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My Preschooler’s Favorite Picture Books for Preschoolers

It’s no secret that we are a book-loving family. My big boy was reading short chapter books by the time he was four, and both boys will sit for hours and let me read to them. Because of them and their love for reading, I’ve become a huge fan of children’s literature.

For posterity’s sake, I went ahead and compiled a list of our family’s favorite fiction books for toddler to preschool aged children – all selected and approved by my own little one. If he didn’t love it, I didn’t include it.

(This list doesn’t include holiday-themed books, non-fiction books or books my Kindergartner loves – those will be in a separate post!)

A few of these I’m borrowing from the library until I can snatch them up, but most we own, because we love them and read them endlessly. I consider these books heirlooms, to be passed down someday to my grandchildren (good Lord, that’s scary to think about).

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One of my favorite places to find good book recommendations is over at Read Aloud Revival – go hop over there and be amazed at the amazing resources Sarah has! I especially love her holiday and seasonal book lists.

Some of these are new books, some are classics – but we love them all!

Our Favorite Picture Books for Preschoolers

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

10 Little Rubber Ducks

Blueberries for Sal

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Climb the Family Tree, Jesse Bear!

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury

Green Eggs and Ham

Go Dog, Go!

Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight Moon

Home for a Bunny

How to Be a Bigger Bunny

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If you Give a Moose a Muffin

Inch by Inch

Jamberry

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Little Blue Truck

Looking for a Moose

Olivia

Run, Peter, Run!

Sophie’s Squash

Stellaluna

Stone Soup

The Cat in the Hat

The Grouchy Ladybug

The Little Fireman

The Little Red Hen

The Story About Ping

Where the Wild Things Are

 

I hope you found some new books to check out with your little ones!

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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A Fun Science Experiment to Teach Kids About Pollution

earth day pollution science

Today is Earth Day, and we ditched our regular lessons to spend the day learning about pollution and how it affects our earth.

We began with this oil spill activity that was really eye-opening, even for me! We started with a pristine-looking ocean scene which turned yucky very fast. The boys tried several times to wash the slimy oil off their sea creatures and it was harder than they thought it would be.

We got the idea from here, if you want to see the original post.

Oil Spill Science Experiment

First, we started with a large, clear plastic tub to hold our ocean animals and water (plus some blue marbles to add a sensory element).

I added two drops of blue food coloring so that the water would be more visible. The boys played in the ocean with their animals for a bit, and then we added the boat.

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To make the oil look like crude oil, we mixed some cocoa powder into the vegetable oil before pouring it into the boat’s compartment. It looked like oil, but smelled like brownies. 😉

Now it’s time for the oil spill. Once the boat gets bumped around enough, the oil will begin spilling into the pristine blue water. The boys thought it was fascinating to see the oil droplets swirl around in the water. And actually, so did I.

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Now, it’s time for cleanup.

First, they tried cleaning up the oil spill by scooping it out. They soon found, though, they were scooping way more water than oil, and the water was looking dirtier.

Next, they used items to try and suck up the oil – cotton balls and a sponge. Both materials were able to remove a bit of the oil, but not enough to make a real difference.

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I think they were beginning to understand how irreversible some types of pollution are.

Now it was time for animal rescue. Using tongs, they took turns removing the ocean creatures from the water and washing them with soapy water. It took many tries to wash all of the slimy oil off. Another good lesson.

We also dunked a real bird feather into the oily water so the boys could see the effects of an oil spill on real animals.

Pollution Walk

After our science experiment, we put on disposable gloves and headed to our neighborhood’s nature trail for a pollution cleanup walk. We found SO. MUCH. TRASH. Either I never noticed it before or today was just a messy day in our neighborhood, but I’m sad to say we filled half a trash bag full of litter on our short walk.

The boys were pros at spotting the trash – it was like a treasure hunt, but less glamorous.

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Honestly, I was pretty disgusted at the amount of litter we picked up. On our walk we talked about what happens to trash when it sits on the ground (and what biodegradable means) and why it’s important not to litter.

Earth Day Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Oil Spill!

The Lorax

The Curious Garden

Compost Stew

Miss Rumphius

Once There Was a Tree

Pond

 

 

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What Makes the Seasons? {Spring Equinox Science Experiment}

spring equinox seasons

Have your kids ever asked you what makes the seasons?

The days are finally getting longer around here and the snow is almost gone, which is making us all slightly giddy. After a long, cold winter, the spring sunshine feels GOOD.

A few weeks ago, I prepared a little lesson to teach my boys about the spring equinox, and what makes the seasons. We ran a quick little experiment to visualize how the tilt of the earth makes it summer, fall, winter and spring in different parts of the world.

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It was a great way for them to see why we have seasons and I think it’ll really stick with them.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Orange
  • Marker
  • Pencil or Wood Skewer
  • Pushpin
  • At Least 2 People

First, grab your orange (the “earth”) and label the equator and Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Place the pushpin approximately where you live. Push the pencil or skewer through the center of the orange – this will act as the earth’s axis.

Now, assign one kid to hold the flashlight in the center of the room – he/she is the sun. Kid number two will hold the earth and move in a wide circle around the sun. The person with the flashlight keeps it pointed at the orange as it moves around the circle.

spring equinox seasons

The MOST important part of this experiment is to make sure whoever is holding the earth is keeping it tilted slightly, with the top tilted towards them and bottom tilted away from them. The trickiest part of this activity is making sure the earth remains tilted in the same direction as their body moves around the sun. So, on the opposite side of the circle, the top of the orange will be tilted away from them and the bottom will be tilted toward them.

On opposite sides of the circle, have the person holding the earth pause and note which hemisphere is receiving more light. As the earth moves around the circle, you’ll be able to see the sun hit each hemisphere differently – full strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our summer), partial strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our fall), full strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our winter), and partial strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our spring).

You can also ask them to make the earth rotate as it moves around the circle (this requires slightly more hand-eye coordination, a little trickier for smaller kids). observing night and day.

For more reading on the spring equinox and seasons, we loved these books:

The Reasons for Seasons

A New Beginning – Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox

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Happy Spring, friends!

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Celebrating Easter with a Resurrection Garden

Easter is one of those holidays we try to be intentional about at our home. We don’t do much with the Easter Bunny (the kids do get baskets) and instead aim to remember the most crucial event of our faith.

An Easter Resurrection Garden is a simple and lovely way to visualize that declaration spoken all over the world – “He is risen!”

It’s best to start this activity a couple of weeks before Easter so the grass has time to grow.

How to Make an Easter Resurrection Garden

Start with a shallow dish, tray or planter saucer. It should have sides tall enough to contain the soil.

First, lay a small empty planter pot on its side in the middle of the tray. This will symbolize the empty tomb. Fill the container around the pot with planting soil, pressing some on to the top of the pot as well. You could even make a pathway to the tomb using small rocks or gravel.

Using sticks, cut and tie three crosses together to place on the hill over the tomb. Then, sprinkle grass seed over the soil, raking it in with your fingers, and spray with a water bottle until the soil is damp. You can use other types of seeds that are quick to germinate, like wheat grass and alfalfa. The kids can take turns spraying the soil to keep it damp over the next few days while the seeds germinate and sprout.

If you’re in a pinch for time, you can take the kids on a nature walk and collect some live moss to spread on your garden instead of grass. Just be sure to check for critters first. 😉

On Good Friday, place a large-ish rock in front of the tomb – this would be a good time to read the story of Jesus’ final days and crucifixion. (We LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible. So, so good.)

On Easter morning, roll the stone away with your kiddos and pick up your reading at the story of the resurrection.

We have really enjoyed adding this to our list of traditions each year. It’s a simple way to illustrate that the tomb is empty – Hallelujah!

 

 

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Spring Nesting Bird Study and Egg Craft

nesting bird spring study

This week we studied all things birds with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature with Children. We are crazy about birds over at our house, so I thought I’d share our activities and resources here.

Bird Study Activities

nest and egg spring craft

Nest Building and Egg Painting

This spring craft is a bit messy but worth it! The boys each painted wooden eggs with acrylic paint (you could use any paint) and then using moss, twigs, string, yarn and rubber bands, they made a nest. A good book to go with this activity is Mama Built a Little Nest (listed below in Resources).

There are so many materials birds use in their nests – you could have the kids search your house for other items birds commonly use, like socks, feathers, hair, shoelaces – the list is practically endless.

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The best thing about this craft? It doubles as a pretty Easter decoration!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

birds nest cookies for spring

A fun and tasty way to celebrate the birds coming back for the season.

Get the recipe here.

DIY Bird Feeders

Remember making these growing up?

Gather some cardboard toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, bird seed and some string and let the kids go at it. Sunflower butter works just as well if there are any peanut allergies.

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If you wanted to make it into a “bird store” of sorts, you could also hang nest building materials in the toilet paper roll – string, shoelaces, etc. This is a fun spring craft to do with friends.

Bird Bingo

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Such a fun way to learn about bird species and play at the same time!

Find the Bird Bingo Game on Amazon (it’s very affordable)

Bird Watching Nature Walk

Take the kiddos on a nature walk and look for birds flying back and forth to their nests. Listen to the new bird calls of spring, bring along a bird call identification guide and nature journals if you wish.

Resources

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The Backyard Birdsong Guide – An absolute must-have! Our whole family has learned so much about birds just by keeping this book on our table by the window

Bird Feather Identification Cards by Chickie & Roo

Nature Journal

Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest

Mama Built a Little Nest

Robins, Songbirds of Spring

Have you Heard the Nesting Bird?

My Book of Birds

Blue Sky Bluebird

A Nest is Noisy

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

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Easy, Budget-Friendly Spring Flower Craft

spring craft for kids daffodil

We are just starting to see the daffodils pop up and man, am I happy about it. This winter seemed longer than usual, and we are all ready for longer days and more time out in the sunshine.

My boys love doing crafts, so in the spirit of spring I put together this simple and easy craft you can probably do with items you already have in your home.

Easy Daffodil Craft

You’ll need:

  • Paper muffin tin liners (preferably white but any light color will work)
  • Paint (not watercolor) and paint brushes
  • Gluesticks
  • Green pipe cleaners, optional

Each flower will require two muffin liners. Have them spread out one nice and flat, and keep the shape of the second one intact.

With the yellow paint, have them cover one side of both muffin liners, making sure they don’t smush the cup-shaped one. This can be made easier by having them cup the liner in one hand while they paint it with the other. They’ll get paint on their hands, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. 😉  I always keep a pack of baby wipes nearby for emergencies.

(Because if you’re not cleaning your house and kids with baby wipes, are you even a mom?)

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Okay, now let them dry for a bit.

Next, they take a smaller paint brush and paint dots on the inner liner, which will represent the pollen. We used orange and white for this part. Allow a few minutes for it to dry.

Finally, have them glue the cupped liner to the middle of the flat one.

spring craft for kids

You can also glue or staple on a green pipe cleaner to use as a stem, but my kids just wanted to keep making more flowers, so we didn’t get to that part.

How pretty would these be sitting in a little vase?

Happy Spring!

spring craft for kids daffodil

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Spring Pond + Frog Life Cycle Study

Last week we learned about the spring pond with our Exploring Nature with Children curriculum. The boys learned about the ecosystem of the pond and the lifecycle of a frog through play-based learning, lots of good books and outdoor exploration.

Here’s what we did:

Spring Pond Loose Parts Play

For this activity, I set out some kinetic sand along with mini pond animals, marbles, small stones and some leaves I pulled off a silk plant (because they need lilypads, of course!).

The boys played with this setup for days.

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Life Cycle of a Frog

The boys colored this free printable while I read aloud from one of our favorite nature study books: Nature Anatomy. There are a couple of pages dedicated to frogs and toads.

If your kids are a bit older, you could also have them make a Venn diagram that illustrates the differences between frogs and toads. And if you have access to frog eggs or tadpoles, nothing beats seeing the life cycle play out in real life!

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Pond Nature Walk

Nature study is somewhat limited unless you actually go outside and experience nature, right? Most of our ponds are still partly frozen, but we followed the recommendation of a friend and went to a sweet little neighborhood pond. There were geese, ducks and we looked for frog eggs but unfortunately didn’t find any (although we did find other cool pond creatures in the water).

The kids brought their nature journals and colored pencils, some buckets, nets, a good magnifying glass and we made a picnic lunch out of it.

And only one kid fell in the pond so I call that a success. 🙂

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Pond Study Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner (This book is really neat)

Pond by Jim LaMarche (A wonderful and beautiful story that left us all smiling)

Turtle Pond by James Gladstone

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury by Arnold Lobel  (My five year old loves these stories)

Seasons of the Freshwater Pond Biome by Shirley Duke

National Geographic Kids Tadpole to Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

 

 

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DIY Sliding Barn Door on a Budget

DIY Sliding Barn Door on a budget

One of the first things most people say when they walk into our house for the first time is “WHERE did you get that door?”

Let me take you back two years ago to when we moved into our current home, gutted it and began the process of piecing it back together ourselves. During demo day, pretty much everything in the main living areas and kitchen were ripped out – flooring, doors, baseboards, cabinets, appliances, even walls.

We have a double entryway closet right behind the front door, which holds all of our coats, gloves, shoes, backpacks etc. The closet had old-fashioned accordion doors – very impractical, since you couldn’t really open the front door and have the closet doors open at the same time.

Which means a lot of opening and closing. With two little boys. All day long. And they were half broken to begin with.

So, yeah, the doors were one of the first things to go.

A sliding door was really the perfect solution for closing off the side of the closet that has all of our coats and shoes and basically looks like a trash heap most of the time. We’ve had it for a year now and it’s working out wonderfully.

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DIY Sliding Barn Door on a Budget

First – let me preface this by saying my dad built this door, and wrote the instructions for this post. So, other than coming up with the design for the door, I take zero percent credit.

Okay, moving on.

Materials and Supplies

Shiplap Wood Pieces – 5″ wide (you can find these at Home Depot), or Tongue-and-Groove Wood Pieces

3″ Strips of Wood for Stabilizing

4 1/2″ x 3/4″ Wood for Front Side Trim (we used 1×6’s ripped lengthwise to size)

Construction Adhesive and Caulk Gun

C Clamps or Spring Loaded Clamps

Metal Right Angle Ruler

Circular Saw

Sliding Door Rails and Hardware – THIS is the one we have and we LOVE it. I don’t know why people spend hundreds of dollars on sliding door hardware!

Door Handle (Found mine at Hobby Lobby and spray painted it black)

Plastic Floor Guide

Paint, if desired, and Antiquing Wax

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How to Build Your Barn Door

Step One

Determine the dimensions needed for your sliding door and cut shiplap pieces to height. Make sure you account for any trim you want the door to cover.

Step Two

Lay out shiplap pieces side-by-side and upside-down on top of saw horses or a work table to form a rectangle – this will be the base door. The pieces should be overlapping and face down at this point.

Use a metal right angle to get the four corners to a 90 degree angle. This was the hardest step, because shiplap pieces usually aren’t cut perfectly straight.

Step Three

Once the shiplap pieces are squared up, cut three thin 3″ strips of wood the same width as your base door, and screw into the top, middle and bottom of the back of the door (see photo). This will help to stabilize the shiplap pieces so they don’t wobble.

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Be careful to keep the corners at right angles during this step.

Step Four

Carefully flip the door over to face up. At this point, it won’t be very sturdy and that’s okay.

Step Five

Make your trim using the circular saw. We used 4 1/2″ x 3/4″ wood pieces to create the trim on the door. We added a border around the edge and across the middle of the door width-wise. We also added an “X” on the bottom to give it a barn door look.

Step Six

Glue the four outside borders on the door using the construction adhesive, again making sure all four corners are at right angles. Clamp the corners down using c-clamps or spring loaded clamps and leave overnight. The next day, glue and clamp the middle piece and bottom X pieces and let sit overnight. At this point the door will be sturdy.

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Step Seven

Paint door and let dry 48 hours. Apply antiquing wax and let dry.

Step Eight

Add handle and rail brackets to door, and install the rail to your door frame according to the rail’s instructions. At this point we also added a right angle plastic guide rail (similar to what’s used on sliding closet doors) to the floor in both the back and front of the door to keep the door from swaying during use. I’m so glad we added this piece!

sliding barn door DIY
Just ignore the dirty floor

Step Nine

Hang your door and admire your work!

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Please let me know if you decide to try this tutorial and any troubleshooting questions you may have!

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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DIY Tide Pool – Ocean Science Activity for Kids

This week we studied ocean zones while following the Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 19 curriculum – and to add an extra element of fun, we also studied the Intertidal Zone.

Did you know that the Intertidal Zone is one of the harshest environments on earth? It’s true. Animals who live there have to withstand extreme variations in temperature and water levels, not to mention crashing waves and predators.

Amazingly, so many little creatures still make tide pools their home, like sea stars, puffer fish, crabs, anemones, barnacles, mussels and even baby octopuses!

See, I bet you learned something. Class dismissed.

Jk.

One of the ways we studied tide pools was this fun little backyard activity. I know it’s winter and 30 degrees outside, but my boys were not opposed to playing in the water. It’s a mystery, but it’s true.

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DIY Tide Pool

  • First, get some sort of large container to act as your tide pool. We used the top of an old plastic bird bath, which was perfect. You could also use a trash can lid or storage container.
  • Put a few scoops of sand or crushed rock in the bottom.
  • Add some seashells or small rocks. Check your local dollar store or craft store for shells, sand dollars and starfish. We got a very inexpensive bag of shells (since we live nowhere near the beach) and it was so worth it!
  • Add some mini sea creatures – but only ones that live in the intertidal zone! We used sea stars, sea turtles, crabs and a little octopus.
  • Have your kids fill up the tide pool with buckets of water. They can take turns making it high tide and low tide. My boys especially loved making waves by rocking the container back and forth.

This activity kept my boys occupied for hours!

Further Resources

 

Wild Kratts Stars of the Tides episode

Tide Pool Secrets

Look Inside a Tide Pool

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 19 Activities + Resources

cc cycle 1 week 19 lesson plan

Science

We did a lot for science this week, since we LOVE learning about the ocean.

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Ocean Layers Activity
This was a great way to visualize the epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic and abyssopelagic layers they learned about at CC.

Learn how to do it here.

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Tide Pool Sensory Play
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know I’m all about sensory play. We created a little tide pool from a discarded bird bath top (you could use any kind of container), play sand, pebbles, shells and mini sea creatures from the dollar store. Add water and let them play in their mini tide pool.

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Ocean Layers Felt Board
My biggest boy and I made this scene out of felt scraps and it ended up being such a great tool to learn about which species live in each layer of the ocean. So fun!

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Growing Overnight Crystals
My kids could not get enough of crystals at CC day and begged to do more, so we followed this lesson and they turned out amazing!

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History Resources

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History

About the Anasazi

Fine Arts

To go a little more in-depth, I set out all of our instruments with some labels and had my big boy try and group them into types of instruments: percussion, strings, brass and woodwinds.

If you’re looking for a good book that introduces little ones to the orchestra, we LOVE this First Book About the Orchestra and can’t recommend it enough!

(This is the musical instruments set we used.)

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Nature Study

This week was field trip week with Exploring Nature With Children, so we went to a local trail to search for tracks and wildlife signs. Luckily, everything in Colorado this time of year is super muddy – perfect for spotting animal tracks. We recorded what we saw in our nature journals and even played around with making tracks in Kinetic Sand.

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Resources

You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!

Super Simple Ocean Projects

Oceans: A Journey from the Surface to the Seafloor (3-D Explorer)

Tide Pool Secrets

See Under the Sea: Lift-the-Flap Book

Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature’s Footprints

Who Pooped in the Park?

Tell me what you’re doing with your kids this week!

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**