Nature Month!

Okay, I’ve taken enough “time off.” It’s time to get back to it, and you won’t hear me complaining. I’ve missed our theme months so much. But now that things are leveling out around here, and Samuel is sleeping more consistently through the night (hallelujah)…I feel a little more equipped to tackle the planning.

BUT.

We’re going to do things a little differently.

I started to realize that while the activities were fun and easy, it was POSTING about them that was dragging me down. I’ve always said that I blog primarily for fun. I love to do activites with my kiddos FIRST, and write about it SECOND. The last thing I want is to let the latter affect the former.

So I’m changing things up.

Rather than announce our theme month, and then post about each project we do…I’m going to share our plan at the beginning of the month. And that way, others can join the fun as we go. (Honestly, we’d LOVE for you to do these projects right along with us.)

And the best part? There’s no pressure. I’m listing a project a day, for every day of the month (and they’re all super easy–with minimal materials). But if we only get to five of them? Who cares. The plan is there when we need it or want it. And when life gets in the way, or more exciting opportunities arise, we’ll roll with it. Links are provided for some of the activities, and others are so basic that no links are necessary (hint: those are my favorites–they’re the best for memory making).

We’ll be posting pics of our activites on Instagram along the way. You can follow me @alliaars or we’ll also be hash-tagging as we go (ex. #naturemonth).

So. Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls (drumroll please…)

It’s Nature Month!

Nature Month (May 2014):

5/1 Do a raindrop activity
5/2 Go on a nature walk
5/3 Fly a kite together (learn about wind)
5/4 Make a rain gauge
5/5 Have outdoor story time
5/6 Play with water
5/7 Collect bugs in a jar
5/8 Paint the sky
5/9 Go cloud watching
5/10 Paint a birdhouse
5/11 Do a nature scavenger hunt
5/12 Camp out in your backyard
5/13 Plant something together
5/14 Start a rock collection
5/15 Play a “leaf matching” game
5/16 Find a pond and go fishing (or pretend fish)
5/17 Study the Moon
5/18 Make butterfly art
5/19 Play “I Spy” in nature
5/20 Go on flower hunt (search by color)
5/21 Make a cloud in a jar
5/22 Search for fireflies (or make your own)
5/23 Make nature art
5/24 Watch a sunset together
5/25 Make a backyard bird feeder
5/26 Paint with flowers
5/27 Go bird watching
5/28 Jump in puddles (even if you have to make your own)
5/29 Make a constellation flashlight
5/30 Paint with mud
5/31 Go stargazing

Whew. How about that for a theme-month plan? And it’s starts today…

Happy Nature Month!

Nature Month: Bird House Feeder

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One of our nature month projects this week was making a homemade “bird house” feeder.

Isaiah and I have been talking about birds, and how they are a part of nature we can witness every day.

Aside: This project was very special to me, because my Grandpa used to love watching the birds. When I was little, he helped me make my very first bird house. So somehow, making this sweet little bird feeder channeled my inner 6-year old and brought back floods of memories.

In fact, one of the last memories I shared with him was looking out his hospital window and naming all the birds we could see. I love that these simple little projects, like making a bird house or a bird feeder, really do make memories to last a lifetime. And now I get to make those very same memories with my baby boy.

Whew. I digress.

This is another one of those “seems-like it’s-harder-than-it-is” projects. The whole thing took us about twenty minutes, which is perfect for a two-year-old attention span. And once it’s done, it still gives hours of joy.

_MG_0070WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

(This recipe makes 1-2 feeders, so just double or triple if you are making more)

Ingredients
1/4 cup flour
3-4 tbsp water
1/2 packet gelatin
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 cup birdseed

Additional
1 straw
wax paper
cookie sheet
cookie cutter/mold
twine

First, mix all of the ingredients together until birdseed is coated evenly. Then let your toddler play with said mixture (very important step).

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Next, spray your cookie cutter with cooking spray, and gently fill with the birdseed mixture. Pack it in as tightly as it will go, without overflowing. (I used a wooden spoon to pack mine down)

Pick where you’d like to hang your feeder, and using your straw, poke a hole all the way through.

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Leave your straw in place and let dry for 2-3 hours. After drying, gently press the molded birdseed out onto wax paper, and let dry for several more hours (overnight is a good bet).

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When it’s good and dry…tie on your twine, hang, and watch the birds dine. We added a tag to ours, you know, for hospitality. ;)

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Nature Month: Fingerprint bluebonnets

I just had to teach Isaiah about bluebonnets. I wouldn’t be a true Texan if I didn’t, right Dad? We haven’t had a chance to see any in person yet this year, but before we ventured out I thought we would make some of our own. Perfect for nature month.

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I decided to make this a fun “Mommy and Baby” project, by using both of our fingerprints.

(And yes, I still call him my baby)

I got the project started while Isaiah was napping, that way my prints would have time to dry. I used my ruler to draw several green lines (using a green sharpie) and then added my finger prints sparingly, to make sure we’d have room for his.

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I chose to use blue paint for my prints, and purple paint for Isaiah’s.

As soon as he woke up, we pulled out the purple paint and got to work. I taught him how to use one finger (and that’s major restraint for a two-year-old) then we added his prints throughout the page. I absolutely love how it turned out…

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Next stop, a real Texas bluebonnet field!

Nature Month: Plant-able Paper Earth

Just in time for Earth Day, we made a plant-able (yes, plant-able!) paper Earth from scratch. It was so much fun!

I’m over at Modern Parents Messy Kids today with the how-to. I really hope some of you try this one, it’s super easy (even easier than it looks) and Isaiah loved it. We haven’t planted ours yet, but can’t wait to watch it grow once we do.

Such a fun project, not only for our nature theme month, but Earth Day as well. 

Enjoy. And send me pics if you make one, I’d love to see!

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Nature Month: Rain Art

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It’s back to nature month this week, and we kicked things off by making rain art…

Super easy activity, just a bowl of blue tinted water and an eye dropper. Oh, and paper. Or in Isaiah’s case…several pieces of paper.

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Then all you do is let your kiddo go to town dropping water onto the paper. Isaiah needed a little “coaching” on how to use the eye dropper, but once he got it down, he was a pro.

_MG_0180 We did this project outside, since it was the perfect Spring day. And that way you don’t have to worry about blue drops on your carpet. At the very least, make sure you are in your kitchen so you can wipe away the mess.

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There you go…a fun, easy, and cheap little Spring day activity. And a great way to learn about rain. :)

Nature Month: Nature Walk

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Well, the weather was just too perfect this weekend. So the Aars family decided to jump right into nature month by taking our very own nature walk.

There’s really several ways to do a nature walk, depending on your kiddo’s age.

You can do a “leaf walk”, just to gather leaves of different shapes and sizes. Or a “color walk”, which would be perfect for Spring, or even Fall. And you could even do a “picture walk” where you let your kids take pictures of the nature they see.

_MG_0236I decided we would do a “5 senses” walk–where we would look, feel, hear, smell, and touch. Perfect for a two-year-old. We also gathered a few items in our nature jar as we went, to use for upcoming projects.

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The whole walk only lasted about 45 minutes. A certain somebody got cranky, and was ready for his nap. Not naming any names (ahem, Michael).

But no matter how long it lasted, it was so nice to take a break and get out of our element. We felt miles from home, and I’m pretty sure Isaiah thought we really were.

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We saw flowers…

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a bird’s nest…

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And even a snake. (Sorry. Didn’t nab a picture of that one, because I was too busy screaming.)

But the best part was just watching little Isaiah explore. No agenda. No rules. No fences. Just our baby boy digging into nature…

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