5 Reasons to Love Bugs!
1. See all of those lovely bright colored flowers out there? Do you enjoy eating fruits and veggies? Well, bugs had a lot to do with all of that. Bees and other insects are amazing pollinators. Without them, many plants wouldn’t reproduce and bear fruit. That’s why we need to protect them. Teaching your kids to love bees and other insects is the first step toward insuring that we look after these ever-so-important tiny gardeners for generations to come. Learn more about bees and pollination with this fun interactive guide here. Want to plant a bee friendly garden? Take a look here.
2.With all of the work that goes into producing food, it’s hard to believe that about a third of it somehow ends up in the trash, but it does. Bugs, or rather worms, help us turn that waste into something extremely valuable: “black gold” AKA compost. Worms consume piles of rotting organic waste and leave behind compost that is full of nutrients and will help other plants grow so we can have gardens full of healthy veggies and beautiful flowers. Not only is this process fascinating for kiddos to watch, but it also teaches them never to judge a book by its cover. Worms might be slimy and a little gross at times, but what they do is nothing short of a work of art! To learn more about worm composting, watch this little video, or check out this great book.
3. While we often think of bugs as pests, as we've discussed above, there are good bugs that actually fight the bad bugs. Ladybugs, for instance, are fantastic garden helpers. They eat aphids that would hurt your plants. In fact, there are many beneficial little critters for your garden. They're so helpful, you may even want to make your own insect hotel to keep them in the neighborhood (free tutorial at the end of this post)!
4. Bugs can be a scientists best friend. When I worked at the Field Museum of Natural History, I quickly began hearing stories of the beetle room. While admittedly, it seemed a little more suited for the horror movie than a natural history museum (flesh eating beetles?!?), when I saw the amazing specimens they produced I had to respect the little guys. You see, beetles can clean the bones of a scientific specimen perfectly without causing any damage to the bones in the process. Plus, they can do it all day every day, helping scientists to keep moving forward toward the next great discovery! Want to learn more about these interesting little guys? Read on here.
5. Bugs are a great way to show children the wonders of nature. When sharing the world with your kids, sometimes it’s the little things that have the most impact. With their interesting shapes and bright colors, bugs can be a wonderful gateway to a life lived in awe of nature. From ladybugs to ants, bees and butterflies, insects are incredibly beautiful and diverse. Have a bug wary little one? Try hatching Monarch butterflies with them, it’s amazing. They’ll be out in the fields collecting bugs before you know it.
Free Bug Activities:
A few of our favorite Entomology Supplies:
Now that it's officially summer, it seemed like the perfect time to launch our 5 Reasons series. Each week, we'll dive into some of our favorite topic and give you our top five reasons for why we love them so. First up: Camping with Kids!!
5 Reasons to Go Camping with Your Kids This Summer!
Simple is good, especially when it comes to kids. Once you’re out in the woods, there are only three things to think about: Food, Shelter, and Exploration. That’s it. You can spend hours picking the best spot for your tent. Your kids can build a fort and take it apart three times if they want without feeling rushed. Card games can last for hours. Building a fire can be the big event of the day. Everyone can take a deep breath and just BE. It’s amazing what happens when you pare down your to-do list and take time limitations out of the equation.
Moments of true wonder are priceless. We’ve all experienced them at one point or another. When the world conspires to show you just how magical it can be and you’re left feeling inspired and overwhelmed with sheer beauty of life. Kids need that, we all do. Wonder is the bridge to curiosity, creativity, and connection, all things that are pretty priceless in life. But sometimes, we can be too busy to stop and notice the amazing things around us. If you’ve been feeling like that lately, Nature has you covered. She’ll fill your cup of wonder to the brim with majestic forests, sparkling streams, and twinkling stars.
Open space without scheduled activities means kids have time to get a little bored, which is a really good thing. You see, boredom can be the first step toward amazing creativity and innovation. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of long lazy afternoons in the woods where I had to invent my own entertainment. Nature is full of interesting materials that are extremely versatile, not to mention, good at inspiring the imaginations of young kiddos. Fairy houses? Stick rafts? Handmade butterfly nets? Creativity abounds!
4. Problem Solving:
You can’t just run to the store or google your way out of a problem when you’re out in the woods. You have to use the tools in front of you and the resources of your own ingenuity. Problem solving in the woods can teach kids a lot of really valuable things about everything from physics, to botany, to trigonometry and more, without any of it even feeling like a “lesson”. Oh, and nothing beats the exhilarating feeling of solving a problem with a few sticks and a piece of string. Calling Jr. McGyver anyone?
Particularly this day and age, learning how to work as a team may be one of the most important life skills you can give you kids. Camping, and its unpredictable landscape, makes it clear that two minds and two sets of hands are better than one, any day of the week. Learning how to communicate and work together to navigate trails with a compass, steer a kayak, or build a tent can translate into stellar collaboration in the classroom and beyond.
Free Camping Activities:
Click the image above for a link to lots of free camping games! Oh and don't forget to check out our camping category over in the shop!
As a member of my family, gardening began each year on Mother's Day. On that day we would pile all four kids in the Jeep Wagoneer and make the pilgrimage to Paulino Gardens. There we would spend the morning following my mom around as she picked out the garden's new additions, and the afternoon helping her plant them.
As spring made its approach each year I would count down to Mother's Day. And being the wonderful mother she is, my mom would help me get the garden ready so that on that day, we could plant everything.
We would turn the soil over, adding compost and breaking it up. We created little stone barriers that doubled as fairy paths. And best of all, we made sunflower houses.
Little did I know then where my mom got this amazing idea, but as I have grown and now tend my own garden, I have come to cherish the words and garden advice of the wonderful Sharon Lovejoy.
As we enter the summer months and spend more and more time outside and in backyard, we thought it might be nice to share a few of those lovely words, and great advice. A few tips and tricks to help you get your kiddos out in the garden so they too can experience the magic of planting a seed, and watching it grow. Read on below and make sure you check out our lovely garden section over in the shop for beautiful child sized tools and fun garden kits and seeds!
Our favorite gardening tips from Sharon Lovejoy:
1. "I realized that my grandmother had things right. She was a teacher and school principal who knew that the way to teach was by sharing an experience, not by preaching. She never told me to work, but always said, "Let's go outdoors and see what is going on." Or she would make a problem a challenge and a project."
2. "Gardening introduces children to the full circle of life, from that first spark of awakening to the final days of a plant's time on earth. But the joy is that the plant can be tossed onto a compost pile and decompose, only to become part of the earth and a plant yet again."
3. It doesn't matter what time of day you visit your garden, you will ALWAYS see magical things happening. Even if you go outdoors in the middle of the night and focus your flashlight on a blooming sunflower, you'll see magical moths and other critters feasting on the flower."
4. Buy some small gardening tools (including a kid-sized watering can).
5. Start children with a small plot or large pot, like a half-barrel, which is big enough to grow even a giant pumpkin.
6. Invest in good, bagged potting soil for container gardens.
7. Plant some containers in a heavily trafficked area, like a path from home to garage or the kitchen to the back yard. Fill pots with tiny, bite-sized producing plants, like strawberries or mini-tomatoes such as golden pear or cherry. Kids will investigate and begin to eat these little treats as snacks.
We hope these tips help you get your little ones out in the garden, and to help you keep the magic going we are offering up three (yes three) chances at winning a copy of the Sharon Lovejoy classic Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots! Simply leave a comment on this post by Thursday June 8th at 12pm. The winners will be chosen by the lovely Random Number Generator, and announced later that day.
We have three lucky winners, and they are:
Lisa who said: "So full of wonder and delight!!"
May Day is just around the corner and it is one of my favorite days. It means a trip to the garden center or the backyard for a bit of green, and perhaps, some strawberries to gift to a neighbor, friend, or mom!
Every year we make a May Day craft and this year our May Day Cone has a fun twist, it's plantable and it cracks open just like a seed in a garden! Seeds crack open each spring with new life once they have been planted into the ground. With this craft, kiddos crack the shells around their strawberry seedlings before planting to give nutrients to the plant that will help it grow and flourish.
Parent's or older children, use scissors to poke a hole in the top of the egg and cut the top 1/4 of the egg off emptying the egg white and yoke (save these for your favorite egg recipe). Wash the egg shell before using. Also remember to wash your hands after opening the egg.
When placing the plant in the shell add a water then drain. Wipe dry before wrapping it with your favorite color of food grade wax paper. Place the egg seedling in the center of your piece of colored paper. Take a string and gather the top of the paper and tie a knot in the back making a loop to hang the Plantable May Day Cone on the door. I used strawberries because they are always one of the first plants to wake up and can withstand a cold night or two.
Leave your May Day gifts on a friend's door as a spring surprise with a little note. Once found, it can be planted into the ground just as it is, kite paper and all. Simply give it a quick squeeze, cracking the egg inside. Breaking the egg apart makes it easy for the roots to find their way through the dirt.
Before you know it berries can be found for a lovely tart ( click here for the recipe), jam or just plain, fresh from the garden.
Happy May Day!