by Stefani on 27-January-2010

Nature Collections

My guys wanted to share with you their “Nature Museum.”

Their holdings include:

1. A wild hog skull (there’s also a bull skull that’s too large for the shelf)
2. Two deer skulls
3. Various moths and butterfles (most prominent in this photo are the Black Swallowtail to the left of the “3” and to the right (above) a Polyphemous moth and (below) a Black Witch moth.
4. A snake shed
5. A Paper Wasp nest
6. Several shells including the large southern quahog, the long white “angel wing” and the (almost too dark to see) sea beans, which aren’t shells at all, but were collected from the same beach.
7. A dragonfly (you can kind of see him if you look very closely)
8. A bird skull
9. Lots of little rocks, crystals, sweet gum balls, cicada sheds, seeds, etc.
10. A Leaf Footed Bug – that’s its real name.
11. A Praying Mantis sent to us by the wonderful Maya and sons.
12. Various land snail shells – the big ones are there on the shelf, the tiny ones are in the neighboring jar.
13. A fossil, alongside flint, quartz and calcite-coated limestone.
14. Deer antler sheds – you can see one there, there are a few more around, but they often get commandeered for costumes.
15. A White Lined Sphinx Moth chrysalide (inside the film canister)
16. A plaster cast of a deer track
17. A plaster cast of a raccoon track. (just fyi – there’s some basic information about learning to notice the signs that animals leave behind and also about making casts of tracks in our current Winter Book)
18. River rocks
19. Rock collections and the beginnings of a new beetle collection.
20. Feathers (pea hen and turkey vulture feathers are the ones that you can see here)
21. You can just see the edge of the fish tank. Not far away you’d find Shelly, the Hermit Crab.
22. Deer vertebrae
23. Another Southern Quahog shell
24. A Gulf Fritillary butterfly
25. Barely visible, but there nonetheless, a very much prized acquisition from a real nature science center, an African Porcupine quill.

And just below that quill, on the very last shelf, are their nature journals. My oldest two are each within just a few pages of finishing their “first volume.” That translates into over a year of looking, looking closer, researching, discovering, documenting, measuring, experimenting, photographing, drawing.. and in the end, growing in understanding, by leaps and bounds. Their knowledge of the natural world is surprising, but more importantly, the confidence that they have in their ability to dig deeper and find answers to their questions… it’s inspiring to me. Daily.

My youngest little man just got his first journal. He’s so, SO very proud of it.
The other two are eagerly awaiting the day that they get to head to the store and each purchase their “Volume 2.”
Me, I’m on the look out for more shelving for their museum… and I’m also looking very much forward to all the neat adventures that we’ll have filling up all those new crisp white nature journal pages.

Have a wonderful weekend y’all! I hope it affords you the chance to get outside and discover.

Dawn January 28, 2010 at 4:40 am

This is so great Stefani! It is so awesome your boys get out and explore… and that you make a place for them to keep all of their treasures!
I am looking forward to when Fionna wants to keep a more formal journal. Right now she is all about bits and peices of paper… Someday!

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

My youngest is WAY into the journal right now, but the other two were older when they expressed some desire to journal. I think he’s just wanting to do what his brothers do, you know?
For now, his journal is mostly filled with pictures of him exploring and holding up neat things that he’s found. Sometimes we look them up together and I label them for him, or he makes a copy of a field guide page and pastes it in with his photo. It’s not real intense for him… more like a scrap book. Maybe she’d like that?

Dawn January 28, 2010 at 7:41 pm

It is good to hear that your older boys took some time to come around to the journals… I think I just need to be happy with the papers making it into her three ring binders. It sounds like she is at the scrapbook stage like your little man. Those are very cool too!

renee @ FIMBY January 28, 2010 at 6:13 am

Love this. we have a nature table spilling her sides. Maybe we need a museum instead?

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:24 am

Well hello, Renee! Yes, you totally have to call it a museum… everything is better when you have a fancy name for it 🙂

Beth January 28, 2010 at 6:14 am

I LOVE THAT!!! My kids do this, but we should make a place they can put them all together like this – currently they are in a backpack, shoe, shelf, windowsill, basket, the van, and when I find them occasionally the trash or back outside….

Maybe a post someday on how and what are in your nature journals? My kids love this idea, but we haven’t developed a way to do it…


Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:26 am

Oh I know what you describe very very well! We only recently brought everything together. We had a nature table, but we also had collections here and there and everywhere. I finally cleared off a shelf for them and the filled it up fast! I had no idea really that we had so much.
As for the journal, yes! I will ask them if they mind sharing some pages and post early next week about how we use them. Happy weekend!

Lise January 28, 2010 at 7:23 am

I love this! You’ve got everything displayed so beautifully. I wonder if your boys would let us peek inside their nature journals, too? I always love to see what other kids are doing.

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:28 am

I’ll ask them if they’d like to share some pages. I’m sure they will, they’re not yet at that stage where they’re shy about sharing 🙂
If it’s okay with them, I’ll post early next week about how we journal.

Carla January 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

How splendid! I have a grandson who would LOVE this. Alas, he lives a few hours away and is rarely here. I don’t think he would get to do it at home.

I am impressed over and over with what you are doing with your sons. Good for you!

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thank you Carla! I’m sorry to hear that your little man lives so far off. You should know though that my Grandmother lived several hours from me and I only saw her a couple of times a year, but even so, we are very close. The things that she taught me, and the memories that we share are a HUGE part of who I am. I guess what I’m saying is that your grandson probably holds you very dear despite the distance.

Molly January 28, 2010 at 7:44 am

I LOVELOVELOVE this!!! My kids collect stuff too but so far only a tiny bird skull(and the end of a squirrel’s tail) but lots of rocks, minerals, shells, fossils, feather, arrowheads, and other cool things. We keep it all on the shelves of a china cabinet in the living room.

Many years ago I found a huge caterpillar(think hot dog sized) while on a walk in our neighborhood. My parents were coming for a visit the next day and my 3 year old so was SO excited to show it off to them. Imagine our surprise to find it cocooned the next morning! It turned out to be a Polyphemus moth! They are beautiful!


Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

Oh how cool! My boys are DESPERATE to find a big caterpillar like that. We had the privilege of seeing some Cecropia caterpillars at the local wildlife center this past spring and my boys were SO impressed. Check out this:

It sounds like you’ve got quite a collection too! I bet your kids were so excited by that bird skill. Ours remains one of the boys most prized finds!

Sarah January 28, 2010 at 8:22 am

When we moved to the new house I finally got most of our things like this put together in one place, my china cabinet. I have a lot of shells and coral in mine too, since we used to live near the ocean. The funny part is how much it freaks out other people. “OH MY! There are nasty bugs in jars here.” LOL (We found an awesome praying mantis on the sidewalk last year that is in one of the jars. I think it might be the one that pushes people over the edge.)

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:45 am

Can I just tell you that I LOVE the idea of weird bugs in the china cabinet.. and I’m having a great time imagining the unamused faces peering in at them 🙂

Andrea January 28, 2010 at 8:49 am

So cool…can’t wait to set one of these up in our house (first step: find shelves). Thanks for the photo!

Stefani January 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

Oh the never ending hunt for good shelves! Between our love for books and the constant hauling home of nature finds, I NEVER have enough space (or money!) for all the shelves that we need! And good ones are so hard to find at thrift shops. But I keep on hunting. Happy hunting to you as well!

maya January 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm

aww, stef, thanks for the love. we’re honored to be a part of the collection…this is so fantastic – beyond what i’ve imagined for a home nature display, beyond what i’ve pictured for a classroom, even. truly a museum, & so incredibly awesome. it’s just the push i need to take my fabrics out of a small cabinet in the boys room. i don’t know where we’ll find some of that stuff, but maybe i just need to put my gloves on & take on some ultra-hygenic roadkill cleansing…whooo. you stretch us, girl. between my boys & the example you guys set, who needs personal growth seminars??

Stefani January 29, 2010 at 12:39 am

I ‘ll bet you never thought that miles and miles away someone would see a praying mantis and think of you, huh?
I hope that you and your little men are well and happy. I’m still wishing there weren’t so many states between here and there!

LaughingFamily January 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I love this museum! What is the cost of admission? Besides airfare to Texas… 🙂 This is marvelous. I think we may have to dedicate one spot in the house for our treasures. We currently have birds nests, bones, and bugs in all areas of the house. It would be great to get them organized into one central location!

Stefani January 29, 2010 at 12:40 am

You get yourself to Texas, mama, and we’ll give you a VIP pass 🙂

Holly January 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Beautiful and so inspiring, as are all of your posts.
Not to burst your bubble of wonderfulness, but I do have a question:
Is it hard to dust?
I just had to ask! 😉

Stefani January 29, 2010 at 12:42 am

Ha! Most of it gets handled and rearranged so much that it doesn’t gather much dust. Plus, I’m not the world’s best housekeeper, so I don’t worry much about it. I will tell you this. When we moved the skulls down to this shelf from a higher one I notice that a wee little spider had spun a web in one of the eye sockets. The boys thought it was a wonderful addition to their collection!

Wendy January 28, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Very cool, guys! Thanks for sharing!

BOATBABY January 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

That scene is OH SO familiar. Ours is a wee bit smaller living on a boat, but same idea, many similar specimens. So sweet – thanks for sharing!

Lia January 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Wow. You guys look like you have your very own Nature and Science Center. My boys and I are very impressed!

ali January 29, 2010 at 12:19 am

Oh, wow! I love it, and I’m sure my children would too! Hmmm, where could I put it?

Greta January 29, 2010 at 1:27 am

Oh my word!!! I can’t wait to show this to my two boys tomorrow. They will be so impressed and jealous. They will immediately ask when we are getting some skulls for our nature table.
Did your men find all these things themselves on walks and hikes? If so, we need to get ourselves out to Texas cause we just don’t find that stuff here in the city!
This is really great. Thank you so much for sharing.

Mousy Brown January 29, 2010 at 4:28 am

How fantastic – our nature table/museum is well stocked too but with very British things – it is so interesting to see how different things are over there! Isn’t it a wonderful way to encourage their enthusiasm? I love how much excitement each new find involves – thanks for the peek 😀

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