Nature Around the Net

November 22, 2014

Fall Snow-1

Here is a little inspiration for outdoor exploration, creating and shopping (yes, shopping)!

- These flip books are stunning. The flip book concept would make the most amazing little mini nature journals cataloging a nature hike or experience. (Imagine making on of a dragonfly or butterfly emerging. Oh, fun!)

- Need “5 quick tips to help you achieve some outdoor time every day?”

- This is a great holiday gift guide for mini outdoor adventures  (and a great giveaway too)!

- Not that we love to shop (we don’t), but here is one more holiday gift guide with links to lots more!

- A cosmic alignment we can’t see this morning (but is still amazingly cool to know about)!


If you have come across any great nature related links please do share in the comments! Thanks!



Today we are very excited to welcome Natalie to the blog. She is here to share about her process for making gift wrap from plants she has scanned with her printer!

From Natalie:

In spring I made some papier mâché bowls with dry flowers and grass. I wondered how the flowers would look copied? It turns out, really nice! It was a busy time then for me and the flower paper never made it to the blog. This autumn Dawn showed some direct-copies made from leaves on her Instagram account. I wrote about my spring paper and this guest post is the result!

Make your own nature motif gift wrap paper:

The key? Get some nice leaves and flowers from the garden and use the copy-mode from your All-In-One-Printer, that’s all.

1_what you need from the garden

What You Need

• Plants from the November-Garden: fern, grass, daisy, hawkweed, barberry
• All-In-One-Printer
• Copy Paper A4, white
• Optional: Picture-Software

Note: Branches with small leaves, long grass, fern and flowers work well. If you use them fresh, like i did, you may tape a paper to the lid for protection. Don’t use berries. Don’t forget to clean the glass afterwards!

2_scan 1

Sprinkle the barberry, or other leaves you have collected, on the glass from your printer, put down the lid and press the copy-button.
You’ve got your first gift-wrap paper! If you like it, best to make a scan from it and store it on your hard-drive for an other occasion.

2_scan 2 mix fern grass daisy hawkweed

For the wrap it’s best to have an interesting bit in the middle of the paper. If you’re not sure how much you should put together, use the preview-function on your computer and have a look. If necessary remove or add more plants.

2_scan 3 barberry split

You can also use photo editing software to help clean up the result. In the photo above I used bright and bark-correction in the upper part.

The original copy is good, but if you’ve got photo software, you can make the print even better.

2_scan 4barberry gray

Another option is to copy the branch only with black and white.


You can start to wrap your smaller parcels with your paper. From these november plants I made 6 different papers in half an hour.

4_gift wrap (1)

You can also fold an easy origami box, called masu, with the paper (left, in the picture). Use the plant-print for the top and a white or colored one for the bottom. Find video-tutorials by searching for it on the internet: origami, box, masu.

Thank you for inviting me to write this guestpost here on Mud Puddles to Meteors. I am looking forward to see all your paper prints! Please share them with us on Instagram by tagging #mudtometeors or in the Facebook group!

Zürich, Natalie Kramer, 14.11.14


Natalie blogs at schaeresteipapier. Her blog is filled with cool stuff to do with your kids. She lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland with her husband and 9 year-old son.
You can find her on Instagram here: @schaeresteipapier


Xenolith Granite Text 2

We spend a lot of time rock hopping along shores filled with granite rocks. As we make our way, we often come across rocks within a rock. These are called xenoliths!

While they don’t just occur in granite, they are more commonly found within this common igneous rock.

Read on to find out a bit more about xenoliths as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, interactive notebook, or lap book.


Some Things to Know About Xenoliths:

- A xenolith is a rock found within a rock.

- When the larger rock is being created it can pick up smaller rocks and make them a part of the whole new rock.

- This usually occurs in igneous rocks, rocks that are created when molten material such as lava or magma cools.

- While it is still hot this molten material can come into contact with rocks that have already been formed, either on the side of the magma chamber or on the earth’s surface. These preexisting rocks then get picked up by the molten rock material so that when it cools they become a part of the rock.

- While most commonly found in igneous rock they can also occur in sedimentary rocks, rocks that are formed when layers of earth undergo pressure, or even meteorites, which are very hot when they impact earth.

- Xenolith means “foreign rock” in ancient Greek.

The PDF department had trouble getting toddlers to sleep last night. The PDF should be up later today or this evening, so check back!


Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!


Duncan’s Cove is located on the rocky coast of Nova Scotia near the entrance to Halifax Harbor. This seemingly barren landscape is filled with an amazing variety of plant species and hearty ocean dwelling mammals and birds. The trail is tucked away in a little community but it is well worth the effort to ask around and find the trailhead.



Pitcher Plants 1-1Pitcher Plants Full-1


Some Things to Know About Duncan’s Cove

Location: Just outside Halifax in the community of Duncan’s Cove

Habitat: Coastal scrub and rocky shoreline

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: The seals are a big attraction and the kids love watching them pop their heads up out of the water to survey the area. The ever favorite pitcher plants can also be found here in the summer, along with a wide variety of berries.

Special Features: After a fair amount of hiking trekkers can venture up to check out a bit of history in the form of WWII bunkers. It is a reminder of the way nature plays a role in human history. We talked a lot about the chosen placement of the bunckers and how the landscape factored into those decisions.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The most favorable conditions can be found from late spring to late fall. While it would be beautiful to visit in the winter caution would be needed as ice will form on rocks making some of the trails hugging the cliffs dangerous.


Please let us know if you have a trail, nature center, or natural history museum you would like to share here on Mud Puddles. You can contact us at kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com.


Nature Around the Net

November 15, 2014


Some fun and interesting links have popped up this week, along with a few great resources for winter nature study.

- In this post there are some neat finds and great things to look out for in the fall!

- If you are looking to learn more about identifying trees in the winter this is a wonderful resource.

- A question came up about White Pines at Forest Friday this week so we looked it up. That is a tree with an amazing history!

- Monday, November 17th is Take a Hike Day! If you are looking for ideas this post has lots of neat locations. Your nearest local trail works great too!

Have you come across any great nature links this week? Please share in the comments.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

~ Dawn & Annie


Flour raindrops Text

When the rain comes down we often say things like, “It is sprinkling,” or “It’s raining cats and dogs!” These terms relate not only to the rate the rain is falling but also the size of the drops themselves. Last week we decided to see if we could get a better handle on the size of raindrops with this super simple and fun way to catch and measure raindrops!

What you need:

white flour

shallow pan

fine strainer

dark paper

ruler (optional)


What you do:

Add about an inch worth of flour to the pan and shake a bit to even it out. (You don’t need to sift it as the clumps will brake up when you put through the strainer.)

Gear up and head outside on a rainy day to catch some raindrops falling from the sky.

Flour raindrops 2-1

The kids also enjoyed catching drops falling off the roof because those drops were much larger than the actual raindrops.

Flour raindrops 1-1

Bring the pan inside and scoop some of the raindrops out of the flour and into a strainer. Move it around to let the loose flour fall through and reveal your raindrops.

Flour raindrops 3-1

Turn them out onto a sheet of dark paper and take note of the different sizes. These are technically a bit larger than the actual drops as the flour has added some mass but it gives a good representation of the variation in drop size.

The clumps made by the drops falling from the roof were quite different than the drops falling directly from the sky.

Flour raindrops 4-1

Flour raindrops 5-1

This is a great time to talk about how rain is made and share a bit about the water cycle.

If you would like to add some math to the activity you can get the ruler out for some measuring.

To extend this activity further, take some notes about the size of the drops and general weather information for the day in your nature journal, then try this again on multiple rainy days to note the variations in size depending on the type of rain falling.

Flour raindrops 7-1

If your house is anything like my house, there will be flour play to follow! What started out as smashing drops to make little round disks turned into quite a messy and fun play session!

Rainy Day Resources: 

This is a nice 6 min review of the water cycle.

Rain talk naturally leads to clouds. If you are looking for a book about clouds, we really like the Cloud Book by Tomie dePaloa.

Do you know where the saying “raining cats and dogs” came from? Folks are not totally sure, but here is a little history if you are interested.

If you have little people keen on weather you can still get our Weather Watcher’s Handbook. (It will not available for much longer, as we will be taking it down when we get closer to our book launch date in the spring.)


Please let us know if you do this activity. It would be fun to see your flour raindrops! You can come back here to share a link in the comments or tag us by using the hashtag #mudtometeors!

Happy Raindrop Collecting!

~ Dawn & Annie



chickadee text

Black-capped Chickadees have an unmistakable call and are great fun to watch. They are so good a finding food that other birds often follow them while they searching for insects and other food prospects. These other birds also respond to chickadee warning calls. Chickadees can be very social with humans in some environments; it is not uncommon for chickadees to land on the hand of a person holding out seeds for them, providing a wonderfully magical close encounter with these undeniably sweet little birds.

Read on to find out a bit more about Black-capped Chickadees as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, interactive notebook, or lap book.


Some Things to Know About Black-capped Chickadees:

Named for their black-capped head these small round birds have white under their eyes, a mostly grey body and buff breast leading to a white underside.

They are very acrobatic birds that fly quickly from tree to tree in the forest.

They frequent feeders in order to extract seeds but often leave to eat or hide them.

Chickadees can remember thousands of hiding places where they have stowed seeds.

In the winter they look for insects hibernating in the bark of trees. They are so good at finding them that other birds follow them in search of food.

They often build their nest in cavities in birch or alder trees.

If you hear more dee notes in their characteristic chickadee-dee-dee call that means they are alerting other birds to a higher level of threat.

There is a rank and order in chickadee flocks with a mating pair serving as the leaders of the flock. The other birds in the flock are typically not their offspring.

During very cold weather they sleep in individual cavities they find or create in trees.

You can listen to chickadee songs and calls at this website:

Click here to download the Black-capped Chickadee activity pages to use with your own young people! (PDF coming soon!)


Nature Around the Net

November 9, 2014



We found some links we think you will like and find inspirational this on this fall Sunday!

- Linda wrote a great review for The Truth About Nature.

- 5 Tips for Winterizing Your Kids (and a giveaway)!

- This is a wonderful post about Respectful Mushroom Harvesting.

- 10+ Naturalist Resources for Identifying Wildlife is amazing.

- Polyphemus moth caterpillars are amazing. (This post has been open in my tabs for quite awhile… waiting to be shared!)


My son just came in to tell me that there is ice on the pond! I am off to check it out.

Have a great Sunday!



Unusual Fall Find

November 7, 2014

We have been raking leaves, spotting fall nests and having a fire each night, but it seems that everyone did not get the fall memo. These crazy flowers think it is spring!



Have you been spying any unusual fall finds?


P.S. I am endlessly fascinated by the idea that trees and plants make their buds in the fall. I grew up in Southern California, where the cycles of the seasons are much more subtle, so this was not something I learned about until we moved to Nova Scotia.


Art Exchange Text

The deadline to sign up for the Nature Inspired Art Exchange is right around the corner!

With the exchange in mind we asked Amy, creator of Art Together, to share some art inspiration to give participants, both big and little, ideas for the exchange. She chose some wonderful posts from her blog to share beautiful leaf inspired art she created with her daughter. (Simply click on the title links to head over to Amy’s blog and learn how they were created.)


From Amy:

Autumn Leaf Inspiration

We live in New England and we’re surrounded by leaves right now, so when I thought about what sort of inspiration to offer here on making nature art, that’s naturally where I landed. The foliage has been so brilliant this year. Of course leaves are fun for rubbings, paint prints, and sun prints, but the two activities here involve the color of the leaves, too, and I absolutely love color.

O’Keeffe Leaves

(Inspired by “Gorgeous Gigantic Flowers” in What’s the Big Idea? by Joyce Raimondo)

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe is well known for her oil paintings of flowers from a very close-up view. A couple of autumns ago, my then-4yo daughter and I drew and painted leaves from this perspective. She had just turned four, so her drawing was very free-form, but she spent quite a bit of time investigating her leaf’s colors and putting them on the page.

G's O'Keeffe Leaf

I enjoyed the process of making the leaf BIG—it can be so much fun to really hone in on a small area and render it large.

Amy's O'Keeffe Leaf

If you try this for the nature art swap, you’ll want to try to get the margins of your leaf to extend beyond the edge of your 5×7 paper. I had the most success starting from the center and working my way out, including some edges of the leaf so it was clear it was a leaf. My daughter and I used tempera cake paint for these, but you could use any medium you like, wet or dry.

Watercolor Leaves

Last autumn, my daughter and I collected some gorgeously colored leaves at the playground, traced them onto our watercolor paper, and then worked on adding color. Watercolor has the ability to blend really easily—sometimes when you don’t even want it to—because wet paint will bleed into wet areas. You can use this to your advantage to blur the boundaries of different areas of color, just as often occurs on a real leaf. (If you don’t want an area to bleed, let it dry before painting over it or next to it.) If your leaf is red, yellow, and orange, you can create orange right on the paper where the red and yellow blend.

G's fall leaf

my fall leaf

These leaf paintings are still some of my favorite pieces of artwork that we’ve created together. Trimmed to 5×7, as for the art swap, they’d be perfect for framing.


Thank you for the art inspiration, Amy! 

We are so excited about the exchange and many wonderful families have already signed up. Head over to the exchange post to learn more and sign up to participate! 

The deadline to sign up is Monday, November 10th! 


Amy Hood blogs about art, homeschooling, and occasionally other topics at amyhoodarts. She writes and publishes Art Together, an e-zine designed to inspire confidence in adults to explore open-ended art-making alongside children. Each issue is full of activities, information, a featured artist and material, and friendly encouragement about how fun (and yes, easy!) it is for adults and kids to play with art materials together.