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. 🙂

 

A Day With Pirates!

My daughter LOVES pirates…truth be told so do I! We especially love the world of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, fairies, mermaids and all the magic that goes along with it. We of course watch lots of Jake and the Neverland Pirates  too. Yes, we love pirates. It was therefore a necessity that we attend Pirate Days at the San Diego Maritime Museum. The collections of the Maritime Museum are vast and engaging. One of our favorites, among the many incredible ships there, is the Star of India. Built in 1863, it is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. It is a beautiful vessel inside and out. Many volunteers were hard at work cleaning and maintaining her in the midst of festivities and tourists. I was surprised that my three year old daughter stopped to take a look at almost every display. She was fascinated with everything on the ship…from stem to stern, so to speak. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days There were also plenty of pirates on board that were ready to engage in sword fights and playful banter. My daughter, J, wore her finest and was ready to join the crew! She was picked unanimously as the winner of the girls costume contest. I think she charmed just about everyone on board! 🙂 San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days One of the activities was a scavenger hunt that had you follow clues through several ships. Your prize for all of the effort was a visit to the magical mermaid grotto set up on the Star of  India. This was very enchanting for J! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The mermaids handed out jewels and a coveted key necklace to her. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days It was perfect, for she was sure it opened a treasure chest somewhere on board. This necklace is so special we have since redesigned a new and stronger chain of beads for it. It gets worn regularly! San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days Besides exciting encounters with the buccaneers, there were also other re-enactors aboard the ship HMS SurpriseAn admiral made his rounds and hosted a “dance” with ladies and gentlemen in period dress.  San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days   San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days The San Diego Maritime Museum is a wonderful opportunity to experience hands on history. There are many educational opportunities for the family. They have many exciting events to attend throughout the year. It is a great day trip and makes for a fun homeschool field trip as well. San Diego Maritime Museum Pirate Days

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

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

 

Zoo Scavenger Hunt Books

We recently visited the San Diego Zoo with my sister and her boy. The zoo is large and there is no shortage of fun and interesting things to do and see. My mom suggested a great way to sneak in some learning while we were there, via a scavenger hunt.

I knew immediately my daughter and nephew would love this! A quick search yielded many great ideas for zoo themed scavenger hunts. I decided to go with this very cute passport style book from Disney Family. It was small enough to fit in our packs and easy for the little ones to hold on to in their strollers. I brought along a small bag with crayons  and star stickers to “stamp” each page as they completed it.

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

This little game turned out to be a bigger hit than any of us adults expected! Both kids were interested in their books the whole day and ended up finding every animal. They loved earning a star after each successful find and my daughter was excited to color in each animal as well. The coloring also provided a  little something to do during the walks between areas. When we got home the kids were proud to show Grandma their completed books and found out they had earned a prize for all of their efforts. Thanks Grandma! 🙂

This is such a simple way to reinforce sight words, animal recognition and working towards a goal…all while having a great day at the zoo. I know I will be making more of these for another visit. I’m planning on designing one specifically for the Safari Park with animals I know are there. I also told my sister I would put together one for Sea World for my nephew, since they have a season pass and go frequently. I’m sure he would love a sea creature scavenger hunt! I guess I better get busy, I have a lot of crafting to do!

Having Fun Creating Tot Books

My daughter and I recently finished making two very cute “Tot Books.” I discovered these fun printables while searching for activities for my five year old nephew. Auntie is sort of in charge of finding fun extra curricular supplements for his homeschool lessons. My searching was fruitful, for I found two great tot books for my daughter. All of these are courtesy of the incredibly extensive 1plus1plus1equals1. I can say for certain that this is one of my top go to resource sites for fun and engaging ideas to do with our kids.

Our first project is the Little Einsteins Tot Book.  The Little Einsteins are pretty popular here at our house, so I was thrilled to find these printables and even happier to see that they could be made into a little lapbook. We have created a lapbook together before and my daughter and I both enjoyed the process very much. This little pack includes coloring, shapes, matching, ABCs, and some dot marker sheets. I kind of designed my own layout for putting all of the pieces together in the folder. I like making cards with the smaller pieces, by gluing them to some card stock (and sometimes laminating), for more durability. We even found a nice Little Einsteins picture to glue to the cover. Overall, we were both pleased with the final product and my daughter was quite proud to show it off to Daddy when he got home!

Little Einsteins Tot Book Little Einsteins Tot Book

The second project we made is the Nemo Tot Book. Again, big Nemo fans here.  This one has cute little alphabet and color cards, which I also decided to back with card stock. It also has a fun booklet to make with many of the other Nemo characters and their names. My daughter decorated the front cover with some clown fish stickers we found at the good ol’ dollar store. I had a little trouble getting all of my pockets, etc., to stay put in the book, hence the tape. I’m not going to fret over the small imperfections…my daughter thinks it’s great! 🙂 

Nemo Tot Book

Nemo Tot BookNemo Tot Book

 

Again, many thanks go to 1plus1plus1equals1 for all of the wonderful resources!

All About Bugs Week: Picnic With the Ants

Ants Picnic

This is part 2 of the  All About Bugs Week at our homeschool.

My mom put together a sweet and simple little craft for the kids as a surprise during our “bugs week.” Picnic with the Ants is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! Who knew such an adorable little craft could be made from two spoons and a pipe cleaner?

Ants PicnicAnd to top off the cuteness, she made a little tableau with play food and a red checkered tablecloth! My daughter absolutely loved this…almost as much as her mama! 🙂

Ants Picnic

Ants Picnic

The instructions for this craft can be found at Danielle’s Place.