Outdoor Hour Challenge: Poison Oak Nature Study

Brand New! Outdoor Hour Challenge

Poison Oak Nature Study

I raised my four children in California. Poison oak was always a part of our outdoor time together. Whether it was hiking a favorite trail, or just visiting grandparents, poison oak was just a part of the landscape. It was very important to me that my children could spot poison oak and avoid any contact as much as possible.

Here is something you can teach your children:

Leaves of three… let it be!

Use this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge to prepare your family for a possible encounter with poison oak in your future.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Poison Oak nature study

Gather some facts about poison oak:

  • Read about poison oak in your field guide or online here: Poison Oak.
  • Here’s a printable information sheet about poison oak: USDA Poison Oak.

Make sure to look at the images so you can easily identify this poisonous plant during your outdoor time. As an alternate study, you could learn about poison ivy instead.

See the Creepy things ebook for more poison oak nature study ideas, videos, and printables!

Please note that I will not be posting the complete challenge here on the blog. You’ll find the detailed challenge in the Creepy Things ebook that’s available both in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships. Sign into your account and download the ebook for the details, more links, and notebook pages.

Download a sample from the Creepy Things ebook here: Banana Slug Nature Study.

Creepy Thing Ebook Cover image

We will soon be finishing up this Creepy Things series of nature studies and starting the Autumn Nature Study (2015 edition) ebook. It hardly seems possible that it’s time for the new school year to begin. But, I’m anxious to welcome all of the new families that will be joining us on September 4th.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020It’s not too late to purchase a membership and become a part of the Outdoor Hour Challenge.

2020 to 2021 plan graphic with ebook covers2



Join Us! Autumn Outdoor Hour Challenges Start Soon

Autumn Nature Study Ebook Series (2015 edition)

As the new school year starts for many families, the Outdoor Hour Challenge is getting started too!  Starting September 2, 2020, we’ll be working our way through the Autumn Nature Study (2015) ebook.

Handbook of Nature Study Autumn Nature Study 2015 Cover Image

In September the topics are:

Swallows and Swifts

“The swallows are very graceful birds and are exceedingly swift fliers….The chimney swift is not a swallow; it is more nearly related to the hummingbird than to the swallow.”


“The catbird has a beautiful song as well as the harsh “miou”, and can imitate other birds, although not as well as the mockingbird.”


“The American species live in fields and woods and under stones and sticks and only occasionally venture into dwellings.”

Field Horsetail

“The horsetail is a plant that develops spores instead of seeds, and has green stems instead of leaves.”

Here’s a sample nature study from this ebook that features the catbird:

Outdoor Hour Challenge Autumn Nature Study 2015 Sample Pages

2020 to 2021 plan graphic with ebook covers2

Join us this year for a fantastic lineup of Outdoor Hour Challenges; many of them are brand new to the website. You can see the ebooks and topics by clicking over to the plan page. Members have access to all of the ebooks necessary for the complete year.

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

If you still need a membership, please click over and join us now as we start the new school year. It isn’t too late to get started!

Discount Code GETSTARTED for $10 off an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Offer expires 9/19/2020.



The Outdoor Hour Challenge is proud to have been voted the top elementary science program by homeschoolers. I’m so appreciative to be able to help so many families get outdoors and enjoy the amazing things found right outside their own back doors….and beyond.

2020 Nature Journal Examples and Links

2020 Nature Journal Examples and Links

This has been a year filled with personal challenges. My routine has been turned upside down and along with that my habit of creating pages in my nature journal has become erratic and lower on the priority list.

This last month I’ve made an effort to get back into the habit of journaling weekly. I went back and planned out some pages to “catch up” on, so 2020 isn’t light on nature notes and observations.  I brought out the nature journal supplies, sharpened the pencils and organized the markers. I plan on making myself more accountable for putting down my thoughts and observations as I go along for the rest of the year.

Stay tuned to see how I do in this endeavor.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (2)

Wish List: Creating nature goals for the year is a form of a “wish list” of things I hope to accomplish. Your family can adapt this idea to fit your needs, including any of the suggestions in the wish list entry linked here.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (5)

Recap Your Month: Creating a monthly recap page is a simple way to gather lots of details into one place. I enjoy creating a “highlights” recap and your family may like to pool ideas to make a recap page in your nature journal.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (8)

Make a List: There’s usually a list of one sort of another each month in my nature journal. It may not be very exciting but it does create a record that I look at from year to year. Comparing lists is something I do all the time.

Nature Journal 2020 examples

Sketch Outdoors: I took my journaling supplies along on a recent outing to the Crooked River. We stopped along the river and I realized I had the perfect view and an opportunity to sketch a juniper tree for my nature journal. What an enjoyable afternoon!

The positive news is that I faithfully complete my daily nature observations in my Nature Observer book for 2020. Keeping up on this pre-printed journal will help me reconstruct some of the months I missed in my regular nature journal.

Nature Journal 2020 examples (6)

Each month has a blank calendar to fill in with short observations, a bullet grid page for my own customized observation reminders, and a weekly spread for writing more in detail anything of note.

Nature Journal 2020 examplesFor July, I not only used the bullet grid for daily temperatures and other nature activities, but included a list of the wildflowers and birds observed both in my yard and down at the river. This format can easily be adapted to any bullet style journal page you are using.

The links to Amazon in this entry are my affiliate entries. I have purchased this book with my own money and I am sharing my enthusiasm for this product after using it for 2 years!

Getting Started with Nature Journals

Need some more specific nature journal ideas?

I’ve created a page on the website that gathers an abundance of nature journal ideas, suggestions, examples, and links. I invite you to jump over there and find your inspiration.


Are you familiar with the book/system Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes? This incremental, child-friendly, learning to draw plan is a valuable part of an art skills program for many homeschoolers. I loved it so much that when my children were younger I adapted the plans to incorporate nature related topics and our nature journals. I’ve gathered those plans into one file for you to download and use for free.

Download: Drawing with Children Nature Journal Style lesson plans printable