Category Archives: Nature

Kids and Critters

Seems like my kids are always discovering things.  They have a natural curiosity, a sense of excitement and wonder about the world around them.    

And they seem to find critters in the yard, the water, the sky, and just about everywhere we go.  Here are a few of their exciting critters they found so far this summer.

A little lizard.

A snapping turtle.

Little crabs in borrowed shells.

Large crab with blue claws.

Crab with rocks in its shell.

Bees in flowers.

Kittens born in a garden.

They always seem to find a variety of birds every where.

Deer in the driveway.

Baby box turtles discovered while mowing the grass. 

Leaf bugs.

Spiders in their nests.

Little praying mantis who was very unhappy to have his picture taken.

I just love watching my kids discover everything around them with excitement and wonder.

Watching my kids explore and approach everything around them with a sense of excitement and wonder reminds me of the words of Jesus (Yahusha) who encouraged all of us to set aside our preconceived notions, our traditions, our resentments and disappointments, our need to control, and let go and trust and become like children in our relationship to the Heavenly Father and enter his kingdom.

 Jesus (Yahusha) called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:16

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Summer Rain

Summer Rain

It has been hot and humid this summer. We have had lots of rain too. Some predictable adn some unpredictable rain. We make plans to go to the park and boom, a thunder cloud erupts and we have to change plans. Then on days we are told it will for sure rain, we wait, and wait, and postpone other activities, and nothing, nada, zip for hours and hours!

What do we do when it is predicted to rain with 80% chance and over 90+% humidity? The air becomes so heavy and it is very uncomfortable to be outside when it is like this. But we make the most of it and spend the day outside anyway on our front porch.

A few weeks ago, I started writing about this post about the rainy summer weather we have been having. One day when we got up, it had rained all night. The yard was drenched . The sidewalk and driveway was wet. A friend emailed us and said the park was soaked too. So we canceled our park outing and picnic.

The kids often enjoy watching and playing in the rain. So in anticipation of more rain today, we set up a table on the porch to do some activities waiting for the storm to arrive and to pass. But
every cloud that rose up, seemed to just decided to go out and around us at the last minute.  The rain cloud teased us. It taunted us.  It was rainning at the park, rain was on the radar, but there was no rain on the house and yard.

Playdough was a fun way to take our mind off of the waiting.  We also invited neighbor friends to join us.  We have practically spent the entire summer playing daily with the neighbor kids.  All of these kids were silly for hours. Then we ate lunch and played some more silly games, waiting, and watching for the rain.  We could hear thunder, and see lightning in the distance.  So we waited some more.

Finally, after hours of play and waiting, the rains began. It was inevitable. It was refreshing. We enjoyed watching it rain.

The baby was super excited to have a front row seat. Pitter patter, pitter patter, the rain dripped and dropped and splashed all around the house and yard.

Despite the warm temperatures, the children ran inside and put on jackets to keep the rain off of them while they colored pictures in the rain.

They often get to play out in the rain, even dance in the rain, but not if there is lightning.  If it is a thunderstorm then they have to stay on the porch or in the house until it passes. Today they begged to stay outside, so playing with playdough, eating lunch, and coloring on the porch was a good way to pass the time and enjoy the rain at the same time.

More Rain In The Forecast

Today is another one of these summer rain days. The neighbor kids have been here most of the day. We’ve played restraunt, we have made note books with construction paper, writing paper, paper cutter, scissors, stickers, and staples. We have drawn and decorated our notebooks. We have played house with babydolls. We have played cars with toy cars. We have written with chalk on the chalk board.  Then we ate lunch of homemade pizzas and chocolate milk.

The kids have been waiting. They have been anticipating it all day. They know soon it is going to rain.

The storm is on it’s way. This mom is tired and tuckered out. It has been a long, hot, and humid day. We had three or four of these days last week, and this is day three so far this week. The clouds are getting darker. The radar is showing rain and storms in the area, though it is still dry outside.  The toys are scatterer all over the porch and yard, the children are trying to get in as much playtime as they can before the storm hits.  They know it is about to happen. The kids are anticipating……RAIN.

As I write this, the rain has begun. The kids are so excited. The neighbor kids are just as excited too and they are playing on the porch, and dancing out in the summer rain.

This story will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Sharing Time

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Earth Worms

Early one morning, I was putting the trash out for the garbage man to pick up.  The air felt humid and damp.  I briefly looked at the grasss as I walked back to the house when I noticed two worms mating.  

A perfect homeschool moment!  So I did what any excited homeschool mom would do, I called for all the kids to come and see this amazing event.

I have been wanting to do an earth worm unit study.  Several months ago, I put lots of material together, but other things took precidense and I still have yet to do it with the kids.  I hope we can get this unit on worms done soon.

But today was a spur of the moment natural SCIENCE lesson.  I couldn’t believe what a great visual we had.
Two very long and large worms were stretched in both directions for a very long distance.  But at one end they joined a section of their bodies. 

I knew from experience of catching worms to go fishing that if they sensed any vibration on the ground they would quickly go into hiding down a whole.  Their stretched bodies were actually a quick get away plan.  They were ready to recoil in opposite directions, like two rubber bands. 

We all observed them for quite a while.

We noticed they were exchanging a white colored sticky fluid.  The kids guessed this white fluid might be eggs, or the worms might be fertilizing eggs.  We decided we would look up what this was on the internet when we got back inside the house later.

Eventually we did disturb the worms and they tried to dart away quickly.

They tried to hide in the grass, but we caught them, gently held on untill their bodies relaxed and let go of what they were clinging to, and brought them over to the sidewalk for a closer look.

They were wiggly, slimmy, and sticky.  After observing them for a while, we released them back into the grass and they quickly went back into hiding though they did not completely disappear down a whole.  We guessed they needed to recouperate their strength after our observations.  But we checked later and they were gone.  So we know they fully recovered and no harm was done from spending time with us in our outdoor classroom!

Here is a video we made during part of our observations.

Several months ago, we spent some time with a WORMOLOGIST at Roper Mountain Science Center. 

This was a great opportunity for us to see worms at different stages in their life cycle and learn about what they eat and how to keep a worm habitat at home.

I was amazed how small worm eggs, and baby worms are.  Here are worm castings (poop), worm eggs, and baby worms in my hand.

I will post more about the trip to Roper Mountain Science Center in a future story.  It is a great place for hands on learning.

When went back in the house,after observing worms in our yard, we looked up some information about worms.  Here is some basic info we learned:

  • Earth worms can live about 6-8 years, but if a worm’s skin dries out, it will die. 
  • Worms do not have eyes, but can sense light. 
  • Worms eat soil, leaves, and vegetation.
  • Worms are hermaphrodites.  They carry both male and female organs.  Mature worms mate by sticking together and exchanging sperm at the clitellum.  Both worms pass sperm.  Then the sperm mixes with eggs in both worms.  The fetile eggs develop an egg capsule, or cocoons, and worms deposite these in the soil.   
  • Baby worms hatch from very small cocoons. The worm cocoon is smaller than a grain of rice.


Earth Worm Unit Study

Here are some resources I am using with my kids for a Worm Unit Study and making a Worm Lapbook.  I’ll post a story and pictures here when we get our unit study done.  Check out these links if you would like to learn more about Earth Worms with your kids.

National Geographic

Virtual Worm Tour inside a worm

Make a WORM BIN with The Adventures of Herman


Earth Worm Science Experiments

Walking Earth Worm Science Experiment

Learning about Earth Worms Lesson Plans

Earth Worm Report from Eduplace

Primary Games Arena Quiz about Worms

Earth Worms Unit Study at Homeschool Share

Worm Unit Study from hcentralsa

Earth Worm Coloring Page

E is for Earth Worm Coloring Page

Earth Worms Coloring By Number Page

Earth Worm Coloring Page by Enchanted Learning

Compost Stew Activities

“…but early the next morning the LORD sent a worm to chew on the vine, and the vine dried up”.   Jonah 4:7

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Raisng Homemakers
Sharing Time

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Dancing In The Rain

Spring brings lots of new opportunities to learn from.  It also brings some rainy days.  My kids like to go outside.  We love to play in the yard, ride bikes and scooters on the road out front of the house, and play at the park.  But we don’t do those things on rainy days and this can result in some grumpy kids.

Rainy day conversation: 
Child: “Mom, its raining! 
Mom: “Yes it is.”
Child: “Can I go out and play?”
Mom: “No, it is too wet.”
Child: :”I don’t want it to rain.   I can’t go outside in the rain.  This day is no fun!”

Later, I usually overhear this song as they sit sadly by the window:
“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!”
or this song:
“It’s raining, its pouring, the old man is snoring….”

So pitiful, just pitiful is their reaction to staying inside!  So many toys and indoor games we could play today, why do they have to feel so sad about the rain? 

What if I change the answer to “Yes, you can go out and play in the rain”?  It’s a crazy thought I know, but we haven’t played in the rain in a long time.  Winter is over, and spring is here.  What new adventure could we have?  What learning could take place?  Would they still be sad?  What if we explore the rain without a raincoat or rain boots?  Could we explore it in our barefeet?  One thing is for sure, they are going to get wet!

Explore The Rain

What is rain?
Where does it come from?
How does it feel?
Is it hot or cold?  Is is dry or wet?
Why does it feel wet?
Why is it so small?

Experiments & Observations:

Observe the rain falling to the ground from the sky:

Observe flowing water and standing water, or puddles, made by the rain:

Feel the rain:

Taste the rain:

Splash in the rain:

Make footprints with rain:

Lots of footprints:

Marching in the rain:

Running in the rain:

Falling down in the slippery rain:

Dancing in the rain:


The rain falls from the clouds in small drops.
The rain can fall fast or slow, and can have variations of small or very small drops, which creates heavy or light rain.
The rain drops fall down to earth because of gravity.
The rain drops tastes like water. The water is similar to water in the bathroom shower.
The rain feels wet because it is water.
The water from the rain flows downhill until the ground becomes flat, and then the rain can’t move.  Then the rain becomes a water puddle. Eventually the puddle will disappear as the water seeps into the soil and some of it evaporates into the air.
The water makes the dry dirt wet and muddy.
The rain makes the ground slippery as it mixes with dirt.
The rain feels cool.
The rain makes your hair and clothes wet.  
The rain makes your body feel wet and cold.

Child: “Mom, doesn’t the rain just make you want to dance?”
Mom: “Yes, just like the rain drops we saw dancing on the ground as they fell from the sky.”
Child: “Mom, thanks for letting us go outside and dance in the rain.”

New Song: “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again..”

                          You can learn while dancing in the rain!

“I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.”  Leviticus 26:4

This post will be linked with:
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
Sharing Time
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers

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Dan Nicholas Park

                                          Family Adventure During Christmas Break

I am still recovering from an emergency C section.  But six weeks being stuck in the house is all I can take.  The doctor told me not to drive, not to lift, and to have very limited activity for six weeks to allow my incisions to heal.  I am feeling stronger with each passing day, though severely sleep deprived with a newborn.  I have been out only a couple of times since our baby was born, and sitting inside all this time  is enough to drive me crazy!  

I really wanted to get out and see something special during the Christmas Break.  The company my husband works for shuts down for the week between Christmas and New Years Day, and it is so nice to have him home with us and spend extra quality time around these two holidays as a family.   

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to learn about natural science and history through hands on exploration of the world we live in.  This turns into fun family adventures exploring places all around us.  So yesterday, we went 0n a little day trip to explore the Charlotte, NC area with our children.  Let me tell you the truth: two and a half hours, one way, is a long drive with a van full of kids ages 6 weeks, 3 , 4, 6, 9, and 11.   Whew!  But we survived, we explored, we had fun, and the drive was worth it.


We drove to High Rock Lake in Salisbury, just east of Charlotte.   High Rock Lake is a 15,000 acre reservior of water located on the Yadkin River.  We just got a glimpse of the lake though, because we spent all of our time at an amazing place near the lake called Dan Nicholas Park. 

Dan Nicholas Park hosts accommodations that cover 450 acres.   What a family fun place to visit!   There is so much to see and do, you can easily spend a whole day or a whole week enjoying this place.   This is a great place to visit for a family, homeschool, field trips, and just  fun educational adventures!

Plan to spend at least several hours enjoying this family friendly place.   There is plenty of parking, paved walking paths, clean bathrooms, and concessions.  There is an 80 site camp ground that is open year around, if you want to plan to stay overnight or longer.  The camp ground has tent space, RV space, and cabins.  There are full accommodations and a nice lake to enjoy.  You can read here , and also read here about their campground.   
There are both “free” and “not free” things to do at this park.  If you want to do several things on your visit, you can buy a multi pass and save a few bucks too.  However, several things are seasonal, such as the train and carousel rides and the water plaza, so be sure to check with the park for dates and times. 

FREE Activity

Play on the playgrounds 

Trees to climb

Tennis Courts
Volley Ball courts
Nature Center 

Water Plaza (wading and fun spraying)
Picnic Areas

NOT FREE Activity

Petting Zoo $1
Train Ride $1
Carousel Ride $1
Fishing $1 for resident $2 for non-resident
Paddle Boats $
Miniature Golf $2
Gem Mine $7
Rowan Wildlife Adventures Zoo $0.50 for kids 10 and under, $1 for anyone over age 10
        At the zoo we enjoyed seeing and learning about 
        Eagles, Black Bears, Red Wolves, Bob Cats, White Tailed Deer, Raccoons, 
        Various species of  Hawks, Owls, Wild Turkeys, and more…

Several pictures I took at the zoo did not turn out.  I was carrying the baby, and taking pictures with one hand and holding the baby with the other, and several of my pictures blurred.  I won’t torture you with posting too many fuzzy pictures, but the experience was really nice anyway.  Also, the zoo encourages the public to come during feeding times and they offer special learning programs too.

Because of the winter season, some attractions were closed, and we did not have enough time to enjoy all the ones that were open.  Things we did at the park on this trip were: play on the playgrounds, climb trees, go for a walk, Wildlife Adventures Zoo,
and the Nature Center.

We spent a couple of hours enjoying Dan Nicholas Park and we will definitely plan a future trip to explore more.   We also plan to go back and explore High Rock Lake and several little towns around it.  

Lots more learning and family adventures await!

This post will be linked up with
 No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
ABC and 123

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Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

On a recent family outing, we went to the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, NC.  This is a free park with over 1300 acres to explore.  It has lots of nature trails, and is a natural setting to view a large variety of wildlife, plants, Mountain Island Lake, and the river.

Our kids had so much fun on this nature walk.  It has a paved path with beautiful mature trees, lots of under brush, and lots of wild life.

There was a nice variety of trees and many had already changed colors.  We quickly spotted oak trees, walnut trees, maple trees, and pine trees.  We plan to do a tree study soon so we can learn to spot other tree species too.

I found a plant I had never seen before, and plan to look this one up.  It had beautiful, unique, thick, bumpy, pink, outer shells the kind of resembled flowers, that opened to an orange smooth oblong shaped berry.  I am from the midwest (Kansas, and later Indiana) and this is not a plant I had ever seen before. 

I did not touch the plant just in case it was poisonous, but it was beautiful to observe.

There were lots of birds and plenty of squirrels.  The squirrels were feasting on walnuts, pine cone seeds, and acorns that literally covered the ground.

There were downed trees decomposing, and recycling themselves back into the earth.  There were lots of fallen leaves covering the ground too.  Signs of fall were all around us.

Then the path opened up to the water.  It was a beautiful view.

We strolled out onto a fishing dock. 

From this vantage point, you could see beautiful contrasts of the fall colors against the water and shoreline.

The clouds were amazing, and brewing up a fall rain storm.  It was a spectacular view.


Next, the children observed a variety of fresh water sea shells along the sandy shore.

They quickly started collecting as many shells as they could find.  They collected over a hundred shells and each put their find into a plastic bag to bring home. 

We plan to look at the shells closer at home, look at them under a microscope, wash them, draw them in our journals, perhaps use them in some other fun (math, art, and science) activities, and find out what animal had lived in them.  Homeschool adventures are so much fun!

Next, they got busy building.  At this point, I was tired from the walk.  I am eight and a half months pregnant, and running out of energy.  So I sat down at a picnic table to rest while I watched the kids play and explore some more.  The kids still had lots of energy.

They built mountains and lakes…


and motes.

We packed up to leave when the storm started to deliver rain.  We continued to explore several other sites nearby from our vehical despite the rain, and found many places we would like to go back and visit. 

It was a great day for discovering and playing in nature on this early fall day at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve .

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Play Academy
The Handbook Of Nature Study
Raising Homemakers

Highhill Homeschool

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Robert Lake Park Montreat NC

We ventured to a little town called Montreat, North Carolina for the 4th of July holiday.  My husband (the always observant to details) said he had never seen a town quite like this one.  It just seemed to dead end in the mountains and it was like going back in time. 

Once I got home and researched the town more, it is obvious why he felt that way.  The town deliberately discourages modernization.  There are not even any traffic lights.  But there is a whole lot here for families to enjoy.  Here is a map showing the location in a cove of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I was so impressed by this special place.  We explored the college campus a little before going to the park to play.  The campus has several “castle” like buildings all made of beautiful rounded river stones and lovely arched walkways.  There was also a historical hotel made from the same stone materials just across from Swan Lake.

Also across from the park, was a basketball court, and below the park was an old fashioned baseball field.

Here is a link with more about the history of the town and all that it has to offer

The Park

Roberts Lake Park in Montreat, NC is truly an explorer kid’s paradise.  It combines the best of both the natural world and a playground. 

Tucked up in a cove just east of Asheville, North Carolina, and a few minutes north of Black Mountain, North Carolina, sits an oasis of discovery that any child would love.
(like that?  this place really made me feel poetic!)

Under the canopy of tall mountain trees and flowering bushes, rushes a beautiful cold mountain stream.  The stream meanders around large and small rounded rocks.  The sound of the bubbling water is welcoming and peaceful. 

Wooden bridges give a great vantage point to see the beauty of this stream from above.

I love to stand quietly and hear the sounds of the stream.

And take in all the life and beauty that surrounds it.

The playground is really two separate playgrounds divided by wooden bridges, and two meandering shallow streams.

What kid wouldn’t love playing “King Of The Castle” on these fun bridges?

We spent quite a bit of time playing on this large wooden castle like structure with spiral wooden stairs, three wooden bridges and three towers each with two levels to play on, and with lots of fun accessories too. 

My two year old was fascinated with going up the chain ladder, and then down the wavy slide, and spent nearly an hour repeating this sequence.

There were lots of other children at the park, I tried my best not to get them in the photos, but here is my son after being tagged by another child after he had escaped down the spiral slide only to be caught at the bottom and frozen.  So funny!!!

After playing, we cooled off in the shade with some ice cold water and a picnic lunch.  There is a very nice community building that has bathrooms to wash your hands and a living room area and pool tables, ping pong, foose ball, and access to the tennis court.   The tennis court cost $3 an hour, but everything else is free.

After eating our lunch,  we headed across the bridges to the much coveted water exploration fun in the streams.

This was definitely the highlight of the day. 

Off went the shoes and socks, and in went the kids.

In the background of the picture above, you can just see the second playground of two towers and a bridge surrounded by the streams.

The kids looked for minnows and crawdads.  There was another little boy playing with them too who brought a minnow net and a bucket and he caught several.  The kids were fascinated by this.  You had to sit very still and then slowly you could see the minnows come out of hiding and start to swim in the shallow pools.

Another fun activity my oldest son spent quite a lot of time doing, was adding rocks to the little damns, causing a slight increase in the amount of water in the little pools and creating little mini waterfalls as the water went up and over the rock damns. 

He is my little engineer, and he is always observing cause and effect, and loves to build. 

But little sister had fallen in a couple of the deeper pools all the way to her shoulders into the cold water several times, and she had to take some
short breaks on the side to warm up.  She was wet from head to toe.

We learned about so many fun things in the park today.  It was a great day of scientific exploration.  Besides hunting for fish and crawdads, we also observed how the water was cold compared to the warm summer air outside.  We observed how the water current constantly moved the stream, how it rounded and smoothed the surface of the rocks, and how it constantly forced the water over the rocks no matter how many rocks you added to the damn.  The very small rocks in the stream were so many different colors.  Some sparkled like gold.  The kids picked up several stones full of mica and perilite that shimmered in the water.  We also observed the mud near the edge of the stream.  But thankfully, fresh clear water was close by and we rinsed off easily. 

The kids dried off by playing a few more rounds of tag on the second playground. 

They thought this was super cool because its construction actually incorporated three very tall trees.  Besides playing in this “real tree” house,  and they could also see the streams from their high vantage point.

I think every kid probably leaves this park with a big ear to ear grin.


Once I got home and researched about Montreat, North Carolina, I found some nice video clips on Youtube.

Boys playing in the park

Conference center and history of Montreat

A lady on her lunch break tells why she loves this place

The top of Grey Beard Trail  (there is 2500 acres of preserved wilderness in Montreat and lots of hiking trails).

Part of a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at  Montreat in 1965.

This post will be linked up with:
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
The Play Academy
Raising Homemakers

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Garden Bugs Unit Study

What’s Bugging Your Garden?  

Sounds kinda funny don’t you think?

HSV Garden Challenge 

This is our last post for the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge 2011, and we chose to focus on Garden Bugs.  We have had so much fun with this whole garden challenge learning project this summer.

So after doing all these fun learning adventures with the garden, I thought I would put together a Garden Bug Unit Study to go along with our Garden Unit Study and share it with you too.

Garden Bug Unit Study

Books We Read
I searched our book shelves, and came up with these great stories to explain more about garden bugs:

Topsy Turvey Tracy  The Grimy Slimy Bug Safari

Bugs Life (read the book, and watched the movie).
Black Widow Spiders, Creepy Bugs, Flying Bugs, I Like Bugs, Strange And Amazing Insects, It’s Alive, Slimmy Slugs and so much more…….

We also watched a DK movie called Insects.

Lesson Plans, Unit Studies, and Lapbooks

Did you know that you might find over 40 different bugs in your garden at any given time?  Here is a great website to give you an introduction in identifying some of the bugs in your garden.

How to naturally reduce garden pests.,default,pg.html

What is pollination and how do bugs help polinate the plants in the garden?

Beneficial garden insects verses pest,default,pg.html

Non-poisonous verses poisonous bugs (we live where there are various kinds of black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, wasps, hornets, centipedes, milipedes, fire ants, and so on that cause painful injuries from injecting poinons into their victims).

Homeschool Share: Ant Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Bee Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Butterfly Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Dragonfly Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Praying Mantis Unit Study and Lapbook

Homeschool Share: Snail Unit Study and Lapbook

Bug Facts

Yucky Bug Facts and Games

Butterfly Facts

Adopt An Insect Unit Study

Spider Unit Study For Kinders

Garden Pest Unit For Older Students

great for coloring, matching, skills practice, lapbooking, notebooking, and more.

Pretty Bugs

Garden Printables

C is for Catepillar

Laddy Bug Math File Folder Game
I love this math game!!!  You can adjust it to be simple or more complicated based on your students skill level.

Montessori Garden Printables

Insect Coloring Pages



Activities & Crafts

Draw A Bug Game

Bug Bingo Game

Paint A Bug pages from the dollar store

Bottle Top Bugs craft

Love Bugs craft

Foam Bug Craft Kit from the dollar store

Bug On A Stick craft kit from the dollar store.

Lots of bug crafts

DLTK: Insect Crafts

Family Fun: Bug Crafts

Go on a garden bug hunt and search for bugs and worms.  Use hand shovels, butterfly nets, containers, tweezers, etc. to capture a few harmless bugs to observe them, and then release them back to the garden.  We found worms, beetles, pill bugs, flies, ladybugs, ants, spiders, bees, wasps, butterflies, etc.


fly in our butterfly net



pill bug

Activity Trays

Activity trays with plastic bugs for the kids to sort, count, play, and role play.

Sensory Bins

Sensory & discovery bin.  This can be a small bin, or a large bin.  I made both. 

I  used small river rocks, plastic bugs, various scoops, tongs, funnels, and containers for lots of creativity, some small flowers or plants, sticks (to use as trees or logs or just use as sticks for bugs to crawl on or hide under), use green felt or foam (for a green lawn or to make a mini garden scene), use a minnow net as a butterfly net, colored glass rocks to make a pond and larger rocks for bugs to crawl on or hide under.

Science Experiments

I can’t wait to share some of these fun bug science experiments with you.  But you will have to wait until a future story.  I’ll link it back here when it is finished. 

I found this great science experiment book at the dollar store, and it is totally creepy and lots of fun.

This is another great science book about insects and plants and we have done several experiments from this book too.

Here are some more ideas you can do without a science book:

Grow a bee garden. Plant sunflowers and various flowering plants to attract and observe the bees.

Grow a butterfly garden.  Plant different flowers that attract butterflies and observe their behavior and life cycle.

Raise various bugs from eggs or larve (you can buy these on line, or find them free in nature): lady bugs, butterflies, praying mantis, ants, etc.

Tend a worm bin or worm bed.  Buy it or make it yourself.  Put in a pound of worms for each bin you raise.  Add newspaper, soil, kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps,  and obeserve the worms life cycle and their ability to turn everything into compost.  Apply the compost to your garden and continue the process again and again.

Use a magnifiying glass to look at a live and / or plastic bug up close.  Have the children describe or draw the different body parts of the bug.  Have older children lable the body parts.

What do bugs eat?  Choose a bug and find out if it eats your garden plants, or if it eats other bugs. 

Make Rubber Bugs

We made rubber bugs with a bug machine “Creepy Crawler”.  I found this on clearance for $5 last year.  It is just like an easy bake oven, only it bakes rubber instead of cookies.  It comes with two baking trays, a tray pusher, and various colors of liquid rubber goop to make your designs.  The baking trays are molds that shape the bugs.  Ours contained a spider, fly,  worm, dragonfly, scorpion.

The boys had so much fun taking turns designing their own “creepy crawlers”.

The process was fool proof.  Add a few squirts of colored liquids into the mold/baking pan. 

You can make whatever designs you like.

Place in mini oven.  The mini oven sets its own timer automatically, and shuts off automatically when it is done.  It was very easy to work with.

Allow the bugs to cool.  Then remove from baking tray.  We filled almost two whole cookie sheets, and must have made 50 of these, but I could not find all the pictures of the different colored ones. 

Field Trips:

We visited several places to enhance our learning about gardens and insects. 

Roper Mountain Science Center Butterfly Garden
         and Living History Farm Garden

This is one of my favorite pictures of the day.  My 11 year old son used my camera to capture several lovely pictures from this trip.  Here is a snap shot of a bee pollinating a purple cone flower.  He is going to enter one of his many photos he took on this day in an upcoming photo contest. 

Farmers Market / Tailgate Market to see what farmers grow in their gardens to sell to the public.

Carl Sandburg Gardens

Insect Recipes

Want to try eating some bugs?

Other Garden Unit Stori

Be sure to read our other Garden Stories and Garden Unit Study

Be sure to check out other homeschool families stories about their garden challenge at Homeschool Village

This post will also be linked up with
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
The Play Academy

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Garden Study Update for May

The garden is doing very well during this month of May.  The weather has been beautiful here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

HSV Garden Challenge

We are participating in a Garden Challenge at the Homeschool Village.  The first month over 130 families joined in, and last month 100 families joined in.  Be sure to stop over and read their wonderful stories and gain more insight into gardening with your family.

We are also doing our own Garden Unit Study to go along with the Garden Challenge.  Our unit study learning will continue until the final harvest and the garden dies out later in the fall.

This month the children and I have continued to monitor the growth and health of the plants. The children remain motivated, and also continue to take responsibility in watering the plants each week.

We have had lots of sunshine and mid 80’s weather for most of the month, with a few scattered showers and two or three major storms.   The children enjoyed sitting on the porch and watching the storms as they came through.  A few of the storms produced tornadic weather, and a few miles from the house after this picture was taken, a tornado was spotted.

The ground is fairly dry over all, so the garden has needed water about once or twice a week.   Though there were days the younger children gave several of the plants water every day.

My daughter loves to give the plants a drink with a water bottle.  You can read more about how she enjoys watering the plants HERE.

We had a major storm about two weeks ago, that produced severe winds, heavy rain, and hail.

We had marble to a little under golf ball size hail, and I was really concerned about the damage it would do to the garden, as well as the house and vehicles.

I was hit on the arm, and the foot, by these flying torpedoes of ice when taking a picture.  It was very painful.

But just a few days after the hail storm, we reaped our first harvest from our garden beds.

We have harvested strawberries, spinach, green onions, leaf lettuce, and several herbs from the garden so far.

I have also seen some green cherry tomatoes on one of the plants too.  So far, none of the other vegetable plants have bloomed yet.

Here is a lovely plate of spinach, lettuce, strawberries, parsley, oregano, and the next photo is green onions from our garden.   I am putting all these ingredients and more together to make a special lunch today.

Read HERE to see what an awesome nutrient dense lunch these wonderful ingredients made.

We have continued to learn from our Garden Adventure Science Kit.  This kit is well worth the investment for your garden study. 

It comes with 16 experiments, a teachers guide, and student workbook, and all the equipment you need to do the experiments.  It also has additional suggestions for further study.

We have also continued to learn with our Garden Printables.    You can read about our Garden Unit Study components including the printables we are using HERE.

I have stored everything in our garden unit (except the garden and the live plants growing in the window sill) in this big tote.  It makes it easy to put the garden unit away at the end of the day.

The children have caught and observed various garden insects this month, such as worms, lady bugs, roly poly, ants, slugs, centipedes, caterpillars, spiders, and from a distance-bees.  We haven’t seen any butterflies yet, but that will come soon.  We plan to do a butterfly unit study yet this summer too.  We got some wonderful free butterfly resources a few weeks ago.  I will write about it soon.

The kids have also enjoyed watching a window sill garden grow.

We purchased these little greenhouse seed starter kits for $1 at the local Dollar store.  We added our own potting soil and the seeds that came with the kits.

I also recycled some disposable bakery trays with lids from the grocery store.  These make wonderful greenhouses to start your seeds in.  We added some potting soil and romaine lettuce seeds to the recycled tray.

This picture was taken two weeks ago and the plants were doing well.  They had grown so big we had to remove the roof of the green houses to let them have more space.

I will plan to write more in the days and weeks to come about each individual activity we did, in case you would like to follow along or repeat the Garden Unit Study with your own kids.

A garden is a fun adventure at any age!

How is your garden growing?  Leave us a comment, thanks!!!


This post will be linked up with
Science Sunday
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
The Garden Challenge




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Garden Nuggets

It has been one week since we planted our garden and flower beds.  You can read about planting the garden here.  

Each day I catch the two toddlers watering their beloved flowers. 

It has happened the same way each day.  “Mom, can we go out to play?”  “Yes, but I want you stay right in the yard where I can see you.” 

But each time they went out to play this past week, I could hear the outside water turned on and off.  I peeked outside to see this sight:

They are lovingly giving their plants a drink of water.

They genuinely care about the well being of their plants.  Because of this, I have been hesitant to say anything to discourage them.    I have been a little worried they may give the plants to much water.  But they assure me they are only giving each flower one drink.  They fill their little container one time for each flower.

Who knew a two year old and a three year old would take such pride in their garden?  They genuinely want to see their flowers happily blooming and “know” they will become thirsty and need a drink of water to stay healthy. 

They know this because they also become thirsty while playing outside, and they come in frequently for a drink of water.  So this “knowing” about thirst, comes from their own personal experience.  They feel for their plants who are outside in the sun, and know they too will get thirsty.

I often see nuggets of truth about life and about my relationship with my heavenly Father, through observing my children playing. 

Our heavenly Father knows us.  He created us.  He knows what we need, even before we ask.  He genuinely wants to care for our needs, and see us be healthy and happily blooming where he has planted us. 

Matthew 7:11
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Luke 12:56
“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

John 15:18
 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Jesus said to come, all who are thirsty in their life, and drink freely from his well, and you will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

John 6:35
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Revelation 21:6
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Revelation 22:17
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

What nuggets of truth do you learn from observing your children play?  Leave us a comment.  Thank you.

This post will be linked up with:
We Play
Tot Tuesdays
No Time For Flash Cards
The Play Academy
Raising Homemakers

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