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Treasures: A Nature Basket

My son collects soooo many sticks, rocks, feathers, nuts, and other cool stuff during our outings that his “treasures” have become a bit overwhelming.  In order to provide a space for his favorite discoveries, I gave him a basket.  We call it his “nature basket”, and it’s where the best finds are kept. *** WordPress…

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Birding: American Kestrel

I’ve been spending a lot of time at home lately with my son, who’s now sick with his third cold (flu?) in four weeks.  Today we had to get out for some fresh air.  At around lunchtime, we heard our local Great Horned Owl hoo-hooing.  I know it isn’t a typical night-time owl walk, but…

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Solar Cooking Science: Melting Marshmallows

We had a bit of fun on Friday afternoon, melting marshmallows to make s’mores, using the Thames & Kosmos Solar Cooking Science kit. After a week of higher than 100 degree Fahrenheit heat, the weather finally cooled down to a high of 80 degrees on Friday…. cool enough for us to head outside for a…

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Geology for Kids: Crystal Mining Excavation Kit

My son recently received the 4M Kidz Labs Crystal Mining science kit for his birthday.  He LOVES these excavation kits (see this post about a similar kit, also made by 4M.. Paleontology Play:  Dinosaur Skeleton Excavation Kit – Velociraptor). My son is super into rocks and minerals these days, so this was a timely gift. …

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Fun! Great American Backyard Campout

The Great American Backyard Campout is coming up on June 22nd, 2013. It’s time to start planning now! What is the Great American Backyard Campout? It’s an event created by the National Wildlife Federation and their “Be Out There” campaign to reconnect kids with nature and the outdoors. On the 4th Saturday of every June,…

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Observe: Insect Activity

What cool insect, arachnid (spider), or mollusk (snail) activity can you find around your yard? Has your child watched a spider spin a web? How about ants marching along on a mission? What about a snail eating a plant? Give your child the time and space to observe these small creatures in their natural environment……

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Rainy Day Fun: Snail Watching

After a night of rain, my son usually rushes outside to see if any snails came out.  He found this one yesterday morning on our front walkway.  He crouched there and watched it for about fifteen minutes, then rushed inside to tell me all the cute things the snail did. Photos taken March 28th, 2013…

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Little House in the Big Woods…

I started reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my son before bed last night. I was afraid it would be too much of a “girl” book for him to find it interesting, but, so far, I’ve been proven wrong. The first chapters have been primarily describing what life was…

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Outdoor Play: Lightsaber Battle

My son asked for one thing from Santa this year… a lightsaber.  A blue lightsaber, to be exact, so he could be just like Luke Skywalker.  Santa must’ve thought two lightsabers might be more fun, as, in addition to the blue lightsaber, he also brought a red one (like the one Darth Vader uses).  Doesn’t…

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Rockin’ Experiment 3: Make Metamorphic Cookies

The final project in our three-part geology series, tailored for early elementary aged kids, is about metamorphic rocks.  The focus of this experiment is to show “rocks” can change through heat, compression, and time.  The “rocks” in this project are actually cookies.  We made cookies, making some observations about the “minerals” (ingredients) we put into…

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Project FeederWatch

As I wrote the other day (Let’s Count Stars!), we enjoy participating in citizen science projects.  It’s a fun way to contribute to scientific research and learn about science at the same time.  I wrote earlier in the week about participating in the Great World Wide Star Count.  Perhaps stargazing isn’t your thing, but you’d…

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First Signs of Fall

Yesterday, I wrote about taking your child out on walk to look for signs of Autumn (Take a “Signs of Fall” Walk).  I didn’t feel the seasons changing yet as I wrote the post, but decided to head out for a walk around our neighborhood with my 5-year-old after I wrote the article.  Here’s what…

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Finch Fun

Yesterday morning, my son was quietly building with his Lincoln Logs when he happily exclaimed, “Look, Mommy, a goldfinch!  There’s a goldfinch at the feeder!”  Now I had to run to the window to check it out, because I honestly can’t remember ever having any yellow birds in our backyard.  My son was correct.  Two…

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Make Paper Airplanes!

I found a fun website that offers a bunch of different paper airplane designs available for free download (www.funpaperairplanes.com).   The site offers fifteen different designs, rated by difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, novelty).  Each design provides a template (ready for folding, and cutting, if necessary) and directions.  We decided to try out the “Condor”, a…

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Simple Outdoor Play: Take an Indoor Toy Outside

My son has a new favorite toy… an adorable stuffed animal he has named Foxy. Not only has my son slept with this plush every night since receiving it last week (a first for my child… he’s never shown interest in sleeping with a stuffed animal before), but the little guy has been traveling with…

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Tea Party!

Did you know boys enjoy tea parties, too? Friday afternoon, my son walked downstairs carrying his tea set and suggested we have a tea party in the backyard. Well, why not? We cleaned up the dishes, I made us some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and he set the table outside. Believe it or not,…

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Bring on the Butterflies…

After tons of research, I finally decided what to plant in our yard to attract butterflies.  As you may know, we’ve been creating a backyard wildlife habit, following the guidelines set forth by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). My first goal in creating our butterfly garden was to add plants to our yard that will…

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Simple Outdoor Play: Take Inside Toys Outside

Simplest of outdoor play… let your child take their inside toys outside.  My only constraint?  I don’t allow toys with small pieces that can get lost (Lego‘s) or items that can roll under the deck (Marble Run, Hot Wheels).  When I was a kid, I loved to take my Barbies outside.  They would frequently go…

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Gardening with Grandpa

Over the weekend, we went to Sacramento to help my parents plant their vegetable garden.  The garden has historically been my mom’s project.  However, as my parents have become older (they are now entering their 80′s), the yard work has become more difficult for them.  My mom uses a walker, and getting down to the…