FALL 2014

While Home|School|Life is certainly a homeschooling magazine at its core, the content inside extends beyond homeschooling into topics related to parenting, nature study, art and more.

Within each issue we have found wonderful pieces on creating with children, sharing the ups and downs of family life, and exploring nature. The editors have recruited some wonderful voices from the community to contribute insightful articles and essays, published alongside regular columns on art and nature study.

It is, in essence, the homeschool/parenting magazine we have always wanted, all bundled up with beautiful photography, useful and relevant resources, and a crisp inviting layout.

The Giveaway

The editors at Home|School|Life have offered three digital issues of the Fall edition for a giveaway. 

To enter please leave a comment on this post.

If you would like to share which aspect of nature study is most important to you we would love to read about that in your comment.

To get extra entries share on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite social media outlet, then come back here and let us know what you did in a separate comment.

Please be sure to leave your email address in the available box when you comment.

Three winners will be announced on Monday, October 27th. 

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Pink earth is a wonderful example of just how beautifully strange nature can be. At first glance it may look like a fungi but it is actually a lichen that is commonly found in disturbed areas like roadsides.

Read on to find out a bit more about pink earth lichen 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.

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Some Things to Know About Pink Earth Lichen

- Lichen are created by a symbiotic relationship between a fungi and an algae or cyanobacteria.

- This small lichen has a pink to peach colored top growing out of a gray colored body, or thallus.

- Pink earth lichen grows in marginal soil with high clay content.

- It is commonly found on roadsides and other disturbed areas.

- In the U.S. it is found east of the Mississippi River and in Canada it is common the eastern provinces.

Resources

More detailed information can be found here.

 

Click here to download the pink earth lichen nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

 

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Nature In Your Neighborhood is a weekly feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). 

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Mushrooms are a popular subject of nature study and observation. There has certainly been a lot of fun fungi sharing on the Facebook group.

Today we are sharing a few amazing mushroom photos from Corrie, who lives in Ontario, Canada. She is an extremely talented photographer, but also has a keen eye for nature and is a skilled naturalist as well.

Hygrocybe PsittacinaParrot Waxcap

Hygrocybe psittacina

Autumn Mycenas

Autumn mycenas

Click on the photos above to go check them out on Flickr and leave Corrie a comment, or let us know what you think in the comments here or on Facebook.

Do you love discovering mushrooms along the trail?

Corrie also creates magical water drop photos. You can peek at her amazing photostream here

Thanks for contributing to the group, Corrie!

A Note About Contributing to Nature In Your Neighborhood:

Did you find a bug on the sidewalk and look it up in a guide book? Have you seen a mama or papa bird feeding babies? Are you seeing the seasons begin to change in your neighbourhood? Did you see some neat clouds and call out shapes? Did you make a habitat to observe insects? What questions did your kids ask when you found something out on your nature walk?

We would love to hear more about your experience!

If you would like to contribute please either add a photo or two with a short description to the Flickr group, post it to the Facebook Group, or shoot us an email with your photo(s) and a few sentences about your experience at: kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please also include your location (your state or country is fine).

We would also love to highlight photos and descriptions from young naturalist out there. If your child would like to contribute a photo of what they found, and tell us a little about it, please encourage them to do so and we will spotlight them in a “Young Naturalist” post. (Don’t worry so much about photo quality. We would love to share their work!)

We are looking forward to sharing your nature finds and continuing to encourage families to look high and low for nature all around.

 

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Nature Quotes

October 19, 2014

Thoreau Quote

Have a wonderful Sunday taking in all the season has to offer.

~ Dawn & Annie

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Nature Around the Net

October 18, 2014

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We hope you had the chance to get out and enjoy the beauty of fall this last week.

Here are a few link of inspiration for exploration this weekend!

- Kristy shared about her amazing encounters with Grizzly Bears (and lots of great information) over on Fog and Swell. While you are on her blog pop over to her shop to check out her amazing creations!

- Imagine Childhood is having a book Anniversary giveaway!

- These camera trap images from around the world were fun to explore.

- Is your fall foliage at the peek of the season? Check it out on this neat U.S. Fall Foliage Map!

- This time-lapse video of Hurricane Gonzalo was interesting to watch.

There has also been a whole lot of great sharing going on over on the Mud Puddles Facebook Group! Join in if you are on Facebook.

Have you stumbled across an interesting nature notes around the net this week? Please share in the comments!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Dawn & Annie

P.S. We had a really great meeting with our lovely editor over at Roost Books this week and she was excited about the book manuscript! That made us beyond relieved and exceptionally happy! We are on to the next phase of tweaking a few things to make the book better than ever. Thanks so much to all of you for your continued support and cheerleading here and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (Dawn & Annie)!

 

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Baldfaced Hornet text

The other day we noticed a baldfaced hornet investigating a conifer nearby. Seeing as it is fall we knew that is was not gathering wood pulp to build a nest. We talked about other things it might be doing, then set out to find some answers. While we have investigated these wasps before (after a family member was stung multiple times), we learned a bit more about these rather large wasps, who happen to be yellowjackets and not hornets at all!

Read on to find out a bit more about baldfaced hornets 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, research binder, or lap book.

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Some Interesting Things to Know About Baldfaced Hornets

- Baldfaced hornets are yellow jackets, not hornets. (The European hornet is the only hornet in North America. It was accidentally introduced in the mid-1800′s.)

- They are black with a white face and three white stripes.

- They are common in the southeastern parts of the U.S. but are found though out most of the U.S. and southern Canada (with the exception of the drier midwest).

- These wasps are larger than other wasps averaging about 3/4 inch long (with the queen a bit larger than the workers).

- Queens are hairless while the worker wasps have hairs on their body.

- Fertilized queens overwinter in a sheltered spot and begin nest building on their own in the spring.

- The nests are egg shaped hanging paper nests that are built with wood pulp and saliva.

- Colonies can average 300 – 400 wasp but some grow as large as 700 wasps.

- They feed on insects, spiders, fruit pulp, tree sap and raw meat. Their larvae are feed a diet of chewed up since parts, including other yellow jackets.

- Like other wasps they can sting multiple times but usually only do so to protect themselves or their nest.

- Baldfaced hornets have a very smart fly mimic.

 Resources:

More information can be found using the great fact sheets found here and here.

 

Check back tomorrow for the PDF to go with this post. Thanks for your patience with us!

 

P.S. After our research we concluded that the one we were observing was probably nipping some tree sap from this little spruce. If you know something more please share!

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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 kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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 Laurie ProvincialPark (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Laurie Park is a wonderful getaway that is close to the city but provides plenty of opportunities for quiet and relaxation. With the variety of trails available there is something for just about everyone to enjoy. Our walk in early fall provided a peek at the fall colors starting to change and what was possibly our last dip of toes in the lake before the ice starts to cover everything for the winter.

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Some Things to Know About Laurie Provincial Park

Location: The Laurie Provincial Park is located just outside of Halifax in Grand Lake.

Habitat: Mixed woodland and lake shore.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: A wide variety of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, fish, and even freshwater snails can be found. There are ferns and an array of wild flowers growing along the trails and throughout the woods.

Special Features: Camping is available mid-June through the beginning of September in a beautiful wooded campground along the lake. The lake is also open to boating and fishing. The park also has a great mix of paved, gravel and rugged trails to serve most levels of walker/hiker. In the off season there is a large parking area to accommodate those who want to use the park year-round.

Best Time of Year to Visit: While the park is accessible year-round late spring through early winter are great times to visit. The fall is especially beautiful with the many deciduous trees changing and of course camping and swimming in the summer are great.

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Nature In Your Neighborhood is a weekly feature that focuses on the nature that we all interact with in our everyday lives. Through the window of these posts you can catch glimpses of nature in action in locations across the country (and sometimes beyond). 

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Roy, who lives in British Columbia, has been a wonderful contributor to the Flickr group for quite some time now and one of the things that we love best, beyond his amazing photos, are his descriptions of the creature or scene at the time the photo was taken. He is truly a naturalist who not only appreciates the beauty to be found in the natural world, but also the intricacies of the relationships creatures have with each other and their environment.

Today we are sharing a recent photo of a pacific tree frog Roy added to the group.

Pacific Tree Frog

Click on the photo to head over to flickr and read Roy’s great description of how the frog has prepared for fall.

Thank you for all of your wonderful and insightful contributions Roy!

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A Note About Contributing to Nature In Your Neighborhood:

Did you find a bug on the sidewalk and look it up in a guide book? Have you seen a mama or papa bird feeding babies? Are you seeing the seasons begin to change in your neighbourhood? Did you see some neat clouds and call out shapes? Did you make a habitat to observe insects? What questions did your kids ask when you found something out on your nature walk?

We would love to hear more about your experience!

If you would like to contribute please either add a photo or two with a short description to the Flickr group, post it to the Facebook Group, or shoot us an email with your photo(s) and a few sentences about your experience at: kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com. (Please also include your location (your state or country is fine).

We would also love to highlight photos and descriptions from young naturalist out there. If your child would like to contribute a photo of what they found, and tell us a little about it, please encourage them to do so and we will spotlight them in a “Young Naturalist” post. (Don’t worry so much about photo quality. We would love to share their work!)

We are looking forward to sharing your nature finds and continuing to encourage families to look high and low for nature all around.

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Tree Study Text

Have you ever seen a photo series that shows the same tree in all four seasons? The idea of photographing a single tree throughout the year has always fascinated us. As we travel through the seasons we often notice how trees change as the calender moves forward, and we may even take note of a particular tree or two in our neighborhood. This year we have decided to really get intimate with a tree and dedicate the whole year to researching and studying our tree. Since the fall transition is already so heavily focused on trees and their changing leaves we thought this would be a great time to start!

 What We Want to Know

We started talking about what we wanted to know about our tree and began to make a list. During this process the kids recalled things they already knew about trees in our yard which gave them ideas about which tree they might want to pick for our observations.

Your list may be shorter or longer than our list below, but let the kids lead the way; they may go deeper than ever thought possible. (And things will most likely be added to the list as the year progresses and observations are made.)

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Our Tree Examination List

- What does the bark feel like? Smell like? Does that change with the seasons?

- Is there anything growing on the bark? If so, what is it? Does it hurt or help the tree?

- Are there any holes in the bark? What could have made them?

- Do any insects use our tree for a home/hunting/feeding ground?

- Can we see the roots? If we can see the roots, how do they feel and does that change with the seasons? Do they feel the same or different than the bark?

- Is the trunk of the tree straight, crooked, twisted, bent, etc… What could have caused it to grow that way?

- What shape are the leaves? Broad leaves or needles? Are there things growing on the leaves? Has anything been eating the leaves? If so, can we figure out what?

- Does our tree keep its leaves year-round or drop them in the fall?

- Are there any galls on our tree? On the leaves, twigs, or somewhere else?

- Do any birds nest in the tree? What birds do we see perched there?

- Does the tree produce anything edible to humans?

- Does it have seeds or cones?

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Extending the Study (things to do in each season)

We then talked about other things we can do with and around our tree throughout the year.

While more ideas are sure to come up as the year progresses here are a few we brainstormed:

- We want to sit it under our tree on a rainy day. Does it protect us from the rain? What does it sound like?

- Laying down under our tree on a windy day also sounded like fun. What does it sound like? Look like? Will that change if the tree looses leaves?

- We also thought it would be good to look for other trees of the same species nearby and check them over to see if there are any differences. Do they look older? Younger? Is their bark different? Do the same insects live there?

- There are lots of options for art projects related to trees. A few the kids wanted to do include: leaf rubbings, bark rubbings, and dipping the leaves in wax.

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How to Begin

Now that you have a list of things you might want to look for and a few things to do… Head out to pick a tree!

We decided that we would like to study a tree close to home so we could make regular observations and see even the smallest changes as we spent time in the yard and playing about. It can be right in your own backyard, down the street at the local park or even at the house of a relative nearby. Just about any tree will work, as long as you can check in on it regularly and get up close to examine the details.

After a survey of the yard, and the many options available, we picked an old maple that stands in a group of maples on our side yard. It has branches that are low enough for us to access for observations of leaves, buds, and the creatures that live and feed on them, and it is close to home for frequent observation.


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What to Do

Make some observations letting the kids pick out the parts they want to investigate to begin.

Look up your tree in a guide book or online to see if you can identify what type of tree you have. Involve the kids in looking at the leaves, buds, bark, etc… to help with identification. If you are having trouble with an ID pop on into the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook Group for some help or visit a local nursery to look around and ask a local expert (bring a picture and maybe a leaf sample).

Create a notebook for recording observations. Each time check in with your tree take a few notes, see if the kids can answer some of the questions, take an opportunity to do an activity with the tree, or just simply sit under your tree and enjoy the experience. The notebook can also include notes about those experiences, a poem, or sketch. Anything you and your children want to add will enhance the study.

Decide on a timeline and how frequently you want to check in with your tree. While impromptu exploration is encouraged, it can be good to have some dates to keep everything on track. Write it in on your calendar and maybe do a little review of your notebook, noting what you have seen and what you wanted to know about, before you head out to make a few more observations.

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You probably won’t cover everything on your list to start. That’s okay. This is a year-long project so everything won’t be achieved in a few sessions, or maybe even by the end of the year. If you don’t get to something on the list, that’s okay. A gentle reminder might be all that is needed to spark interest again and some things will loose appeal and may not “get covered.”  The important thing here is to learn about the tree, connect with another living thing throughout the seasons, and simple encourage your family to get outside.

 

Let us know if you pick a tree to study. We would love to see a photo or drawing of your tree, with any other information you would like to share. You can post pictures to the Mud Puddles to Meteors Facebook group, or use the hashtag #mudtometeors on Instagram or Twitter.

 

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It has already been a super busy week for both of us juggling wild family schedules, appointments and squeezing in that precious time outdoors to do little things like watch dew collected on a spiders web or trek around finding signs of squirrel activity. We are excited to be spending some of that ever fleeting time working on a new very neat project that we think you are really going to like. There will be more on that coming up soon!

Today we thought it would be fun to share little round-up of some of our favorite “What’s That?” posts. We enjoy pulling these posts together, mining our collective photo archives for past discoveries, or sharing a recent sighting that was a big hit with our little people.

Wasp Nest Close-1

Wasps Nest

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Wild Turkey

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Fall Tree Buds

(Be on the lookout for buds forming now as the leaves are changing and falling away)

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Tomato Hornworm Caterpillars

Each post has a printable PDF with facts, photos and a few other things to help you explore more.

Enjoy!

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