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. 🙂



Fall Nature Walk

Nature Walk

We love to go on weekend adventures! Most of our destinations require travel time in the car. It seems most of the interesting places we like to visit (zoos, aquariums, etc.) are at least a good 45 minutes away. However, we decided to revisit a local state park that is only ten minutes from our home. We used to make frequent trips when my parents had an RV, and would camp there on weekends, but haven’t been since my daughter J was born.

Lake Skinner turned out to be a nice place to spend an afternoon picnicking and exploring. It was rather quiet for a holiday weekend. We had a nice lunch under a group of very shady Coast Live Oaks. We found lots of acorns on the ground and talked about how they grew to be trees. J also enjoyed hunting for acorns with their “hats” still on.

Nature Walk

We were surprised to discover a huge bee hive up in the trees above our picnic spot.  We brought J’s binoculars for bird watching, but they proved useful for bee watching as well. The bee hive discovery was pretty exciting and she has talked about it several times this week, so it definitely made an impression!

Nature Walk

After lunch we walked a trail that winds through the park. We saw several different kinds of birds and I was able to photograph a few of them.

Nature Walk

Nature WalkI’m planning on identifying as many as I can and adding them to our nature book, as well as a few of the plants. We also walked down to the lake and watched some fishermen load their boats onto trailers.

After that, it was on to the playground…but not before a stop to play in a pile of huge crunchy leaves!

Nature WalkI’m glad we found a place to visit, that is close to home and where we can get out in nature! We will definitely be frequenting this park, and maybe next time we will spot the Blue Footed Boobie! 🙂

Nature At Work

We were spectators to a most interesting sight the other day in our school garden. Grandma happened to notice a large praying mantis under one of the equally large sunflowers. He was exciting enough to watch, sitting stoically, occasionally turning his little alien like head to watch us humans. My daughter and my nephew found him fascinating and chatted excitedly.

But the show was about to get even better. Right before our eyes he reached up his little praying mantis arms and caught a wasp, in flight, right out of the air! He then promptly started munching on his fresh snack. We were all watching this in astonishment! This really got the kids going, and prompted about one hundred questions concerning the wasp and the praying mantis. 🙂

Praying Mantis Praying Mantis

It was quite the impromptu science/nature lesson for the day…and a great photo op! We are definitely going to add the praying mantis to our nature book, although I think I’ll leave out the headless wasp.

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

“All About Frogs Day” at Grandma’s

My nephew just turned five and is going to be starting home-school kindergarten in the Fall. In prep for that, my mom has been helping for a couple of hours each morning with “school.” My little girl, J, usually gets to join in the fun for an hour too. She wants to do everything her big cousin can do! The kids have really been enjoying this and my mom and I are also having a great time coming up with interesting and fun learning experiences for them to do together.

Frogs Day (1)

We have never done a sensory box before, but it looked like so much fun and something so suited to our kids, that we just had to give it a try. We decided on a frog theme after seeing this terrific example from Little Bins for Little Hands. We just used a disposable pan from the dollar store to hold all of our goodies. It included frogs, pebbles, a tree branch and a few lizards and dinosaurs…because why not? 🙂 My mom also put about an inch of water in the pan to add to the frog like habitat!

Frogs Day (3)

All of these items were from the dollar store or things we already had around the house. I believe that is the beauty of these kinds of discovery containers, putting together everyday items in new and exciting ways.

Frogs Day (4)

They really had fun picking each item up and digging through the pebbles. J especially liked grouping the frogs and lizards into separate piles and naming their colors.

Frogs Day (10) copy

Frogs Day (13)

Frogs Day (5)

There was also pictures with a frog theme for the kids to paint. My mom just made several copies of a coloring book page so they would have a couple each. They actually sat still long enough and worked right alongside each other to create their masterpieces.

Frogs Day (16)

Frogs Day (34)

We are looking forward to having another “learn all about” day at Grandma’s, this time with an ocean theme. I’ll be sure to share the results soon! If you haven’t made a sensory bin before, please give it a try! I had no idea of the enjoyment and learning the kids would get out of it. The themes and the amount of creativity you can put into each one are limitless!

Pinterest, of course, is a great place to browse for a wealth of inspiration and here are a few of my favorite sensory bin ideas:

Sensory Play Party ForKids  – Growing A Jeweled Rose

Water Beads Sensory Bin: A Photo Story  – Little Bins for Little Hands

Goodnight Moon Sensory   – The Adventures of Bear