Category Archives: children’s activities (recycled materials)

Simple April Fool’s Joke Utilizing Non-working Pens

My girls get me with this gag over and over. They think it’ so funny!

All you need to do is save all the broken pens you come across. That includes the ones that run out of ink and can’t be refilled. You could take apart working pens but we like to make use of the already broken pens. Lay these prank pens around. Place some by the phone, computer etc.. Temporarily hide any functioning pens.

I have to laugh at myself whenever I fall for this prank because I keep falling for the same trick. That is what makes it so funny for my kids.

Have fun today – and every day!

Explore A Stream: You Might Find Salamander Larvae

My daughters found some salamander larvae in a stream in Southern Maryland in March. They are out there but how many of us ever see them. To find these little guys, you will need to look more closely and perhaps have a bit of luck.

Some salamanders have an aquatic larval stage. The larvae can swim and they have gills in order to breathe in water.

The photo shows the aquatic larval stage of a salamander in Southern Maryland. Note the feathery gills extending out of the neck area. Eventually the larvae will metamorphose into an adult salamander.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what kind of salamander these guys would grow up to be.

I did some research and of all the salamanders found in Maryland, the only salamanders that can be found in the Southern part of Maryland and have an aquatic larval stage are: Dusky salamanders, Two- lined salamanders (see:, Mud salamanders, and Red salamanders. I’m not sure it is possible to identify them at this young stage. If you have any knowledge on the subject, please pass it on.

Here is the website I referenced to discover the Salamanders in Maryland:

Explore A Stream: You Might Find An American Eel

Post Correction: I made a mistake! We did not find  an American eel. In fact we found several lampreys!

On a recent hike along a stream (Maryland USA / March) we found several young American eels (Anguilla rostrata) swimming around.

I did a little research on these eels and discovered that the females lay their eggs in the Sargasso Sea. That’s a long way away from Maryland. Apparently all eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea. The eggs hatch into a larvae and are carried by ocean currents to areas along the Atlantic coast. They are called glass eels because they are transparent at this time. Next they make their way into freshwater rivers and streams. When they begin to get some color they are referred to as elvers. When they reach 4 inches they are called Yellow eels. Yellow eels can stay in fresh water for many years. Eventually they making their way back out to sea to spawn and die.

Eels can produce slime. The slime coat protects it from disease. (This is not an American eel as it turns out but a lamprey!

We promptly returned this guy to the stream after a quick photo shoot.

Read more here:

Or here:

St. Patrick s Day Clover Bouquet

Girl in field picking St. Patrick's Day Clover Bouquet

Have yourself a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

Find a quit spot and pick yourself a beautiful bouquet of clovers, grass and any available wildflowers. While you are there take a closer look around. You may not find any signs of a Leprechaun but you will surely discover another world filled with tiny living things such as lady bugs and grass hoppers.

Playing Pretend: Reuse For Non-Working Or Outdated Electronics

play pretend with not working computer parts

Is it really necessary to buy plastic versions of the things we have? Children want to play with your cell phone or type on the computer because they see you do it. Pass down your non-working or outdated electronics. Playing pretend is great fun for boys and girls alike.

My kids and their friends were always happy to play with an old cell phone, broken computer key board, even a non functioning remote control. Reusing these hand-me downs can entertain little ones who may not be ready to use the real thing yet. Children might want to play Office. Furthermore, if the kids are into theatre, then reuse these things as props.

play Laptop Notebook Computer

This is my daughter’s version of a laptop notebook computer she made a few years ago.

The above play computer is made from reusing non-working computer parts. The monitor was made from a cardboard try. Any magazine picture can be put on it for the wallpaper. The toolbar and other features can be drawn on by hand.

Use good parental judgment. Some items would not be safe to play with. Also, I’m not suggesting these items be given to very young children.