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The Ultimate Nature Themed Holiday Gift List for Kids

Field Supplies


Huckleberry Dual Wooden Magnifying Glass

Child-Sized Binoculars

Wooden Digitial Camera - Point and Shoot

Wooden Digital Point-and-Shoot

Hiking Rucksack

Explorer Backpack

Explorer Backpack


Stellarscope Star Finder

Lensatic Compass

Blank Watercolor Nature Journal


Beginner watercolor Paints and Brushes

Watercolor Paints Pocket Box

Audubon Bird Caller Necklace

Audubon Bird Caller Necklace

My First Pocket Knife

Pocket Swing/Portable Hammock for Kids

Educational Toys and Puzzles


Insect Specimens Pack


Catch and Release Bug Catcher

Flower Press

Animal tracks play dough stampers  animal track stamps  image 1

Animal Track Stampers

Life cycle of a monarch butterfly butterfly life cycle image 2

Butterfly Life Cycle Puzzle 

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Honeycomb + Bee Life Cycle Puzzle

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Wooden Leaf Puzzle


Kikkerland Wood Magnifier

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Science Kit

Nature Games

Bird Bingo

Bug Bingo

Match A Track Game

Ocean Bingo

Books and Field Guides

The Backyard Birdsong Guide

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World

On the Nature Trail

Cavallini Nature Posters

Curious Kids Nature Guide

 Curiositree: Natural World

Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature’s Footprints

Fandex Butterfly Cards

Fandex Bug Cards

Fandex Wildflowers Cards

The Big Book of Bugs

The Big Book of Beasts

The Big Book of Birds

National Parks of the U.S.A.

Sounds of Nature: World of Birds

A Year of Nature Poems

I am the Seed That Grew the Tree

 

 

**Note:  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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Little Brown Bat FREE download

Little Brown Bat Printable

What with Halloween approaching, my kids are currently obsessed with bats – and after watching the Wild Kratt’s little brown bat episode – well, now we are the proud owners of a backyard bat house.

What can I say. Nature is my weakness.

I’ve created these Little Brown Bat nature study pages, if you and your littles would like to study bats along with us.

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And here’s a fun craft to go along with it, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Download the FREE Little Brown Bats Printable

 

 

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Autumn Play Dough Recipe + Nature Stamps

The Autumn Journal is Here! Explore the seasons with your little one this year with this beautiful, gentle nature study.

 

Our favorite thing to do now that the weather is cooling off and the leaves are changing is to collect autumn “treasures” on our nature walks.

Pine cones, acorns, leaves and berries make wonderful loose parts to play with – but they make even better play dough stamps! (And, they’re freeeeeee)

This cinnamon scented play dough is velvety smooth and soft, and it smells DIVINE. Trust me, you will want to eat it. (But don’t, it tastes pretty terrible)

Cinnamon Play Dough Recipe

2 cups white flour
1 cup fine sea salt
3 Tbsp cream of tartar (it makes the playdough more smooth and elastic)
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil

  • Mix all ingredients above together in a large bowl
  • Slowly and CAREFULLY stir in 2 cups of boiling water
  • Optional: knead in 5-10 drops of cinnamon essential oil and several drops of orange (or red+yellow) food coloring
  • Keep kneading on a countertop or flat surface until it’s a smooth consistency (this should take a minute or two)

**Note – please be aware, if you add food coloring, some of the color may transfer to your hands and countertop during the mixing process. I was able to easily wipe it off my solid surface counters without it staining, but keep this in mind if you are working on a very porous surface.**

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(This is the brand of cinnamon essential oil I use – you can find it on Amazon and it’s very affordable.)

I hope you try this simple and fun autumn activity! And make sure you take time to slow down and join in on the fun, too. #notjustforkids

😉

 

**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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Salt-Dough Nature Pendants

The boys and I needed a handcraft to make for the Wild + Free handicraft fair and this was the perfect little project. While I plan on teaching my boys practical handcrafts – like sewing and woodworking – this time I needed something simple enough that my three year old could participate in.

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Salt-dough is such a neat medium to work with and very easy to mix up (my favorite recipe is below). We used cookie cutters to cut out the pendants and nature treasures from our nature collection to use as stamps.

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Straws work perfectly to make holes for stringing the pendants into necklaces.

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Once the pendants were all designed, we let them dry. Air drying is an option, but we were in a bit of a time crunch so we dried ours in the oven. We placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and dried them at 200 degrees for an hour on both sides. Then we left them on the counter overnight to completely dry out before painting.

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Both of the boys got a paintbrush and some acrylic paint and painted the nature impressions, leaving the rest white. (You can also use watercolors or even crayons)

Once the paint was dry, I went ahead and brushed on a coat of clear polycrylic. Then, the boys strung some colorful beads onto a string and through the hole in the pendants. I tied them off and viola!

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These would also make sweet little gifts for Christmas or birthdays.

Salt-Dough Recipe

2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

1 cup of water

Thoroughly mix the first two ingredients together. Gradually stir in the water bit by bit, until you get a dough-like consistency. Form it into a ball and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes. (If the dough gets too sticky, add some more flour.) Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness before cutting out the pendants with cookie cutters.

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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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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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Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 18 + President’s Day and Black History Month

Activities

Types of ocean floor cut and paste worksheet
A great way to visualize the types of ocean floor!

Ocean floor sand and water sensory play
My high-sensory-needs little one especially enjoyed this one! We used a simple storage container, Kinetic sand (this stuff is amazing!!!), some seashells and mini ocean animals to set the scene. I asked my bigger boy to try and create a continental shelf, abyssal plain, mid-ocean ridge and trench by molding the sand different ways.

Ocean floor playdough invitation
Another great sensory play activity.

Crafts

Mound builders and pizza dough
I gave the boys a chunk of pizza dough and we tried to replicate the structures of the early mound-building civilizations. Afterwards, we stuffed our mounds with cheese and pepperoni and ate them! #calzonesforlife

Picture Books

This week, our picture books focused on Black History Month and President’s Day.

*Make sure you read through these first before reading to your children, if they are very young. There were some heavy topics in these, so I’d encourage you make sure they are age appropriate first.

**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!

Martin’s Big Words, by Brian Collier

(This one is our favorite!)

Songs of Freedom, by Bryan Marshall and David Marshall

Two Friends, by Dean Robbins

Be a King, by Carole Boston Weatherford

Those Rebels, John and Tom, by Barbara Kerley

Lincoln Tells a Joke, How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country), by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer

Nature Study this Week

We follow the Exploring Nature with Children nature study curriculum and this week is field trip week! Our nature study day is Friday, so I’ve got nothing to show yet. 😉

But we will be taking a little trip up to Table Mountain, about 20 minutes away, to do some exploring of animal tracks, birds and plants. We will bring along our nature journals to record what we see, and of course bring back some “treasures” for our nature box.

Tell me what fun activities you are doing with your tribe 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.**

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Fizzy Valentine’s Day Sensory Art

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Last week we made baking soda and vinegar volcanoes to go along with our volcano study with Classical Conversations. And since there was much begging and pleading to do more “fizzy experiments,” I cobbled together this sensory art project (the idea is from The Pinterested Parent) as a sort of last-minute Saturday morning activity and the boys loved it!

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And anytime I can turn a hands-on art activity into holiday-themed decor – I’m in.

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First, we traced hearts onto watercolor paper using a cookie cutter and cut them out. Of course, you can freehand this, but I’m horrible at drawing hearts. It’s a curse, but I’ve accepted it.

I would definitely recommend using watercolor paper, since the end result is VERY wet. I can’t see regular old paper (or even cardstock) holding up well. We use this paper from Amazon and it holds up fabulously (and is the best deal out there, in my opinion).

Place all your hearts on a cookie sheet. You can cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper like I did to make cleanup easier. Or you can live on the wild side and put ’em right on the cookie sheet.

Next, get out a muffin tin and add a couple of drops of food coloring into each section and fill them halfway with vinegar, mixing well. Sort of like coloring eggs.

Then, get out your eyedropper. Or, in my case, rummage through your medicine cabinet and find an eyedropper-like syringe. What can I say? I’m resourceful like that.

Now’s where the fun begins. Give your little people a cup or small dish with a few scoop fulls of baking soda and a spoon. They are going to carefully pour a spoon full or two of baking soda onto each heart and spread it around with the back of the spoon until the hearts are fully covered. It doesn’t matter if there are small clumps or if it’s not even – it’ll just make it more fun later. I let the boys take turns choosing their hearts and spreading the soda on.

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Okay! We’re finally to the action-packed part. Using the eyedropper, squeeze out a few drops of the colored vinegar onto each heart and watch as it fills with fizzy color.

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You can talk about the acid-base chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar, or just ooh and aah over it while your kids make loud volcanic eruption noises – your choice! 😉

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Right after you’re finished, carefully remove the hearts from the cookie sheet and place them on a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil to dry. You can tilt them to allow some of the baking soda to drip off, but this will change how the colors look.

The actual color after they dry is lighter and more muted than it looks during the reaction. We found that rubbing off some of the dried baking soda helped the colors show a little more vibrantly.

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I’m sure there are many ways you can showcase these colorful hearts, but we turned them into a mobile. (Since I turn everything into a mobile. I can’t help it.)

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Go get a stick from the backyard (or, better yet, send your kiddos out to fetch one), thread a needle with some string and have the kids help you string them up.

Just don’t leave the stick in reach of your dog, who’s favorite thing just happens to be sticks. Oopsie.

Add some smaller white hearts for visual interest, hang it all up and viola! It’s your new Valentine’s Day decoration.

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I wonder how many more of these hearts I can hang around the house? It’s a nice departure from the transformers and legos decorating the floors.

Did you try this with your family? Let me know how it turned out!

 

**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.**