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Night Sky Playdough; Our Favorite Way to Study Space

Let me begin this post by saying we made this night sky playdough NINE MONTHS ago and it is still going strong!

I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but this playdough lasts forever. (We store it in a ziploc storage bag inside a cupboard inside a cool room).

We’ve used it to study constellations, galaxies, planets and for just plain fun. The glitter – which was my main concern – magically stays contained inside the playdough.

Again, I don’t know how. It’s just plain magic, folks.

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Here is the Recipe for Night Sky Playdough:

Mix together:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 3 Tbsp cream of tartar (helps make it smooth and elastic)

Stir in:

  • 1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of boiling water (carefully!)
  • 5-10 drops blue or purple food coloring

Knead it together until it’s nice and smooth. Then, pour a small amount of glitter in the center of the dough, and knead it in a little at a time.

Add star sequence or beads and press them in to make constellations.

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Or, use stars or marbles to make galaxy spirals.

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Use different colors of playdough to form planets and create a solar system.

There are so many ways you can play with this playdough!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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New! The POND Nature Journal is here

Friends, it’s here! The Pond Guided Nature Journal is in my Etsy shop and ready for your little explorer.

Inside are posters, flash cards, coloring pages and journaling prompts covering 5 different topics (frogs, dragonflies, turtles, aquatic plants, aquatic minibeasts), and I’ve also included ideas for activities, sensory play and a book list.

Head over to Etsy to check it out!

 

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Rocks and Mineral Properties – FREE Activity

rocks and mineral download

Here’s a little boredom buster that’s sure to keep the rock-lovers happy in your house. This is a FREE Rock and Mineral Properties Activity Sheet for immediate download. My boys loved testing the rocks from their collection – I hope your kids love it, too!

Rocks and Minerals – Free Download

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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 

Honey bee puzzle  honeycomb  bee life cycle  types of bees image 3

Honeycomb + Bee Life Cycle Puzzle

Leaf puzzle Montessori puzzle Christmas gift wooden puzzle image 0

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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The Forest Guided Nature Journal

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It’s finally HERE!

The Wild Child’s Nature Journal ~ The Forest is done and up in my Etsy shop.

This project feels a bit like my fourth child, and I hope it’s something that can be a blessing to you and your kiddos.

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Inside The Forest, I’ve included 8.5×11 posters, flash cards, coloring pages and journaling prompts for eight fascinating organisms you can find in the forest:

Autumn Leaves
Forest Beetles
Fungi
Conifer Trees
Woodpeckers
Ferns
Forest Animals
Moss and Lichen 

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This guided journal is a great option for those of you who have kids just getting started with nature study and nature journaling. It presents a variety of information on species, nature anatomy and life cycles, while keeping it simple and non-intimidating (is that a word???).

Use it alongside your favorite nature study curriculum, or bring it along on your nature walks. 

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” -Charlotte Mason

We bound ours in a pocket folder (minus the flashcards – those hang above our nature table), and when it’s time for nature study we just pull out the folder and it’s all there.

Nature study is something that is really important to our family, and I believe it’s an essential piece of my children’s education.

nature journal

Please let me know how you like it! And feel free to share your experience with the journal on Instagram by using #journalingthewild ~ I would love to see and share your photos.

 

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Moss+Lichen Nature Journal Pages – FREE Download

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Click to Download MOSS + LICHEN Nature Journaling Pack

Hello, friends!

I’ve been working on something super exciting (and a little nerve-wracking, truth be told) over the past few months and I am finally ready to share.

First — some background info.

If you follow me over on Instagram, you know how important nature study is to our family. My husband is a forester for goodness sake. 🙂

My oldest just turned six, and he’s at that great age of wanting to discover all nature has to offer, and learn the names of everything and how it all fits together. But nature journaling was daunting for him. The interest was there — but he just doesn’t have the skill set yet to express all of his wonderful thoughts on paper.

That’s why I started putting together these little nature journal guides. My hope is that they will help children journal through subjects within a specific habitat:

The Forest, The Pond, The Meadow, The Mountain, The Garden, The Night Sky.

Each habitat will cover 6-8 subjects, with an 8.5×11 poster and flashcards (hand-painted by yours truly), a coloring sheet and a nature journaling prompt.

(Side note: I love that younger siblings can do the coloring sheet and be included in the lesson)

Sometimes my boy likes drawing his observations right on the page and sometimes he’ll draw in his blank journal. Sometimes he’ll use the illustrations as a guide to sketch out what he’s observing. Sometimes I’ll print the coloring page on cardstock paper and he paints with watercolors.

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We use these a lot of ways — I usually let his interest guide how we use them.

very much hope these little nature journaling guides can be helpful for others getting started with nature study – and trust me – they have been kid tested!

(Fun Fact: when I presented my son with the first – very different – version, he said it was and I quote, “too boring.” Ouch!! Brutal honesty, folks.)

So – friends – I’d love for you to download this Moss + Lichen pack, use it with your kids and tell me what you think.

Click to Download MOSS + LICHEN Nature Journaling Pack

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The Forest Nature Journaling Guide is Coming Soon!

(We use Exploring Nature With Children for our nature curriculum and love it – I highly recommend!)

 

 

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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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Caterpillars Unit Study and Caterpillar Craft

caterpillar craft

For the past few weeks we have been studying caterpillars with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature With Children. I have to say, this has been one of the most exciting subjects to study (for all of us).

caterpillar butterfly unit study

Along with our curriculum, here are some of the other resources we used:

Anatomy of a Caterpillar Craft with Homemade Playdough

Since we couldn’t find any real caterpillars for a hands-on study, we made one! Here is the video we watched for instructions on how to make a Swallowtail Caterpillar out of playdough.

We then used a small chalkboard to label the parts of the caterpillar.

caterpillar unit study

Have you tried homemade playdough before? I just recently became a believer and will never go back to the store bought stuff! My boys played for hours after we made the caterpillar craft, literal hours.

Here is the recipe I used (taken from @wovenchildhood on Instagram):

  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1 Cup Iodized Salt
  • 3 Tbs Cream of Tartar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional, for an extra sensory element)
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Carefully add in oil and hot water
  3. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil of your choosing (we added lemon EO)
  4. Stir together until blended
  5. Add food coloring, then stir again
  6. Knead and sprinkle a little more flour until your preferred consistency

Caterpillar and Butterfly Free Printables

Butterfly life cycle sequencing cards

caterpillar craft

Here’s another fun, hands-on craft we found for teaching kids about the butterfly life cycle and metamorphosis.

What better way to study caterpillars than to observe them in real life? We’ve ordered this butterfly kit from Amazon before to grow and release our own butterflies and it was an incredible experience! (Sadly, we didn’t get to it this year)

Caterpillar Unit Study and Life Cycle 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!**

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Summer Birds – The Butterflies of Maria Merian (so fascinating!)

Caterpillar Dreams

Ten Little Caterpillars

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog

Monarch and Milkweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

**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 Flower Sun Catcher Craft for Kids

A few weeks back, the kids and I made some simple sun catchers with the wildflowers (and weeds) we collected on some nature walks. Of course, my pockets are ALWAYS loaded with all kinds of treasures from our walks – rocks, leaves, flowers, etc.

This was a fun way to turn their nature treasures into a little keepsake and eye candy for my windows! The boys loved arranging their treasures to make their flower sun catchers. I can’t get over how gorgeous they turned out, considering how easy this project was.

diy sun catchers

You’ll need:

First, go on a hike, nature walk, or a field trip out to your garden. Let the kiddos gather some flowers – heck, even weeds look good in these DIY sun catchers. My boys picked dandelion and skunk flower (yep, it smells bad), and they look beautiful.

Next, press your leaves/flowers. The less moisture you end up with, the longer they will last in your sun catchers.

*Note: you can also make these with fresh, flattened flowers and they will last for a few weeks before the moisture from the flowers will start to interfere with the contact paper. We’ve made them this way and they’re still pretty – but temporary.

Once your flowers are pressed, lay down one square of contact paper big enough to cover the embroidery hoop with a few extra inches on each side – sticky side UP.

Arrange the flowers on the contact paper however you wish. I mean, however your kids wish. Because this is an activity for them, not for you. Obviously. 😉

Next, place another square of contact paper on top of the flowers, sticky side DOWN. Make sure you push down on all of the air bubbles as much as possible to get a tight seal.

The flowers will now be sandwiched in between the contact paper.

Now have your kids unscrew the embroidery hoops and help them sandwich the flower-filled contact paper in between the hoops, screwing it back together tightly.

Finally, cut off the excess contact paper and hang your pretty DIY flower sun catchers up on a window, preferably one that you walk by frequently.

flower sun catchers

All the heart eyes emojis. 😍

These would make a great Mother’s Day gift or homemade gift for someone special.

But I kept ours. Because 😍😍😍

These homemade sun catchers also make a great hands-on nature study activity or flower craft. We looked up our flowers in one of our favorite field guide books to see what we had collected. And our favorite picture book to go along with this craft is Miss Rumphius – it’s SO good!

diy sun catchers

Did you make these with your kiddos? I’d love to hear how they 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.**