Author Archives: jane

National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat Sign Proudly Displayed

Happenings At Our House: May

I have always tried to keep in mind the needs of the wildlife in my yard. I admit that it is for my enjoyment as much as it is for them. I plant flowers for the butterflies and hummingbirds because I love to see them fluttering about. I have also included plants in my landscaping that have berries that the birds eat during their migration. I feel good about that. Furthermore, I find it charming when I see a few deer cross through our property or a snapping turtle laying her eggs in a spot behind the Japanese maple tree in front of the house. We keep most of our land in its natural state, wooded, to maximize wildlife habitat.

Hence, my family decided to have our property certified by the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife HabitatTM program just before Earthday 2008. We proudly display our NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat sign along the side of our long gravel driveway.
Interested in certifying your own backyard as a haven for wildlife? Here is the link. National Wildlife Federation website. They are the same people who make the award winning Ranger Rick magazine for kids.

Nature’s Treasures, Collect Responsibly

Collecting nature’s treasures such as wildflowers, butterflies, and seashells can be both fun and educational. However, sometimes collecting can hurt the very species that we admire most. Use good moral judgment when collecting. Being conservative may be sufficient, but in some cases it is better to take only pictures. A rare item can be more attractive, but if it is a living organism, removal can be environmentally harmful. Solution, take digital photos!

Do you love wildflowers? I do. But did you know that many species are threatened or endangered? If you don’t know which flowers are safe to take, better to collect photos not flora. Also, teach children not to pick any plant in public areas. Explain to them the cumulative effects of everyone picking just one flower at frequently visited places. Remember that these public spaces are something we all share. So every plant, flower, and butterfly is something that belongs to us all.

Photo of Trillium flower I took in Virginia.
Trillium flowers are unique. Picking the flower of a trillium plant removes its only leaves. The plant needs these leaves to make its food and it will be left seriously weakened. Collect photos not flora.

Collecting seashells at the seashore is a wonderful pastime. It never gets old. When collecting specimens remember to never take shells that belong to a living creature: obviously. In addition, never strip the area of shells as they are future homes for hermit crabs and other critters. Hermit crabs are part of the food chain. Having said that, enjoy gathering all the “treasures” you can find but when it is time to leave, pick only your favorites. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt, but let your conscience be your guide in choosing what to keep. And why not be the first to have a photo collection of shells?

Here is some of the “loot” we collected one day at the beach. When it was time to go home, we picked out our favorites and put the rest back.
Want to know how we made this fun collecting bucket? Fun In The Making shows you how. http://

You could use a net to capture butterflies as they frequent the flowers around your yard, but the greatest care must be taken to prevent injury and they should be promptly released after a close-up look. Alternatively, photos are a harmless way of collecting. The challenge of photographing different butterflies may become a passion of yours resulting in many peaceful hours spent in lovely gardens. Sounds good to me!

My kids and I raised caterpillars and this is the butterfly that one transformed into. We kept this beautiful butterfly just long enough to snap a few pictures. Gather photos not fauna.

Recycle Your Plastic Laundry Detergent Bottles Into Cool Beach Buckets And Scoops.

Thinking about buying a bucket and shovel for the kids before your summer vacation to the beach? Why not make your own and save money while reducing waste. MYO bucket is a quick summer project.

Treasure collecting bucket with shoulder strap.

Treasure hunt.

Future marine biologists can use their buckets to study sea critters. Whether observing a jellyfish’s movements or learning how a crab walks, these recycled plastic buckets are perfect.

These scoops are great for making sandcastles. No need for a shovel.

Fun in the sun.


  1. Do a little dumpster diving (look through your own or a friends recycle bin). Search for brightly colored plastic bottles of different sizes.
  2. Cut off the top of the bottle to make a bucket or the bottom to make a scoop. A box cutter works well but can be dangerous (adult use only). In most cases I found that scissors worked just as well.
  3. Find a piece of thin rope. I salvaged a piece of rope from an old tent that was destined for the dump.
  4. Make a hole (on the side opposite the handle) with a nail and thread the rope through it. Next use the bowline knot to secure it. Make another loop with the bowline knot attached to the existing handle of the bottle. Don’t know how to make a bowline knot? Fun In The Making shows you how. How-to: Bowline knot.
  5. Have a wonderful summer exploring at the beach!

Noteworthy Knot Knowledge: How to Tie a Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is extremely useful in many craft projects. Using the image of a rabbit will help you and your kids (if you have any) to tie this knot. It is not too hard to master (an eight-year-old is tying the knot in the pictures above). The advantage of the bowline is that it forms a loop that will not pull out no matter how hard you pull. Another nice thing about this knot is that it is easy to undo.

Children’s Play-kitchen Seasonings: Ideas For Spicing Up Imaginative Play

How to:
Second-hand salt and pepper shakers come in a wide variety of styles. When my children were small, they played with a cute set of lemon and lime salt and pepper shakers that we found at a yard sale. They enjoyed using them when pretending to picnic. See what you can find. Be sure to place a piece of paper at the top to prevent the contents from really coming out. In addition, glue the covers on them. Now children can act it out without the mess.
Donate a few out of date spices to the play kitchen’s pantry. This cinnamon shaker smells so good that kids will want to “make” cinnamon toast. You will need to put a piece of scrap white paper under the plastic piece that the cinnamon would normally sprinkle out of and glue in place.
Empty spice jars can be filled with a variety of items such as rice, popcorn, or tiny pasta… Just choose something that will not fit through the little holes at the top when your son or daughter is cooking up a pot of soup. Also, choose something that makes a nice sound when shaking; it’s just more fun that way. These glass jars have great sound but use your own judgment as far as safety.
Imaginary sprinkles can simply be made by adding colorful beads to an old spice holder. What kid doesn’t like sprinkles?

*Be aware that beads and other small objects can be a choking hazard. This project is meant for children who are old enough for imaginary play.