Here’s a super simple way to bring a little bit of nature indoors and teach kids a bit about ecosystems. Make a terrarium out of a jar from the recycling bin (we used a salsa jar) and a bit of moss and tiny plants from a shady area of your yard or nearby natural area.
This project is from the August 2019 issue of Wild Kids Magazine, a free printable nature magazine I put out for kids and their grown ups.
Fiona’s terrarium lived happily on our piano for nearly a year before it had withered enough to consign it to the compost pile and recycling bin. Don’t forget to mist it occasionally if it seems to be drying out a bit, and it can last much longer.
Have you and your kiddos ever made spore prints? It’s easy to do and so fun — not to mention a bit educational!
Miss Fiona and I made some spore prints this month from wild mushrooms that big sister Rhiannon (Anna to you old time readers) found while hiking in the woods with our dog, Moose. The oyster mushrooms made white spore prints that looked beautiful on black construction paper, while the mysterious others (tentatively identified by hubby but I forgot what he thought they were) gave us some brown and grayish ones.
Spore prints from other mushrooms can be green, pink and more!
Mushroom hunters use spore prints to identify mushrooms, but they’re also just really fun to make.
I put instructions on how to make them in this month’s Wild Kids Magazine, a free nature magazine that I’ve been putting out this year. You can read it and find out more about spore prints there. Make sure to talk to kids about mushroom safety, and wash hands afterwards.
Have a magical week!
Here’s a fun little science and nature craft just in time for Halloween. The kids and I made shrunken apple heads this month and it’s been great fun watching them change over time.
All you need are some apples (we used imperfect ones off a generous neighbor’s tree), salt and lemon juice.
First peel your apples. You can leave a little on the top and bottom like a little hat and scarf.
Then give your child some carving tools (a chopstick, grapefruit spoon or pen knife all work well, depending on your child’s age and skill level with tools). You can trace your design first with a pen or pencil, if you like.
Carve out a face, making sure to make each feature large since they will shrink up and collapse somewhat.
Then mix up some salt and lemon juice and apply it all over, especially in the parts you’ve carved out. This will prevent mold and also protect them from getting too brown. If you like, you can talk to the kids about how salt has been used for thousands of years to preserve foods and other things, and how acids like lemon juice slow oxidation (browning caused by a chemical reaction when substances react with oxygen).
Now just put your apple heads somewhere to dry. Choose a location where you can watch them and keep up with how they change.
Have you seen this colorful science experiment yet? Two of my friends have recommended it now and I can’t wait to do it with my kiddos. Fun! 🙂
Here’s a fun little science craft we got from a library book and did the other day. All you need are a couple of empty plastic bottles, some tape and string, and it makes a really fun toy that happens to teach a scientific principle while it’s at it!
I put the instructions here, along with a little video of one of ours in action and a slide show of the steps.
Here’s some cold weather ideas courtesy of All the DAZE. Some are old favorites around here and some are brand new to me. I’m going to see if we can do some this week to make use of all of the cold we have around here. 🙂
* Add food coloring to water. Freeze into ice cubes and bring outside to use in snow.
* Color the snow with spray bottles filled with water and food coloring.
* Fill plastic container lids with water and tissue paper. Add a string and freeze until solid. Hand in a tree and watch them melt and drip on a warm day!
* Freeze blocks of ice and let the children spray them with warm colored salt water. Watch the crevasses and holes the water makes in the ice.
* Add colored ice cubes to warm water.
* Use a scale and weigh ice, water and snow.
* Pour sprite into a clean ice cube tray. Place one jellybean per cube holder. Freeze and see what happens.
And I had to share these pictures from yesterday…
Yes, we did get a wee bit of snow!
Here’s Jack helping Alex up into our front yard. 🙂
Stay warm, chickadees!
Kids got any leftover Halloween candy yet?
Want to use Pixy Stix to test for acids?
Do M&M and Skittles chromatography?
Make sparks with wintergreen Lifesavers?
Head over to this wonderful site for lots of fun experiments!
Do you end up with a billion windows up
for things you want to read, do and get back to
when you surf the web?
Here’s 10 links that have slowed down my browsing lately. 🙂
1. Books for Treats encourages folks to hand out books instead of candy.
My mother did that when I was a kid.
I was so embarrassed.
The kids were always thrilled.
Even the big kids.
2. I just wrote an article about MilkShare
and think it is one of the niftiest organizations ever.
They match up moms with extra breast milk
with moms whose babies need it.
You can look for moms in your town or ship it
(recipients pay the costs).
What a fantastic way to use extra milk
and help a baby thrive. 🙂
3. I love the idea of using some of our new pumpkin puree
to make these pumpkin pancakes. Yum!
4. I want to make this monster flesh with the kids tomorrow.
It looks super fun
(especially when you pour vinegar on it!)
and there’s no Borax in it.
Most of you know how I feel about having children play with Borax.
Be sure to read the "why it works" page!
5. Necco Wafers are going all natural.
I’m all for any candies that don’t have artificial dyes and flavors!
They’re fun for making gingerbread houses too.
6. Speaking of candy, I wrote up
10 things to do with extra Halloween candy.
I’ve been told that there’s no such thing
as extra Halloween candy
but I’m all for at least finding another use for the stuff nobody really likes. 🙂
7. These sweet felt tissue cases from Martha Stewart
look like such a great holiday gift for the kids to make!
Victoria wants to make some ASAP.
8. Okay, another pumpkin recipe,
this time for pumpkin spice cookies.
What is it about fall that makes me pumpkin crazy?
It’s written for vegans and non, too.
9. I’m dyeing to do this fun craft with the kids soon. 😉
10. Look at these gorgeous leaves!
We have to do this craft too.
Wouldn’t they look lovely in a window?
And with that, chickadees, I’m off to bring two bowls of ice cream
to bed with my sweetie.
Any sites clogging up all your browser windows lately?
Got any ladybug lovers at your house? How about bug catchers? Photographers? Scientists? Kids with any of the above interests might want to take part in the Lost Ladybug Project.
Researchers at Cornell University are collecting photographs and data from helpers all over to try to find more information about our dwindling population of native 9 spotted ladybugs (and even more rare 2 spotted ladybugs).
They have all the information on their site about how to find them, collect them, photograph them, submit your data and return them to the wild. You can also get some nifty teaching materials, download a ladybug song (with lots of ladybug info!), see the map of where they’ve been found so far and lots more.
If fireflies are more your speed (and you just want to count them), check out Firefly Watch too, plus lots of other nature projects that could use your help.
Here’s a quick and inexpensive way to rig up some fun for your little guys, courtesy of the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum. Rig up an easy ramp with a length of gutter and then use it to roll balls, cars and other toys down.
You can change the slant to see if the objects go faster or farther, and you can rig up super sized marble-type runs if you join some up. We were even doing side by side races!
I’d suggest finishing off the ends with a bit of electrical tape or duct tape, since I noticed they were a bit jagged.
You may even be able to get some gutters free off of Freecycle.
My boys had a blast with these super simple creations!