Outdoor Hour Challenge: First Day of Winter Nature Walk 2020

Outdoor Hour Challenge

First Day of Winter Nature Walk 2020

With most of us spending more time than usual around the house, getting outside for a walk on the first day of winter may be one of the most refreshing activities you could do with your children. The temperatures drop and we huddle inside more and more, especially on the shortest day of the year!

winter landscape

The Outdoor Hour Challenge this week is to make plans to get outside for a brisk nature walk and then to follow up with a nature journal page recording all of the interesting things you found while outside.

outside with the kids

Encourage everyone to use all of their senses on this walk. Did they see something colorful or unusual? How does the air feel on your skin? Is there a particular fragrance to the air? Can you listen carefully for a minute or two to distinguish any particular sounds?

Another idea is to ask your children to find differences in the landscape, comparing your neighborhood habitat on this winter day to what they remember about the first day of summer. This is a little harder and you may need to help them get started with a few of your own observations.

Winter Walk Snow Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com

Most importantly, take along a good attitude and leave yourself open to whatever the experience brings. Allow your children to direct you to things they find interesting and then share in their excitement. A good nature walk is pleasurable for everyone and allows you and your children to develop a relationship with our Creator. The best times I can remember with my children are the times we just took it slow and easy, looking for the little things that most people pass by. Turn over a rock and see what’s underneath. Look up in the branches of the trees and see if you can find any birds or other critters. Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or stream and see what comes along. Breathe the air and enjoy the day.

You can read more about my ideas for winter nature walks on my HubPage: Winter Nature Walks.

First Day of Winter Walk Observation Notebook Page

There’s a printable for the First Day of Winter Nature Walk in the Member’s Library for you to use as part of this activity. A simple list and a sketch will make a perfect follow up to your outdoor time.

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Winter Berry Hunt & Nature Walk

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Winter Berry Hunt – Nature Walk

Our last hike along the river was on a cold but sunny day last week. This particular trail allows for one way hiking on a loop that goes upstream on the Deschutes River and then across a bridge and back downstream on the other side. Although it’s a popular trail, keeping us all hiking in one direction means you can easily space out and feel as if you have the trail all to yourself.

We noticed quite a few shrubs with berries along the trail and it reminded me of this winter berry hunt nature study idea. I was wishing you all could see the many berry colors!

berry shrub


I hope that you can squeeze in a winter berry hunt sometime soon. Let me know what you find along your neighborhood trails.

Winter Berries Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Winter Berry Hunt.   

Snow and Winter Berries

Winter Berry Hunt notebook page 1

Winter Berry Hunt notebook page 2


If you have access to the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook,

there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

Winter Nature Study ebooks graphic and promo

Don’t forget there are Winter ebooks in the Member’s Library for you to use in your nature study. Feel free to use any of the winter Outdoor Hour Challenges during this season. You can pick and choose the topics that fit your family best.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudyYou’ll find all of the winter themed nature study ideas by clicking the Winter tab at the top of the Handbook of Nature Study website. Everyone is welcome to use the ideas found there whether you have a membership or not.





Keeping a Calendar of Nature Firsts-From the Archives

Keeping a Calendar of Nature Firsts

From the Newsletter Archives

Calendars: It’s a great idea to have children keep a calendar to record when and where they saw the first oak leaf, the first tadpole, the first primrose, the first ripe blackberries. Then next year they can pull out the calendar and know when to anticipate seeing these things again, and they can note new discoveries. Imagine how this will add enthusiasm for daily walks and nature hikes! A day won’t go by when something isn’t seen to excite them. Charlotte Mason-in modern English

Keeping a perpetual calendar of nature firsts is a wonderful long-term nature study project for families. It’s a simple way to learn the cycle of life in your world, noting the nature firsts that catch your attention each year. Comparing the dates of the firsts in nature will give you a more accurate telling of the passage of time.

calendar of firsts nature study

Download a copy of this calendar page here: Nature Study Observations printable.

You can use a calendar page for each month with the list of days down the side or a more traditional grid style calendar where you fill in the boxes as you go. Whichever way you choose will work if you just remember to weekly take a minute or two to note any nature firsts you observed. Make sure to record the date (including year), time, and or location of your observation.

Things our family looks for each year:

  • First elk
  • First ground squirrels
  • First snow
  • First robin, junco, swallow, hummingbird
  • Last leaves on the aspen (Yes, you can keep track of “lasts” as well.)
  • First campfire of the season
  • First fire in the wood stove

Things for you to look for:

  • First bee seen
  • Frogs chirping– first day heard
  • First mosquito bite
  • First skunk smell
  • First trillium or other wildflower blooming
  • First acorns on the ground
  • First green grass
  • First tulips blooming
  • First day warm enough for shorts and t-shirts
  • First freezing temperatures
  • First snowfall

As you can see from the list, you are not limited to any one season or any one area for your firsts. Challenge your children to come up with some nature firsts of their own.

A calendar of firsts can be kept by the entire family or by each individual child. The observations can be listed in words and/or pictures!

The beauty of this project is that it can be started at any time and can be completed over many years with no guilt if you forget to record something for a period of time. If that happens, just pick up where you left off.

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter March 2015

Members can download and use the March 2015 edition of the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter (found in the Ultimate Naturalist Library). There are additional ideas for you to print and use as part of a perpetual calendar recording your nature study firsts.

Newsletter Index download


The Naturalist’s Notebook: I use this notebook that has pre-printed pages for 5 year’s side-by-side observations.

nature journal calendar of firsts (2)

This format makes it easy to compare nature firsts from year to year. I love it!

nature journal calendar of firsts (1)


Please note that the Amazon link above is an affiliate link to a book that I purchased and highly recommend.