Nature Word of the Month – October 2015: PSITHURISM

Nature Word of the Month - October 2015: PsithurismOne fall, late in the season when all the leaves had been released from the trees, one oak caught our attention during a walk.  As we passed beneath it we heard this soothing melodious sound.  We looked up and noticed that the tree had stubbornly held on to its brown, dried leaves and sounded like a rainstick as the breeze passed through them.  To this day, whenever we pass that tree my children say, “that’s the music tree!”.

May this month’s nature word remind you and your children to listen to the music of nature…

P.S. Don’t forget to have your child include her experiences with “psithurism” in her nature journal.

P.P.S. You can click the image above to download a copy if you’d like to paste it into your child’s journal.

Nature by the Numbers – October 2015: Nature Journal Prompts for Children

Nature by the Numbers - October 2015Whether it’s spring or fall where you live, there are no doubt some dramatic changes taking place this month.  Use our journal prompts to encourage your child to take special notice of what’s happening in the natural world, to spark a sense of wonder, and to preserve her observations and memories.

Nature by the Numbers - October 2015

Click image to download

Here are some resources that may be helpful in supporting some of the suggested explorations for this month’s journal prompts:

Have a wonder-filled week!


Four Fun Explorations For Fall!

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsMy kids and I usually do some activities together to observe the autumnal equinox but this year I wanted to plan out activities to do throughout the season to fully celebrate fall.  Here is a sampling of some of our investigations…Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsMUSHROOMS

Mushrooms can be found year round but are most plentiful in the fall, making it a perfect time to do an investigation.  We are just starting our mushroom explorations.  These are some of the resources that I’ve rounded up:

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsPHASES OF THE MOON

This is something that we visit over and over because as the kids notice more they want to learn more.  I think it’s a fascination that can last a lifetime.  Don’t you?  And with it getting darker earlier, fall is the perfect time to get outside before bed for some moon spotting.

  • We shared some activities and resources for learning all about the moon in this previous post and talked about moon spotting in this post at Playful Learning.
  • You can download our moon journal with an updated cover. The inside of the cover includes the monthly full moon names and phases of the moon vocabulary.  You can print as many observation pages as you need.  Please note the printing directions below:
    • Coverprint the two sheets back to back on the same sheet
    • Observation pages – choose “multiple” with 2 pages per sheet.  Print on both front and back sides of your paper
  • We like this phases of the moon flipbook and game idea.

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsSQUIRRELS

Whether you live in a rural area or an urban one, squirrels are a common critter and easy to observe and are especially active this time of year as they prepare for the winter ahead.  All the resources you need to learn more about squirrels can be found in our previous post:

Four Fun Explorations for Fall - Green AcornsBIRD MIGRATION

You may know by know that my children LOVE birds (they have started a bird-feeding sanctuary in our yard), especially my son who has become quite the knowledgeable young birder, so learning about bird migration is a must.

What are your favorite ways to commemorate the autumnal equinox and celebrate fall?  We would love to hear about it and please do share your favorite resources!

Happy fall!  Have a wonder-filled day…


Nature by the Numbers – September 2015

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015 | Green AcornsHow are we so far in to September already?!  No worries.  There’s still plenty of time left to fit in our nature journal prompts for the month.

Nature journaling has so many benefits: improving observation skills, increasing awareness of the surroundings, and developing a sense of connection and appreciation for nature.  It also helps heighten one’s awareness of the rhythms of nature and the interconnections of life.

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015As we approach the next equinox, use our nature journal prompts to encourage your child to take notice of the changes occurring and what they may mean.  What changes are taking place in trees and other plant life?  Leaves may be changing colors or just unfurling.  Some plants may be dying off while others are emerging.  Are the colors of the landscape shifting?  What does this mean for the animals that rely on those plants?  Perhaps it means the need to rely more on camouflage to avoid predators.  With some practice, it’s amazing what details can be noticed and what connections can be made!

Click the image below to download a copy that can either be pasted into your child’s journal or pinned up to refer to throughout the month.

Nature by the Numbers - September 2015Once your child has recorded all of her observations, review them with her.  Ask “I wonder” questions.  With some encouragement and practice she will begin seeing the connections.

Bonus: Don’t forget to include the word of the month as an extra journal prompt!

Have a wonder-filled weekend!


Create an Animal-Inspired Super Hero!

CREATE AN ANIMAL-INSPIRED SUPER HERO - Green AcornsI’m not sure how unusual this is, but… my kids aren’t in to super heroes. They don’t watch the movies or television shows. They don’t read the comics or graphic novels. They don’t play the video games. Yet we are still surrounded by them.  It seems to be the theme of the year.

What my children are in to though, are the amazing capabilities of animals that have inspired so many super hero powers. My son is here today to share what he has learned about some animals and their amazing capabilities that might just inspire the next great super hero…

Did you know there is a mammal that can walk on water? It doesn’t run like a basilisk but it walks! It’s called a water shrew. It has stiff hairs between its toes, which keeps it from sinking. The hairs might help them swim too and are helpful for hunting their aquatic prey. They might have developed hairs instead of webbed feet because they also spend time on and under land. They live in eastern North America and can be from five to six and a half inches. That’s cool!

There’s a mouse, the grasshopper mouse, that lives in the deserts of the United States and Mexico that eats scorpions and snakes but the poison doesn’t harm it. It just blocks the pain. Wouldn’t that be a cool super hero power?!

Chameleons have really long tongues that shoot out of their mouths to catch prey and that tongue is round on the end and sticks to the prey. Its like another little mouth on the end of the tongue! A chameleon’s eyes can look in two different directions at the same time and their skin can seem to change color to match their surroundings. This is really a super animal!

So kids, what are your favorite animals?  What cool skills do they have?  Maybe a cat that can see in the dark?  Or an owl with silent flight?  How about a grasshopper that can make giant leaps?  In the animal kingdom, there’s no shortage of inspiration!

CREATE AN ANIMAL-INSPIRED SUPER HERO: Green AcornsMy son created this super hero that is as fast as a cheetah, can use echolocation to find evil, can fly silently like an owl, and like a chameleon can look in different directions at the same time and has a super sticky contraption for catching bad guys.  I don’t think evil can hide anywhere with these powers on the job!

Pick some of your favorites (or learn about some new ones) that would make great super hero powers and use the printable below to create your very own animal-inspired super hero!  You can use the spaces to record what the special powers are and how your super hero will use them for good.

Create Your Own Animal-Inspired Super Hero

Here are some resources to spark your imagination:

  • Wouldn’t it be cool to feel the electrical currents that other creatures emit to help you locate them?  Read about this super power in Sharks Have Six Senses by John F. Waters.
  • Would you like to inflate to three times your size or be strong enough to move something 1,000 times your own weight?  Learn about these powers and more in 101 Animal Super Powers by Melvin and Gilda Berger
  • Have you ever heard of planarians or tardigrades?  You’ll definitely want to read about them.  They can do things that would come in very handy for any super hero!

Have fun!


P.S. You can share your child’s animal-inspired super hero creation on our Facebook page using #animalsuperpowers.  We’d love to see it!

Helping Your Child Grow Their Sense of Place

Growing a Sense of Place at the Farmer's MarketThere are so many threads that get woven together to create one’s unique sense of place.  I realized recently that for my children, the farmer’s market is one of those threads.  And given the amount of children we see there, I can guess it may be the same for many others.

Hop over to Playful Learning to read more about how you can help your children grow their sense of place at a local farmer’s market.  Be sure to download the printable and bring it with you on your next visit!

Have a wonder-filled day!


Nature Word of the Month: Petrichor

Have you ever noticed that there is sometimes a particular smell after a rain?  I remember as a kid wondering if I might be the only one who smelled the rain.  Well, it turns out I wasn’t.  Scientists actually study the smells of wet weather and back in 1964 two Australian scientists coined a term for that pleasant scent: Petrichor.

Nature Word of the Month: PetrichorPetrichor occurs after a dry spell and most commonly after a light rain.  The rain causes the air bubbles in porous surfaces to rise up and release their aerosols – a combination of plant oils and a chemical compound called geosmin.   Heavy rains can wash them away.  You can read more about it and even watch a video here.

So next time it rains, grab your wellies and your kids and head outside to experience it with all of your senses!

Have a wonder-filled week.


P.S. There is also a distinct smell during a heavy rain, especially a thunderstorm, that’s noticeable sometimes even just before it starts.  This smell is caused by ozone.

P.P.S. If you missed it, you can find last month’s word here.