Bugs at the Rose Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

We found a lovely new place to go and enjoy nature. Oddly, it’s in our own town and we had no idea it existed…shame on us! Rose Haven Heritage Garden is a public garden and home to over 1600 roses of varying kinds. They are interspersed among other flowering plants, succulents and even a small vegetable garden.  It is all maintained by volunteers of the local rose society. 

We attended the March program which focused on garden bugs. The kids got to hear a short talk on beneficial versus pest insects that can be found in the garden or yard. There was also a table of various insects to examine and a knowledgeable volunteer to give the kids info on what they were looking at. My daughter’s favorite was the compost worms box. The children were invited to dig around and search for worms and grubs.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

They also received a checklist of nine different bugs and had the opportunity to walk the garden and try and spot as many as they could. The kids were encouraged to pick up any nature bits lying around the grounds to use in a following art project.

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Our kids were having too much fun exploring so we didn’t make it to the sit-down-and-craft part of the program. However, we took home our nature finds and J had a great time creating a ladybug picture on her own. 

Rose Haven Heritage Garden

Many thanks to the sweet and patient volunteers for hosting this event. We are looking forward to our next visit…maybe bring a picnic lunch and our nature journal. 🙂

 

Dripping Springs Nature Walk

 

 

Dripping Springs

My hubby has been very busy lately, not only with work, but he is one of the musicians for the Southern California tour of LES MISÉRABLESIt is an incredible opportunity for him and I’m bursting with pride…but it’s a lot of hours of rehearsal and shows.

We’ve been missing him for sure, so on his first weekend off, we decided a day out in nature was in order. We took a drive to  Dripping Springs, a little campground tucked away in the Cleveland National Forest. We’ve camped and hiked there before and it’s usually very quiet…exactly what we needed. 

We enjoyed a picnic lunch and let our little one run up and down a hill, peer into several hollow logs and just explore.

Dripping Springs

 

Dripping Springs

We walked along a dry river bed and looked for pretty rocks and found a few that were eye catching, to say the least. 

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

Waterfall & Shoe Rock

We found lots of lichen and moss that were interesting to touch and look at. 

Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs

We pretended we were pirates looking for treasure and drew maps in the sand.

Dripping Springs

I can’t imagine a better way to unwind after several weeks of a tightly packed schedule, than to walk in the wilds and listen to the gentle sounds of nature.

Dripping Springs

 

Our Sharks Unit Study

For the month of August we focused on learning all about sharks. This, was again, all my daughter’s idea and I didn’t realize that the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week was also in August. It coincided perfectly and gave us a few more opportunities to find shark information.

Shark Unit Study

We followed our usual plan of starting with a set of info cards and creating a lapbook around our theme. We picked up the Safari Ltd. Sharks Toob at our local hobby shop, which gave us a good start for some different sharks to learn about. We also used some toys that we had on hand to give us a good assortment of sharks.

I used a variety of resources for printables for our lapbook. Many of my favorties came from the always helpful homeschoolshare.com. They have a free shark lapbook full of fun activities and information. I also used some of the great printables from the 3dinosaurs.com shark pack

Shark Unit Study

This has been one of my daughters favorite unit studies, by far. I’m so pleased with how much she and I learned together and how much of it has stuck! It really reinforces to me how much better learning is when it is interest led and fun!

Additional materials we used in our Sharks Unit Study:

Handwriting worksheet generator

Shark coloring sheets

Shark Worksheets

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World Shark Academy

My Sharks Unit Study Pinterest board

Our Turtles Unit Study

We recently completed a land and sea turtles unit study. This was 100% my daughter’s idea. She asked if we could learn about turtles and I hopped right to it! I love seeing her excited and interested in learning, and I try to facilitate that in all the ways I can. A good starting place for us is always our Safari Ltd. figures. We already had the Frogs & Turtles Toob, and it contains several species of land and sea turtles. It was just the right amount of new turtles to learn about, with the addition of one of J’s favorites, the Leatherback Sea Turtle. We have an Octonauts sea turtle figure that worked as a perfect substitute! Turtles Unit Study Since we had both land and sea turtles, it made sense to sort of divide up our unit. We focused on land first. Of course, we decided to make a lapbook. It really helps organize all the study materials into one focused place. And J and I both work better that way, I’ve noticed! I created a lapbook layout that was (somewhat) divided into land and sea sections. I found the perfect printables for our book at homeschoolshare.com. I am so grateful for the materials they provide! I have used resources from this site many times and I highly recommend! They have a great set of lapbook templates for both land and sea turtles. They are also conveniently separated into individual PDFs so that you can pick and choose. If that wasn’t enough, they also have a an entire unit study with guidelines and recommended reading to go along with it.

We completed many of the unit study activities for our book, including the turtle diagram, “Turtle Toes” book, “What  is a Turtle Shell?” book, and the Turtle Report shape book.  I decided to make one shape book for each of the four land turtles we were studying. It really helped break down all of the differences and specifics of each turtle…for both of us! 🙂 Turtles Unit Study I also made up some Montessori inspired three part cards with the specific turtles we chose to study. My daughter really likes these, especially matching them up to her Toobs figures. Turtles Unit Study It was also fortunate that we already had the Safari Ltd. Safariology Green Sea Turtle Life Cycle figures, which was helpful in discussing how and where turtles lay their eggs. It was nice to have a baby turtle figure to go along with the study. I’m really glad my daughter asked to learn all about turtles because it turned out to be very educational for both of us. I can’t believe how much I personally learned about them and it was wonderful to do everything together. Turtle Unit Study

Additional material we used in our Turtles Unit Study:

Turtle Coloring Pages More Turtle Coloring Pages (species specific) Turtle Themed Worksheets Sea Turtles Online Info Book My Turtle Study Pinterest Board

Books:

A Home for Little Turtle by Ariane Chottin Tortoise’s Dream by Joanna Troughton

Our Butterfly Unit Study

I have found that my daughter really enjoys learning with a unit study. She is engaged and attentive and retains so much of what we learn. I also enjoy them and find I really like the process of designing a specific study for her and I to do together.

For the month of April we focused on learning about butterflies. We were planning a trip to the San Diego Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit and I thought learning about some of the insects we would be seeing would be fun for J. Well, it was so successful that our one week butterfly study turned into a whole month of material.

We started with the lapbook, Insects: Butterfly Speedy Lapbook from Homeschool Bits. This is a quick little book to print and assemble with facts that are short and to the point. It was actually the perfect amount of information for my three year old to understand and learn something from. I decided to work on a little part of the book each week so she could really focus and absorb what we were learning.

Butterfly Unit Study

We discussed the butterfly life cycle first. We used our Safari Ltd. Safariology figures to match up to the coloring page. It also gave J a good idea of what the actual things we were talking about look like. She really enjoyed this part of the study. I also printed out several coloring sheets of specific butterflies and we found as many butterfly/caterpillar stickers as we could for her to embellish her book with.

Butterfly Unit Study

We broke out the Playdoh one morning and made butterfly impressions with the life cycle figures. They turned out very pretty!

Butterfly Unit Study

Butterfly Unit Study

As I mentioned before, the highlight of our unit study was our trip to the Butterfly Jungle. We picked a few butterflies from the handout to study and learn about the week before. J chose the Blue Morpho, Giant Owl, Orange Julia, Monarch and the Zebra Longwing. She learned their names and to identify them by sight. Her expression was adorable when she walked into the atrium and saw the actual butterflies we had spent so much time talking about! She knew every butterfly she was looking at! It made this mama quite proud!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Butterfly Jungle

I’m really happy with how our little unit study went and I think my daughter enjoyed it too. It was lots of fun and learning for us to do together and that’s the best part!

Butterfly Unit Study

Some of the additional materials we used in our study were:

Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, L2) by Emily Neye

Butterfly figures 

Safari Ltd. Butterfly Toob

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stickers

Butterfly Coloring Sheets

“Head, Thorax, & Abdomen” The Insect Song

Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

My hubby and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary recently. We never do cards or gifts but opt instead for a special trip or outing. Before J was born it used to be a weekend trip to Vegas, but now we like going somewhere all three of us can enjoy together. It worked out perfectly that the San Diego Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit was in full swing. We have taken J to this every year since her birth and we decided it would be a wonderful anniversary day special trip. Thankfully, hubby got the day off from work and we spent a rare weekday at the park. It was fantastic, as all the schools were back in session from spring break. The butterfly exhibit was very quiet in comparison to the long lines and packed house that we usually fight through.  We even got a really close parking spot…win, win, win! In preparation for our visit, J and I started a butterfly lapbook. We studied three of her favorite butterflies, the Blue Morpho, Orange Julia, and Giant Owl. Before our trip she was able to read their names and identify them by sight. So imagine her delight when we walked into the atrium and all of these glorious butterflies were fluttering around her. I think she was astounded! We have worked on this book the whole month of April and I’m planning a separate post all about it.

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle   Butterfly Jungle is a photographer’s paradise! I was so happy to have my new camera there to use this year!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Great Orange Tip

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

J’s absolute favorite butterfly is the Orange Julia and she wanted one to land on her more than anything. It took some waiting (around 40 minutes) and patience…two things that aren’t usually easy for a three year old…but we finally had success. The lovely little Julia perched on my daughter’s finger long enough for her to admire it’s delicate beauty and for mom and dad to snap plenty of photos!  And as it turns out one of those photos was selected as a winner in the park’s Butterfly Jungle Instagram contest! We won a cart safari for four! We have never done a cart tour before so we were especially excited by this. We are hoping to take my sister and brother in law and their little boy. Since we are all homeschoolers, I believe this will be a superb field trip! Many thanks again to the Safari Park for choosing our photo. We are so grateful!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Santa Rosa Nature Walk

The weather has been beautiful and spring-like lately. We decided to take advantage of it and get outside. My little girl, J, loves nature walks, but it is not so easy to find somewhere to explore that isn’t an hour or more drive. Thankfully, we remembered a nice little Nature reserve that’s only a few miles away. Santa Rosa Plateau is a 9000 acre ecological reserve. It is home to many species of birds and plants. 

We had a nice time just strolling along appreciating the nature around us and taking photographs.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

We took the Granite Loop Trail. Including the walk to the picnic grounds, it’s a little over a mile. I thought that was pretty good hiking for a 3 year old. She showed interest the whole way, not one complaint! That made this mama pretty proud!

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa has a lovely picnic area. It was shady, quiet and we spotted many birds in the surrounding trees.  Some of them even ventured up close.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau Acorn Woodpecker

Santa Rosa Plateau California Towhee

One detail I really appreciated about Santa Rosa Plateau is that they have many of the plants and trees identified at the visitor center. I love being able to note the names for easy reference when we study them later at home.

Santa Rosa Plateau

This turned out to be a great close to home day trip. I’m looking forward to our next visit and discovering some new plants and animals to photograph and learn about.

Santa Rosa Plateau