Thursday, September 6, 2012

Outdoor Hour Challenge #1

Yesterday we had our first emotional roller coaster. I felt it, too. I was tiring of the textbooks and itching for something more fun.

This morning we decided to go on a nature walk to enjoy the quiet of the morning, reconnect with nature, and let the world be our classroom.

I am much inspired by the Handbook of Nature Study Blog and followed their guidelines for an outdoor hour challenge. After reading the first twenty pages of The Handbook of Nature Study (available for free here), I printed a blank nature journal that the Handbook of Nature Study blog offers FOR FREE.

I asked Aidyn to create a challenge, and he chose a "no talking" nature walk. We laid some ground rules (our poor attempt at sign language was acceptable, do this ::waves hands erratically:: if you hear something we should record, nearly poke yourself in the eye if you see something you want to record, and if someone we pass talks to us we may talk to them.)

And we were off.

It took Aidyn exactly five seconds to find something both alive and slimy.

He decided to bring his new friend along.

We jotted down a bunch of stuff we saw and heard, communicating it all in our terrible sign language.

We also found some weird brown seed pod something-or-other that had fallen from a mystery tree. We took it back home for dissection and to try and figure out if we could identify the tree.

The answer is no. We were not able to. But we did learn some thing about leaf types! And we learned and recorded the latin name for snails and that they can live for 20 years!

Using a corkscrew to crack it open.

We returned to the mystery tree to bring back a branch and leaf sample, but we had zero luck.

The tree who remains unidentified.

But we did find an adorable and cuddly cat.

Enjoying nature in the morning created a completely different child than the one I taught yesterday. His attitude was positive, he was engaged in every task, and he seemed more relaxed. Activities that went well include:

  • third reading of The Day of Ahmed's Secret while paying extra attention to the art throughout the book.
  • watercoloring (Aidyn a kaleidoscope and me a sunset behind Mt. Diablo-- or pyramids, as Aidyn called them)
  • sight word/tower building game (We cycle through sight words on flashcards. If he reads it correctly, I stack a block; if he doesn't, he stacks a block. First person whose tower of blocks falls loses. I lost four times.)
  • math lesson on number lines and worksheet
  • reading of Story of the World on Two Kingdoms become One. He was so disappointed that the Red Crown king lost and that King Narmer became king of Egypt. Aidyn, it was 5,000 years ago. It's cool.
  • map coloring of Egypt and bonus points for coloring the Nile River "up" northward, in the direction it flows.
  • coloring a small picture of King Narmer for our timeline.
  • plowing through the last three chapters of The Magic Treehouse: Mummies in the Morning.
  • coloring "stained glass" pictures (Aidyn- King Tut, Me- Cleopatra)


  1. I loved reading about your challenge hour and I think it is so cool that you developed your own sign language for it! I might have to steal your tower building game to use for letter sounds.

  2. Thank you! I first heard of the sight word tower game on The Secular Homeschool Forums, and it has proved very effective for my hands-on learner.