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. 🙂



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

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

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!

A Few of Our Fall Activities

We don’t really get going full swing into autumn here in Southern California until around the end of October.  September is usually quite hot where we live and it’s hard to feel the full spirit of the season when it’s still pool weather. I love autumn, though, and couldn’t resist doing some crafting and cooking.  Now that the weather is finally getting crisp and cool, I’m really getting that cozy happy feeling!

We have made several projects as well as a few trips to our favorite orchards and farms and I thought I would share a few of our fun fall activities.

Nature Walk and Fall Nature Jar Activity

My daughter and I love taking nature walks together. I am trying to encourage a love of nature, gardening, plants and animals, etc. and I don’t have to try very hard. She is interested in learning about anything and everything when we go on our walks or to a farm. For this, I am very thankful. I’m thrilled to see her curious about and excited by little things like leaves and snails.

Fall Jar Craft

On one of our walks we decided to bring along a bag and collect a few “nature bits.” I found a lovely idea for Fall Sensory Jars and knew this would be a great project for us to try.  I used super glue to seal the lid for some extra spill protection.  I took my photo with the jar upended for aesthetics, but I would recommend displaying right side up for further spill protection! 🙂

Apple Picking

One of our favorite places to visit in the fall is Oak Glen. Going up to the mountains to pick apples means autumn! We spent the day with friends and took in all of the delights this wonderful little town has to offer, including raspberry picking,  the best apple cider in the whole wide world and the always wonderful Riley’s Farm.

Oak Glen Apples

Oak Glen Raspberries

Riley's Farm

Riley’s Farm

Tin Can Jack O’Lanterns

One of my favorite crafts we made are the jack o’ lanterns (appropriately) from reused pumpkin puree cans. The step-by-step tutorial can be found here. The results of the project are so very cute and it’s satisfying to gaze upon the little glowing faces at night. This craft is a job for mom or dad! Punching the holes is WORK! I tried drilling and hand hammering them into the can and both were equally laborious. Also, make sure to hammer down the sharp edge of your can lid to avoid painful mishaps. This project can be as cheap or as costly as you want to make it. I used leftover paint and bought battery operated tea lights at my local dollar store (2 for $1) for each lantern. It’s definitely a worthwhile project, just not one to do with little kids…BUT, they can enjoy the fruits of your labor as they gaze upon the pretty glowing faces and marvel at Mama’s creative skills! Right?

Jack O' Lantern Cans

Pumpkin Patch

Autumn fun and activities wouldn’t be complete with out a trip to the pumpkin patch! We have a few farms nearby that have annual pumpkin picking and other delights for the fall season. We usually visit one or all of them. I have to admit, my fun is photographing my beautiful daughter’s enjoyment among all of the gorgeous pumpkins, colors and scenery of the farms.

Pumpkin Patch          Pumpkin Patch           Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

I hope that all of you enjoy the season and the beauty it has to offer!

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.

All About Bugs Week: Nature Walk & Bug House

Even though it’s summer, we are prepping my five year old nephew for homeschool kindergarten for the Fall. My daughter is 3, but she is going right along with the lessons and thriving on it! I can’t begin to say how happy that makes my heart!

My mom and I have put together a morning school at her house and have found great success with theme weeks. We decided to focus on bugs for one week and it was a hit!

One of the activities we did was build a bug house and have a nature walk. My mom came up with this very cute idea. A re-purposed little wooden box serves as a new model bug abode. My dad generously donated one of his guitar accessory boxes. Of course, any kind of box will work provided it’s able to withstand the elements outside for a while. You then fill it will all kinds of natural material that a bug would be attracted to for making it his home.

This is where the nature walk part come in.

We took my daughter to a shady green belt area in the neighborhood to collect items to fill the bug house. We picked up leaves, sticks, plant material and pine cones. The pine cones were definitely her favorite and we ended up bringing home way more than we needed!

Build A Bug House

Prize Pine Cone

Bug House-1-2

Grandma let her fill up the box with her found treasures and we placed it in the garden by a nice shady tree. The idea is to let it sit for a few days/weeks and then look inside to see what kind of bugs have taken up residence. I’m hopeful no spiders will decide to move in, although the kids would probably love that!

Build A Bug House

Bug House Before Renovation

My parents weren’t happy with the curb appeal for the bug house and fancied it up a bit. 🙂

Build A Bug House

Bug House After HGTV Yard Crashers

I think this is such a cute idea and a great way to get children interested in observing nature. My daughter was very excited to take part in each step  of this activity. It was also a wonderful way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the day together!

Build A Bug House

Inspecting the Bug House with a Magnifying Glass