Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

This is our newly planted pumpkin patch. It's our first attempt at growing pumpkins so we are quite excited. We have two different plants that are giant varieties and a few plants that produce mini pumpkins. With a bit of luck we will end up with at least a couple of orange beauties to decorate with this fall!

Last fall, my son was inspired to by a little friend who won a ribbon at the local fair for her pumpkin. He left her house either wanting to grow pumpkins or raise chickens, since she was keeping busy with both at the time. I eagerly suggested the pumpkins and snuffed out any crazy ideas of building a chicken coop.

I'm not sure we will produce anything blue ribbon worthy, but we are going to at least have fun trying!
Any pumpkin growing tips are encouraged.

Apple Blossoms

This morning it almost looked like we had snow again, but luckily it was just the blossoms falling off the apple tree!
The kids and I had fun scooping up blossoms and tossing them at one another!

We decided that we would take a photo of us by the apple tree in each season and then write a book about it. So this is our first in the series....Spring!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Worm Resources for Kids!

So maybe I should rename my blog "Worm Loving Kids" because I have been blogging mostly about worms lately!

My son is simply addicted to worm hunting. Today he was out in the woods gathering new worms to add to our garden. A neighbor walked by on the road and asked him what we was up to. My son said, "hunting for worms". The man said, "oh, you are getting ready to go fishing?"

Slightly stunned, my son answered, "No, I'm bringing worms to the garden!"

"Oh, the worms probably like that more, huh?" said the man. My son quickly replied, "Yes!" Then he clutched the bucket, walked into the yard where I was, and told me: "I guess some people just go fishing with these guys."

Another sweet memory made in nature!!!

Two new online resource I found for other earthworm fanatics: 

Earthworms Unit & Lapbook at the link:

Squirmin' Herman is a great site to explain earthworm anatomy and worm facts!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ladybug Rocks using Paint

One of my favorite decorations for my daughter's second birthday were the ladybug painted rocks.  They turned out really cute and literally cost next to nothing to make.

We found the rocks in our woods and washed them well. After drying for a couple of days, we spray painted them red. After that was dry, my son and I painted on black spots with acrylic paint. To create the face we added the largest wiggly eyes we could find and used pipe cleaners for the mouth and antenna.

My plan is to use them as decorations in the garden this summer. Likely the paint will slowly wear away, but I plan on spraying a clear coat to help protect it.

Worm Boxes

My son continues to be fascinated by earthworms, so I have been on the internet looking for fun facts and activities to learn more about earth worms. My best internet find so far is:

This link has a wonderful printable that explain how to make a worm box and a worm jar. The second page explains more details about worms.

He had fun making the worm box and even got to take his Grammy on 'worm hunt' to fill up his box. After it was made, we decided that the box would stay outside and we would keep checking on it. He decided to bury the box part way and when I asked why, he explained.  "So if any of the worms decide they want to live somewhere else they can crawl out!"

A fun little song to sing while worm hunting (or building your own worm box) is 'Wiggle Worm'!

“Wiggle Worm”
Have you ever seen a wiggle worm,
A wiggle worm, a wiggle worm?
Have you ever seen a wiggle worm
Go this way and that?
Go this way and that way,
Go this way and that way.
Have you ever seen a wiggle worm
Go this way and that?

Buggy Sensory Bin

I love having a new sensory bin for my kids to play with every couple of weeks. Unfortunately my (just turned) two year old daughter still puts everything in her mouth. This limits what I can put into my bins since I can't have small objects.

I found that shredded paper is a nice base and my daughter isn't interested in eating it! For our buggy sensory bin I used green shredded paper to look like grass, added silk flowers from a leftover arrangement, red flowers from a cut up lei, and lots of larger sized plastic bugs. For the container, I used a plastic terracotta  colored pot that was shallow. Beside it I added a wicker tray for her to use when she found the hiding bugs.
She has played with her buggy sensory bin for several weeks but has the most fun when a friend or grown up sits down with her. And if I sing, "we're going on a bug hunt"....she'd squeal in delight and head for the buggy bin!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Homemade Bird Eggs

Look at these lovely little nests and eggs we made to celebrate spring!

I blogged back in April about making the nests, but I thought I should show the finished nests with their pretty blue eggs.

My son and I talked about making salt dough eggs to put into the nests. He immediately thought that each nest should have three eggs. Apparently a book he read at preschool showed a robin's nest that had three eggs, and therefore his nests had to have three eggs in each.

I suggested just one large egg per nest but he persisted that each needed three. So I gave him the abacus to figure out how many eggs we would need to make. (Secretly I thought that this would make him realize it was more eggs than we wanted to make...but instead it inspired him to create such a large number of eggs.) "Wow, we are going to need a lot of salt dough because we need 48 eggs!" 

Our basic salt dough recipe:

The best part of this project is that my son took the lead. He had a plan as to what the nests should look like and how many eggs they needed. It's fun to let him take charge and support his ideas!
Ingredients: 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup salt, and 1 ½ cups warm water.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water, stirring with a large spoon. Finish mixing with hands. Knead until soft and pliable.
  • Roll small pieces of dough into an egg shape.Place on cookie sheets. Bake until hard, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on the thickness of the eggs.
  • To color the eggs we used a liquid watercolor paint. We didn't achieve a true robin's egg blue but the color was very vibrant!.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Worm Farmer!

My son is now a self-described "worm farmer". His new hobby has become a full-time occupation. As soon as he arrives home from school, he finds the nearest trowel and begins the earthworm hunt. Once he finds his livestock, he lovingly transfers them to his farm, which is located under the stairs of our back deck. He stays beside his little farm until the worm wiggles his way down into the earth and then he is off to find more. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I says that he has transferred at least 50 worms to his farm.
The best part is how engrossed he becomes with his project.

So to encourage his interest (and to educate myself) I ordered three books about earthworms.

An Earthworm's Life (Nature Upclose) by John Himmelman
Earthworms by Claire Llewellyn & Barrie Watts
Garden Wigglers: Earthworms in Your Backyard by Loewen

I am envisioning this as a summer long outdoor project, that leads to an indoor worm farm next fall!

And of course I will blog about all that we learn!

"How the Forest Grew"

This afternoon I read aloud the book, How the Forest Grew by William Jaspersohn, to my son. It was a great introduction to the changes that occur in a forest and the process of succession. The text is simple and the ink drawings are serene & beautiful.

Before reading the book, I asked my son, "how did the forest get here?" He didn't have many thoughts on the topic and guessed that it was always there.

We spend a lot of time in the forest surrounding our house, but I don't think we ever talked about how it grew!

This book helped to explain that forests are constantly changing. It introduced the concept that different animals need different types of ecosystems. My son had never considered that the forest has different layers and had good ideas about the difference between the canopy and understory. His favorite portion of the book was how decaying matter makes humus, which makes sense because he is currently a self-described 'worm farmer'!

Though I didn't select this book for the purpose of explaining succession, I think that my son has really grasped the concept. This spring we have heard many trees falling in the woods. The idea that as older trees die they make room for younger trees is comforting to him. I think that this book helped reinforce that idea that changes in the woods is natural and that dying trees are part of the cycle.

This is a book that we will read several times, and I will use it as a starting point for new discussions. For instance, the book talks about changes that have occured over the last 200 years. When my son is older, creating a timeline to illustrate how the land went from a cleared farm to a healthy forest would be a great activity to do together.

~~~ISBN: 0-590-46049-8

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ladybug Rocks using Crayons

We are preparing for a festive "Ladybug Birthday" for our soon-to-be 2 year old! I like to take several weeks to prepare homemade decorations and games so that the festivities last for weeks and not just one day. Last week my five year old son and I made some really cute "Ladybug Rocks" using crayons.

Maybe he is tired of me taking his picture all the time?
 The process was very simple: wash the rocks well, let them air dry, heat them in the oven (we just heated them to 250F), 'paint' them with crayons (that you peeled the wrapper from), and finally, allow to dry before handling.  We used cardboard to protect the table...and to doodle between the action!

These would be great to make as counters for teaching one-to-one correspondence OR skip counting. You could cut out green felt or paper and place one ladybug on each leaf. Later each ladybug could be given 10, 5, or 2 spots and then the child could practice skip counting using the ladybugs!

For the birthday party these are going to be used as decorations. Can't make every moment about teaching early skills!

I was inspired by the blog, 5 Orange Potatoes, to try out this project. Check out the link below for her more detailed explanation.

Harvesting Wild Ramps

Today we were invited to go harvesting wild ramps with three other families. Honestly, I had never heard of wild ramps but spending a couple of hours in the woods with some lovely moms and their kids is always an exciting adventure!

Wild ramps I learned are also called wild leek or wild garlic. It is an early spring vegetable and has a strong garlic or onion flavor. I didn't think to take a close up picture of just one ramp, but this photo shows how the plants have broad, smooth green leaves. (It reminds me of  lily of the vally.) Once the plant is pulled up, it has a white stalk and scallion-like bulb. After doing some research I found that both the white stalk and the green leaves can be eatten.

As I was harvesting the ramps, I thought it would be good to have some wild ramps growing in the forest behind our house. When I suggested it to my son, he was delighted at the thought of "FINALLY being able to plant something". We dug quite a few ramps that had all the roots still attached to the bulb and we will see how they transplant. 

After reading up about ramps, I found out that in Quebec wild ramps are a threatened species and people are limited to harvesting just 50 plants or bulbs per year. Recently wild ramps have found a following in gourmet restaurants & local 'wild ramp festivals' have become popular. Unfortunately the new found popularity makes this plant at risk for being over-harvested. This makes me feel even better about trying to establish a patch of it in our woods!

Now to figure out what to do with the 2 buckets of ramps we brought home!


Foraging for snacks...not wild ramps!

~~~~~This link has a 'how-to directions' for harvesting ramps.