Getting Started With The Outdoor Hour Challenge Ebook Promotion

Important Information: 
This is a long entry but if you have any inkling that you will be joining us for the 
Outdoor Hour Challenge this year, 
please take a few minutes to read about how the whole thing is going to work.

I know there are a lot of readers of this blog that read my entries and then feel like they can’t do nature study for one reason or another. I know there are families that start off great and then loose steam. I know there are moms who just are not “nature” oriented and don’t enjoy the more difficult side of nature study like the hot/cold weather, bugs, dirt, and fear that their children are going to ask them questions they don’t know the answers to.

I would like to encourage all of you to just do what you can and try to accomplish a little outdoor time each week with your children. The purpose of this blog is to encourage you with some suggested ideas, help you learn how to use the Handbook of Nature Study, and to share with you some inspiration from other families around the world who have a desire just like you do to offer the important gift of outdoor time with your children.

To help you with your family nature study, I am starting a new chapter in the Handbook of Nature Study blog adventure. We will be using the monthly newsletters, posts from the archives, and general nature study challenges to encourage everyone from beginner to veteran to try some weekly or monthly nature study. I have lots and lots of fun ideas and free printables just waiting to share with you each Friday. The newsletter will outline the main topic for the month and give you suggested challenge ideas to apply in your family (more on that in next Monday’s post).

As another new feature of the Outdoor Hour Challenge posts each Friday,  I will be outlining a suggestion for using the Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook. I know many of you own this ebook already and perhaps started off using it in the beginning of your nature study journey but I am now going to show you how to use the resources in that book to enhance the current challenges. I will refer to specific challenges and notebook pages that you can use each week, making the Getting Started Ebook an integral part of your current nature study activities. You have it on your shelf…why not use it to your advantage?

If ever there were a time to join in with the Outdoor Hour Challenge, 
this would be it. 
It is clean slate time and we will all be starting fresh. 

Blog Logo 1
Discount Promo Has Ended: For the first time ever, I am offering the Outdoor Hour Challenge Getting Started Ebook at a special discounted promotional price for one week only. If you do not own this book already, now is the time to get a copy to use with our weekly challenges and then to continue using as you work your way from season to season.

Special Discounted Price – $6.95. 
Promo Has Ended

I will be referring to other challenges from the seasonal ebooks but the Getting Started ebook is going to take a special spot in every weekly challenge plan.

Click over to the Getting Started Page and you can take advantage of this special offer from now until the end of the month (midnight 8/31/12).

Make sure to read the post on Monday, August 27, 2012. 
I will be giving you step by step instructions for the new and improved Outdoor Hour Challenge. 
What You Can Do To Help Me

Now, tell me in a comment if you have a particular reason you have not started with nature study or you started off great and then let it drop. I will attempt in future posts to address your reasons and your particular situations. Plus I just like to hear your comments and get to know you all better. I loved hearing your thoughts when I did my blog survey a few months ago. You can leave an anonymous comment on this blog if you are too shy to use your name. :)


  1. We have struggled with consistency due to ages/stages of my kids. Now, however, I have 4 who are Pre-K level or above (and no, I’m not rushing into formal lessons with the littles, but she enjoys nature and learning alongside in spurts)…my oldest is almost Sr High level, and is losing interest in nature but is loving your 8th grade Art course. I have a book of nature watercolors/how-to, in order to help inspire her along the way. My son (10) LOVED your outdoor hour challenge, and took it literally; that he needed to complete it all in one hour. Which, he did, quite happily! Two of my girls are at the perfect age to jump into nature and actively look for new “treasures” outdoor. I’ve had a baby in the house for years, but now, my youngest is 2 1/2, so he is a good age to play outdoors with us. SO, I say all that to say…we have always used some of your materials to some extent, but this is a good time to dig deeper and commit to weekly time! :D Thanks for all you do; I enjoy both your blogs SO MUCH and love your style of homeschooling–CM etc–and we also use TOG so I’ve enjoyed those posts as well. Looking forward to what happens now, with OHC :)) Danielle

  2. Hmmm….Why do I keep dropping Nature Study?
    One part of it is that I just struggle to persist with anything – major character flaw, I know. It’s as if my attention simply CAN’T be focused on things!

    Another part of this is that I will put it off until other things are done first. This is a very common thing, I know, and I am extremely guilty of it. MOrnings are a GREAT time to get out most of the year here (rural SW-ish Virginia) and the children are most alert, respectful, attentive, and willing to try something new. So I end up moving straight to the hard-core subjects. Sigh….

    Another part of it, if I can even explain it is how I do things (which returns us to point #1 up there): I will read Thing 1 and get all geared up and being Mrs. All Or Nothing, prep to do every thing that Thing 1 says to do. Then a short time later, I read Thing 2 and want to switch gears and dive into that. Then Thing 3. And what happens is I want to do what AO and Barb and the awesome Leslie books we own all say to do (knowing FULL WELL that neither AO nor you nor the Leslie gal even hint at their way being the best. It’s my All Or Nothing mindset!) So anyhoo, I get bogged down in trying to figure out how to use three (or more) different kinds of materials, in what order and how to facilitate natrue study, etc….even down to what to carry with us! Guess how long that lasts before I give up!

    I have skinny notebooks that I set aside with dividers for the AO-suggested term studies, lots of white paper. But I also have the clipboards with 1-2 sheets of blank paper for easier going. But I also have printouts of things from here and this new nature study book I just got.
    Something has to give.

    So you see, you have a complicated case with Stubborn Sal! But I share alllllll this because I don’t believe I am the only out there who does this, and if they read this, they will be feel that they can share, too, and isn’t that first step? :) I greatly appreciate all that you do for us here. You are an amazing lady — while I struggle with the how’s and why’s and what for’s of my own journey to love The Creator and His Creation, know that what you do is valid and important and we all thank you!!!

  3. Barb, the link to your specially priced Getting Started ebook doesn’t work. :(

  4. Cristy…don’t know what was going on with the links but they are linking over to the page now.

    Give it a try again. Thanks for letting me know. :)

  5. I would have to ditto the difficulty with nature study with lots of kids who all need your attention RIGHT NOW, especially when you have one or two in the prone to wander off and who are too short to see over tall plants so mom is sure they are probably trying to fall into the pond. When you have that in combination with the kid who is sure that 50 is freezing but insists that shorts are all year round wear, and another who is equally sure that 50 is freezing and will only venture out in complete winter gear (and we live in MI!)…I kind of avoid attempting to drag them all outside at once. I could do it during the pond swimmers nap time, but there is always so much to do during nap time! I’m determined to do better this year (I only have one wanderer who is a threat to the fish) and plan it in consistently. I think the mental block of a whole hour is a problem too. I have a few who would live outside, and another one who will “die” if he has to go outside for more than 20 minutes at a time.

  6. I really enjoyed reading Sally’s comment and would love to hear your views Barb {as you have so much more home ed experience}. I tend to suffer a bit from the same thing Sally does, although OHC is a fixed thing in our house. Thing is, I think that because we want the utmost for our children and there are so many wonderful options out there, we are afraid to miss out on one but end up using none! *sigh* – glad to hear that someone else goes through the same issues -lol

  7. We have done more observation/ less book learning this summer. We’ve looked up a few new birds. Jon has a HUGE insect in ice with 2 stingers on it that he’s been messing with. It has been a relaxing summer. What has been fun is being able to call items by name, birds, trees, rocks, plants, fungi, insects, ect. I love hearing the boys’ excited yell when they find something we have studied, especially if we didn’t find it that week/month of the learning time. We will pick up full time again on Fridays come September. 6th and 9th Grade levels.

  8. I think my biggest obstacle to being very, very consistent is that I feel like I’m the one who’s the most excited about nature study. I have one child who could take it or leave it (& really doesn’t like to do the journaliing), and the other one really enjoys the sketching aspect but ust quite as interested in te learning part. Add in an active two year old and HOT weather in te South, and you hae a recipe for lots of excuses.

    I’m excited about this new day for the OHC!

  9. I can see myself in many of these responses. I too suffer from overdoing the studying part of the nature study. I think I should probably observe more and then follow up on things that interested us. By making it a chore, it takes the enjoyment out of it and then the kids don’t want to go out. I eventually give up trying to push them out the door.

    I’m also thinking of starting a blog for our nature study. I am hoping that will be a way to keep me accountable to getting out there and enjoying nature.


  10. Hi Barb! I, too, identify with Sally’s comment.

    I have also been struggling with what format to document our Nature Study. 3 ring binder? Watercolor notebook? Scrapbook? *sigh*

    I have figured out a few things and I am happy with the progress I’ve made, but I definitely feel that I have virtually *nothing* to show for all of my planning.

    I basically wanted to chime in and say that I am in the same boat as Sally :)


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  12. My problem with nature study. I have 1 child who loves being outdoors, but has no intention of doing anything learning related (she only wants to run and play). The other child does not want to play outside (being a teen) and wants to take that time for himself.
    The weather is another problem, see the wind blows almost everyday here in the state we live in, and winters come early and stay late (snow, wind, cold). Makes it really hard to want to go outside for nature study.

  13. Ok- here goes! Thanks for asking this question, Barb, bc it really gets me thinking about what DOES hold me back. I can identify with lots of other ladies’ comments.
    Fyi- I do AO with my 6 and 8 yr old girls.
    1. Kids who like to be outside, but as soon as there is one mosquito are heading back in.
    2. I have a hard time getting them to CLOSELY observe without asking really leading questions, which I know if not what I’m supposed to be doing.
    3. One thing that really frustrates me, personally, is not being able to identify which tree/flower/insect/bird etc. I have plenty of guides. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but it seems like whatever I’m looking for is not there, or its close but I’m not sure. And my kids lose attention after asking what the thing was called and then we search and can’t figure it out. I guess this part kinda makes me feel like a failure! Which I know is not true. So- big struggle for me.
    THANK YOU for your blog and all you do. It really does help!

  14. My problem is that I don’t have a backyard. I don’t have a car to get to a nature spot. We have a landscaped park where we’ve gotten yelled at for sitting in the grass. We have a bunch of kids including a toddler and baby on the way and hours on a bus trying to get to nature is not going to happen. Of course we have pigeons, ants and roaches, even bats in the park in the evening, but not a lot of a variety of plant life. We always stop to look at the ants carrying things across the sidewalk, but we just keep looking at the same things. I don’t know how to discover anything new.

  15. Mine is pretty basic. I have a hard time getting into a routine of all the other stuff. Trying to get into a routine of focused outdoor study when I can’t even get the DW unloaded? But I just bought pretty notebooks, colored pencils, oil pastels and a book based on the article you linked to the other day. Pretty new art stuff is a good motivator!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why am I subscribing and not participating? Subscribing to be inspired as to what could become of our nature study as we evolve. Right now my daughter is 4, so I am taking our nature study as more an “unschooling” approach. What do we find outside that SHE is interested in and what questions does she have about them/it and so on. It moves to stories from Mom and Dad about we know of plants and animals from when we were children and looking things as well as observation. While right now her art skills are limited, collecting and keeping seasonal nature displays in the home based on our time outside seem more naturalistic to her age. We don’t have an active blog, so the carnival participation seems overwhelming right now to me. (I find myself doing more than photographing what we’re doing.)

  17. I have been doing Nature Study Walks with my children for some time but I really appreciate the way you’ve laid it out! Brilliant! I would love to refer your OHC on my blog. Is that OK? A lot of other Moms will benefit too! Thank you so much for sharing!

    We live in India – so your inspiration has reached us all the way here!

    Thank you again!

  18. Probhita,

    Of course, please share about the Outdoor Hour Challenge on your blog…I would love to see your nature study in India. Send me the link: [email protected].

    Thanks for spreading the word!

  19. Hello!

    I appreciate all these comments so much, and the wonderful hope this blog and challenges gives! I can relate to a lot of what has been said, especially Sally’s comments.

    I have been feeling very discouraged about my lack of follow through (tho I own gobs of resources and have no real good excuse not to be using them every week). So I happened upon this site from the SCM forum, and I am so grateful for a new start and some fresh inspiration from real moms.

  20. Hello!

    I appreciate all these comments so much, and the wonderful hope this blog and challenges gives! I can relate to a lot of what has been said, especially Sally’s comments.

    I have been feeling very discouraged about my lack of follow through (tho I own gobs of resources and have no real good excuse not to be using them every week). So I happened upon this site from the SCM forum, and I am so grateful for a new start and some fresh inspiration from real moms.


  21. Barb, to answer your question…

    I was so busy that I really needed to take the summer off. Before that, we usually were still doing nature study. It was actually the blogging about it that I found I wasn’t getting done. Sometimes I didn’t take my camera, or my battery was low, and I’d take photos on my phone. Other times I’d take photos on my camera, but either way I’d find it more than I was willing to tackle to find the cords and download to the computer, and to put together the blog entry. My state requires end of year reviews, and I used that time to get papers in order and prepare for the review.

    Then summer arrived and I took a break. Now we are gearing up to the new year.

    So actually is it okay for us to nature study whatever area we want to and just blog about that? Last year I tried to do whatever the topic of the week was supposed to be, but this year I think we are hankering to do different topics.

    Thanks for all your inspirations!


  22. Good. I need a clean slate about a lot of things in life!! We really fell off from doing regular nature study when I was pregnant a couple of years ago and then life took many unplanned turns for us and there was too much upheaval. But our nature study times are fond memories for all of us and we are determined to do it again this year.

  23. Rhonda,

    Yes, I have missed seeing your family and your nature study. I look forward to hearing how it goes with you this year.


  24. Thanks for the new start! Somehow we also just did not focus on our Nature Study enough, possibly because our seasons are completely opposite to yours here in South Africa. If we approach your weekly study on topic rather than season,I hope we will participate in your OHC.
    Recently, the grid works like a charm! I printed it out and asked my kids to chose 1 block to focus on each week. My youngest asked me if she could do 1 block each day! We have had such lovely, simple Outdoor times this past week.
    Thanks for your consistent encouragement!

  25. I’ve been trying to follow along. Our main problem is that we live in a climate quite different from yours, so during the winter months, we cannot apply your ideas, and during the rest of the year, we are perhaps a month or two away from being able to implement your ideas, but your downloads expire after a month. Being the procrastinator that I am, it’s taken me a while to figure out that I can download stuff for future use! LOL! We’re working on it…

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