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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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DIY Kids’ Space Room – With REMOVABLE Wallpaper!

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My boys share a room – and they’ve been collectively asking for a space room for, well, years. So a few weekends ago, we sent the boys away to their grandparents’ house and surprised them with their new space room.

By far, the coolest part of their new room is this Constellations wallpaper from Coloray.

This isn’t traditional wallpaper. This is actually PEEL-AND-STICK wallpaper. That’s right, folks. Slap it up there, and then when they change their minds or change rooms or if we decide to move – it PEELS RIGHT OFF. And, it’s REUSABLE.

(I am talking in all caps because I have spent a month slowly scraping wallpaper off four walls and THIS IS A BIG DEAL.)

So, yes, this is a life-changing home décor product – but, you do need to know how to hang it properly or you are going to get yourself in trouble. Ask me how I know.

**Note – make sure to remove all jewelry before hanging the wallpaper. We noticed our rings made tiny scratch marks when we first started out – so learn from our mistake!**

Step One – Clean and Prime Your Walls

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This is the most important step.

I repeat – the most important step!

Wipe your walls down with a wet cloth (because you know if it’s in a kid’s room, it’s going to be covered in all sorts of grime). If the wall is painted with a latex paint (especially a gloss paint), the wallpaper won’t stick properly. Your best bet is to lay a quick coat of primer on the wall and let it dry completely.

Step Two – Remove Baseboards and Outlet/Light Switch Covers

Our baseboards were a bit tricky to remove in one piece, but we were able to get them off without doing any damage.

Step Three – Lay Out the Wallpaper Panels

Carefully lay out your wallpaper panels on the floor (with clean hands). Make sure the design on the edges line up and double check the length of your wall. If you have slightly more length than you need, you may be able to overlap the panels a bit, as long as the designs still match up.

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Step Four – Start Hanging

Once you’ve determined your left-to-right panel order, get ready to hang. Starting at the top of the wall (and working in a left-to-right fashion), peel back the first four or so inches of the backing.

(Note: I would NOT recommend peeling the backing on the carpet or bed or any surface that may have dust or hair on it. The first time we did this on the floor, all kinds of little things immediately stuck to the back of the wallpaper and affected its sticking power in those spots.)

Line up the top of the panel with the top of your wall and press it down, making sure it is straight across. Have someone step back and verify that it’s straight. If not, you can peel if off and try again.

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Step Five – Work Your Way Down

You’ll want two people for this step – one person to pull the backing off from behind, about a foot at a time, and one to smooth down the paper by pressing from the middle out to the edges. Smooth out all those little creases and bubbles.

If you’re finding that the paper isn’t laying flat, peel it up a bit and try again. Continue smoothing it down, one foot at a time, until you get to the bottom of the wall.

Step Six – Cut Around Outlets and Light Switches

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If you run into an outlet or light switch as you’re laying the paper down, make note of where it is and lay the paper right over it.

Then, before you do anything else – GO TURN OFF THE POWER.

Seriously, don’t try to cut the hole out with the switch power on. Use a flashlight if you must for this part (we did).

Using a sharp utility knife or a single edge razor blade, carefully cut a hole as big as the opening in the drywall. The cover will give you some leeway to work with, so don’t worry about it being perfect.

Step Seven – Cut Off the Excess

Once you reach the bottom of the wall, cut off the excess below where the top of your baseboards will be. (You’ll want a little wiggle room.) Then, press really well and voila! You’ve just finished your first panel.

Step Eight – Repeat Steps One Through Seven

Keep following this process with additional panels until you’ve finished your wall.

You may want to run your hands over it once more to smooth out any additional bubbles. If there’s a tricky spot, you can run a blow dryer over it and then try smoothing it out – this works surprisingly well.

Step Nine – Install Your Baseboard

(Or convince your husband to do it thirty minutes before your kids’ bedtime while you get the kids dressed for bed. I mean, he’s a lucky guy.)

That’s it! So much easier than traditional wallpaper – as long as you follow the important preparation steps.

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We chose the Constellations pattern, but there are so many beautiful categories to choose from:

Coloray Vintage

Coloray Floral

Coloray Patterns

and Coloray Kids

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Have you ever tried removable wallpaper? Tell me what questions you have!

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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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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).

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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.

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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

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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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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.

spring equinox seasons

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.

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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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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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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 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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Ocean Zones Hands-On Science Activity

ocean layers

This week in Classical Conversations (Cycle 1), we learned about the layers of the oceans, or ocean zones.

This was a simple and fun activity that required minimal effort and supplies you probably already have lying around.

(We got the idea from this book)

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First, gather 5 clear cups or jars and line them up next to one another. Make sure you put down parchment or kraft paper underneath if your surface stains easily, since you will be working with food coloring.

Next, fill them up 3/4 of the way with lukewarm water.

To the first cup, add 2 drops of yellow food coloring. This will be the Sunlit (Epipelagic) Zone.

To the next cup, add 1 drop of blue food coloring, for the Twilight (Mesopelagic) Zone.

To the third cup, add 2 drops of blue food coloring, for the Midnight (Bathypelagic) Zone.

To the fourth cup, add 3 drops of blue food coloring; this is the Abyssal (Abyssopelagic) Zone.

We added a fifth category: Trench. Add 4 drops of blue and 1 drop of red; it should look nearly black.

Now, have your kiddos place one ice cube in the second cup, three in the third cup, five in the fourth cup, and a handful in the last cup. This represents the ocean temperature as you go deeper, and it’s really fun to feel how the temperature changes as you move from cup to cup! You can also discuss how the pressure changes as you go deeper into the ocean’s layers.

We also printed out labels for each zone.

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To add another element of learning, we got out our mini ocean animals and the boys dropped each animal into the ocean zone in which they live. We had to reference our books for some of them – it was a great learning opportunity!

Let me know if you try this activity, and how it went!

 

 

 

**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.**