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Get Set for an Outdoor Hour Challenge with the Nature Study Handbooks (Review and Giveaway)

outdoor hour challenge nature study handbook giveaway

Nature has been at the core of the learning experiences I want Pari – and we all as a family – to enjoy. Be it by visiting parks and gardens here in Delhi, by going on leaf-collecting walks in the neighborhood or through travel outside our city.

Having said that, let me be honest – this city has extreme weather conditions – hot like a kiln in summers and bone-chilling cold in the winters. Being out and about has not been easy – however much we may like. What do you do when flaming hot wind blows in your face even at 7 in the evening all through April, May, June…sometimes until September? Sigh!

It was to find innovative ways for us to connect with nature that I went about looking for ideas on the internet. And, I came upon a resource – nearly 6-months back – that has been my go-to destination ever since.

Read on to know about the amazing Nature Study Handbooks that I’ve discovered and find out how you can win one of these. :)

nature study handbook review and giveawayThe Handbook of Nature Study blog and the e-books put together by Barb – Harmony Art Mom – are a gold mine for nature study enthusiasts – homeschoolers, after-schoolers, photographers, adventure seekers. Basically – for any nature lover or a city dweller who wants to seek solace from the humdrum by spending some joyful, quiet moments in nature.

And, can you fathom my joy and delight when the author – Barb, sent me the whole pack of her nature study handbooks and the ‘getting started’ guide’!  Over the last few days, as I’ve started exploring these books page by page, I’m realizing in my heart of hearts that these books are going to open up a whole new world of possibilities for us to observe, connect with and enjoy nature.

There’s a surprise giveaway for YOU to win, dear readers. Get the details at the end. :)

Why I’m in LOVE with the Nature Study Hand Books:

To begin with – I totally resonate with the intention and purpose on which these books are based. Barb – at the very outset, stresses the importance of using all our senses when in the midst of nature. She says, it helps us connect better and makes us better observers and learners.

connecting with nature for young children

She also says that connection with nature during each season helps create special seasonal memories. I so relate with this. Life, learning, moments and memories – when all these come together, learning becomes part of living and not isolated from it.

Finally, I absolutely love that these books emphasize the spirit of nature study and NOT just the science of it. Barb says:

It is not only the science of nature study that we are aiming for as we spend time outdoors exploring with our children. It is so much more than that. Slowing down to participate in nature study this spirit sinks down into our very hearts as we see the beauty of creation and the connections we have with creation  – all right outside our backdoor.

The Content:

What I liked best about these handbooks is – inspite of being so content-rich, these handbooks are least bit overwhelming for the child or the parent. Rather, they help you progress at your own pace and give you space and time to observe, reflect, record without hurry and without any urgency to grab all the information in one go.

quiet moments in nature

This is the perfect approach for us because I believe study of nature is not about rushing to know every tiny scientific bit or about covering a curriculum.

duck bathing in lake water India beauty nature

I want us to undertake nature study primarily to soak the beauty, feel a belongingness, nurture our love and curiosity for the magic of nature and by way of all this – feel inspired to record our observations and start nature journaling bit by bit.

Having said this, when we started nature journaling more than 6 months back, I used to be a tad unsettled by questions like –

  • Is there a right way to do it?
  • Should we make a journal entry when outside or when we come back in
  • Should we focus on a subject in nature or just go about in a random way
  • What do we study in the scorching North Indian summer when the landscape is all dry and brown…
  • What kind of journal pages should we use.
  • What kind of colouring/sketching material should we use when drawing or painting the leaves, insects, flowers, trees.
  • How much much is a good time to spend
  • And most importantly – how to make nature study a part of our homeschooling culture

ideas for nature journals with kids

Now, with Barb’s nature study handbooks, I have answers to all these questions and I can say that I feel a lot more confident and clear as to how to go about it with a 6-year old.

This does not mean we are going to use these as ‘guide books’. In fact, these handbooks are not written in the form of guidebooks. They are meant to inspire and help the parent participate and relish the curious moments in nature with the child.

So, what’s in the handbooks?

There’s a handbook for each season – Autumn, Summer, Spring, Winter – with dozens of nature challenges that families can do with young children – no matter where you live or what are your weather variables. There is enough room for you to adapt the challenges to your own local weather condition and accessibility to nature.

I like that most of the challenges are based on what you might find right in your neighbourhood rather than in a far-off wilderness. If you want to sped some time really away from your city, it’s definitely enjoyable, but that should not stop you from exploring nature where you live.

The structure of each book is clear and follows a pattern with emphasis on training your senses. Each book has dozens of challenges broken down into three parts – inside preparation work, Outdoor Time and follow-up activity

Each hand-book shows:

  1. How to go about observing and studying trees, leaves, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, weather, night sky
  2. How to train the senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste – as as to connect with nature in the most intimate way
  3. How to gain a deep understanding and learn by instinct by comparing and contrasting (for exp: compare a goose and a duck to observe what each eats, where do they look for food, compare their beaks, colour of their feather, eyes, feet, sound each makes)
  4. How to draw Venn Diagrams to record your observations

The surprise factor: Integrating Art and Music with Nature

I let out a ‘wow’ when I saw the part on art and music appreciation along with nature study! The author has included this so children will get to observe the kind of emotions each season evokes to a certain kind of music or art.

The Spring and Winter nature guides have artist and musician profiles of the likes of Berthe Moriset, Franz Schubert and more. These handbooks have paintings to print out and even beautiful coloring pages if the child is interested. Or else, each handbook has links to videos that show how to use pastels, water colour pencils to get the textures etc.

I must mention that the journal and note book page templates with each handbook are very useful. And, there are plenty of them!

Now, for the Giveaway that YOU can win! 

The Outdoor Hour Challenge – Getting Started Handbook:

This handbook will immediately put you in a confident and reassuring position to initiate nature study with your children. Again, like the seasonal handbooks, this book also aims to encourage investigation rather than to give information.

My key take-aways from this book are:

  • I LOVED the way this handbook integrates nature, inquiry, self-expression through words and eventually writing it down and drawing. What a beautiful way to make nature study an opportunity for well-rounded learning. Totally our kind of learning – integrated rather than isolated.
  • I admire that the author talks about the role of drawing in nature journal not as a form of art but as self-expression. She says that it does not matter whether the drawing/sketching is artful or not because the intention is to use drawing as a means of articulation
  • I marked these words – “Nature Journaling is a follow-up activity and not a replacement for your time spent outdoors
  • This book is rich in tips like – “follow your child’s lead; don’t rush them”
All these and the overall content of this ‘getting started guide’ will enrich yours’and your child’s learning journey and conenction with nature. It has –
  1. 10 challenges to pursue
  2. How to make nature journal entries
  3. What to include when journaling besides writing and drawing
  4. How to choose a focus area in nature and pursue it (with examples)
  5. How to make field guide cards
  6. How to store nature collection
  7. And dozens of links to:
    • Nature Scavenger Hunt Worksheets
    • Samples of Nature Journals

Read here to know further what this book entails.

How to enter the giveaway

To win share a comment below by Feb 25 sharing  –

How nature study will enrich your child’s learning?

  • For a second entry, ‘like’ the Outdoor Hour Challenge Page on Facebook (let me know you did). This will also help you stay connected with tons of nature study related ideas that Barb shares on this page
  • For another extra entry – ‘like’ Mommy Labs on Facebook and stay up-to-date with all the creative learning ideas I share here – from my blog as well as all my favourite blogs

Good luck :) I hope you like the book. I absolutely LOVE it!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mansi Shankar February 17, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Hi. I can’t wait to get started with nature journal with my Daughter and I totally agree with you about the magical properties of nature in our own backyard. We live in Mumbai, a dense concrete jungle but luckily for us a national park is just 5 minutes drive from my place. Last weekend we went on a camping trip. We were awestruck when we saw a herd of deer so close to us. My daughter took out her binocular to have a closer look. luckily I had packed it along…unluckily I forgot my camera. I would love to have more information about how I can make nature study more important in our everyday life. This is just the right time I read your post! exactly when I have started my reading on bring nature close. thanks

  • Mansi Shankar February 17, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I liked the Outdoor Hour Challenge Page and mommy-labs on Facebook. Great pages

  • Nura February 17, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I’m always lookin for new and creative ideas on outdoor activities for my kids. This nature study theme is in line with what my kids are learning in school now. My 6 yr old boy is learning about birds, n my 5 yr old girl is learning about plants. I also hv a 2 yr old who’s always hungry for new experiences. The samples provided by nature study, looks very interesting n I am excited to see what other gems it has in its actual handbook! ;)

  • Barb-Harmony Art Mom February 17, 2012, 3:49 pm

    You have truly made my heart smile today as I read your words and your thoughts on nature study and using my Outdoor Hour Challenges. Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully complete heartfelt review here on your blog.

  • Rebecca February 17, 2012, 4:03 pm

    Hi! I found you through Barb’s facebook page today! So glad I followed her link to you! I’ll be dropping in to read more….needing more inspiration here! Thanks!

  • Ajar February 18, 2012, 6:48 am

    I feel that children in cities do not spend much time in natural surroundings and so miss out on so many wonderful experiences. We are in the city, and would have to take extra effort to look beyond the concrete around us. and it is hard to start when mom has little experience too. I would like my children, though still young, to have experience with nature and learn to appreciate.

  • Ann February 19, 2012, 2:09 am

    This sounds like a great series, comprehensive and with a glowing endorsement from Mommy-Labs – count me in!!! We are BIG “after-schooler” students of nature! Another wonderful Post – inspiring and beautiful picture!

  • Joyce @Dinosaurs And Octopuses February 21, 2012, 11:27 pm

    I have wanted these handbooks for forever! Fantastic giveaway. I really appreciate you sharing your opinion of these wonderful books, as well!

  • maggy, red ted art February 22, 2012, 1:23 pm

    Oh my! Those handbooks do look lovely! Great way to enjoy the outdoors more!

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  • sue thompson February 22, 2012, 5:54 pm

    These would be GREAT to begin our homeschooling nature studies! We are new to homeschooling so this would be a great way to steer us in the right direction while helping my kids to have a deeper and richer appreciation and understanding of nature!
    We LOVE the great outdoors so I hope we WIN!!!

  • sue thompson February 22, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Liked outdoor hour

  • sue thompson February 22, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Liked Mommy Labs

  • Ashu February 23, 2012, 6:40 am

    Thanks Rashmie for writing this blog,very useful information.Just like u we been nature enthusiastic and making nature journal is great idea…our main exploration area you have elaborated and lot of information to make our jounrney more meaningful.

    Lovely clicks.

  • Kimberly Nelson February 23, 2012, 10:29 pm

    My children love being outside in nature, so a nature study notebook would be a great addition to our adventures and exploring, giving us a way to record all the wonderful things we see and providing more opportunities to expand how we study nature. Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Kimberly Nelson February 23, 2012, 10:30 pm

    I also like the Outdoor Challenge Hour on Facebook!

  • Kimberly Nelson February 23, 2012, 10:31 pm

    And, I like Mommy Labs on Facebook!

  • Tasia Hadden February 24, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I am new to your blog, (found you this week, yeah!) This topic couldnt be better for us. I am currently home w my 3 year old and 4 1/2 year old who both adore animals and nature. when not painting or glueing we are outside always . This is how we survived a rough year of transitions. We had a move this summer b/c of job loss and economy, our temp house was flooded and inhabitable b/c of hurricane Irene and we shuttled from relatives and friends (5 of us and a large dog) for a few months till we finally settled into a new home. No matter where we were we had the woods and beach. Everday my 6 year old documented on camera or through drawings our adventures and the lil ones made up stories about our daily adventures @night. My husband informed me last night of another possible job change. It would be a beach town. I told him we’d be fine.

  • Allison February 24, 2012, 3:33 pm

    Oh neat! I would love to win this. Your photos are gorgeous.
    We play outdoors daily, and I do my best to take my boys on walks and let them explore freely. If we won this it would be a great resource to enhance our learning together. I love the idea of challenges!

  • Haripriya February 24, 2012, 5:43 pm

    This is such an beautiful idea :) Being a nature lover, I would love to study nature right where I stay and also plan nature related activities for children in school.

  • Himadri February 24, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Such lovely pictures Rashmie! I too can relate with ‘connection with nature during each season helps create special seasonal memories”. :)
    I really want to win it. We love spending time in nature. We are trying to follow charlotte manson approach in our homeschooling journey, nature study is a very important part of it. This book will be a fantastic resource not ony for my three year old but also for me.

  • Karen Norris February 24, 2012, 9:27 pm

    This would be great for the kids. They love being outside and exploring nature and learning could be a fun experience for all.

  • Corey Olomon February 24, 2012, 10:08 pm

    I really like the One Hour Outdoor Challenge and plan to try it with my kids.

  • Corey Olomon February 24, 2012, 10:14 pm

    I followed OHC on Facebook (Corey L Olomon)

  • Corey Olomon February 24, 2012, 10:14 pm

    I followed you on Facebook (Corey L Olomon)

  • Sharon Weil February 25, 2012, 2:00 am

    I’ve always loved the idea of nature studies with my kids but find it really hard to put into practice. Maybe these would help.

  • Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam February 25, 2012, 2:42 am

    What a great resource! It sounds like your summers are just as hot at our’s. It’s already 90 degrees F by morning in the summer here. Even though, we love the outdoors, we have resigned to being hermits in the afternoon.

  • Diana Hatch February 25, 2012, 2:06 pm

    Studying nature helps children appreciate the world around us

  • Brenda Christophersen February 25, 2012, 3:28 pm

    We also love nature and our walks to discover the whole of our neighborhood. It also get rather warm here during the summer months. I have seen this lovely resource before and would love to use it as a basis for studying nature in our home. I am always at a loss as to how to coordinate our study and this would help me get and stay on task! Thank you for the giveaway = )

  • Brenda Christophersen February 25, 2012, 3:29 pm

    I liked OHC on FB.

  • Brenda Christophersen February 25, 2012, 3:30 pm

    I also liked Mommy Labs on FB. Thanks again!!

  • Kelly February 25, 2012, 4:12 pm

    We love being outside and I home educate my daughter. This would be great to do with her and enrich her learning experience!

    Thanks for the chance to win!!!!

    Kelly (at) mysimplewalk (dot) com

  • Robin Blankenship February 25, 2012, 5:19 pm

    I think this is awesome. It would enrich their learning because it will keep them interested, engaged and excited about the next thing to see or do.

  • Barbara February 25, 2012, 5:20 pm

    This sounds like an amazing resource. I teach preschool and am always looking for more ideas and opportunities to incorporate nature into our studies. I’d love to get this book. I have a blog where I have highlighted some of the nature experiences we have done as a class and would be able to highlight the book in a later post, as well. Thanks!!

  • Lisa Brown February 25, 2012, 6:02 pm

    I’m trying to teach my son to learn about LIFE, not just tv – this is perfect for that!

  • Lisa Brown February 25, 2012, 6:03 pm

    I like outdoor hour on FB.

  • Lisa Brown February 25, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I like Mommy Labs on FB.

  • April February 25, 2012, 9:07 pm

    These nature guides sound like a great inspiration to get out in all seasons.

  • sarah w February 25, 2012, 9:37 pm

    Nature will be more than just a place to play.

  • Holly S. February 25, 2012, 10:15 pm

    This is something I’ve never tried, but I know will not only keep the kids busy with activities, but will interest them also. Thanks!

  • Holly S. February 25, 2012, 10:16 pm

    I like Outdoor Hour Challenges on FB as Holly Storm-Burge

  • Holly S. February 25, 2012, 10:16 pm

    I like Mommy Labs on FB as Holly Storm-Burge

  • Jennifer February 26, 2012, 12:41 am

    These look like a blast and very interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Karla T February 26, 2012, 12:43 am

    There’s so much to learn in nature, this would be a great learning experience for my kids

  • Karla T February 26, 2012, 12:43 am

    I like Outdoor Hour on FaceBook

  • Kim Pollock February 26, 2012, 2:36 am

    My husband has really been into getting outside with my son and this would enrich their time together to explore and learn about nature!

  • Kim Pollock February 26, 2012, 2:37 am

    I like Outdoor Hour Challenge on FB
    Kimberly Summer Pollock

  • Kim Pollock February 26, 2012, 2:38 am

    I like u on FB
    Kimberly Summer Pollock

  • Stephanie Grant February 26, 2012, 2:51 am

    This is such an awesome idea! I have a four year old little boy who is really into nature and the like so I would love to win this handbook so that we could get started on such fun activity!

  • Stephanie Grant February 26, 2012, 2:51 am

    I ‘like’ the Outdoor Hour Challenge Page on Facebook (Stephanie Petty-Grant)

  • Stephanie Grant February 26, 2012, 2:52 am

    I ‘like’ Mommy Labs on Facebook (Stephanie Petty-Grant)