La Brea Tar Pits: Page Museum

Over the holidays, we made the trek down to Los Angeles to visit family.  As soon as my son heard we were going to LA, he screamed excitedly, “can we go to the La Brea Tar Pits??”  I thought for sure, his first interest would be Legoland, but, luckily for us, he didn’t bring it up, since that wasn’t part or our plans.  Also lucky … Continue reading La Brea Tar Pits: Page Museum

Mono Lake: Panum Crater

Due to the government shutdown during our visit to Yosemite National Park last week, we decided to head over to Mono Lake and hike the rim of a volcano instead!  Panum Crater, located just off Highway 120 near the South Tufa Area of the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, is part of a chain of volcanic cones called the Mono-Inyo Craters.   These are considered to … Continue reading Mono Lake: Panum Crater

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 solar energy experiment. First, we built the solar oven provided … Continue reading Solar Cooking Science: Melting Marshmallows

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.  The kit comes with eight different kinds of crystals, hidden … Continue reading Geology for Kids: Crystal Mining Excavation Kit

Fun with Magnets: Geomag

We’ve used some fun magnet science kits in the past, but the way my son likes to play with magnets best is through building toys.  We have three different kinds… Magna-Tiles, Magformers, and Geomag. I credit my son’s strong understanding of geometric shapes to playing with these magnetic toys. Geomag building kits come with magnetic rods and steel balls that can be combined to build … Continue reading Fun with Magnets: Geomag

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

Paleontology Play: Dinosaur Skeleton Excavation Kit – Velociraptor

My son has played with a few of these kits in the past, and he absolutely LOVES them.  This one, Dinosaur Skeleton Excavation Kit:  Velociraptor,  is made by 4M Kidz Labs, and it was exactly what my son was hoping it would be…. a plastic dinosaur skeleton hidden in a block of plaster.  The kit came with a plastic digging tool and a brush.  In … Continue reading Paleontology Play: Dinosaur Skeleton Excavation Kit – Velociraptor

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

Paleontology Play: The Magic School Bus Fossil Science Kit

For those of you with kids in the 5-12 age-range, I highly recommend you check out The Magic School Bus Science Club, offered through The Young Scientist Club (   By joining the club, you’ll receive twelve Magic School Bus science kits, one mailed each month of the year.  The cost is about $240/year, but you might be able to find a 50% off membership … Continue reading Paleontology Play: The Magic School Bus Fossil Science Kit

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

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

Rockin’ Experiment 2: Make a Sedimentary Sandwich

This the second in our three-part exploration of rocks.  I’m teaching my 5-year-old about the three kinds of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic), what they are made of, and how they are created.  All three science experiments are being conducted in the kitchen.  Today, we’re learning about sedimentary rocks. *** First, discuss with your child what sedimentary rock is made out of… mud, sand, and … Continue reading Rockin’ Experiment 2: Make a Sedimentary Sandwich

Rockin’ Experiment 1: A Lava-licious Igneous Meltdown

I found each of the experiments in this three-part geology series for young kids in the book, Kindergarten Success,  by Jill Frankel Hauser. The first, from the book, is “Igneous Meltdown”, an exploration in how magma (rock melted deep in the earth from heat and pressure) flows out of the earth as lava, which, as it cools and hardens, becomes igneous rock. Note… this experiment … Continue reading Rockin’ Experiment 1: A Lava-licious Igneous Meltdown

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!

Going on a Bug Hunt

While my husband was warming up for his bike race on Saturday (see post here… Cyclo-Cross, Monterey Style), my son recommended we follow one of the nearby trails and go bug hunting.  Excellent idea!  We keep exploration tools (bug viewer, magnifying glass) with us at all times, so we’re ready to go whenever inspiration strikes. Photos taken on Saturday, September 22nd, on the frisbee golf … Continue reading Going on a Bug Hunt

Craft: Egg Carton Rock Collection

A couple weeks ago, Let’s Go Chipper posted instructions about how to create a box for storing a rock collection from a recycled egg carton.  Perfect!  My son collects rocks everywhere we go.  So we made the storage container this week… Interested in doing this with your child?  You’ll find the instructions here…  Chipper Recycle Crafts:  Egg Carton Rock Collection Have fun! Continue reading Craft: Egg Carton Rock Collection

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

Solar Oven S’Mores

Yesterday afternoon, we attended a festival held by the East Bay Regional Park District at Shadow Cliffs in celebration of the Transit 0f Venus. While checking out the sun through the telescopes was pretty cool, the highlight for my son (other than playing in the trees with his friends) was making s’mores in a pizza box solar oven.  These ovens can heat up to 200 … Continue reading Solar Oven S’Mores

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

Paleontology Play! Dinosaur Digging

We’ve been staying home a lot this past week while my son’s been sick with a cold. One afternoon, he asked, “Can I dig for dinosaurs in the backyard?” We have a section of the yard that isn’t landscaped, so that was perfectly fine with me. Dinosaur digging can be done in a patch of dirt in your backyard, in a sandbox, at the beach, … Continue reading Paleontology Play! Dinosaur Digging