Planning Nature Study for the Year

Planning a year of nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Printables and examples for you to view and use.


Many of you have written to ask me how to go about planning a year of nature study for your family. It seems like it should be easy enough but when you want to follow your child’s interest and it doesn’t coincide with the Friday topics here on the Handbook of Nature Study you can get frustrated. My advice normally is to find a topic of interest for your family and then use the tabs at the top of the site to find specific challenges to use for your weekly nature study.

This advice works for families that are following the Ambleside Online nature study rotation as well. Find the tab at the top of my site that corresponds with the nature topic for the term and then glean ideas from the challenges and activities listed there on the page.

To make your planning a little easier, I developed Outdoor Hour Challenge Planning Pages. These pages are available in the printables section of the Journey and Ultimate level memberships.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

There are three pages in the Outdoor Hour Challenge Planning Page packet.

Monthly Planning Page 1

This is the first page you can use if you prefer to have monthly nature study topics. I loved the years that we stuck with a topic for a whole month, digging in deeply. The chart at the top of the page gives you some ideas to choose from as you contemplate your seasons and habitat.

Hint: The topics listed in the chart on the page above are going to be the monthly topics found in the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter.

Term Planning Page 3

Some families like to schedule their nature study focus for a complete term or season. The page shown above found in the Outdoor Hour Planning Pages packet allows for a different topic to be planned each term. If you follow the Ambleside Online nature study rotation, this would be the page you could use to plan your year’s topics.

Challenge and Activity Planning Page 2

After you have chosen your topics, either monthly or for a term, you can then use the challenge and activity planning page found in the packet to note specific challenges or ideas that you want to implement during your topical study. The ideas shown above are what I hope to accomplish in September 2015 to go along with the newsletter topic of trees. Even if we don’t end up accomplishing all of the items listed, planning ahead of time will make it more likely that they will happen. You can use ideas from the tabs at the top of the website, suggestions in the newsletter, or ideas from a Pinterest board

HNS Newsletter Planning Page Sept 2015

For families that are following along with the weekly Friday challenges here on the Handbook of Nature Study, there is a planning page each month in the newsletter. It will include the current challenges, field trip ideas, nature journal page ideas, nature table prompts, and nature photo suggestions. These will all coordinate with the monthly theme of the newsletter. Note: You can receive each month’s newsletter by subscribing to the Handbook of Nature Study blog: Subscription Page.

Any more questions!

I hope this helps answer the frequently asked question about nature study planning for your family. Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer in future posts!

Planning a year of nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study and the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Printables and examples for you to view and use.

Additional Help

You may like to have this page for your nature study goals.

Free Printable Nature Study Goals Planner Page


Ambleside Online Approved @handbookofnaturestudy


  1. I just want to thank you for all the awesome things you do. You inspire me to do nature study more with my children.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      You are very welcome and I hope to continue sharing things that help you keep going. Nature study is such a delight and I love what I do here on the Handbook of Nature Study. Thanks for the comment!

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