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?

 

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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

 

Our Favorite Games for Littles!

“By playing games you can speed up your learning curve to help develop the right kind of thought processes.”

-Nate Silver

 

#1. Spot it!

 

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Spot it! is the addictive, feverishly fun matching game for every generation. The first thing to know about Spot it! is that there is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any two cards. Got it? Now all you need is a sharp eye and a quick hand to play all five party games packed into the grab ‘n’ go tin. Including up to eight players, Spot it! is a cinch to learn, plays fast, and is irresistibly fun for all ages!

 

#2. Rock Paper Scissors The Card Game

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Here’s the fast & fun CARD VERSION of the game kids have played for generations. Each player lays down a card. If your card beats your opponent’s card, you take it. When all cards have been played, the player who has collected the most cards wins the game!! 2 players, ages 4 and up!

#3. Keekee The Rocking Monkey

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Works on Balance notions • Dexterity fine motors • Weight notions • An adorable all wooden balancing game for 1 to 4 players, ages 3 and up. 

#4. Gobblet Gobblers

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Like tic-tac-toe, line up 3 of your Gobblers in a row to win! • Players can gobble up their opponent’s pieces to take their place. • Gobblet tests critical thinking while training memory skills and spatial awareness. • All wooden strategy game for 2 players, ages 5 & up.

#5. Ring It!

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Race to ring the bell first when a winning combination is shown on the table! • This fast pace game will be filled with chaos and laughter • Includes: 90 cards, a bell, and illustrated rules • For 2-9 Players, ages 5 & Up

#6. Pengoloo

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This is one of our favorites!! Works on Memoery skills • Color Recognition • up to 4 players • Go on a South Pole Egg-spedition with this all wooden memory game for 2 to 4 players, ages 4 and up. • Roll two colored dice and lift two penguins to search for colored eggs that match the dice. Collect six penguins on your iceberg to win! • Strengthens color recognition, visualization, memory and social skills. 

#7. Sequence for Kids

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Play a card from your hand, place your chip on a corresponding character on the board. When you have 4 in a row, it’s a SEQUENCE and you win! Use a wild card to place your chip anywhere. Remove your opponent’s chip with a DRAGON card. Have fun with your friends playing SEQUENCE® For Kids™! Includes: folding game board, 42 playing cards, 21 red playing chips, 21 yellow playing chips, 21 green playing chips, 21 blue playing chips, and instructions. 2 to 4 players. Ages 3-6.

#8. Shape Your Story

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A game that brings a twist to oral storytelling. Use the 3 shapes (Circle, Triangle & Square) to draw objects/characters. Let your imagination take a flight and make thousands of stories with drawings. Roll the number and the shape dice to pick your shape cards. Draw different objects with the shapes. Use the objects that you have drawn to tell a story. Play a game of telling stories by yourself, time your story and challenge another player or draw and create stories together in a game of cooperative story telling!

#9. Bananagrams Game

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The Bananagrams anagram game will drive you and your friends bananas! It requires no pencil, paper or board and provides educational family fun!

#10. Ticket To Ride-First Journey

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Start your trip across Europe with ticket to ride: first journey (Europe)! ticket to ride: first journey takes the gameplay of the ticket to ride series and scales it for a younger audience. During the game, players will collect train cards, claim routes on the map of Europe, and try to connect the cities shown on their tickets. The first player to complete six tickets wins! with the same gameplay as the first ticket to ride: first journey game, but now featuring a map of Europe, this game is perfect for any young conductors!

 

 

 

 

 

A Nature Inspired Valentine’s Day

There are so many adorable nature-themed Valentines Day crafts for kids! Take some time this weekend to create some of these adorable keepsakes!

#1. Nature Valentine’s Card

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#2. You Rock Valentines

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#3.  Valentine’s Bird Feeders

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#4. Love Bug Valentine

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#5. Toad-ally Awesome Valentine’s!

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#6.  Valentine’s Tree

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#7. Plantable Valentine’s Heart

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#8. Heart Stick Mobile

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#9. Valentine’s Tree

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#10. Birch-bark Heart

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Stocking Stuffer Fun!

Stockings! It’s one of our favorite Christmas traditions. There is just something about opening a gift full of wonderful little surprises. Here are a few of our favorite stocking stuffers! 🙂

#1. Mini Tins of Thinking Putty

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We LOVE thinking putty. Especially since it has a new scented evergreen edition.

#2. Glow Mars Mud

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Once you start playing with this, you won’t stop! 🙂

#3. Incrediblefoam

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With open-ended and sensory play in mind, Incrediblefoam is one of our favorites!

#4. Magnetic Slime Ooze

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Mix up a batch of slime that reacts to a magnet!

#5. Cosmic Spinner Tops

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Tops! We have literally played with these for hours on end. 

#6. Touchable Bubbles

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Bubbles that you can actually touch without popping!

#7. Wooden Animal Slingshot 

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Slingshots and giant marshmallows. It’s a blast!

#8. Wildlife BB Pocket Puzzle

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Patience is required, but still so much fun!

#9. Skwooshi

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One of the most addicting things we have ever play with. Literally. 🙂

#10. Original Metal Slinky

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If you have stairs…this is a must!

#11. Gyroscope 

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A classic toy that has been a family favorite for years!

#12. Old Fashioned Diving Sub

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Just add a little baking powder, and watch the diving sub in action!

#13. Tornado Tube

 

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If you’ve never seen the Tornado Tube® in action you may not realize how dramatic it can be!!

#14. Flip Birds

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A highly addictive game of dexterity and skill. A flick of the finger will send each Flippin’ Bird towards the cup!

#15. Jetfire Glider Twin Pack

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The original Guillow’s Balsa Wood Planes from more than half a century ago. Two Gliders are included that soar up to 25 feet. 12″ wingspan!

#16. Magic Rocks

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Would you like to grow some rocks? Fill a clear glass container, such as a wide-mouthed jar, with the special solution, and add the colored pellets to it!

#17. Spiky Light-up Ball

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Turn off all the lights, and start a fun tossing game. So many memories were made by playing with these!

#18. Guatemalan Kick Bag 

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Hand crocheted in Guatemala, these are made to last!

#19. Astronaut Ice Cream and Fruit

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Enjoy your ice cream just as Astronauts do–the freeze-dried way! There is also cinnamon apples, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and bananas!

#20. Rattleback

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A science curiosity whose ancient and mysterious properties capture the attention of all ages. Rattleback will spin in one direction but when spun in the wrong direction, it will quickly stop, rattle up and down, and then begin to spin in the opposite direction. It also magnifies and is sure to entertain for hours!