We like to astonish our friends with our latest, most greatest big word: “Propagation”
Nice one, right?
My middle son, the mad scientist, and I, found a piece of Purple Heart (aka Wandering Jew) on the sidewalk of a bookstore. It had broken off and been left to wither and die, but being that I travel with Nature Super Heroes, we were duty bound to bring it home and put it in a bottle of water.
The result is a very cool display for his homeschool fair, and my kitchen counter becoming littered with an array of other “propagation projects.”
We’ve got a sweet potato soaking, a few other plant cuttings (swiped off of neighbor’s plants, when mama wasn’t paying attention) and an array of seeds and beans lifted from my spice cabinet and pantry, all in various states of growth.
So, it should surprise no one that “Don’t Throw It, Grow It!” is now on our Christmas list.
My little botanist has been thinking of giving away several small bags of kitchen seeds and beans, along with some small pots as a raffle prize for those who visit his display at the fair. I think if you maybe added in a paint brush and some paints for decorating those pots, it would make a nice Christmas gift for a little indoor gardener.
For my entomologist, there will be lots of little clear boxes in his stocking.
He likes to use these (found at craft stores) for our bug collecting so that we can still get them out and see them from different angles, and look at them with the magnifying glass or microscope.
If you don’t yet have a magnifying glass, you can find them in the office supplies section of your local discount store for as little as $8, or you can go for the jeweler’s loupe, which makes for a highly portable magnifying option for young explorers on the go.
As for the microscope, one of our boys got one for a birthday some time ago, and we love it! You can find the one we have here.
There’s a really inspiring and fun book called, “A World In a Drop of Water” that is a must have for microscopic explorers. It talks about the many weird and wonderful creatures, a whole other crazy world, that can be found in a drop of pond water. That book, plus a few eye dropper bottles and some new clean slides are definitely on our wish list!
Really, nature exploration with young people can seem like a daunting task. As my son said, “there’s just so MUCH nature. Like a whole big world of it!” But really, it can be so simple and rewarding to study the things right in your own neighborhood or park or backyard for that matter. You don’t need much.
Basically, we take walks. Along the way we take photos of things we find, or if they are small, we bring them home for our nature table. The boys pick one thing at a time to learn and journal about.
We hold the object or the photo and start thinking of questions. Where did it come from? When did we find it? How did it get there?
We list any answers we know in the journal, and then we scour the Internet, field guides and such to find out more. They glue and paste or write down their information into their journals. It doesn’t take long for them to amass quite a collection of acquired knowledge of the world around them.
The day that one of them started to refer back to his own work to draw conclusions about something new that he’d found, was a very proud one for all of us. A light bulb moment!
Anyhow, if you haven’t begun a nature journal, get a nice big spiral bound blank book at a craft store, some colored pencils and a handful of field guides and get started!
Some of our favorite kid friendly field guides are the Golden Guides from St. Martin’s Press . My guys have five or six different ones, and a list of others that they’re hoping for. Considering the used prices on Amazon, I think that they might see a few pop up under the tree this year.
A couple of other great, and inspiring resources for any young naturalist’s bookshelf are The Handbook to Nature Study and my very favorite, unfortunately out of print resource, The Amateur Naturalist.
Now go take a hike! (and happy big feast day preparations to all our American friends!)