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Creating A Fall Nature Journal

Fall is here! It’s the perfect time to slow down and watch the world around us. In the fall we get to enjoy the few late bloomers, trees bursting with color, and busy critters preparing for the quickly approaching winter months. Grab your pens, pencils, and note books, and head outdoors to enjoy learning through nature!

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Being A Naturalist In The Digital Age-An Excerpt From The Naturalist’s Notebook

“These days, the notion of using a pencil or pen to write down natural history observations in a journal sounds almost quaint, even to my ears. So, a word of explanation is in order about the advantages and disadvantages of writing versus typing, and of paper versus electronic spreadsheets.

My own motivation for maintaining a hand-written natural history journal is simply to attune myself to the world around me, and a journal suits me well. If my primary objective were to combine my quantitative observation with other researcher’s, or to advance global knowledge by contributing to a citizen science data-base, or to communicate quickly with friends, then I would type my observations directly online.Both approaches are fine, but they have fundamentally different aims. In fact, I routinely use both approaches in my work.

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For several reasons, however, I prefer the “old-fashioned way” of writing down backyard natural history observations. All I need is my journal and a pencil, and I like the intimate feel of a book in my hand. Handwriting helps me focus in a different way than when I’m typing ; research suggests that handwriting actually changes the brain function, making it more likely that I will remember what I’ve seen. Jotting down a note on a paper is fast, but even if writing took more time than logging data on a computer, I cherish the chance to slow life down, to saunter for a moment rather than sprint. I can always enter natural history observations into a spreadsheet later on.

Nevertheless, if you prefer to maintain your observations in a spreadsheet, on a tablet, on a smartphone, or in the cloud, that is perfectly fine. There are real advantages to having your observations in a digital spreadsheet such as Excel. For example, if you have a large number of related observations, spreadsheets allow you to select, sort, and organize them by species, date, or any other variable. With spreadsheets, you can easily access your data and manipulate it, perform statistical analyses, and graph the results, and it’s effortless to create backup copies of your records.”

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This is coming soon to our store! 

Which way do you prefer to journal?

 

Learning Through Nature-Pond Study!

Nature! It’s our favorite things to study, because no matter how much you learn and discover, there will always be more to learn and discover. Our topic today has been about pond life. More specifically, about frogs. Our littles love frogs, and are always trying to catch fast little tadpoles swimming in the water. Here are our favorite pond study items we put together…

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If you don’t live near any water, we recommend getting the Frog Hatchery Kit.

For catching the tiny tadpoles, our littles used the little Glow Catcher. It’s small, so they can handle it much better than the large ones.

The Pond Life activity book is full of information and fun activities!

All three of the field guides: Frogs and Toads, Reptiles and Amphibians, and the Pond Life Pocket Guide are all great choices for taking on your pond life hunt. However, the pocket guide is waterproof, so we would recommend that one!

The Wonders of Nature Frog Life Cycle are perfect for adding to a sensory bin or for learning hands-on!

Nature Anatomy has been our favorite nature guide/book since its release!

The Giant Frog Life Cycle Magnets are our new product that will be out this fall! Keep an eye out for it!

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If interested in ordering any of the mentioned items use code: SUMMER2018 at www.workshopplus.com.

 

Sensory Play with Kinetic Sand!

Learning is messy.

“It’s in the mess that the real learning happens. Reaching the whole child or family requires that we position ourselves to see life not through our content or instructional expertise, but simply as a human being.”

We love messy play around here, and believe it is so very important for a child’s development. When we first came across Kinetic Sand, we were completely blown away by how much we thoroughly enjoyed playing with it.  It looks like sand, feels like sand, IS sand, but unlike regular sand, Kinetic Sand is stretchy, and holds together!

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Kinetic Sand

Here are some of our favorite Kinetic Sand activities:

Stamping Shapes

Lego Stamping

Letter Tracing

Sand Blocks

Sand and Water Bin

Rainbow Building

Kinetic Sand Cupcakes

Potato Head

Kinetic Sand Spiders

Construction Site

Kinetic Sand Dot to Dot

 

Hello New School Year!

It’s back to homeschool around here, and we couldn’t be more excited to begin a brand new season filled with brand new goals. Our goals may seem small, but we found that they make such a huge difference in our homeschool days! Here are three of our daily “musts” for this school semester…

 

  1. Getting up an hour (okay, 20 minutes) before the littles.

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Having an hour to drink some coffee (while it’s still hot), get some laundry done, and breakfast prepped, is so important for us. It sets the tone for the rest of the day, and we don’t feel rushed and behind when the kids wake up.

 

2. Get outdoors more!

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Even if we just go to the backyard for 10 minutes with a magnifying glass, it makes such a huge difference in our day. The fresh air, sunshine, and quietness are so good for our souls! Shop our favorite nature journals here!

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”

 

3. Free time play!

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Giving our littles time to think and explore on their own is when real growth, discovery, and learning takes place!

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

 

Do you have any “musts” for your school days? 🙂

12 Easy Summer Science Experiments

  1. Create A Geyser!
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From I Can Teach My Child

 

2.  Create Art with Vinegar and Crushed Chalk

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From Play.Learn.Grow

 

3.  Make Waterproof Sand

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From The Geek Pub 

 

4. Build A Sundial

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From Otherwise Educating

 

5. Make Giant Bubbles

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From Happy Hooligans 

 

6. Make Rain Clouds

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From Growing A Jeweled Rose

 

7. Make an Outdoor Volcano

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From A Mom With A Lesson Plan

 

8. Homemade Ice Cream

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From Little Bins for Little Hands

 

9. Exploring Sunography

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From In the Playroom

 

10. Make Your Own Solar Oven

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From I Can Teach My Child

 

11. Sun Upcycled Crayons

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From Mama Smiles

 

12. Ocean Science

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From Natural Beach Living

 

Enjoying an Indiana Summer!

Summer is officially here, and it has been nothing less than amazing thus far! It’s about creek stomping, firefly catching, and seemingly endless daylight. It’s about creating a whole new batch of memories and remembering those of days past. It’s slowing down. It’s cherishing the moment. Because this season too will pass.

Here in central Indiana, we have a lot of parks. We have over 12 within 20 minutes of our house! Needless to say, there is always plenty to choose from when choosing a day outing. Here are a few local events we’re looking forward to attending this summer!

#1. Bamboo Wind Chimes

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Create your own natural wind chime while learning about wind and what causes the wind to blow! What will your whimsical wind chime look like?
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$3/project (up to 2 people per project).

 

#2. Lil’ Explorers 

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Get to know the various kinds of animals that visit or live at McCloud Nature Park, visit the Bee House, and build a simple bird feeder to take home. For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#3. Young Adventurers Camp

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Look for animals, build a shelter, and go on an adventure! Become an expert of all kinds of McCloud animals.
For kids ages 6-12.

 

#4. Creek Critters and Bugs

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Step into the natural habitat of our local aquatic creatures! Together we will capture water insects to see how healthy Big Walnut Creek’s ecosystem is. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes in the creek to protect your feet. A towel and extra shoes and socks are also recommended, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#5. Nature’s Floral Fireworks

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Nature is bursting with color in the summer and putting on a vibrant display just in time for the 4th of July! Learn to identify some of our native wildflowers and discover which ones will complement your landscaping!
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, natural and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.

 

#6. Firefly Night Hike

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Learn why fireflies flash (and why they never have to pay an electric bill!), and catch and release these bioluminescent insects! Registered participants will receive glow sticks and insect jars. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 6 through adult.
$5/person.

 

#7. Fly Fishing for Beginners

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Have you ever wanted to try fly fishing? Learn the basics of fly fishing during this hands-on program. We will go over some of the local fish that you can catch, as well as assemble fly fishing rods and practice casting on land. No fishing license is needed, as this is on land only. Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle.
Recommended for ages 13+.

 

#8. Bald Eagles

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These majestic birds have recovered from their endangered status, and it is much more common to spot bald eagles now. With any luck, we’ll see our national bird flying along Big Walnut Creek! Be sure to bring your camera and a water bottle, and wear comfortable hiking shoes as we learn all about these regal creatures who double as our national symbol. 
Hiking terrain info: easy to moderate difficulty, grass and gravel surfaces, up to 2 miles.
This program is FREE to attend, appropriate for all ages, and no advance registration is required.

 

#9. Mud Soup!

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Get messy! Help make mud soup and mud pies, paint with natural materials, create natural crafts, and play outdoor games.
For youngsters (age 2-5) with adult. $12 fee covers both child and adult. Maximum enrollment is 12 children. We prefer a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio, with the exception of siblings (in that case, one adult for two siblings is fine).

 

#10. Creek Stomp Hike #2

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Cool off and enjoy a splashing good time in Big Walnut Creek! Stomp in the water with Naturalists to learn about the health of the creek and to discover some great places to explore! Wear closed-toe water shoes or old sneakers, bring towels, and don’t forget your water bottle!
(If the creek or weather conditions are unsafe, there will be alternative activities.)
Recommended for ages 6+.