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


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

San Diego Zoo 7-28-14

We had a rare weekday visit the San Diego Zoo last week. Because of work we usually reserve trips for the weekends, but there was a scheduled power outage for maintenance. Since we are self employed, a holiday was declared, and we spent the day together at the zoo. The summer crowds were light and we had no trouble doing and seeing everything we wanted!

We spent a lot of time in the reptile house this visit. We don’t often walk through this exhibit, but we have been doing a turtle unit study and it was a perfect accompaniment.

San Diego Zoo Reptiles

The Komodo Dragons were out and quite active, much to our delight!

San Diego Zoo Komodo Dragons

We also made a point of seeking out some turtles to observe. We watched the Alligator Snapping Turtle for a bit. I didn’t get a really clear picture of him, but I love the effect of my daughters hat reflecting on his head in the glass!

San Diego Zoo Alligator Snapping Turtle

We also really enjoyed the Galapagos Turtles exhibit. They are fascinating to watch, slowly making their way around. We found out this guy is 110 years old and came to the zoo in 1928!

San Diego Zoo Galapagos Turtle

We saw some very cute and fuzzy baby flamingos that had just hatched in June.

San Diego Zoo Baby  Flamingos

And, speaking of cute babies…

San Diego Zoo Baby Giraffe

This very tall baby was also born in June at the zoo.

Of course, our trip wasn’t complete without a stop to see some magnificent big cats. We just happened upon the new mountain lion exhibit. It is open and has plenty of viewing area for many guests. Luckily, the two mountain lions we saw were out and ready to be admired.

San Diego Zoo Mountain Lion

The jaguar was also very active and stayed close in proximity, which was exciting for the kids. Of course, with him being in a darkened cave, behind glass, it didn’t net me the greatest photograph. But I still enjoy what I got and the experience of watching this magnificent animal with my daughter.

San Diego Zoo Jaguars

That brings us to our stately and beautiful M’Bari. I know I’ve posted about him many times, and most visits we see him sleeping in the shade. It is the fortunate day, indeed, when we catch him actively earning his title of King. Then, it’s a matter of squeezing through a throng of eager guests to even get a glimpse of him. This trip we got the best of both…M’bari was out and the crowds were light. We observed him gnawing away on a bony snack and he even got up and strutted a little before turning his back on everyone and laying down. 🙂

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

San Diego Zoo M'Bari

He certainly is one gorgeous kitty!

If you have an opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo this summer, they are once again having Nightime Zoo. It looks to be very fun and a great chance to see some of the animals that aren’t always out during the day.  There are also a host of shows, activities and contests! We are definitely looking forward to our next visit!



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