Mammal’s Fur

We have really enjoyed our Outdoor Hour Challenge ~ mammals studies this month!

Our first week we studied animal fur and without a second thought, my daughter insisted we “study” our cats’ fur!

Our cats didn’t object!  They purred with contentment as we stroked and felt their fur.  Using words, we talked about texture, length, colors, the way the fur lay, how the cats cleaned their fur and what differences we noticed between the short-haired and the long-haired cats.

We then wrote in our nature journals.

I was slightly shocked to discover that Miss.L10 had taken some “samples” to paste into her nature journal!  She assured me that I wouldn’t even notice where she had snipped some fur off!  Her journal entries where not ‘scientific’.  I noticed how descriptive and emotive her words were.  I think this is good. It is lovely to related to observations with all our senses. (I also noticed how poor her spelling is …we’ll add some of these words to our thematic list)

My journal entry was more objective and comparative, my word “Fur” separating the different cat’s fur.

We love the Outdoor Hour Challenges each week. Apart from the weekly challenges, the nature grid gives us plenty of ideas to follow-up as well.

Have you joined in?


Nature Journals ~ Karee Tree

This month’s Outdoor Hour Challenge theme is


We studied the Karee tree just outside my bedroom window.  I sketched it one afternoon.

This week we examined the leaves and bark of the same tree.

Miss.L10 took paper and made some bark rubbings and picked some leaves to bring inside.

We used the bark rubbing as part of the background for the nature journal page.

I suggested that we try to make “negative” leaf rubbings – place the leaf on top of the page and rub over the edge of the leaf creating an outline of the leaf.  I filled my page with these shapes.  the little lines created a lovely texture.

Then I sketched the leaves, painted them and outlined the details. 

A few short, descriptive notes and my journal page was complete.

MissL.10 enjoyed a similar approach.

I have found so much nature journaling inspiration at Jane’s ~ Sketchbook and lots more on Pinterest.

Join in the Outdoor Hour Challenges.


Nature Study & OHC September

We re-started our Nature Study this term

with the arrival of our spring here in South Africa.

I created a First Week of Spring Grid (click for your free download)

We chose one box for each day of the first week.

I chose to study and sketch all the different fruit trees in bud in our orchard:

Barb of Handbook of Nature Study has a new approach for her Outdoor Hour Challenges using a grid.

It has helped us focus on a simple topic for each week.

Last week we studied ants.

Miss.L10 and I stood watching the ants scurry about their disturbed holes and kept our distance! We all know how our ant bite!

We noticed the large and small-sized ants.  Some ants ran straight back to the hole while others ran around in random circles.

We sat and sketched the ants.

By the time we were finished, there was not an ant to be seen.

All was calm again.

This week we crawled on our bellies with our camera to take a photo capturing a “Bug’s Eye View” ~

It was interesting to look at plants in our garden from a new and unusual angle.

It gave us a different perspective.

Miss L10 couldn’t choose the best of her 3 photos and pasted them all on her notebook page.  She didn’t want to write descriptive words about her bug’s eye view.

I had some creative fun and wrote words extending out of my central photo.

Lovely, simple nature study sessions!

How does the new approach work for you?  Share how you keep it simple and relaxed in the comments.  Join Barb and all of us for the Outdoor Hour Challenges.


Nature Journal ~ Cape Weaver’s Nest

Cape Weaver Birds

Image by tim ellis via Flickr

Hundreds of Cape Weavers have made nests in several of our trees on our farm.

They only come for their spring breeding season. The males flitter and fight over branches and frantically build their exquisite nests. They hang upside down from their nests fluttering their wings and singing to attract the females.  With so many birds in our trees, it is a very noisy, busy time!

When the little dull greyish-beige females are satisfied with the nest, they mate and she lays a little blue egg.  Within a few weeks the baby hatches and both parents fly to and fro to feed the hungry baby.

And then, after several noisy months, the weavers leave.  Only a few stragglers and newbies stay, building nests and singing for attention.

Now, and then nests and egg shells fall.  We’ve even seen little babies on the ground after stormy winds.

All these details make for an excellent nature study.

This week, a particularly lovely nest fell and we could sit and sketch it.

My little 8-year-old painted her sketch:

I took my time and sketched a really detailed nest.

We are enjoying our December school break and I have found that the girls have not taken part in the Sketch Tuesday assignments.  I am glad that we have still enjoyed our time outdoors doing nature study.


Nature Journal ~ baby Robins in a nest

It is spring/ summer here in the Cape.

Cape Weavers noisily build nests and raise their chicks in almost every tree in our garden.

Swallows, Wagtails, Sunbirds and Sparrows feed often at our feeder or fly about in the garden.

Charlotte Mason said,

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature diary is a source of delight to a child.

Every day’s walk gives him something to enter.”

This week we came across a tiny nest in one of our hay bales in the open shed.  The bale was low enough for my youngest to easily peer into.

Two tiny eggs were in the small nest.

We were thrilled when a day later, the chicks hatched.

With excited shrieks, the girls ran to tell me.

I grabbed my camera and our new nature study bags.

Quietly we approached.

Keeping our distance we peeped at the fluffy, fragile little birds.

Miss. K whispered a few little whistle calls and both heads popped up with beaks open wide.

I took some photos and we withdrew to see if the mother bird would come feed her babies, but she flitted about in a nearby tree, but wouldn’t come while we were still there.

So, we moved even further away and opened our nature journals and described what we saw.

My 8-year-old drew the picture of the chick and painted her sketch.  She and I both studied the photo on the camera to see some details.  (Oh the joys of a digital camera!  It is so good to zoom in on a photo!)

My 11-year-old sketched her nest and chicks in pencil and then wrote some really detailed observations.  She related her experiences with a moving conclusion, “I love those birds!”

What a wonderful time outdoors in summer.  God’s creation is truly marvellous!

(Oh, since then, the birds are bigger and have more feathers.  We will visit with our nature journals each week and keep notes.  It will make a really excellent study.)

What wonderful nature study moments did you all have this summer?