Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All About Seeds

This morning I taught an environmental class to some of the littlest members of the Greater Lewisville Early Childhood PTA (GLECPTA). We learned all about seeds.

Seeds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are easy and fun to collect. You can display your collection on a wall by gluing the seeds to a poster board and labeling the groupings with names. Or you can store the seeds loosely as in this egg carton collection that Nicholas and I created.



I like the egg carton collection method best because we used to use the seeds for other educational activities like sorting and counting.

We learned that seeds need sunlight, soil, and water to grow. We had a little storytime. There are lots of great children's books at the library about seeds. We decorated some little terra cotta pots with stickers and paint. Rachel enjoyed putting the stickers on about as much as she enjoyed ripping them right back off. Maybe she wasn't quite ready for this craft activity yet but the other kiddos had a great time.



Then we planted some quick growing lima bean seeds in some soil and watered them well. Whew! That was a lot of work. Time for a snack. How about some Dirt Cake? Ok, it's really just a wonderful chocolate pudding covered in ground Oreo cookies and gummy worms in a very clean (and well wrapped for food safety purposes) terra cotta pot! Yum :)



Afterwards, Rachel walked around picking up seeds of her own, mostly dandelions. Do you think she might be a gymnast someday? Look at how flexible and strong she is to be able to squat down like this!





She even found a pecan (another seed!) and fruitlessly tried to push it onto the end of a stick. She was very persistent and tried again and again but the forces of nature were not in her favor.



It was a fun morning with our GLECPTA friends as we enjoyed the beautiful weather and learned about seeds.

More Fun With Dirt and Seeds

This afternoon Rachel was still wanting to play with the stickers from our class this morning. So I gave her the little pot she has started working on and let her stick some more stickers on it. But again, she ripped them off as soon as she put them on.



When she decided that the paint pens were more fun to play with than the stickers, I had to take the whole tray away. Too much potential for a big mess.



Nicholas did a great job painting his pot and decorating it with stickers.



Of course, they both loved playing in the dirt!



Nicholas neatly filled his pot with dirt and planted his seed.



Rachel was not so graceful with the shovel and spilled most of it everywhere.



But what was really neat was that after Rachel knocked over her pot for the billionth time, Nicholas said, "Don't worry, Rachel. I'll help you with that." And he cleaned up her mess, filled her pot with soil, and then gave her a seed to plant. Such an awesome big brother!



Time to water...



Nicholas let Rachel try to water her own pot but that didn't go so well. She spilled a bunch of water on the deck which, mixed with the spilled soil just made a big muddy mess....which Rachel promptly enjoyed marching in and then sat down smack in the middle of the puddle of mud!




Then Rachel decided to plant some lima beans in the watering can...



...as well as in the cracks between the boards in the deck. I sure hope there isn't enough sunlight getting down there to grow lima beans. We'll know soon enough when a giant beanstalk pushes it's way up out of our deck!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Playing at Central Park

Rachel loves going to playgrounds but usually they are a little bit too big for her to safely play on. But Central Park in Lewisville is great for little kids. There are lots of fun things for small folks to do. Plus there are swings, a pavillion, picnic tables, walking trail, trees for shade, a big kid playground, and most importantly when little kids are involved - RESTROOMS!

She had fun climbing on animals...



Playing music...



Meeting new friends and playing with dogs...



And playing in the giant pirate ship...



Rachel spent time playing at the playground but spent a lot of time just walking and walking and walking. And collecting pecans and sticks from the ground. She also has some inborn interest in picking up trash and bringing it to the trash can. I love that she likes cleanliness and wants things put where they belong but I hate it when she touches random trash out on the playground. Eww!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Snakes Are Slithering at Bob Jones Nature Center

I love the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve in Southlake. It is a small nature preserve with beautiful wooded trails, gardens, and a great education center. We visited today so Nicholas could attend one of their classes about snakes. He's all boy so he gets into the whole slipper slimy snake thing.

The classes are small which I love. Their teacher was Ms. Monica who is really great with kids.



They have a very hands-on attitude about learning. My favorite is their "Please Touch" table. How cool is that? Don't you just want to pick up some of these neat finds and learn more about them?



Nicholas couldn't resist :)



The class learned about a Diamondback Rattlesnake...



And touched a King Cobra skin...



We watched Nicholas through the window for a little while after class started. He seemed to really enjoy it.



He made a paper snake in which you can lift his skin and see the skeleton underneath. He made a bracelet with the color pattern of a poisonous coral snake...red on yellow, kill a fellow... And they even painted a wooden Cobra that wiggles around like a real snake. He was in good hands so I spent most of the hour and a half with Rachel exploring a small part of the nature preserve.

Rachel made a new friend, Pointy the Bearded Dragon. She spent a lot of time in front of him. She would wander around a bit but always came back to wave to Pointy one more time before she was off again.




Ms. Monica even let us explore one of their classrooms. Rachel thought these were neat to look at although she obviously had no idea what she was looking at.



She enjoyed the basket of rocks but is still trying to figure out what a magnifying glass is all about.



She rubbed on this strip of animal hide. The fur was soft and fun to play with.



I've recently mentioned how Rachel likes to sit on things. Anything. Here she found a little gold wire easel that held up a small book for display. She put it on the floor and tried to sit on it! Silly girl!



So many fun things on display to touch and feel. I was loving it as much as Rachel.



Rachel missed out on the snake class but she still got to look at a snake through the glass.



Of course, she loved the ramp. Up and down, up and down, the pitter patter of little feet. Again, and again, and again, and again...



She seemed a little startled when she looked up and saw this possum staring at her (no, it's not real!)



Next we went for a walk outside. Rachel was obsessed with walking into the gravel parking lot to pick up rocks. Not the safest place for a little one. So with some coaxing (and some grunts of frustration from the little one) we eventually made it over to a little garden. I thought it would be a nice quiet place to rest for a bit. Wrong! She pulled up plant labels out of the flower beds and tried to rearrange the stepping stones. Always into something!



She found a stick and tried to draw on a tree stump with it. I love her little tongue sticking out as she works so hard on her stick drawing.



And of course, more repetition could be had walking back and forth on top of the rocks outlining the garden. Back and forth, back and forth.



There are many wonderful things to do at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve. There are lots of classes to enjoy. Nicholas' class was part of the Adventure Club which is geared to ages 5-8. However, there is also a Young Explorers class series for ages 3-5 as well as classes for adults, including nature photography classes which I'd love to take.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hunting for Eggs And Other Fun Things To Do

We went to our town's Easter Egg hunt today. It was beautiful weather but incredibly windy. The hunts were divided up into different age groups. Daddy took Nicholas to the area of the park for the big kid hunt while I took Rachel to the 2 and under hunt. I say "hunt" but there was really no hunting since most of the park is just open grassy areas. The eggs and treats were just tossed on the ground to be picked up. But Nicholas still found it quite exciting.







I had a great time watching Rachel in her first egg hunt. She really got into it and did well at putting the goodies in her bag and moving on instead of stopping to admire each new treasure. Except when it came to the fruit roll ups in the shiny silver wrappers. She was fascinated with these and had to stop to be sure she had them all collected in her little hands.











There was a giant Dallas Cowboys inflatable slide that Nicholas played on for quite a while. Daddy asked him how it was...



Nicholas is never lacking in excitement! But alas, it was time to take down the slide so Nicholas was off to the playground to climb and swing and slide. What a monkey!



While Nicholas played on the playground, Rachel was content to sit in her stroller and grab her feet :)



On the way back to the car, our little monkey found a tree to climb. He really loves to climb and I wish we had larger trees in our yard that he could climb on. Every child needs a tree to climb.



After the egg hunt we stopped by Railroad Park to watch a skateboard competition. Nicholas thought it was pretty cool. I just thought it was scary to watch. I'm such a worrying mom!





We finally started heading home and Nicholas decided that he was about to starve to death. Oops, we were too late...



Rachel, who always takes off her shoes and socks while riding in the car, was trying to figure out how to get her stockings off...





We grabbed them some happy meals on the way home. They turned the boxes into Viking helmets. Check out our littlest viking.