Animal Fun! Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward

I’ve been wanting to write about the Sulphur Creek Nature Center for a long time now.  When my son was two and three, we visited the center regularly for their awesome toddler wildlife classes (for 1-3 year-olds).  I found it was the best place in the San Francisco East Bay to give my son hands-on wildlife experiences.  In each class, the children are introduced to … Continue reading Animal Fun! Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward

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… your back yard. Here’s my five-year-old, completely fascinated, watching a … Continue reading Observe: Insect Activity

Kid Science: Make a Seed Viewer

Seeds… how incredible that plants of all sizes can grow from such a tiny thing.  If you’ve gardened with a young child, you’ve witnessed their fascination and wonder at the mystery of plants.  To give your child the opportunity to actually witness the growth of a plant from the first roots shooting out of the seed to ultimately pushing through the surface of the dirt, … Continue reading Kid Science: Make a Seed Viewer

Kid Science: Owl Pellet Dissection

Owls are fascinating creatures.  They have a special organ (gizzard) that stores the undigestible parts of their prey, preventing these parts (bones, teeth, fur, feathers) from proceeding through the digestive tract.  The gizzard compresses these parts into a pellet which is later regurgitated.  This is a pretty simplistic explanation.  If you’d like to learn more, check out this page from the website, The Owl Pages,… … Continue reading Kid Science: Owl Pellet Dissection

Great book! Friends of the Earth: A History of American Environmentalism

In preparation for Earth Day next month, I’m currently reading a wonderful book… Friends of the Earth:  A History of American Environmentalism by Pat McCarthy.   The book, written for children ages 9 and up,  introduces the efforts, struggles, and triumphs of men and women (scientists, artists, authors, naturalists) who dedicated their lives to protecting the United States’ natural heritage.  The author has also included twenty-one … Continue reading Great book! Friends of the Earth: A History of American Environmentalism

Citizen Science: FrogWatch 2013

As I sit here at my computer with the backdoor open to allow some fresh air into our home, I’m listening to the lovely sound of frogsong.  The chorus is coming from the creek on the other side of our backyard fence.  Up until today, we’ve only been hearing one frog at a time.  Suddenly, this afternoon,I can’t distinguish how many I hear.  Has the … Continue reading Citizen Science: FrogWatch 2013

More Fun with Animal Tracks

This past weekend, we attended a fun nature class at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.  This free class for children aged 5+ and their family, called Family Nature Hour, is held on Saturday afternoons throughout the year.  Each week a different concept from the natural world is covered.  The one we attended on Saturday was about animal tracks. We were fortunate to have the … Continue reading More Fun with Animal Tracks

Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center, located in Santa Cruz on the bluffs above the Monterey Bay, is a true gem.  Don’t expect the grandeur of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but be prepared for a smaller, quieter, more intimate experience here.  The location is phenomenal.  On a clear day, the views can’t be beat. Inside the center, children will actually have time to experience the touch … Continue reading Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz

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 them. *** Here’s what you’ll need:  A cookie recipe (with … Continue reading Rockin’ Experiment 3: Make Metamorphic Cookies

It’s Earth Science Week!

Earth Science Week is going on right now, this week, October 14th-20th.  This international “event” is put on by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) “to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth.”  Sounds like a great time to teach our kids a bit about the earth! Not sure where to start?  We’re … Continue reading It’s Earth Science Week!

Devils Postpile National Monument

If you’re ever in the Eastern Sierras near Mammoth Lakes, you’ve gotta check out Devils Postpile.  This place is incredible, and unlike anywhere else I’ve visited in California.  The only other place I can personally compare it to is the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland.  Both places have these fascinating basalt hexagonal columns.  You have to see them to truly appreciate them. What’s so special … Continue reading Devils Postpile National Monument

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 still like to take part in a project.  Well, here’s … Continue reading Project FeederWatch

Let’s Count Stars!

I’m always on the lookout for citizen science projects that would be fun to do with my son.  I believe it’s a great way to teach science and get kids involved in a real-life project.  Of course, this isn’t just for kids!  Participating in citizen science projects is a wonderful way for people of all ages to contribute to scientific research. For kids (or adults) … Continue reading Let’s Count Stars!

Environmentalism for Kids: Clean up the Neighborhood

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know my son loves to take walks around the neighborhood to pick up trash.  It’s a great, age-appropriate way to introduce young kids to helping the environment. Interested in doing this with your child?  It’s about as easy as it gets.  I have him put on a rubber gloves to protect … Continue reading Environmentalism for Kids: Clean up the Neighborhood

Top 5 Nature Activity Books for Families

Looking for a book filled with activities and advice to help you get into nature with your kids?  I’ve listed five of my favorites here.  I refer to these often in my daily outdoor activities with my now 5-year-old, and have been using a couple of these books since he was two or three.  While it’s important to provide children with lots of free playtime … Continue reading Top 5 Nature Activity Books for Families

Take a “Signs of Fall” Walk

Saturday is the first day of Autumn.  While it doesn’t quite feel like fall yet here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I know the seasons will begin to change soon.  This is a great time to head outdoors with your child to look for the first signs of fall.  This walk can be taken just about anywhere… around your neighborhood, through your local park, … Continue reading Take a “Signs of Fall” Walk

Fun Kid Hike: Kule Loklo Trail, Point Reyes

One of our goals this summer was to take our son to see a lighthouse.  There are a few in the Bay Area, but my favorite has always been the Point Reyes Lighthouse (see my post from yesterday:  “Point Reyes Lighthouse“).   My husband and I wanted to slip in a short hike during the outing to expend some energy after the long (to our … Continue reading Fun Kid Hike: Kule Loklo Trail, Point Reyes

Too hot? Too rainy? Head to the Rock Gym!

Looking for nature-oriented indoor fun to do on a too-hot or a rainy day?  Try the local rock climbing gym!  We started taking our son when he was four.    It’s a great way to burn some energy, strengthen that upper body, and let the kids go crazy climbing in a safe environment.  My son loves the bouldering walls! At Valley Rock Climbing Gym, Livermore Continue reading Too hot? Too rainy? Head to the Rock Gym!

Connect with Nature: Find Your Sit Spot

I’m currently reading the book, What the Robin Knows:  How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World, by Jon Young, which is about awakening our awareness of the behavior of birds in order to deepen our connection with all the wildlife surrounding us.  Ultimately, the author is helping us to reconnect with our own animal senses, teaching us to be one with wildlife instead … Continue reading Connect with Nature: Find Your Sit Spot

Strawberry Picking Fun! Swanton Berry Farm U-Pik

As part of our annual summer camping trip to Butano State Park, our tradition is to go strawberry picking at our favorite organic u-pik farm, Swanton Berry Farm, located just south of Pescadero (or north of Santa Cruz).  This is an easy day trip from the Bay Area, and great to incorporate into a visit to Ano Nuevo State Park or Pigeon Point Lighthouse. What’s … Continue reading Strawberry Picking Fun! Swanton Berry Farm U-Pik

Monarchs! Butterfly & Bird Festival, Coyote Hills, Fremont

This morning we attended the 13th Annual Butterfly and Bird Festival, held at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.  We’ve attended this event the past two years, too, and this just may be my son’s favorite festival.  It’s kind of funny, since my son isn’t usually into doing crafty type activities, but he absolutely LOVES the ones offered at this festival. Maybe it’s the theme?  … Continue reading Monarchs! Butterfly & Bird Festival, Coyote Hills, Fremont

Exploring the Ringtail Cat Trail, Las Trampas, Alamo

Another great Outdoor Discoveries outing!  Today, the naturalist took the kids up the Ringtail Cat Trail into Las Trampas Regional Park for a “beanstalk lunch hike” to learn about vines.  This is another of my favorite trails in the area, especially on a hot summer day, as the trail winds above a creek through a beautiful shade-covered canyon.  Here are a few of the cool … Continue reading Exploring the Ringtail Cat Trail, Las Trampas, Alamo

Nectar Garden Fun, Coyote Hills

Nectar Garden Fun Day As many of you already know, we’re in the process of creating a butterfly garden in our backyard.  So I couldn’t resist attending the Nectar Garden Fun Day with my son yesterday morning at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont.  This is one of my favorite parks in the East Bay, with a boardwalk through the marsh, hills to climb, hiking … Continue reading Nectar Garden Fun, Coyote Hills

Birding with Kids, Shadow Cliffs, Pleasanton

Since the week my son turned three, we’ve been attending the East Bay Regional Parks Outdoor Discoveries program, a naturalist-led class designed specifically for three-five year-old children.  Each outing includes a hike and plenty of time for observation, exploration, and play.  To make the classes even more fun, I always invite friends from my Nature Time! playgroup to join us. Our class this morning was … Continue reading Birding with Kids, Shadow Cliffs, Pleasanton

“Awesome”… “Wow!”…

Quotes from my son while viewing the solar eclipse last evening at the Lawrence Hall of Science in the Berkeley hills… I figure he’ll be seventeen for the next solar eclipse… have to experience these moments while we can!! Related articles 40 Awesome Photos Of The Solar Eclipse (buzzfeed.com) Trans-Pacific ‘ring of fire’ eclipse wows sky-gazers – AsiaOne (asiaone.com) ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse Wows (newser.com) Continue reading “Awesome”… “Wow!”…

Learning About Bees: The Great Sunflower Project

We’ve been making progress in planting our butterfly garden, and now we’ve moved onto the next phase… bees! I’ve been researching citizen science programs that might be fun for me and my son to do together. I love the idea of being a citizen scientist, helping in our own way to assist real scientists by providing data collected from our own yard. The first one … Continue reading Learning About Bees: The Great Sunflower Project

The Kora… Outdoor Music at the Farmer’s Market

We try to attend at least one of our many local farmer’s market weekly. While our primary reason for a visit to the market is to purchase fresh, seasonal, local fruits and vegetables, what my son likes the best is the music. Each of the markets seems to have a different musician or band playing each week. This week, at the Thursday San Ramon Farmer’s … Continue reading The Kora… Outdoor Music at the Farmer’s Market

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 garden, as well as bending down to do the work, … Continue reading Gardening with Grandpa