebook Pages.

Plants & Trees Nature Study Notebooking Pages
This is an affiliate link to a product I have used and highly recommend.


  1. Awesome. Oaks are one of the few trees here that I can sort of consistently identify (at least when they’re surrounded by acorns).
    I’m thinking that I need to collect up all of your tree posts and use them for our Webelos when I do Forester.

  2. I finally got around to doing my post on rice harvesting. Enjoy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Quercus lobata acorns! Am I right? :)

  4. Another great outdoor hour challenge!

  5. We are late getting started but we posted our first challenge today. ~ Nikki

  6. We just wrapped up our oak study. Thanks for the inspiration!

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