Monday, July 25, 2016

Explore the Wonderful World of Worms

Take children outside to look for worms. Bring small shovels or old spoons and allow the children to help dig.  A great time to look for worms is after a rainfall. Ask them where they think worms might live. Dig there. Try several places.  Questions to ask: Do you think worms prefer wet or dry soil? Why? Do you think they prefer shade or sun? Why? How deep in the soil do you think worms live?

Carefully fill a clear plastic jar with 3 wide layers of soil alternated with 2 think layers of sand (soil, sand, soil, sand, soil). Spray each layer with a mist of water. Place a few worms in the jar. Cover with a layer of dead leaves. Remember, earthworms live in the dark underground so cover the jar with a dark cloth to make them feel at home. Set the jar where it will not be too warm, too cold, or disturbed. Check them after a few hours and each day. What happened to the neat layers of soil and sand? Return your guests to where you found them.

Try these fun ideas from the KinderNature website to continue your exploration of worms.

Spaghetti-Splash Worms
Mix 2-3 packages of cooked spaghetti, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and food coloring (optional) in a child’s wading pool. Children may want to play with the spaghetti with their hands, sit on it, or (as we tried) use a small slide to get right into the middle of it. Try other things like gelatin which is also a hit.

Worm Tracks
Dip string/yarn into paints and drag across construction paper.

Worm Collage
Make a Worm Collage with cooked whole wheat spaghetti. Give each child a paper plate. Ask them to arrange the noodles any way they wish. Tell them they are worms. The starch in the noodles will help the noodles stick to the plates when dry.


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Monday, July 11, 2016

Goin’ on a Fishin’ Trip

Explore the wonderful world of fish as a class.  Set up an aquarium or fish bowl so children can watch how fish move, eat and breathe. Look at pictures of different fish, read books about fish and if possible visit a local fish hatchery, pet store or aquarium. Make a stuffed fish from paper and let the students paint their fish.

Take children on a fishing trip to a local lake or pond. Check out these simple tips for taking kids fishing to ensure a safe and fun experience for everyone. If possible have a fish fry with fish they caught (have back-up store bought or previously caught fish).  Allow children to taste the fish they caught.  

Fishing Permit
People over the age of 16 need a license to fish. Invite students to create their own fishing license using index cards, crayons, and other materials they choose.

One Fish, Two Fish
Designate 2 students as ducks. The remaining students are fish. Fish are scattered throughout the pond. When the music begins the fish “swim” around the pond. The ducks waddle around trying to tag the fish. If a fish is tagged he/she becomes a duck and tries to tag the fish. When the music stops all fish must freeze. The ducks continue to waddle around trying to tag the frozen fish. If a frozen fish moves while the music is stopped, he/she becomes a duck. When the music starts again, fish begin to swim. Continue until 2 fish remain. You can repeat the game with the last 2 fish becoming the new ducks.

Gyotaku – Japanese Fish Printing
Materials: real head, fins, scales and tail-on fish or rubber fish replica, paint, paper or fabric, paintbrushes

Instructions: Paint a thin layer of paint onto fish or replica, gently lay fabric or paper over the fish, pat to get full shape, remove paper or fabric.  Allow to dry.  Enjoy your very own Gyotaku fish print!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Growing Up WILD Early Childhood Training - July 16

This workshop leads you out the door and provides hands on activities and resource materials to help you lead your own nature explorations. Growing Up WILD activities use age appropriate practices and concepts to build on children’s sense of wonder and invites them to explore nature and the world around them. Specially written for children 3-7, activities include sections to address many learning areas: math, science, language, literacy, health living, play, and creativity.

Growing Up WILD received the 2009 Family Choice Award and the 2011 Renewable Natural Resource Foundation Excellence in Journalism Award.

July 16, 2016
8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Wildhaven Ranger Campus (910 South Smith Street, Algona)
Registration:
Contact Mackenzie Johnson, ISU Extension, johnson7@iastate.edu, 712-240-0471
Cost: $30

Monday, June 27, 2016

Celebrate International Mud Day - June 29


Get muddy and have fun with these Mudluscious ideas from KinderNature.org.

Magic Mud
Put a scoop of cornstarch in a bowl. Add just enough water so you or your tot can stir. Press down on it. What happens? Pick some up in your hand and hold your hand still. Now what happens?
Skills developed: Observation skills, sense of touch, and language.

Paint with Mud
Use paint brushes, paper, and mud to paint pictures. Use different types of soil, using muffin tins for each type. Notice the different textures, colors and smells. Skills developed: Creative, language, sense of sight, and touch.

Sand Shakes
Fill a clear plastic jar with water and sand. Shake. Observe. What happens? Leave it sitting for a while and observe. What happened? Shake again. What happens? Skills developed: Thinking, language, observation skills, and gross motor.

Clean Mud
Tear up pieces of brown paper towels (or toilet paper) and put in a large plastic container. Add shavings of Ivory soap and water until desired consistency. Mix, squish, and squeeze. Make patties, pancakes, and pies! Skills developed: Creative, motor skills, sense of sight, and touch.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Explore the Fascinating World of Grasshoppers


Take children outside to a grassy area to look for and observe grasshoppers. Have children bring their own notebooks or field/nature journals to draw pictures or make notes in.  Remind children to be respectful of the grasshoppers. Survey which plants they grasshoppers are eating. Find out where they hide.
 
Create a terrarium together that will house several grasshoppers for a week. Use soil and grass (return to field study area to collect or collect while out observing grasshoppers).  Include places for the grasshoppers to climb and hide. Providing water is not necessary because grasshoppers do not drink water, they get enough water from the food they eat.  Be sure to provide fresh grass or leafy plants, as well as dry food such as grass seed or oatmeal, every day for the grasshoppers to eat. Let the children be active participants in setting up the terrarium. Tips for terrarium preparation and care are available on the Growing Up WILD website.
 
Once your terrarium is set up, return to your grasshopper field study location and carefully capture and collect four to six grasshoppers using insect nets and bug jars. Place the grasshoppers in the terrarium.
 
Over the course of a week give children time every day to observe and monitor the grasshoppers. Ask:  What do you want to learn about grasshoppers? How can you find out the answers to your questions? For younger children you may want to have a set observation for each day.  For example, Day One: observe the grasshopper’s bodies. What do you notice? Count the legs and antennae. How can you tell the grasshoppers have wings? Describe their eyes Day Two: observe the movement of the grasshoppers. Describe how the grasshoppers walk. How do they jump? Are they fast? Do they jump high/far?
 
At the end of the week when the study is over, return the grasshoppers to the location where you collected them.  Use the information you gathered as a class to create your own book about grasshoppers.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trees For Kids Grant Available For Fall

Trees For Kids grant applications are now available for the fall 2016 grant cycle. The Trees For Kids grant program is designed to provide hands-on educational opportunities for Iowa youth by planting trees on school grounds and other public places. 

Iowa DNR forestry staff are currently setting up site visits with schools and communities interested in applying for the grant, which pays up to $5,000 in tree and mulch cost, and provides educational tree planting demonstrations to participating adults and youth.

This past spring, 20 schools and/or communities received more than $62,000 in Trees For Kids grants to plant more than 900 trees around the state.  Over the life of these trees, they will save more than 310,000 kilowatt hours of electricity by shading buildings and more than 68,000 therms, by slowing winds and reducing building heat loss.   

During their lifespan, the 900 trees planted this spring will help reduce flooding by intercepting more than 39.8 million gallons of storm water, and will reduce more than 5.3 million pounds of atmospheric carbon dioxide through CO2 sequestration and decreased energy production needs and emissions. 

Trees planted around schools and in neighborhoods have also shown to give youth increased levels of concentration, lower levels of aggression, lower levels of obesity and fewer symptoms of ADHD.  Communities are made more livable by having a healthy, diverse tree canopy. 

To download the grant application, go to:  http://www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/Forestry/UrbanForestry.aspx

For more information, contact Laura Wagner, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau, at 515-725-8456.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reconnecting Children with Nature: Growing Up WILD Early Childhood Training


This workshop leads you out the door and provides hands on activities and resource materials to help you lead your own nature explorations. Addresses CDA Content Area 2—Steps to advance children’s physical and intellectual development.
Growing Up WILD activities use age appropriate practices and concepts to build on children’s sense of wonder and invites them to explore nature and the world around them. Specially written for children 3-7, activities include sections to address many learning areas: math, science, language, literacy, health living, play, and creativity.

Growing Up WILD received the 2009 Family Choice Award and the 2011 Renewable Natural Resource Foundation Excellence in Journalism Award.

July 5, 2016
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Marnie Simons Elementary (309 South Street, Hamburg)
Registration: Call the Fremont County Extension Office at 712-374-2351.
Cost: $15; Send registration fee by Wednesday, June 29 to: Fremont County Extension, 610 Clay Street, Box 420, Sidney, IA 51652
 
July 17, 2016
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Annett Nature Center (15565 118th Ave., Indianola)
Cost: $30 (Training fee and snack supplies covered by Warren CCB)
Registration: Contact Karen Johlas-Szalkowski, Warren County Conservation Board - karenjohlas-szalkowski@warrenccb.org, (515) 961-6169 Ext 206