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We regularly find acorns with tiny, perfectly round holes in them and wonder just how those holes got there. Did a bird or bug drill into the nut to get to the nutritious meat inside? What could have made these amazingly round holes? It turns out that they were made by insects. Not insects drilling in, but ones burrowing out.  Nut weevil larvae!

Read on to find out a bit more about holey acorns and nut weevil larvae 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 Holey Acorns and Nut Weevil Larvae (Curculio)

- While acorns are developing the female nut weevil uses her long snout to lay her eggs in the nut. (Photos of a adult weevils can be seen here.)

- Eventually the eggs hatch and the larvae eat the contents of the acorn as they grow and develop.

- In the fall the acorn drops to the ground, with the grubs still safely inside.

- The larvae then burrow out of the nut, creating a perfectly round hole, and find their way to the soil.

- Once on the ground, the weevils burrow into the soil and complete their development after one to two years underground.

As you can tell from the bowl above they will not survive unless they reach a place to burrow.

According to this account, by a mama entomologist, the weevils are harmless and the reason we tend to bring home so many acorns with grubs inside is that the squirrels have a way to distinguish the larvae infested acorns from the good ones. They kindly leave behind acorns they prefer not to eat for little hands to collect!

Click here to download the holey acorn and nut weevil larvae activity pages to use with your own young people!

 

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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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Kearney Lake Trails (Nova Scotia, Canada)

A good friend introduced us to this trail system and it has quickly become a favorite destination for hitting the trail. The kids love the wooden walkways, abundant wildlife, and lakeside play at our typical turnaround point. At one spot there is even a boulder with just the right angle to provide a wonderful naturally made slide. This is a big hit with the little trekkers!

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Some Things to Know About Kearney Lake Trails

Location: At the end of Saskatoon Ave. near the Maskwa Aquatic Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (More details can be found at this website.)

Habitat: Mixed woodland and lake shore with trails taking hikers along both Kearney Lake and Charlies Lake.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: This area is known for bird watching and there are many different types of birds to be spotted along the hike. In late spring and summer wildflowers are abundant along the trail and lake shore, while late summer and fall bring a wide variety of fungi. Squirrels can often be seen travelling their pathways in the trees or sitting on a fallen tree nibbling on a cone snack.

Special Features: Along with the wonderful views that can be found at lookout spots, there are also paths lined with wooden walkways. These walkways not only keep feet dry and protect the habitat along the trail, but they also provide a little bit of fairy tail type magic for little hikers trekking along the trails.

Best Time of Year to Visit: While winter may provide a challenge for some parts of the trail the system is open year-round and certain trails are ideal for snowshoeing. Late spring provides many opportunities for wildflower spotting, while a dip in one of the lakes can be the perfect refreshment after a long hike on a hot summer day. The mixed woodland provides wonderful color in the fall, making it an ideal hike on an autumn day.

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Nature Inspired Art Exchange

October 27, 2014

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Since we hosted our last nature exchange, we have had countless requests to do another one. After putting some thought into it, we decided that this time we would have an exchange of nature inspired art!

Around our respective homes it is common for nature to come inside and be used in a wide variety of art projects. For this exchange we are going to stick to the type of art that can be shared in a 2D fashion: prints, collage, rubbings, observational drawings and the like are the perfect techniques for sharing this type of nature art. They can be as simple or detailed as you like.

 

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It is always fun to receive packages in the mail so we decided to expand the reach of this exchange by having each participate create 3 works of art to send out to three different people. In this way each participate will also receive three works of nature inspired art in return! That sounds like lots of fun mail days, right?

What to do: 

Sign up to participate in the exchange by November 10th.

Create 3 works of nature inspired art on 5 x 7 size paper. (The uniform size will help those who would like to frame or otherwise preserve their exchange pieces.)

Send one piece of art to each of the 3 participants on your list.

Mail all of your art off by November 24th. 

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Here are a few ideas to get your creativity flowing:

Nature Stamps

Leaf rubbings

Leaf Printing

Observational Sketches

Spore Prints

Solar Prints

We will be posting more ideas in the coming weeks!

Please keep in mind as you create that even though we are asking for age in the information below we are not separating adult participants from kids. We have found that in some cases age may not matter. So you may get a detailed observational sketch (from a 10 year old) and a leaf rubbing from a (42 year old) and that is all okay! It is simply about the sharing!

Also, if you know about the nature object you are working with or drawing feel free to share information about it, or at least where you found it, but this is not a requirement. A mystery object may inspire some investigation from the receiver!

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How to sign up:

Sign up by sending the following information to us at kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com

Full Name:

Address:

Blog (if you have one):

Age (Adults can put “adult” if you like):

 

Please send a different email for each person in your house who is participating.

If your child is participating and your do not want their full name given you can simply put their first name and “care of” (c/o) your name.

If you would like to participate as a family and send one work of jointly created art just send one email.

More Details: 

We will send out emails with your exchange matches by November 17th. (Make sure the “kidsandnature” email is accepted by your account so we don’t end up in spam.)

Please be patient with us and wait to inquire about your sign up until after the 17th. (If you don’t receive an email after the 17th please let us know.)

After you sign up start making your works of art right away. Once you have your art created slip it into your prepared envelopes and you will be ready to send you exchange packages away as soon as we send your matches!

 

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

If you would like to share about a favroite nature art project or technique (including links) please feel free to share in the comments.

 

We hope you will join in!

Happy Creating!

 

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Nature Around the Net

October 25, 2014

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A variety of cool things have come across our screens this week. We hope they provide a wee bit of inspiration to get out there and explore!

- There were so many great news links over at the Children & Nature Network site this week!

- More completely amazing news about Megalodon.

- Do you have a daredevil space lover at your house? They may want to watch this!

- The Pixie Cup and The Midge!

Have you found any interesting nature related things on the web this week? Please share on the comments or over on Facebook or Twitter!

 

P.S. You still have time to enter the giveaway!

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Earlier this week Emily shared a great Tinkerlab post filled with printmaking inspiration. We were inspired!

As we walked around the yard that morning we looked for things that would be fun to use in a printing project. All of the fall leaves swirling around in the wind seemed to call to us. It is no wonder there are so many fall leaf inspired crafts out there. They beg to be used for all manner of creation!

We played around a bit but eventually figured out that the use of mostly dry tube watercolors make beautiful prints.

What you need: 

Leaves that are still subtle and not too dried out

tube watercolor paints (If you have not worked with them before they are a great addition to your paint collection!)

paint brush

watercolor paper (heavy card stock might work as well)

a little bit of water

plexiglass or another flat object for pressing

 

What you do:

We squeezed just a bit of tube watercolor paint onto our pallet in our chosen colors and added only a slight amount of water to each color. (We are talking super tiny amounts of water here, folks!)

Using a dry paintbrush we brushed the paint onto the bottom of our leaf.

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Then we laid the leaf, paint side down, onto the paper.

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While you can press with your hands only it does not make for an even print, so we decided to use some plexiglass to help press the whole surface of the leaf evenly. (We have a stash of old plexi lids from old toy containers.) You could use any ridged flat object such as a book or cardboard. Just be sure to press really well around the larger veins of the leaf.

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After pressing pull the leaf away from the paper and marvel over your beautiful print!

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Play around with colors. You don’t have to stick to the fall color pallet. You may want to try some pastel leaves or even print a few with other holiday colors for future card making!

Have fun printing!

P.S. If you make some leaf prints of your own please share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #mudtometeors. We would love to see your prints!

 

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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. 

 

The winners are: 

Jessica: Neat! I’ll throw my hat in the ring. :)

Sara: Sounds like wonderful reading!

Jessica: I had not heard about this magazine, and I am very curious! I’ve been disappointed with the magazine offerings I was previously aware of. 

The boys were inspired this summer by a presentation at our local library, and have been collecting BUGS all summer. My personal response has been, “Ewwwww!”, at least on the inside, but it’s been an interesting angle to explore on our adventures. Naturally, the best specimens are found when we leave our nets at home.

A big thank you to everyone who entered! Please check out Home|School|Life and sign up for the free monthly newsletter

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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.

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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

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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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