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 Weekly Photo Challenge:  Treasure Continue reading Treasures: A Nature Basket

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! 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, thousands of families will head outdoors for a night of … Continue reading Fun! Great American Backyard Campout

Three Classic Backyard Games: Fun For Kids and Adults

It can be tough to find outdoor games that are truly fun for both children and adults.  Here are three of our family favorites….  Croquet, Bocce, and Cornhole.  My brother and his wife always have these games set up when they have parties at their home.  So fun! Croquet I grew up playing Croquet in the backyard of the home I grew up in.  It … Continue reading Three Classic Backyard Games: Fun For Kids and Adults

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

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 You may also enjoy this post:  Search for Snails Continue reading Rainy Day Fun: Snail Watching

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 (www.theyoungscientistclub.com).   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

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 every young Jedi need an evil Sith to fight with?.  … Continue reading Outdoor Play: Lightsaber Battle

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

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

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

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 we found… Leaves just beginning to change colors. Baby 2-inch-long … Continue reading First Signs of Fall

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 goldfinches were quickly flying away!  I thought this was cool … Continue reading Finch Fun

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 design from the beginner category. As stated in the instructions, … Continue reading Make Paper Airplanes!

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 us, too, joining us on our daily outdoor adventures.  So … Continue reading Simple Outdoor Play: Take an Indoor Toy Outside

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

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, we spent the next TWO HOURS sitting in the yard, … Continue reading Tea Party!

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

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 provide nectar.  Several varieties of Salvia (commonly known as sage) … Continue reading Bring on the Butterflies…

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 camping, swimming, rafting, and hiking. I wish I knew what … Continue reading Simple Outdoor Play: Take Inside Toys Outside

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

Creating our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Four, Homes for Wildlife

We’re on the final step of creating our backyard wildlife habitat! For those of you who don’t already know, we’re following the guidelines provided by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in their Certified Wildlife Habitat program. So far, we have completed the following steps: Provide food Supply water Create cover The final step is to give wildlife a place to raise their young. The guidelines … Continue reading Creating our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Four, Homes for Wildlife

Creating our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Three, Create Cover

Today was day three of working towards making our backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat, per the guidelines provided by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). So far, we’ve completed step 1 (provide food) and step two (supply water).  Our focus today? Create cover for wildlife. This step in the certification process requires that a backyard has two types of cover for wildlife, selected from the … Continue reading Creating our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Three, Create Cover

Creating Our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Two, Supply Water

For those of you who are following us, you know that yesterday my son and I started to create a wildlife habitat in our backyard, following the guidelines set by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Yesterday our focus was on providing food sources for wildlife. Today, we worked on step two… supply water for wildlife. Certification requires that the backyard provide one water source, selected … Continue reading Creating Our Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Step Two, Supply Water