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

 

A Charlotte Mason Summer

Summer is here  (we still can’t believe it)! With that being said, it’s time to step back and enjoy some calmness. One of our favorite things about the Charlotte Mason method is that it promotes short lessons, outdoor time, nature, books, and narration. Perfect for the calm summer we so often seek.  Here are some fun Charlotte Mason inspired activities to enjoy this beautiful summer!

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Teaching Kids How To Use A Map And Compass

Learning To Embroider 

Washing Farm Animals Sensory Bin

Weather Stones

Color Changing Flowers

Flower Fine Motor Activity

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

Painting Sunflowers

Nature Suncatchers 

Leaf Threading

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Light and Shadow Painting

Rock Balancing

Making Mandala Art

Make A Stick Picture Frame

Name That Tree

Journey Sticks

Nature Cuffs

Bark Rubbings

Using the Senses Outdoors 

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Art and Nature Study with Beatrix Potter

How To Start A Family Nature Journal

Nature Journal For Kids

Nature Journal With Twig Binding

How To Make A Nature Display 

Printable Nature Journal

Julia Rothman Nature Journal Guides

Nature Log

Keeping A Nature Journal

Nature Observer

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5 Free Living Book For Nature Study

Billy and Blaze Series 

Living Forest Series 

Nature Reader Series

Robby-Bird Life

The Locust Story

A Horse Called Willing

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

Learning From the Book of Nature

 

All About Birds!

Out little guy loves standing at our window to observe birds. We have a few window feeders, and he gets absolutely delighted when his feathered friends pay him a visit. Because of his newly found interest, we’re doing a study on all things bird this week. Here are some of our favorite activities thus far!

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Birds and Nests

Paper Bag Nests

Build A Bird’s Nest

Bird Nests STEM

Nest and Baby Bird

Robins Egg Sun Catchers

 

National Sunglasses Day (3)

Robin Bird Craft

Bird Hand Print

Yarn Wrapped Blue Jay

Paper Bird Craft

Parrot Craft

Feather Painting

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Nature Anatomy

Birds of Prey

Hummingbirds

Birds of Indiana

Common Birds and Their Songs

Bird Life

Birds Fandex

What’s That Bird?

Beginning Bird Watcher’s Book

TIME TO BE LITTLE AGAIN

We’re led to believe that our kids need to be scheduled, their time accounted for. But, what if they really need is freedom. Blank space. A time to be little.

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Earlier this month I found myself looking at old photos from my childhood. I was reminded of how simple life was. I wasn’t enrolled, entertained, scheduled, supervised, coached, or assessed in adult-directed activities to be happy. I took my time. I collected sticks. Climbed trees. Rode my bike. Got dirty, and had FUN! Taking that step back in time left me craving more. More of that same, simple, beautiful life. It was a wonderful reminder that my own children need a slow childhood as well.

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But, in our modern world, I’m acutely aware that I’m the odd parent out. And that makes it hard. It’s so sad to see all of our parks completely empty during the day (even in the summer) because kids are too busy with organized sports, gymnastics, music classes, etc. It’s not the organized sports and activities themselves that destroy creativity but the lack of downtime. Even two hours per week of unstructured play has the ability to boost children’s creativity to above-average levels!

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One of the things that stop a lot of people from simplifying is fear. Fear that their kids might miss out on something. Fear of being judged for not “socializing” with other children. Fear that we may be impending our children’s success. Fear of what others may think.

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It takes a brave parent to trust that simplifying our children’s lives and giving them down time to play and connect with their families is what they really need!

 

 

 

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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