You are probably wondering why I am going back to Outdoor Hour Challenge #7, when I have been up-to-date on most of the challenges and we are currently at Challenge #49. Well, Barb at the Handbook of Nature Study blog has just come out with an all new Outdoor Hour ebook and she asked me to test drive it to see what I thought! I actually had not done Challenge #7: Making Your Own Field Guide before, so this was the perfect time to complete it. I cannot say enough good things about her new Outdoor Hour ebook. Although in includes the first 10 challenges and these challenges are on her blog, and you can get them there, she has included in her Outdoor Hour ebook lots of extras. She gives pages of examples of how her family completed the challenges, and has added tons of extra idea of how to extend the challenges. It is all done in her very approachable step-by-step style.
So, let me tell you how the challenge went for our family using the Outdoor Hour ebook. We had already planned to participate in the Great Bird Count, so I used this opportunity to complete Challenge #7. Barb suggests for this challenge to turn to the table of contents of the Handbook of Nature Study (HNS) and pick a subject section to read about before your nature walk that is in your focus area. I thought about what birds we might encounter in the area we were going and I decided that it was likely that I would come across the Canadian Goose. I looked in the HNS and found the heading, "Wild Geese." In this section are fourteen points that you can have in your mind to share with your students when you go out.
We then took our nature walk and we spent only about 15 minutes since it was very windy that day. We did find large groups of geese, but they were at a distance. We talked some about what the identifying features of all the birds we saw and some about a few of the points about geese, particularly about the physical features we could see. These were things I probably would not have thought of to share with my children if I had not read in the HNS ahead of time.
Back at home, I made copies of the notebook pages that were included in the Outdoor Hour Ebook for each child. They drew pictures of what was important to them about the experience. Sam drew a picture of a beachy area where he found a shell that he fell in love with. Alex drew the area in which he found a cattail that he enjoyed. James drew a picture of the area with the geese. They each drew their own unique impressions of the same day! I don't usually use pre-printed notebooking pages because I think it limits freedom, but I was surprised to find that my kids loved it. They liked filling in the blanks, which were open-ended enough not to be just a fill-on-the-blank exercise. They could fill them in their own unique style, putting what they feel is important in. It also had some spaces to fill in what the season is and what the weather was on that day. These are good things to include in each entry, but are sometimes forgotten. Using these sheets for younger students helps them to get in the habit of including this type of information on the entries.
But we are not done yet! Barb also includes full-color step-by-step instructions on how each child can make their own field guide of what birds they see themselves. We saw only three types of birds in our bird watching session, so it was easy to make the cards for all three. I printed out photos of these birds (Canada Goose, Herring Gull and Turkey Vulture) and they glued them to cardstock and wrote about them on the back of the card. These cards can then be laminated and put on a ring. These can be added to regularly and actually be used as a field guide. This way the student can connect their experiences with a physical thing, and you can be sure that this field guide will include the things the children can find!
Like I said before, I cannot say enough good things about her Outdoor Hour Ebook, and I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who have always wanted to include Nature Study in their schedule but didn't know how. Barb makes it so easy! To see my full review, click here.