Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well, my family is finally on the mend and I think I have banished all the nasty germs from our home. Unfortunately a small family crisis has occurred and I hate to do it, but I have to postpone Nature Explorers Club for the next week. I really need to focus on family right now as we try to get through the next few days. Please keep us in your prayers as there are a lot of unknowns that we are going to face in the next few days. I hope to be back next week, I have some great things planned to share with you all, but it will have to wait. If you can, explore someplace new this week instead. Find a park, a field or a bit of forest you have never seen before and go exploring. You never know what you will find. Blessings to you all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nature Explorers Club - Week Update


Sorry for posting so late, but a nasty virus has hit our house, and only now am I able to put my thoughts together.

This past week we learned all about Oak Trees. I personally am in love with Oak trees (did I mention that I have BA in Foresty?) There is something about the silent beauty of a strong, massive oak with it branches twisting and winding out and upward. They almost have a certain grace about them. But I digress...

This week we were joined by two of Esthers friends for our adventures and we had a great time. We are blessed by having an arboreatum for a back yard (literally). The woods are quite nice and they had a great selection of old oak trees.

We took time to explore them,

feeling their bark and looking into their branches

some a little more into it than others...

We did bark rubbings

And collected as many acorns as we could. Sadly most were gone having already been collected by the squirrels, but we found enough to satisfy all.
We made the letter O (for Oak) using acorn caps

And pretended to be trees in light breezes, strong storms, and even with squirrels tickling our sides

We used leaves collected to make a window hanging by ironing them between two pieces of wax paper.
*picture to arrive soon*

Sadly this is when our sickness struck and the rest of the plans have been on hold until better days. We still had fun, and Esther is still talking about the Oak trees, making me one proud mom.

If you and your children ventured out into nature and did some exploring on your own, please feel free to link up below. I will be posting the next topic later this weekend, when I am feeling better.

A question for you


I just had a quick question for those of you participating in the Nature Explorers Club...

Would it be easier/better if there were two weeks between topics. I want you all to have an enjoyable experience with your kiddos and not be rushed. Also I want you to have enough time to prepare.So what do you think, one week or two?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nature Explorers Club - Oak Trees


Welcome to The Nature Explorers Club. I am a mom who loves nature and loves to share it with others. Using my experience as an Outdoor Education Instructor and the basic guidelines of the book "
Nature For the Very Young", I will be venturing out to explore the great outdoors every week with my kids. Every week I will share what we did, and every week you are welcome to join us. I will post the topic of the week, then one week later I will share what we did and give you a chance to share as well. So get your boots ready, because we're going exploring!

*Note: you are not required to have the book, "Nature For the Very Young" to participate.

This weeks topic is:
Picture courtesy of Wikkipedia
Oak Trees

The Oak tree is fairly widespread species of tree, with many different kinds being found all over the United States. If you do not have any Oak trees near you, you can easily use the following lesson with any tree, though I would suggest maple as being the best substitute. If you are not sure what an Oak tree looks like, Here is a short video that explains the characteristics of an oak tree

There are two main families of Oak trees. The Red Oak, with its pointed leaves,

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Directory

And the White Oak, with rounded leaves.
Picture courtesy of Wikkipedia

Find out which species of tree can be found in your area. You can use the web, a field guide, or if possible take a field trip to visit a local forester. You can try your city hall, the local agricultural extension office, or the yellow pages.

Once you have found yourself an oak tree, describe what you see. Most oaks are rather large with sprawling branches that seem to reach to all corners of the sky. Touch the bark, how does it feel. Try to wrap your arms around the tree, can you make it all the way around?

Picture courtesy of wikipedia

A tree is very similar to us. Take your arms, and stretch them as high as you can go. Now look at the tree, it also has "arms", these are called branches. They stretch high into the sky so that the leaves can get sunlight. Feel your skin. It is there to protect you body. It keeps harmful germs and disease from entering your body. The bark does the same thing for the tree. It protect it from insects and disease.

Stand up, straight and tall. Do you fall over? What keeps you from falling over? Your feet! Trees have feet also, but they look a little different. Way down underground, the tree has roots. The roots keep the tree from falling over. They also take water out of the soil for the tree to drink.
Picture courtesy of wikipedia

While Oak trees are beautiful, they have a very important job in the forest. They provide food for many animals. What do you think animals eat from the Oak tree? Acorns!! An acorn is actually the seed for a new oak tree, but many will never become trees because they will be eaten. But don't be sad, because many animals need the acorns to survive the winter, making the oak tree a very special tree. Find an acorn and crack it open to see what is inside.

Spend some time exploring and enjoying the surroundings.


*Role Play using the suggestions below,
"Lets pretend to be trees. Stand tall and strong, without moving your feet. Stretch your branches way up high. Now, there's a small wind coming, move your branches in teh wind. Now its getting stronger"...continue giving directions in this way.

* using paper and crayons, do some bark or leaf rubbings
* make a leaf collage by arranging leaves between two pieces of wax paper and then ironing them together
*collect two of several different leaves from the forest and play a matching game
* create a feely box using a shoe box or small box. Cut a hole in the top and take turns placing different items in the box and trying to guess what it is using our hands only.
*collect acorns and count how many you have. Use them as counters in math games
*use several acorns to form the letter O

Have a great week and don't forget to check back in one week to see what we did and to share as well.

Nature Explorers Club - Week Update


This past weeks topic was Flower to seed. Unfortuantely our week was filled with rain, making the exploration of flowers and seeds very difficult. Luckily we had one nice afternoon and took advantage of it.

While indoors, we played with flower parts made out of felt,

And we made flowers out of pipe cleaners.

Once outside we dissected one of my daylillies

Esther REALLY enjoyed this. I no longer have any daylilies and my snapdragons are starting to disappear. Sigh...all in the name of science

We searched the whole yard finding as many flowers, and seed heads that we could find. Sadly they were all soaking wet and not usable for an art project. But she saw how the pistil would eventually be filled with seeds.

Finally, we went to the garden and found some flowers on the tomato plant and I explained how sometimes the pistil gets so big it turns into something that we can eat.

To show that the tomato was a pistil we opened it up and looked at the seeds inside. This lesson really stuck with her, because later when we were eating some dried figs, she excitedly exclaimed, "look mommy, there's seeds in here too!"

Even though our time outside was limited, this week was a success. We had fun, saw something never seen before and learned something new. I hope you had a fun week as well. I would love for you to share. Please feel free to leave a comment if you tried a different activity, or link up below if you wrote a post. The next topic will be posted shortly, see you next week!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tot School - September

Tot School
This week was filled with many familiar activities, cutting, gluing, pouring, etc. Here were some of the new activities.

We played with our new Counting Cheerios book. Very Fun.

We matched number cards using our pocket chart.

We practiced our pencil grip. I placed several cards throughout the house with pencils next to them. Esther had to draw what was on the cards, which ended up making a simple picture.

As part of our Nature Explorers Club we learned all about Queen Anne's Lace. To see more of our activities, click here.
Esther helped me grind some tomatoes for tomato sauce.

Mommy quickly realized an immersion food processor would be much easier to use. At least we practiced some motor skills for a little bit.

That was our week. To see what others have been up to, click the button below.
Tot School

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nature Explorers Club - Weeks End Update


This week we learned all about Queen Anne's Lace. To read the original post, click here.

Nearby there was a large field filled with Queen Anne's Lace. Sadly, upon arrival I learned that my camera batteries were dead. We continued on with our exploration, and I took several specimens home with me to take pictures to share.

We learned the different stages of Queen Anne's Lace

We especially enjoyed tossing the "birds nest" around

We found several colors including these deep purple colored centers.
*I just tried to upload the picture and it was so blurry it wasn't worth putting up, sorry*

We compared it to a carrot from our garden and found that while they look similar, Queen Anne's Lace does not taste as good as a carrot.

We painted using the flower heads

And finally, I realized I forgot to include this activity. We placed several stems in colored water and watched them change color. This was a great way to show how flowers drink water.
Overall, we had a lot of fun. While in the field we saw a baby praying mantis, some wild sweet peas and had fun trying to catch crickets.

This week, my blogger friend Michelle was busy and created a beautiful button which you can add to your blog if you would like to. You can find it on my side bar. Thanks Michelle!!

If you used one or all of the suggestions and blogged about it, please add your link below because I would love to see it. To see what the topic is for next week, just read the post after this one.

Nature Explorers Club - Flower to Seed


Welcome to The Nature Explorers Club. I am a mom who loves nature and loves to share it with others. Using my experience as an Outdoor Education Instructor and the basic guidelines of the book "Nature For the Very Young", I will be venturing out to explore the great outdoors every week with my kids. Every week I will share what we did, and every week you are welcome to join us. I will post the topic of the week, then one week later I will share what we did and give you a chance to share as well. So get your boots ready, because we're going exploring!

This weeks topic is:

Flower to Seed

As we transition from Summer to Fall, this is the perfect time to learn about the purpose of flowers, since you can typically find one in all of its different stages in one single plant. The main purpose of a flower is to produce more of that same flower, this is called reproduction.

Search around for some flowers. Take a close look at them and see if you can find the major parts to the flower, the stem, leaf, petal, stamen, and pistil. If you can, pull a flower apart to take a closer look at each part.
Picture courtesy of Encarta

The colorful petals attract insects like bees who are looking for pollen. Smell the petals. Is there a different smell? This also helps attract insects.

The pollen is located on the stamen. Try brushing a stamen on your finger. Does it leave a mark of pollen? While the bees are in the flower collecting pollen (to later make into honey), parts of pollen from other flowers will stick to the pistil. For a flower to make seeds, it needs pollen from another flower.
Picture by Peter Kratochvil
At the base of the pistil, is the ovary. This is where the seeds will be made. Allow the child to break open an ovary and explore.

Now try to find a flower that has finished blooming and is in the process of making seeds. Again open the ovary and look inside. Does it look any different?

Finally, see if you can find a flower that has completed the process of making seeds. It will most likely be brown, hard and dead. Break it open and look for the seeds. These seeds will eventually fall to the ground and nest spring could sprout into new plants.

Don't be concerned with going too deep with terminology, or explaining the entire process. The purpose of this activity is to take something familiar and explore it further with the hope of stirring a desire to explore and learn more. If your child asks questions, then seek the answers. If they are content to sniff the pretty flowers, then enjoy the sweet smells.

* try to collect flowers to represent every color of the rainbow.
* collect as many different flowers as possible then make a simple graph showing how many of each color you have
*create your own flower parts out of felt, cardboard, or laminated paper and let your child try to piece the "puzzle" together to form a whole flower.
*collect as many seeds as you can and create a collage using contact paper or a piece of paper thinly coated with glue
* play "pin the pistil on the flower" using large flower parts.
*read the book "The Reason for a Flower" by Ruth Heller
*you can role play, a flower growing, a flower dropping its seeds, or a bee visiting a flower.

Check back in one week to see what we did, and to share what you did as well.