Sunday, November 16, 2014

20 Things to Do with Seeds, Acorns, Pods, and Berries!

Fall is the perfect time to explore seeds, acorns, pods and berries. These are great natural treasures. Here are 20 ideas! 

LIfeStraw Go at Bonneyville Mill

With the LifeStraw Go in hand, we decided to head out to Bonneyville Mill this last Saturday to try out the LifeStraw Go. Read more about the LifeStraw Go in the pictures below by the waterfall. There is also a giveaway for a bottle/filter at the bottom of the post. It was about 27 degrees, but felt much warmer as there was no wind and it was sunny out. On days like this, we make it a point to go out!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oh Deer!

We started out our nature preschool program looking out the wildlife viewing window. It's always nice to look at the squirrels climbing the trees, wondering if they are looking at us as well! We started out stamping things related to deer in our nature journals, like tracks, trees, and leaves.

We made fun little habitat hats from Growing Up Wild, talking about the four things that all animals need: food, space, shelter, and water. These are our basics as well, which we discussed. For story time we read a few books, though the kids were ready to explore and play. We had leather, sinew, rawhide, and antlers to touch and feel as well. Later we went on a hunt to find animals related to deer in the nature center. These are a few books I like on deer for younger ones: 
Deer,  Whitetail Deer , and Jim Arnosky's All About Deer . We also looked at
Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1) and Tracks, Scats and Signs . These are both good books for animals and tracks!

We found caribou, antlers, and elk!

We touched deer hair, looked at the tracks, found sinew being used in the wigwam, and looked at the fawn, talking about how fawn have virtually no scent and have spots that help them be camouflaged. We talked about deer we had seen recently, such as one working hard to cross the road and avoid our car the other day. 

On our hike, we looked for those things that all animals, including deer, need, like water and food! 


We also found space and shelter! We turned our hats around as we found each of the items that make up a habitat.


We also explored tree stumps and big fallen logs.

They found some food the deer might eat and helped the deer feel at home in the woods! 

It was a beautiful fall day and the woods are changing regularly! Inside, we made deer sandwiches after we washed up, using pretzels for antlers. These must be male deer. 

Later, we played with a few deer animals and play dough. The deer toys were the hit of the day as the children really enjoyed the baby and the dad, as they kept calling them. 

As we spent some time looking at native groups, we also strung some beads, which turned into stamps for the play dough. We played with rocks as well, matching rocks with letters to the letter on the alphabet chart. 

Nature can help us build literacy skills! 

Play dough, loose parts, and imaginative play is where it is at! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mill Street Park Natural Playscape

We have been eyeing a new park just as you go over the overpass into Goshen on SR 15 for the last couple of months. I heard about it from a naturalist with Elkhart County Parks and her husband. It looks like they are still adding finishing touches; however, nothing was there asking us to not be there. The parking lot was open and it looked open for business.

I'm excited about this park! It's not too far from my grandparents' house, so we can stop by when we go visit. It seems to be using the Nature Explore type concept, with separate areas for different types of activities. At the entrance is a water area, called Bubbling Rocks. My 5-year-old is starting to read and sounded it all out. There are lots of rocks, obviously, and a water pump with wooden troughs for the water to flow. The water is turned off right now, yet this will be a fun place to experiment with water this summer.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Fall Walk at Wellfield

Before a Trunk or Treat last week, I stopped by Wellfield Botanic Gardens with the kids and cousins. It was really hit or miss as it had been rainy and a little blustery all afternoon. I'm glad we went!

I love seeing small changes each time I visit. There are also some big changes as they continue working on construction. Here is a neat wooden bench near the entrance. With the wet afternoon, it was fun seeing reflections of trees in the puddles!

Halloween Nature Fun!

Last week at Nurturing Acorns, we explored Halloween Nature Fun! We started with a little bit of stickers in our nature journals--or a whole lot depending on who you were! :-)

The sensory bin was a hit with the addition of a few Halloween inspired items, like pumpkins and bats! We read books about pumpkins and worked on sequencing and the life cycle of pumpkins. 

Outside, we looked for fall colors using paint chips on a ring. We always love this activity for any age! 

One of the highlights of our walk was finding a walking stick! Great eyes! 

We had to investigate all the holes and the fungus!

For snack, we had string cheese ghosts, pumpkins, and a little popcorn. 

Later, we play Mr. Pumpkin Head and decorated small pumpkins. 

We also tried our hand at pumpkin pounding

We sorted by small, medium, and large. We also looked at various fall harvest and pumpkin words and pictures. 

Of course, the sensory bins were still a hit!