New! Spring Willow Nature Study



“As early in March as is practicable, have the pupils gather twigs of as many different kinds of willows as can be found; these should be put in jars of water and placed in a warm, sunny window. The catkins will soon begin to push out from the bud scales, and the whole process of flowering may be watched.”

Handbook of Nature Study

 Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Willow Nature Study

Start Here: Willow Nature Study – Handbook of Nature Study Lesson 179, suggested observations 1-7 (pages 651-655)

Pay particular attention to the Method section and the Observation suggestions #1-7 in Lesson 179 for specific spring willow study ideas. The leading questions in this lesson will help you carefully observe the pollen-bearing flowers of the willow. Record your answers to the questions in your nature journal.

If you’re just starting a year-long willow study, spring will give you lots to learn and appreciate about this interesting subject. Then, when summer rolls around, you can make some comparisons.


Spring Willow Study notebook page

If you’re a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, there’s a notebook page you can use to record your spring willow nature study observations.


Links to prior season’s Outdoor Hour Challenges:

Autumn Willow Nature Study

Winter Willow Nature Study

Both of the OHCs linked above have a printable notebook page in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships.


Prior Willow Study Activity:

autumn willow with twine on limb

  • If you already started this activity, make sure to take some spring observations.
  • If you’re just getting started with your willow study, here’s the suggested activity: Tie a string on a twig attached to your willow and then observe and record in your nature journal the twig’s changes for a few months.


Spring Ebooks Graphic button

There are many more spring related nature study ideas in the four ebooks shown above. You can find them in the Ultimate Naturalist membership library.


Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

Use discount code OHC10 for $5 off any membership!

Nature Observer -February 2019

The month of February has brought with it a lot of SNOW! We haven’t thawed out completely since the beginning of the snow storms. There have been a few days of sunshine but the temperatures have been very cold; cold enough to keep the snow and ice piled up outside our door.

birdfeeder in the snow juncos

We’ve been trying to keep up with the birds that visit our feeders as part of Project Feederwatch and also during the Great Backyard Bird Count. From what I can observe, not only have there been fewer bird species but even the numbers of those birds has decreased. Some days I only see a handful of birds….far less than this same time period last year. Because we haven’t lived here very long, it’s hard to know if this is an unusual year or not. We’ll keep a detailed record of our observations and see how the year progresses.

nature journal examples (8) february detailed observations

I’ve kept up with my daily nature journal notes with our temperatures, snow amounts, and other interesting details from our observations. These simple notes help record just a little more thorough picture of the season.



Images from my Journal

nature journal examples (3) january bird list

I completed my January birds page. Now that I look at it, it needs a little more detail to make it a really good record of the month. Perhaps I’ll add the numbers of birds I observed (by looking at my Project Feederwatch data) and maybe compare this year’s January birds with last year’s list.

nature journal examples (2) snow data

Here’s the page that I made to keep track of the January snow. I may just add February’s statistics to it as well since there’s room.

nature journal examples (4) january grid study newsletter

I used a Handbook of Nature Study newsletter printable grid to record some fun nature details in my journal. This is a super simple way to get started if you’re stumbling over a big ol’ blank page. See this entry for more information on using nature study grids: Using Printables from the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter.

nature journal examples (5) february birds list GBBC

Here’s a look at my February birds page in progress. I’m keeping a running list of birds observed, left room for my Great Backyard Bird count details and thoughts, and I’m using a printable grid from the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter to encourage me to be on the lookout for birds of all colors. I will finish this one up by the end of the month.

nature journal examples (6) great horned owl bird

We heard a pair of Great Horned Owls early one morning and I wanted to create a page that had all of the interesting facts about this bird in my nature journal. I find the process of looking up the information for a page helps me learn and remember things better. I’m not aiming for a fancy page but one that has meaning to me. I’m challenging myself to draw in my nature journal, not on every page but a few times a month.


One More Image

feb 2019 mountain lion

We’ve had a mountain lion roaming our neighborhood for a few weeks. Our next door neighbor snapped this image of the big cat right up in a tree in his backyard. It makes me a little nervous to have such a wild creature so near to our home, but we’re just taking precautions and being alert to any signs that he is back.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

There are many, many nature journal ideas included in the archives of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters. If you have any level of membership, make sure to download the newsletter index to make finding a topic easy.

Newsletter Index download

76 issues of the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter are available in the Discovery level of membership for only $20! You also get the Getting Started with the Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook in this level which makes it a super awesome value for your $20.

Download an index of topics here: Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter Topics and Printables.



Outdoor Hour Challenge – Signs of Spring 2019

“A simple spring nature study starts as soon as you start to notice the changes around you.”

In my part of the world, we’re not even close to seeing any signs of spring. But, last week I was in California and I greatly enjoyed the landscape turning green, the early spring bulbs starting to blossom, and the warm sunshine as I walked to the river.

You can complete this challenge at any time you note the first signs of spring in your neighborhood. It’s actually quite a life lesson for children to be aware of the changing of the seasons and what to look for when you’re taking your Outdoor Hour time.



Use the suggestions in the challenge linked below along with the free printables available to create a record of your family’s signs of spring.

Signs of Spring Nature Study

Make sure to click the link above to read the entire Outdoor Hour Challenge with helpful links, nature study ideas, and suggested follow-up activities.

Daffodil nature journal with flowers and watercolors

This challenge is not found in an ebook but if you’re interested in an ebook of spring related challenges, you can check out the selections on the spring page in the Handbook of Nature Study linked below.

Spring Ebooks Graphic button

Are you just joining the Outdoor Hour Challenge? You can find the complete plan for the rest of the year by clicking the link below.

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

If you are already a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can download a detailed schedule of nature topics and ebooks from your membership.

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy