Autumn Ebook Promotion – Perfect Season in Nature

Autumn Nature Study

Autumn Ebooks!

It won’t be long until it will be time for some awesome autumn nature study! Members here on the Handbook of Nature Study can look in their Member’s Library for the five autumn themed ebooks available for downloading.


Autumn Nature Study Ebooks graphic

I’ll list the autumn themed ebooks below and if you want to click over to see the specific topics covered, you can easily do that by clicking the book title.

Autumn Nature Study Ebooks Available

1)      Autumn 2009  – Download the free notebook pages to go along with the autumn nature study ideas.

2)      Autumn 2010

3)      Autumn Nature Study Continues

4)      More Nature Study – Autumn

5)      Autumn 2015

If you are new to the Outdoor Hour Challenge and would like to purchase a membership, you can click the graphic at the bottom of this post. Don’t miss the discount code!

Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study Ideas Index @handbookofnaturestudy

For a complete list of autumn season nature study topics, you can click the Autumn tab at the top of the website.

Use the discount code AUTUMNFUN2021 for $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership. Code will expire on 9/17/2021.


Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

If you’d like to have access to all of the autumn ebooks, you’ll find them all in the Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.


Please note:

This is the last autumn season that the ebooks will be available here on the website. If you are a member, please download and save the ebooks for future use!


Outdoor Hour Challenge: Creating the Habit of Getting Outside

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Week 1 – September 3, 2021

Creating the Habit of Getting Outside

I’m challenging you to begin a new year of nature study with the intention of creating the habit of getting outside with our children every week. There is something exciting about starting a fresh school year with all the possibilities in front of us. I hope you take the opportunity to join us for what could be the start of a grand adventure.

How do you create the habit of getting outside with your children?

Baby steps. I’m here to help you with some methods that I’ve shared over the last decade, guiding hundreds of families to successfully navigate nature study close to home. When establishing a new habit, I’ve always found it helpful to start small and work on consistency.

How about a new way of thinking?

A new habit can be encouraged simply by seeing the benefits of an easy change. Think of your backyard and neighborhood as a nature study laboratory. Change your view of what is right outside your own door. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Starting with the things closest to home, you’ll soon see how the habit of getting outside each week comes more easily.

What is there to observe in our backyard “nature study laboratory”?

  • Trees: leaves, bark, twigs, roots, flowers, cones, needles, seeds, pods, nests, birds
  • Patch of weeds: leaves, roots, bugs, flowers
  • Dirt: worms, gravel, stones, seeds, mud, ants, mushrooms, moss
  • Sky: clouds, sun, moon, stars, birds
  • Air: temperature, wind, smells, breath on a cold morning
  • Birds: flying, pecking, eating, chirping, hopping, shapes and colors, beaks, wings, tails, feet
  • Sounds: wind, frogs, rain, leaves, crickets, bees, fly buzzing, mosquitoes
  • Weather: rain, clouds, temperature, snow, ice, dew, wind
  • Flowers (garden or in a pot): petals, pollen, roots, leaves, stem, fragrance, shapes, colors, seeds

How long does it take? Just 15 minutes!

Consistently taking fifteen minutes during your weekly schedule to get outside will be of great benefit in providing interesting things to observe. Even better, take that time when your child is distracted or listless during the school day and seize the opportunity to get outside with them for just a few minutes. Once you see the benefits of allowing this time outside to reset, you’ll begin to see nature study as a refreshing necessity rather than a task that needs to be checked off a list of things to do.

We don’t need to devote a lot of time to nature study during our weekly schedule. Keen observation is the key, not reading lessons, filling in notebooks, or keeping collections. Short walks outdoors along with our children as we encourage observation will do far greater good than any other form of lesson plan.

Can I just send my kids outside on their own?

Children need to grow the habit of looking at things carefully.  In nature study, we can encourage our children to look at things more closely, to really see what is there.  You need to go with your children outdoors at first, walking alongside them or being available nearby. This will alert you to subjects of their interest. Have them describe what they see and perhaps you can ask a few leading questions. Keep it friendly and light.

“The great danger that besets the teacher just beginning nature study is too much teaching, and too many subjects. In my own work I would rather a child spent one term finding out how one spider builds its orb web than that he should study a dozen different species of spiders. If the teacher at the end of the year has opened the child’s mind and heart in two or three directions nature-ward, she has done enough.”

Anna Botsford Comstock

In My Experience

The backyard can hold your attention for a long time if you are diligent about looking for a variety of things to observe. Most of us have plants, birds, trees, rocks, insects, invertebrates, and mammals that will visit us at least at certain times of the year. Challenge your family to pick something each week to learn more about. Nature study is a long-term project (or even a lifestyle) that everyone can find satisfaction in doing together as a family.

Each family member can develop their special area of interest. My daughter and I love flowers and birds. My husband is a tree person. The boys enjoy insects, rocks, and mammals of all sorts. Look for your child’s interest and nurture it! I sometimes wouldn’t get involved at all when the kids were looking at something. Quietly observing their interaction with the natural world gave me insight into what we could learn about in the future.

Remember that nature study intensity can come in cycles. There are periods of time or seasons of the year when we devote much energy to getting outside and taking nature walks. The amount of time may fluctuate to fit our family’s circumstances. Although regular outdoor time reaps the most benefits, real life demands we make allowances for breaks and interruptions. But don’t let these breaks stumble you and get back into it as soon as possible, picking up where you left off.

What can parents do?

To be successful in creating a nature study habit, it’s helpful for parents to be enthusiastic and see for themselves the beauty in the natural world. Start with your passions and then build from there with what you discover about your child’s interests. For example, if your interest is in flowers, spend time in your garden together or visit a nearby garden with your family. Start off looking at flowers and see where that leads. An insect may visit your flowers, or a bird may land nearby. Try to allow for nature study to unfold before you.

They need you to regularly allow time to just be outside during all the seasons. We can all bear fifteen minutes a week of nature study outside under even the most uncomfortable circumstances. If you keep in mind that your nature study can be just outside your back door, you’ll be more apt to go out regularly.

Ultimate Naturalist Library Members:

  • Consider working through the first three Outdoor Hour Challenges in the Getting Started ebook. These three challenges can help build your nature study habit. I highly recommend following the suggestions for reading in the Handbook of Nature Study that go along with those challenges. The words expressed in those readings include timeless advice to parents about the value of regular nature study close to home. Make sure to have the printable nature journal pages bookmarked in case your child is ready to create a record of their Outdoor Hour Challenge.

#1 Let’s Get Started
#2 Using Your Words
#3 Now Is The Time To Draw

Getting Started Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook


  • Look for the “Know Your Own Backyard” series of notebook pages posted in the Getting Back to Basics – The Habit of Nature Study section of the Library. Download the file and start using these pages after your nature study.
  • Look for the Outdoor Hour Challenge Planning Pages printable in the printables library. Use these pages to make a rough plan for your nature study.

If you’re not a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study yet, please consider joining to gain the benefit of having a nature study library at your fingertips. There are numerous resources available for you to help create the habit of nature study within your family.

Use the discount code GREATDAY to receive $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

Please note that the Ultimate Naturalist Library will only be available until 12/31/2021. At that time my website will be shutting down.

Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now 2

If you’re an email subscriber to the Handbook of Nature Study, you may consider saving this email in a folder for future reference. The blog will be retiring at the end of the year as well.

Renee’s Garden Seeds: Summer 2021 Results

Renee’s Garden Seeds

Summer 2021 Results

Link to her website: Renee’s Garden Seeds

What a fantastic year for the garden! We have so many success stories to share and positive results as the season is in full swing. Renee’s Garden seeds were a huge part of the colorful and vibrant garden our family and friends have enjoyed as they visited this past month.

Read below for the specific seeds we planted and the results we achieved.

 Renee’s Garden Seeds List

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4th of July Heirloom Cornflowers

Wow! These have really produced an abundance of flowers in the garden. I love the shades of blue and red and so do the bees!

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Lace Mantle Sweet Williams

I get more compliments about this particular flower in my garden than any other flower. Their striking colors are so pretty! I count these as a huge success.

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Rainbow of California Poppies

We had more blooms last year but there are still quite a few of the rainbow-colored poppies for us to enjoy. For some reason, they are leaning and reaching outside the garden box. I really need to figure out what’s going on there.

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Lemon Queen Sunflowers

As always, we’ve had a bumper crop from the Lemon Queen Sunflowers. They’re not only a favorite of the bees, but they’re also a favorite of mine! The soft yellow is such a happy color.

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Classic Slenderette Bush Beans

We planted these beans in pots at the beginning of May. I started with 3 plants when we transplanted them but ended up with only one healthy plant that produces blossoms and beans. I must be honest. These were an experiment to see if they can grow in our climate. The success of this one plant made me realize that I can grow beans in my garden and I have a great plan to be sure to have more plants thrive next year. As of today, the plants are withering from a couple of nights where the temperatures dropped to near freezing. Not sure I can justify the effort to grow these in my Central Oregon garden with such a small window of productivity. I did look back in my records though and we harvested lots of this variety of green bean from our garden in California. So, the failure here is a matter of habitat and climate and not the seeds.

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Astia Container Zucchini

We had plenty of success with these seeds sprouting and growing, putting on blossoms, but no fruit at all. I think it may have to do with the cooler nights we have which make it hard for these to thrive. I wouldn’t count this as a failure of the seeds, just our garden zone.

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Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers

I love these sunflowers so much! They add such a deep burgundy pop to the otherwise very yellow sunflower bed. Another thing I love about them? They make awesome cut flowers. I’ve had a vase continually filled with their happy, vibrant flowers.

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Scarlet Runner Beans

These were started in May in pots and transplanted to the garden in June. We eagerly watched as the plants grew up the twine, put on flowers, and then produced pods that you allow to dry on the vine.  Many mornings I look out the window and see the hummingbirds visiting the scarlet red blossoms.  What a perfect addition to my garden!

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Early Blooming Beekeeper’s Garden

This was a winner from last year’s garden. We added another packet of seeds to the box and once again they are a spectacular display of colors and shapes. I did make the mistake of allowing some volunteer sunflowers to grow in with the seeds. These have overshadowed the flower mix and I think perhaps the flowering of some of the varieties. Nonetheless, there have been plenty of bees and butterflies visiting the rainbow of flowers.

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Knee High White Cosmos

These are some of my daughter’s favorite flowers in my garden. I love the vintage feel of this variety of cosmos.

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Valentine Lemon Sunflower

This is one of the sunflowers that I sprouted and gave to friends. We’ve all had success growing them in our gardens and their slightly smaller flower head and multiple heads on one stem make them a great cut flower.

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Heirloom Pepperbox Poppies

This is a favorite from the last few years here in Central Oregon. I now can’t imagine a flower garden without these poppies! I saved seed from last year’s crop and scattered it early in the spring to see how many would grow. Well, I’m happy to report that I have quite a few of this variety of poppy in several areas of my yard. The bees can be found daily buzzing and sipping from the red blossoms. If you would like a showy display, give these seeds a try.

Renee’s Garden seeds are the foundation of our flower garden. I’ve already made a list of new things to add next year to promote a wider range of colors, shapes, and heights to my flower beds.

I highly recommend purchasing from Renee’s and seeing the gorgeous results for yourself. I do receive a small amount of seed from Renee’s Garden as a promotional gift. In addition to her gift, I purchase many of the seeds myself. I know they’re always of the highest quality.

I also recommend following her on Instagram to see all of the new products available as they are released. #reneesgardenseeds

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges

Are you interested in using the Handbook of Nature Study for a study of garden flowers? I’ve compiled a list of the topics from the book and coordinated them with the Outdoor Hour Challenges. I hope this is helpful for your family!

Handbook of Nature Study Flowers chart with Outdoor Hour Challenges