First the Photo: Where did the tradition of decorating a fresh cut tree come from? To find on a map: Europe>Germany
Second the Question: Spend some time this year as a family talking about each of your ornaments, where did they come from? What life event do they symbolize? Do you have any family traditions surrounding how or when you decorate your tree? What do you place at the top of your tree?
holiday scavenger hunt
Third the Next Steps: A fun way to celebrate your beautiful tree this year is to move the chairs back and break the family into teams..Set a timer and then hand out this Holiday Scavenger Hunt.. Ready! Set! Go! See which team can find all of the things on the list first. Feel free to customize the list to suit your ornament selection. Do you have one special ornament that folks can find as extra credit? Maybe a pickle per chance?? This is a wonderful game that spans the ages and gets folks into the holiday spirit!
Merry Christmas and all of the joys of the season to you and yours!
First The Photo: Giant snowman steals the show! To find him on a map travel to: North America>United States> Michigan> Frankenmuth
Second The Question: What is your favorite thing to build in the snow? Have you ever tried adding color to your creations with a bit of food color and lots of water in a spray bottle? What is the best type of snow to build with?
Third Next Steps: If you don’t have snow close to you or if the snow you have isn’t cooperating with your time to play..Make your own easy indoor snow fun..without the cold or mess. Just fill a gallon sized ziplock bag with shaving cream and a few drips of food coloring. Slide the seal to hold it tight and let the fun begin! Squeeze, mold and roll your way to excitement. See how the colors create art as they mix with the wonderful white backdrop. Enjoy!
A wonderful way to begin a conversation about the Seasons of Change is to share the sixth book in our Explore Galore Series as a family. To order one of your own..follow this http://exploregalorekids.com/merchandise/explore-books/. Or visit the Make it Your Own section of our website.
First the Photo: Where do you enjoy reading? Have you ever read a book outside?
Second the Question: What are your favorite books? Do you chose a book by its pictures or by its story? Do you enjoy silly books or books with words that paint a story for your imagination?
Third Next Steps: How often do you visit your local library? Does your library offer unique ways to visit? Like a book mobile or a bike mobile? Or smaller satellite libraries? A Library is like a pirate ship..climb abroad and let the adventures begin..You can travel anywhere..pick a book about time travel, the oceans, animals or one full of cake recipes. One fun way to spend a rainy afternoon in the library is to put together a library scavenger hunt for the whole family. Compile a list of books, DVD’s, travel videos, Cookbooks, craft books, nonfiction, artwork and see who can find the entire list first. It is a wonderful way to re-introduce everyone to the wonder of Libraries.
First The Photo: Can you name this type of flower? Scroll down through the post and see if you can name all of the different flowers. Do you know what season each of the flowers bloom in?
Second The Question: Do you like to dig in the dirt? When the weather warms up in the spring do you feel like it is time to plant something? What do you like to grow best? Flowers, veggies, fruits or herbs? Have you ever planted a garden? Maybe it is a good time to start. Even if you don’t have a yard of your own, you can still plant some pots for the balcony or front stoop. Many things will grow in a medium sized pot. You will even get a small harvest if you choose to plant a vegetable seed. Some easy things for kids to grow: sunflowers, green beans, potatoes in a bin, zinnias, or basil.
Third Next Steps: If you want a great gift for a little gardener. Try making a year-round indoor garden for them to “dig, plant and harvest” from. I made this indoor garden plot from some vinyl I wrapped around tubes of soft batting. Then I found some simple patterns for felt fruits and vegetables. The final step was finding or making a small “wood” box to serve as the raised be container for my garden plot. This is a wonderful, no-dirt way to embrace a bit of indoor gardening no matter what the weather is like!
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First the Photo: Can you name this National Monument? Can you find where it is located on a map of the US? To find on a map: North America> United States>Missouri> St. Louis
Second the Question: Do you know it is referred to as the Gateway to the West? There was once a time in American history when many families packed everything they owned in a covered wagon and headed out on a journey that would last months. It would required them to walk miles each day, cross raging rivers, climb mountain passes and go for weeks without seeing another living soul. Can you imagine leaving family and friends behind, knowing that you will never see them again and heading to a place you have never seen, even in pictures, to begin your life anew? That is serious courage. Many people would never survive the trip. They went for one reason: the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. Would you make such a journey? If so, where would you go?
Third Next Steps: Spend some time as a family imagining life on the trail. First what would you pack up and bring with you..a treasured piece of furniture? A keepsake from a past relative? Remember that your wagon could only hold the bare essentials..and needed to have space for all of you to sleep too. Next using just recycled items build a diorama of a homestead you would live once you arrived. This is a fun thing to do around Thanksgiving. As you build your diorama remember that everything you include, someone would need to create…every sock you wear, someone needs to knit. Every new piece of furniture you acquire, someone needs to cut and split the wood to build. Every meal you eat, needs to be hunted, gathered or grown. It boggles the mind the talents and courage that people needed just to survive. Would you move and be a farmer, a rancher, a store owner, a teacher or pastor? What skill would your family offer to a new settlement of people? Go to the library and check out some books about pioneering life. It sure makes us thankful for the comforts we have today. Whenever we feel stressed by our modern life..spend a few minutes remembering people of the past and let the gratitude of their sacrifices sink in. How grateful we are for their courage and our comforts.
First The Photo: Name each of the seasons you see in the picture. Can you list the seasons you experience where you live? What months do those seasons include?
Second The Questions: Which season is your favorite? What do you enjoy about that season? How does the outside world prepare for each season? What do animals do? What do trees and flowers do during each season? What is the weather like in your area during each season? For many people these seasonal changes outdoors affects how they interact with the world. Do you have activities that you do only in a particular season?
Third Next Steps: What feelings, sights, sounds and smells do you associate with each season? Write the words: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter across the top of a page. Under each heading list all of the things you think of for each season. Draw a picture for each season. Try to include a few of the items you listed and share those pictures with others. See if they can guess what season you are trying to portray simply by your hints in the drawing. Our daily lives revolve around subtle changes outside. We sometimes don’t even notice the pull of the days but they shape our interaction with the world. How we live, what we feel and what we do. Think of it as a dance where the weather leads and we modify our steps to each of the tunes it sings to us. Go outside today and listen to the seasons around you..Dance to the music of today.
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First the Picture: Can you locate on a map where corn is grown in the United States? Can you name all of the different types of corn that is grown? From feed corn, to sweet corn to a corn that you snack on in movies! Corn is the #1 crop grown in America.
Second the Questions: Did you know that corn is called maize in many other countries and was called that by the culture native to the Americans. What is your favorite way to eat corn? Do you know who..or what eats the most corn here in America? (Hint it isn’t humans!) Did you know that an ear of corn is actually part of the flower of the plant and each kernel is a seed? Can you guess how many average kernels there are on each ear? (800) Corn will always have an even number of kernels on each row. Corn is native to our country..do you know what that means?
Third Next Steps: Corn makes a wonderful sensory experience for kids of all ages. Find a place that sells dried cobs meant to put out for squirrels and deer to nibble on. Then put a few in a large Tupperware tub. You will be amazed by how relaxing it is to pick the kernels off of the cob. It is fun to count the kernels and investigate the structure of the cob as you work. Once your cobs are clean and your tub is full..add some funnels, scoops and small bins. Scooping, measuring and weighing the corn as you run it through your fingers. It is a fun sensory experience. You can even try adding toy tractors into your bin and drive them through the mounds..pretending to harvest your crop! Once you have spend days enjoying your sensory bin..bring your bin of corn to a nature area and spread out your kernels for your animals friends to enjoy!
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First the Photo: New Type of Scavenger hunt: can you name these beautiful birds. Find out if they live in your area.
Second The Questions: Do you know these feathered friends? Do you recognize their colors? Do you know their song? Birds make up the beauty of our homes and communities. Do you know they were once hunted for their plumes, heads and wings to decorate women’s hats, shawls and dresses? How very sad. They are such amazing creatures to watch as they float and flutter on the air, traveling from flower to flower. People have been mesmerized by birds for hundreds of years and they began humans yearn for flight. Can you imagine soaring through the air without the aid of a plane?
Third Next Steps: What do you think makes things more likely to fly? Weight? Surface area? Think of the man made things that can fly. What do they all have in common? How many things can you name? Gather up tape, string, used toilet paper rolls, boxes, old Tupperware containers and garbage of all sorts. Now try to make something that will soar through the air. After you are done bring out a fan or stand up high and release your creation. Does it float and twist in the breeze? If it doesn’t see if you can make modifications to make it fly longer and longer.
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First the Photo: Do you know what kind of flower this is? Can you find on a map where they typically grow. I will give you a hint they need an area with 4 seasons and a long cold spell to get them ready to come up and bloom in the spring.
Second the Question: This flower is a type of bulb. Have you ever seen them growing? Do you have bulbs that grow in your area? Have you ever smelled one of these beautiful flowers? Do you live in a place that has a distinct spring? Isn’t it wonderful to see colors appear in the landscape after a long cold winter? How would you like to enjoy some springtime a little bit earlier this year?
Third Next Steps: Would you like to bring a bit of color into the cold days of winter? Bulbs are very easy to grow indoors..it is called “forcing bulbs”. It is fairly simple to do and fun to watch the bulb grow and bloom in your own little corner of the world. Florists sell them already planted, or even some grocery stores with floral areas will often sell them from Feb. through April. However, if you like to get a bit dirty and would enjoy planting them yourself it is easy to do, so dig in and enjoy! First go to a florist, hardware store, or large chain store and buy the bulb. The easiest bulbs to force are called: paperwhite narcissi, but you can also force hyacinths(the ones in the picture) or amaryllis or some varieties of tulips. All you need is a medium sized bowl or pot, potting soil, gravel, a shovel and a watering container. Add some gravel to the bottom of the bowl to help with drainage, then add soil, if you would like..some of the bulbs can be placed right in the gravel. Place the bulb on the gravel and keep adding soil or gravel under the bulb is 3/4 covered. Press firmly so the bulb is set in securely in the planting medium. Then water the bulb. If you are growing Paperwhites you can just keep it out and continue to water, keeping it moist but not wet and then shoots will come within 2-3 weeks. They will flower within 6 weeks. If you are forcing any of the other bulbs you need to give them a mock winter. So after you water them once, tuck them into the fridge for 3-4 weeks then bring them out and begin to water them keeping them moist but not wet and you will have yourself a flower about 6 weeks after taking them out of the fridge! Forcing bulbs are a fun way to help sped up spring’s arrival!
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First The Picture: What do you know about birds? Do you know what type of bird this is? Can you tell if it is a boy or a girl? What things help us to know the gender of a bird? What types of things do birds eat? Do you put out food for the birds?
Second The Question: Some birds stay throughout the year and some birds migrate in and out of areas seasonally. As the winter months change to spring your bird population will change. This is a wonderful time to pay attention to birds outside and begin to notice your unique local bird population. Can you list the different types of birds that are in your area? Try to find images of the birds, both male and female on the computer or at the library. What is different between boy and girl birds? Why do you think they look so different?
Third Next Steps: Birds are amazing colorful, sweet sounding creatures. They add so much beauty to our world. Spend some time walking outside or watching out a window and see how many different types of birds you can find. Go for a hike in a park or at a nature center, bring along a pair of binoculars and spot as many different birds as you can. Spend some time sitting quietly and listen to the different calls that birds make. Visit you-tube and pull up videos of different birds. Another fun thing on-line is: the National Eagle Center has a webcam on their eagle’s nest where you can tune in and watch as they build their nest, lay their eggs and hatch out some eaglets. Click Here One of the most amazing things to do in the spring is to attend a bird banding. Look for nature centers, or regional parks in your area. Go to their website and look at their educational programming options. Many have bird banding sessions in the spring and they love to have help. It is usually free for you to attend. The experience is unforgettable. They actually gently catch birds in nets and then have volunteers hold the birds and place a band on their leg. Children can help with the guidance of an adult. It is awe inspiring for little ones to see a songbird up close and get a chance to feel their soft feathers. A truly memorable way to interact with our amazing bird population and a great way to kick off the spring!
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