“Make this summer a time to learn a little something new about your world. Finding time for these challenges will help this summer be one that your child will not only learn something new but make special seasonal memories for a lifetime.” – Barbara McCoy

Lightening bugs. Frogs. Raccoons. Owls. Mosquitoes. Ants. Trees. Weather. Even bats.

That’s what we’ve studied this summer. Just about once a week, we deliberately studied nature. But really. The children and I didn’t think of it as study. It was our summer fun. To take notice right when everything is growing, blooming and croaking.

Back in the winter, I was inspired by Angie to begin Outdoor Hour Challenges. She and her boys just have such a great time! Compared to her family and many others we are new to this.

We started small. About one, maybe two studies a month. Just simple studies of daily things in our own backyard.

We got into a routine. Kerri had mentioned she and her family do just ‘one more thing’ together after lunch. So I took that idea. Whenever the fancy struck, I gathered our field guides. I put them in a pile in the middle of the kitchen table. While the children ate lunch I read the excerpt from the Handbook of Nature Study.  We’d push back, leave the lunch dishes and forge out into… the backyard!

With practice, it became easy. When we first started I didn’t even have the suggested text, I just pulled from what we had. See, I’ve always loved nature. Oh, I really love birds.

Gardening. It’s in my blood. Fair-skinned, hate-to-sweat girl that I am. And, oh, the wonderful things I’ve learned myself. Not only about God’s creation but about simply spending this precious time with my children. This. This is what was lacking in our day-to-day. In our homeschool.

I’m not sure why I originally found it difficult to add nature study in on top of what we were already doing. Maybe it was the busyness of a growing family, needs of toddlers and the fumbling of fractions.

This answer sort of came about on its own. By just stepping outside. By practicing. Seeing what we might need.  Figuring out which weekday is easier. Or when the weather might be better. And throwing in a bit of spontaneity. Plus mixing in the encouragement of the Handbook of Nature Study community – all the other families enjoying the same type discoveries. Of course, topped off by the gentle nudges and examples by blog owner and hostess, Barb-Harmony Art Mom.

Before we knew it these studies found their way into our routine once a week. “What are we studying this week Mama?” I rolled in our science text along with our topic.

All of the challenges are offered free of charge but ebooks are available for purchase. Notebook pages all ready. Challenges in a pdf. Print it so you are ready to go. The summer… stretched ahead and we had only to enjoy nature.

“Where do you get these pages? the eldest asked. I explained. “How do you know how to pull out that storybook to go with it? How did you know that there is a close up photo of a lightening bug in that book?” Practice. Using and enjoying what we have. Finding out what works.

Now, all our science texts, field guides, binoculars, nature notebooks and journals are housed in a bookcase. Right next to the kitchen table. So it’s easy. Easy to go outside, leave the rest for later. Easy to grab what we need and step out the back door.

And even easier to delight.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned how nature studies led to art

I encourage you to make a deliberate habit to delight. Simple studies, right in your own backyard, will enrich your lives more than you know.

There’s still more than a month worth of summer studies to join in on. Then fall… always new or past studies to jump in on. Click Handbook of Nature Study.

Interested in more? Click over to any of our nature studies at Hodgepodge.

Harmony Art Mom also hosts the weekly Sketch Tuesday. (Another habit we’ve started! 🙂 )