OHC Spring Series #1: Year-Long Tree Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Spring Series #1
Spring Tree Observation

“Like a friend is a tree, in that it needs to be known season after season and year after year in order to be truly appreciated. A person who has not had an intimate, friendly acquaintance with some special tree has missed something from life.”
Anna Botsford Comstock, A Study of a Tree

Inside Preparation Work:
Read pages 625-626 in the Handbook of Nature Study: Spring Work. This part of Lesson 172 should give you lots of things to think about as you prepare for your spring tree study observations. If the tree you chose to study has a section in the Handbook of Nature Study (check the table of contents), you might want to read the lesson for your particular tree in preparation for your Outdoor Hour time as well.

The Handbook of Nature Study suggests measuring the height of your tree using a stick 3½ feet long and a measuring tape. See page 626 Lesson 172 #4 for details.

fall sketch B
Outdoor Hour Time:
Now that spring has come, it is time to check on your tree from your Year-Long Tree Study. If you are just starting out with a tree study, pick a tree from your yard that you can watch through all four seasons. Spend 10-15 minutes of your outdoor time using the ideas from the Handbook of Nature Study to do some focused observations of your tree.

walking on a sequoia
Simple Suggestions for Spring Tree Study:

  1. Pick a tree in your yard or on your street and look for its new leaves and blossoms if appropriate.
  2. Is it just beginning to show leaves? Can you tell if your tree has all of its leaves yet?
  3. Can you see any insects or birds in your tree?
  4. Collect a few leaves to use for leaf rubbings in your nature journal. You could also make a leaf bouquet.
  5. Compare two leaves from the same tree. Are they exactly alike?
  6. Use your nature journal to record a sketch of the leaf and any blossoms.
  7. How has the tree changed since autumn? Winter?

Follow-Up Activity:
After your outdoor time, complete a nature journal entry using the notebook page I provided for the Spring Series, a general notebook page from my freebies page, the original notebook page, or your own blank journal. Photos of your tree are a good record in your nature journal as well.

prints 1
If you would like to make some leaf prints with your spring leaves, please see my blog entry with instructions:
Making Leaf Prints

Drawing your tree can be easy if you follow the instructions found in this file:
Guide to Sketching Trees

If you would like all the Spring Series Challenges in one book, I have an ebook gathered for you to purchase for your convenience. The ebook also contains art and music appreciation plans for the winter months as well. Please see this entry for more details:
Spring Series Cover
Spring Nature Study with Art and Music Appreciation

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy


  1. I love that quote you have at the beginning! :)

  2. Great post!
    We just did our tree study today. We will have to wait until the summer to do a leaf rubbing, but we still enjoyed it.

  3. We did our study today, I think that is the first time I ever *really* noticed what a maple blossom looked like!

  4. Barb,
    If we haven’t been in the tree study loop is it tool late to get on board with this? Everything is already budding and blooming here :)

  5. Melissa,

    Of course you can start your study right now! You would just continue until next year with your study.

    The aim is to watch a tree of your choosing in all four seasons.

    I think in the HNS she says it is best to start in winter but we all started in fall so why not the spring?

    Start when it works for your family.


  6. Oh we learned so much and had a great time. Even noticed little heart-shaped leaves from flowers in just 24 hrs!

  7. The weather is beautiful here in MD! Definitely spending more time outdoors this past week :) Thanks for the inspiration, Barb!

  8. Thank you so much for all of your motivation to get outside and Observe! I am glad to also have the accountability for writing down our great adventures. These words may have stayed on my memory next to the pictures. Thanks for you encouragement to Write It Down!

  9. I love the leaf print idea – hopefully we will do that with our Summer Tree Study. As always, we loved this study – thanks for hosting and encouraging us to get outside and explore nature. =)

  10. We hope to complete each challenge and have fun learning about nature.
    I ordered your book, I just love it!!!

  11. Hi Barb! We loved doing our tree study! Thanks!

  12. We are just starting our year long tree study and are very excited for the journey!

  13. Silly question, Barb — do you keep your year-long studies of trees in a separate book, or just add each entry in as you (so that they are scattered throughout your notebook)?

  14. Hi Sally,
    We recorded our tree studies on notebooking pages so they are together in our notebook binder. If you are recording your studies in a nature journal, I don’t see why they need to be together. Or you could skip some pages and leave them blank to come back to fill in as the year goes by.

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